Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dark Knight Rises

New Movie Release
A very good movie plagued 
by a talky bad guy and 
a few script issues...

First things's time to make some mortal enemies here. I am well aware that this film had to tie up a lot of loose ends and provide a satisfying ending to Nolan's trilogy. 

And it did that.

As an overall story, however, with a good beginning, middle and end, I liked Dark Knight much better. Just sayin'.

You will notice that this review leaves a few things out. I'm not spoiling the movie for those who haven't seen it yet.

I really like Chris Nolan as a director, writer and overall story-teller. His pacing, dialogue, camera work and sense of flow are outstanding. Nolan is a film-maker that wears many hats, and wears them well.

Maybe he has set the bar too high with his previous work. Because what I saw on the screen in Dark Knight Rises could have used some serious re-thinking.

Go ahead and hate me, I'll explain while you figure out ways for me to pay for my insolence. I am not a rabid fan that will accept anything thrown at me. 

Terminator 3 sucked balls. Spiderman 3 sucked balls. 

The final chapter of this trilogy did not suck balls....but there are some issues that need to be addressed.

Dark Knight Rises
The good stuff...

Dark Knight Rises finishes off the Bruce Wayne portion of the trilogy in an extra-ordinary fashion. 

It is, in many ways, a fine film.

I loved the way Dark Knight Rises opened, and continued to flow from Bane - and his rather muddled plan that I didn't understand - to Batman's retirement eight years after the last film. 

Bruce is a recluse now with health issues due to his Batman exploits, which I thought was touching, realistic and well played.

Enter a thief that peaks Bruce's interest into living again. Anne Hathaway was perfectly cast as Selina Kyle, and I was pleasantly surprised that neither she or her character are over-the-top. 

Subtle is a very good thing.

Michael Caine was...well, Michael Caine. Gary Oldman was fantastic as usual, as is Morgan Freeman. 

You can Google the plot or watch the film. I'm not going in to the whole thing here. Some of it is silly, and some of it isn't.

Gotham is peaceful now that Commissioner Gordon has eradicated organized crime. Angels sing again and unicorns cry rainbow tears in joy.

Bruce has poured his money, apparently, into some kind of untested cold fusion device that can either provide free energy or become a bomb. Other than than that, everything is rosy.

But a storm is coming. A storm called Bane. Dum-dum-DUM.

Care to guess what Bane wants to use the fusion device for? Free energy for all? Why, no, you guessed wrong.

Yeah, some re-writes were needed.

Cillian Murphy had me snorting Diet Coke on my shirt. Marion Cotillard, who said she wasn't going to do anymore American films, is in fine form as Miranda Tate. 

Tom Hardy, who was good in Inception and the incredibly crappy This Means War, plays Bane. Honestly, though, you could have had anybody in that role, because facial expressions didn't make a bit of difference.

A nifty add-on character is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young protege cop with Commissioner Gordon. Fine actor that handles his part well. Keep an eye on him. 

The new Batwing is a cross between 
the V-22 Osprey and the 
BAe Harrier jump jet. 

Although the Batwing is used to great effect in this film, I did have one reservation....but not what you might think. 

We all know that Chris Nolan goes to great expense and trouble to make his effects based in reality and not CGI. See my article about the very real Tumbler here

The thing is...the Batwing felt CGI-ish, even though I know it was actually there and being moved around by some extremely expensive rigs. You can see a post about the Batwing here.

Enough about that....

I will say, without giving away spoilers, that story is extremely predictable, but that necessarily isn't a bad thing. 

When you have complicated characters with complicated lives and complicated problems concerning those lives...sometimes it's best to stick with basics.

I am well aware that this plot is derived from the bones of the Batman comics, and that script writer and director Chris Nolan was being true to the Batman heritage. 

All in all, they accomplished what they set out to do.

That being said....

Dark Knight Rises
The bad stuff...

The writing for this installment was...disappointing. 

A few scenes could have been cut to help the flow of the film, sure, but that isn't the biggest problem.

I not sure exactly what happened when Chris and his brother sat down to bang this script out. Maybe the studio knew the film would make a buttload of money so they left the brothers alone a little too much. 

Explosives laced with concrete? Really, guys?

At that point, somebody should have sat down with the Nolans and said: 

"Look, guys...this ain't Inception, okay? You gotta trim about 45 minutes of these crappy conversations out. It's hurting the flow of an overall good flick. Plus, concrete explosives? WTF?"

Unfortunately, nobody said that. Obviously.

Indeed, 45 minutes to an hour of dialogue could have been excised or condensed down for a much tighter film with better flow from scene to scene. 

At one point it's announced that the 3,000 cops trapped beneath the city had been down there 3 months, and I was like WTF? Didn't that shit just happen a few minutes ago?

But the biggest problem is Bane....sigh.

This is where the you'll really start to hate me. 

Look, we all loved Darth Vader, right? So I have no problem with the mask. 

And we really can't compare Bane to the Joker, because we are talking about two entirely different types of criminals. Good, so far?

It's Bane's big mouth that bugged the shit out of me. I literally wanted him to just shut the fuck up and get on with it.

By Bane's fourth or fifth bad guy speech - the one where Harvey Dent was a traitor - I was completely tired of hearing him talk.

He just droned on and on and on. Shut up already. Jeez, everywhere this guy went he had to talk incessantly for hours on end. 

Let me lay out like this: Bane was violent, articulated, fascinating, and reasonable in an 'insane' way...these are very good traits in a bad guy. 

But he wasn't scary....the one trait a bad guy should definitely have.

Bane was, without question, an Internet troll. Quite simply, he came off as one of those haters on the forum sites that always has a shitload of stupid, crazy stuff to say.

I'm going to tell you a secret in 'bad guy construction 101'. If your bad guy wears a mask, and you want him to terrify the audience, keep him in the shadows with very little to say except very scary stuff. Period. That's it. Done.

I'm going to lay out my cards on the table. 

If Dark Knight Rises had handled Bane and his big mouth better, plus chilled a little bit on the other characters dialogue - you know, just trim and tighten, then this film would have been the best in the trilogy. 

However, I haven't addressed the ending yet....

I am pleased to say that the last 30 minutes of Dark Knight Rises are very well thought out and satisfying. 

And it goes beyond that, because the last half hour of this film cancels out all of the other problems. Completely.

That's right. 

All of my niggling little complaints are null and void...the ending of this chapter in Batman's adventures is just that damn good.

I'm not a complete dick. 

And I know a good film when I see one, even if you have to wade through some stuff you don't necessarily like to get there.

Good job, Chris Nolan. Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next.

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