Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thoughts on "The Dark Knight Rises"

            I'm not going to mince words, my favorite movie this year is "The Avengers" I loved it.  A sense of adventure runs through the whole thing; the heroes are battered and wrung out by the end; it has variety, color, and personality throughout; and it is a fun well paced story.  All that being said, "The Dark Knight Rises" is pretty good too, but it suffers from some things.

It's like it is missing something that I can't quite put my finger on.

            In "Rises" time and pacing are the enemy of the story, there are scenes that transition with ticking clocks running, and the transition is between bright daylight and stark night.  This happens twice.  That is a serious oversight.  But let's ignore that because really that is fridge flaws (flaws you notice when you are walking to the fridge to get a snack and the split second you are not being bombarded with media allows you to have some revelation because of the momentary window of clear thinking... This also happens while in the shower, or when you are pooping and have nothing to read).  the real problem with "Rises" is that it is two movies.

            The first movie, perhaps we could call it "Fall of the Dark Knight" takes a broken down Bruce Wayne and draws him into a conspiracy because he is assaulted in his home by Catwoman, over the course of the movie a love triangle (trapezoid) forms between Catwoman-> Batman = Bruce Wayne -> Miranda (another new character whom Bruce grows close to because she is trying to help him save his company), the movie ends with Batman being broken by Bane and the audience is left with the foreboding words, "When your city is in ashes, then you have my permission to die."  That is a whole movie, and it perfectly illustrates why Batman should not be Batman, Miranda is a healthy relationship that is helping him do good outside of being the Dark Knight, Bruce becomes the champion of the downtrodden that Harvey Dent failed to be.  What is more, Catwoman betraying him to Bane illustrates how his life as Batman has no healthy relationships for him.  What is more it has an "Empire Strikes Back" ending in which the hero is beaten by a guy in a gas mask.

Seriously, Luke literally falls for what seems like miles, kind of a pit like image right?

            The second half of "Rises" which should have been called, "The Dark Knight Rises" is Batman escaping from the prison (which is really a strong shout out to the comics Lazarus Pit, and a great literal interpretation of the Hero being at his lowest point), and the Gotham Police fighting with Bane and dealing with being hunted down.  This is also when Catwoman becomes a bigger character as her being trapped in Bane's Gotham is a fitting story metaphor for being guilt ridden over her betrayal of Batman and wanting to change things.  WE also have enough time to see how Batman breaks back into Gotham, a scene that does not appear in the current movie and is hand waved away as "I'm Batman".  Catwoman starts to fight against the reign of terror, Scarecrow's court, representing her trying to become good, Batman sees that she has changed and recruits her to help, the rest of the movie plays out as it did on screen: "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb".

            Yes, this means two movies that are each two hours long rather than the two hour and 40 minute bladder buster that we got, but two movies that would be better paced and have real developed character arcs for Catwoman, Matt Modine (whose lack of real development makes his heroism at the end come far too late and seem extremely weak), Joseph Gordon Levitt (though one might say that his story was the most complete arc left in the movie outside of Batman's) and Batman himself, as he lets Bruce Wayne die with the occupation and let Batman become the symbol he always aspired to make it.  (Link leads to a very interesting history of Bat mythology through history)

 I'm going to show the people of Gotham that the city doesn't belong to the criminals and the corrupt. People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. I can't do this as Bruce Wayne. A man is just flesh and blood and can be ignored or destroyed. But as a symbol... as a symbol, I can be incorruptible, everlasting.

Overall 4/5 stars.

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