That Gotham movie

Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, respectively. Homage to Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, perhaps?

I don’t think we need another The Dark Knight Rises review on the Internet, but this is my film blog and I will post whatever I want, even though it’s grossly belated. This is my blog, deal with it, blah blah blah etc.

I kind of want to say how I thought The Dark Knight Rises is absolutely ridiculous, but alas, there are also so many things to like about that movie, that I really can’t give a completely negative review of it.

However, I don’t understand how people can’t see how it’s actually a very clunky, messy, overly ambitious shell of a film. It really is. There’s a difference between a film conveying chaos (as its predecessor expertly does) and a chaotic film. This, my friend, is the latter. There are many scenes trying to weave together 500 different plot points, involving 500 different characters. It’s not that it’s confusing, it’s just sloppy. Bane is not a compelling villain, he’s just a sometimes-amusing villain with a back story motivated by the most common of movie people emotions. The fight scenes and chase scenes are just okay and don’t cover any new territory as far as action movie euphoria goes. Though, I must admit, the football stadium scene, the montage hauntingly accompanied by the young boy singing the national anthem, is quite beautifully executed.

I kept waiting for Christopher Nolan to put his damn film together–get it together, man–but every scene, up to the very end, he refuses. Because it’s clearly out of his control. And the problem with all these plot points and characters is that they are not interesting or engaging. And whatever “twists” that come with those plots and characters are just underdeveloped and feel excruciatingly random. I get that Nolan isn’t very interested with how his characters are developed and is more interested in how they act as another function in his world, but he needs to realize that his characters need to be fleshed out for his twists to feel at all shocking or groundbreaking. I feel like once he continues to mature as a filmmaker, he will learn.

There’s a sense of darkness to the film, but it’s not a genuine darkness–rather, it’s just sort of angsty, bitter, grim, and depressing.

That being said, Nolan is also my kind of sentimentalist, though I hate to think it’s a product of his disinterest as a storyteller that he’s not too above typical Hollywood cliches. I have a love/hate relationship with Nolan’s sentimentality because it feels more Spielberg than people will ever give him credit for, which means it’s also gooey and lacks any sort of balls whatsoever, but it’s also why I go to the movies. I want to feel uplifted. I want to hope. Nolan gives me just that, in a way that’s old-fashioned, if not somewhat lazy. But that scene where Bruce Wayne has to climb out of the damn cave and all the prisoners chant “Rise,” or that sweet, sweet ending–they completely emulate all the reasons I watch movies.

And I deeply admire a director’s ambition–the overwhelming desire to create an epic. Sure, that ambition can be overblown and misdirected, but there is something admirable, and even charming, about that quality.

I’ve noticed that my feelings for this film are parallel to my feelings for Spider-Man 3. Of course, this film is superior, but I’m kind of conflicted with my absurd appreciation for wannabe epics and knowing that the film itself is kind of a mess on fire.

I’m hesitant to say that Nolan saved his own film by his sheer, restless ambition, but I think that’s what happened. Yeah, it’s still an uneven film, but it tries, it tries so hard. It wants to say something about so many things–economic inequality, nuclear attacks, fear, courage, power, morality, isolation. While The Dark Knight asks the tough moral questions with such nuanced profundity, The Dark Knight Rises hopes to merely provide the sufficient answers. And I suppose, it’s all kind of worth it.

Some other thoughts about this film:

Yes, I’m disappointed, but I feel like even if the predecessors didn’t exist, I would feel this way too. It’s not so much that I’m let down and I’m pissed off as a result, but I genuinely think there are parts of this film that just don’t work very well.

Anne Hathaway gives a very elegant performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, probably the best performance in the film–a performance that’s not colored by her self-serious persona that was even prevalent during her hosting of the Oscars with her mismatched co-host, James Franco. And this is probably the first time I found Anne Hathaway a lot more likable and charming than Marion Cotillard.

I have extremely mixed feelings about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance and his character. I know where Nolan was going with this casting, but it just feels all a bit silly, that’s all. I keep thinking about other actors who could have nailed the role, but there are some scenes where I thought Gordon-Levitt is perhaps, necessary.

And can we talk about how in love Nolan is with his Inception cast? Nolan is enamored with his Inception cast.

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t know you, and I’ve never met you, but I like your style. I’m a film-lover, and a self-admitted Nolan evangelist, but I had some serious issues with this film. I thought I was alone, then stumbled up your review, and realized that I wasn’t.

    That said, I also agree with your conclusions. I, personally, believe it to be a very good film, especially for the time of year that is traditionally dominated by the mindless blockbuster. It wants to bring EVERYTHING to conclusion, and doing so in a film that is already this full is very difficult. I saw it for the second time with a couple of friends, and think that I’ve got a tack on what Nolan was trying to achieve. I even felt more emotionally invested the second time around, perhaps because I was less focused on my issues with the film-making itself. If you do see it again, I would be interested to know if your opinion is at all changed.

    P.S. If you had a cast like the one from Inception, wouldn’t you love them, too? 🙂

    Reply

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