Starring: Christian Bale, Garry Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer
Directed by: Jonathan Nolan
Okay, so… obviously you can’t really talk about this film without mentioning the elephant in the room that is Aurora Colorado. But I kind of feel like I addressed that as best I could a couple of entries ago so I figure I’ll keep this strictly movie talk. Here’s my assessment of this, the most anticipated film of the year. Be aware that there are massive spoilers throughout.
DID I LIKE IT? Yes, a hell of a lot actually.
IS IT AS GOOD AS THE DARK KNIGHT? Nope.
IS IT AS GOOD AS BATMAN BEGINS? Possibly. Batman Begins has really grown on me through repeat viewings but I could see The Dark Knight Rises having a similar effect. We’ll see.
IS IT AS GOOD AS THE AVENGERS? Close, but nope.
IS IT BETTER THAN ALL OF THE OTHER SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS THAT CAME OUT THAT WEREN’T THE AVENGERS? Yup.
IS BANE AS GOOD A VILLAIN AS THE JOKER? No. But in fairness no one is.
IS BANE THE BEST VILLAIN OF THE SUMMER? That’s a resounding yup. Much as I loved Tom Hiddleston’s shit disturbing Loki in The Avengers or Charlize Theron’s ear shattering dark queen in Snow White and the Huntsman both of them, powers and all, would probably be too scared to ride on the same elevator as Bane. Tom Hardy’s over pumped asthmatic ninja is a brick hate-house with the added bonus of being a crafty devil.
IS CATWOMAN BETTER THAN RACHEL DAWES? Yes. Nothing against the highly talented Maggie Gyllenhaal but Catwoman IS the girl for Batman and Anne Hathaway portrays her perfectly. Some of my favourite scenes in the film involve Anne Hathaway transitioning from Selina’s ‘scared little girl’ act to a full on femme fetale with nothing more than a shift in her eyes or a slight change of poster. And in a weird way, it’s her contribution that has me the most sad that the series is ending. Christian Bale’s had three good kicks at the can and his character has grown as a result but Catwoman, christ, we just met her and that’s it? I do wish there was a way around it but in the world of reboots where everything MUST be started from scratch, it just isn’t meant to be.
DOES IT NEED TO BE TWO HOURS AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES? Honestly? No. I’m not saying I’m against giving the story breathing room but there’s definitely some fat that could have been trimmed. Most specifically, Mathew Modine’s Lt. Foley. This has to be one of the most unneccessary central characters I’ve ever seen. Not just because his sub plot of an anti-Batman cop who also turns out to be a spineless wimp is kind of boring, but because none of his scenes are particularly connected to what’s going on. You seriously could have cut out every single one of his lines and none of it would have been missed. Still really confused why they gave this guy so much screen time while Juno Temple’s sidekick to Catwoman barely even gets a line.
HOW ABOUT THE OTHER RETURNING CHARACTER? HOW THEY DOIN? Well, Lucious Fox is still cool as ever, and Commissioner Gordon is still the driving moral force even if some of his decision come into question, but there was one big disappointment here and it was Alfred. With the exception of a few bits and pieces here and there Alfred has two set piece scenes, both of which boil down to him begging Bruce Wayne to not go back to being Batman, then crying, then quitting his job and leaving Master Wayne seemingly for good. First off, I’m not sure I buy Alfred leaving Bruce for ANY reason but even beyond that, I just think that an actor as powerful as Michael Caine (whose Alfred has been more important to Bruce Wayne than any other on-screen incarnation of the character) should get to do more than just squirt out some tears then bugger off. I think Alfred could have been a real force for good in this film, especially during the massive city siege. I could see Alfred helping out the orphaned kids and using his charm to sneak the city’s few remaining cops to safety. Having him disappear for the bulk of the conflict seems kinda weak honestly. But speaking of the conflict…
HOW WAS THAT WHOLE CITY SIEGE THING? Fucking awesome. This is one where I’ve noticed some serious online grumbling, mostly because Bane’s complete takeover of Gotham is such a large chunk of the film and, while Bruce pops up in a prison cell off in the desert, the section is mostly Batman free. But for me, the concept of a massive American city actually being taken over and occupied by terrorists for an extended period of time is crazy fascinating as a “what if” scenario and having Christopher Nolan pull it off with his grounded-in-reality feel is almost too good to be true.
WILL IT GET NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE? Nope. Not because it won’t deserve it necessarily but movies that get nominated for best picture tend to have a certain feel. The Dark Knight just kind of felt like a Best Picture nom, that’s why it’s exclusion felt like such a crime. But this one, with its climax that centres around defusing a nuclear bomb and its melodramatic plot twists, well, it just feels closer to a straight up summer blockbuster. Not a bad thing but not a great way to score points with Academy members.
WILL IT MAKE MY TOP TEN? Honestly it’s too early to say. There are flaws in this movie and, while I believe that a lot of the online hate is severely nit picky I do have to admit that the hardcore comic fans do have a couple of points (for instance, it would be nice if the next incarnation of Batman isn’t constantly wanting to retire from his “lifelong” quest) but there’s just so much to love in this film. I even love some of the hate it’s getting because that discontent means that those fans who call it the best of the three will get to feel a certain sense of satisfaction as they defend it to their hater friends after seven cups of Denny’s coffee. As for me, I may not watch it over and over as intensely as The Dark Knight but I am really looking forward to delving into this world again. Studying different sections, clueing in on themes and references that I missed the first time around. Hell, maybe I’ll suddenly like Mathew Modine on the third time through, who knows? So, is it the best movie if the year? No. Is it one of the best? Probably. Is it a great fucking movie? Hells fucking yes. No doubt in my mind.
Okay, next up, hopefully by the end of the week, will be a round-up of reviews including Ice Age: continental drift, When in Rome, Take this Waltz, The Intouchables and Beasts of the Southern Wild.