movies: the dark knight rises

the dark knight rises - the legend ends
Me and July and Batman movies... it's a pattern. Seven years ago, my third ever blog post (and my first official movie review) was for Batman Begins... then almost exactly four years ago it was The Dark Knight...

And today it was The Dark Knight Rises.

I went back and read my thoughts on the previous two movies, and I have to say, a fair amount of what I said on both those previous occasions still holds true for this movie.

Firstly, it's too long... and partly it's too long because there are just too many characters, which means too many plot lines to have to service and give time to and eventually pay off.

And almost all of those minor characters are played by people whose faces I recognised (Ben Mendelsohn, Burn Gorman, Aidan Gillen, Matthew Modine, Juno Temple... and the inclusion of at least three of those names point to the fact they obviously did a fair amount of filming in the UK), which is very much like the previous two films.

Not that there's anything overly wrong with that approach, and as I've said on previous occasions, who wouldn't want to be in a Batman movie, even for a few minutes.

I also couldn't help feeling that around half way through the plot starts to feel like it belongs to a completely different kind of movie... some sort of semi post apocalyptic, science fiction, dystopian future kind of movie.

Somehow it felt too big for a superhero movie... which I know sounds weird, given that superhero movies are generally over the top, but usually the superhero stops the bad guy before the kind of radical change that happens to Gotham City here happens.

And to be perfectly honest, Batman (or The Bat Man as everybody in the movie seems determined to refer to him as) is almost unnecessary to the plot of this movie. I don't know what percentage of the running time of the movie actually has Christian Bale in full costume as the titular Dark Knight, but if it's greater than 10% I'd be fairly surprised.

I also think that Batman/Bruce Wayne is the least interesting character in the movie... so much so that he ends up feeling unnecessary to a certain degree.

The two characters who did command my attention every time they were on screen were those played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway.

Sadly, Hathaway's Selina Kyle doesn't get as much screen time in the second half of the movie, but she is the perfect Catwoman (not that she's ever referred to as that at any point in the movie, just references to her as "The Cat", a rather unimaginative name for a cat-burglar) for Nolan's universe in the same way that Michelle Pfeiffer was the perfect version for Tim Burton's universe in Batman Returns.

Hathaway is sexy, deadly and the personification of style in this movie.

Gordon-Levitt's John Blake feels more like the nexus of this movie than Batman/Bruce Wayne. And given how much of the movie happens to/around him, you could almost say he was the protagonist. And as always Joseph is incredibly watchable.

As the villain of the piece, Tom Hardy is almost unrecognisable as Bane... he's also very frequently incomprehensible as well due to the Bane's mask and the vocal effects they use on his dialogue. There were perhaps a half dozen places where I actually couldn't understand a word Bane was saying. And for the rest of the time he appeared to be doing a weird Sean Connery impression.

And in a similar way to the fact that I didn't find Ledger's Joker especially disturbing, I also didn't find Bane to be overtly menacing.

But perhaps that has more to do with the pace of the Nolan Batman movies and, as I mentioned already, they're so packed with both plot and character that some of the characters don't really feel like they're making a great impression.

I also had a little bit of a problem with both of the confrontations between Batman and Bane in the movie, in that they're essentially just standing toe to toe and brawling. The second of the confrontations is even worse as they're standing in the middle of the street in broad daylight punching it out.

To me, that's not who Batman is supposed to be... he's not the "stand in front of you and punch your lights out" superhero guy... he doesn't have super strength, he's not invulnerable... he's the sneaking around in the shadows, using gadgets and stealth to disable his opponents kind of superhero. But for the most part, that's not what Nolan's Batman does in this movie. I mean his grappling gun doesn't even make an appearance.

Maybe it's true to the source material of the comics... maybe it's true to who the comic book version of Batman is... or at least one version of Batman is... but I don't think it's my version of Batman.

And part of the whole Batman arc feels almost as though it's lifted straight from the first movie... there's a hell of a lot of "beginning" (or possibly re-beginning, even though that's not a word) in this movie.

Overall though, it's a big movie... a grand movie... a beautifully designed, gorgeous looking movie... for the most part, it's an entertaining movie... and Hathaway and Gordon-Levitt are wonderful (and I would totally pay money for a full length movie with Hathaway's Catwoman... think superhero meets heist movie), but it didn't hit me on an emotional level the way that The Amazing Spiderman did, and I'm kind of glad that this closes the book on the Nolan trilogy.

yani's rating: 2 hostile takeovers out of 5

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