Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (no spoilers)

I was going to write about Journey on the PS3 this week, but went to see The Dark Knight Rises and thought Journey can wait.

The short version of this is: go see the film. Nolan and Bale really have put on the best version of Batman on the big screen. The film isn't as good as The Dark Knight but is really worth watching. If you don't mind a few non-crucial spoilers Movie Bob has a great analysis of the film.

The performances given were brilliant. Christian Bale, Garry Oldman, Michael Cane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hatheway, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman all give superb performances. I was particularly impressed with Marion Colillard as Miranda and Michael Cane as Alfred.

I thought the plot twists were mostly well executed, if somewhat predictable for anyone vaguely familiar with the Batman mythos. I have to say I was kicking myself for not putting together the three major clues for the crucial twist at the end. When it came I realised all along the answer had been right there and I'd not followed them through.

The plot did a nice job of escalating the stakes too, although with this it managed to depersonalise the situation. Now that the entire of Gotham is under immediate threat the human story gets a little lost. It may have been worth the time to see how the events reflect one specific person or family instead of focussing on how many people could be killed at the touch of a button.

I also had a problem with the fight sequences. Batman was very keen to just go into battle fists pumping. Sure this wins against crowds of mooks / underlings, but it's not a very clever way of going into battle and doesn't suit Batman who was always known for striking from shadows and out-thinking his opponents. Seriously, mooks, you have guns. Take three steps back and cover him with machine gun fire. It works in Arkham Asylum / Arkham City, it will work in a film too. The bit where Batman and Catwoman sneak into Bane's lair was very effectively done with true Batman style combat.

This was most noticeable where Batman just goes and gets into a fist fight with Bane. At no point does he try to outmanoeuvre or trick his opponent. He just lets himself get overwhelmed. This is disappointing, as it would have been a good way to show that Bane is a match for Batman's tricks. It is a very well choreographed fist fight, though.

The other major flaw with the film is in the pacing. The crux of the film (and this is really not a spoiler, because it's in the title) is that Bruce Wayne has to learn to be Batman again. The end of act two has him in desperate circumstances, and he has to remind himself what it is that made him become Batman to overcome the obstacle. That's great, but if he does act three, why does the film start with him in retirement? Why does he have to learn to be Batman twice in the same film? The film makers wanted to make the case that Gotham had largely been safe for a long time, and that Batman hadn't been needed, but integral to the Batman concept is that Bruce Wayne needs to be Batman as much as (or more than) Gotham needs Batman. It's his coping mechanism, and I felt robbed of scenes of Batman doing cool, Batman-y things.

In the end, though, the spectacle is fantastic, the characters are well executed and well written, the basic plot is solid and John Blake is awesome. Go see it, you won't regret it.


  1. Dude, you missed the biggest flaw (maybe it's a WWEBUMCM thing) - in order for female characters to get screen time they had to do the squelchy with batman, even though he was meant to be mourning. There was absolutely no need for his dick to be a major character.

    1. Good point that. I remember thinking it was odd that Miranda and Bruce got jiggy, but didn't mention it because it's rather typical of Talia al Gul (Spoilers, sorry) and Batman to have that love-hate (or shag-kill) relationship so that passed.

      The Catwoman kiss was awkward as hell. I have no idea why I didn't mention it - especially as it just ruined the pacing at a climactic point for no real payoff. I probably just tried to block it from my mind...