The Dark Knight Rises... Bane Falls
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
The Dark Knight Falls
The third (and final?) installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Series is the Dark Knight Rises. Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, the first two films in the series, were decidedly darker than previous film portrayals of the darkest of all super heroes, and were the truest to the original comic book. They had enough action, drama, romance and comedy, to appeal to nearly everyone, including non comic book readers like your author. Those two films set my expectations soalessringly high for the third installment.
I’m glad I attended the matinee, and didn’t pay full freight for this film.
In spite of it's basically dismal quality, it did have some bright moments. A reclusive and wounded Bruce Wayne (Christian bale), AKA, Batman, a generally selfish and immature character, shows himself to be a deeper human being, with a true humanitarian and selfless spirit. His maturity, tracked through the three films, comes to full fruition in this film. The character growth is truly fun to watch, and is what makes the Dark Knight series of films different from many other comic book-based films, where the characters are generally static. It’s what makes the overall lack of depth and Michael Bay-esque (not a compliment) action sequences so disappointing.
Bruce Wayne/Batman's physical state leaves the opening plot line very implausible.
Bruce Wayne spends roughly half the film on his back, wounded, in a Turkish prison. Sure, he rises to save the day, but this makes way for... Bane (Tom Hardy). A truly dreadful human being, a colossal bore and a far too frequent figure on the screen.
Certainly the Joker, portrayed with Oscar worthiness by the late Heath Ledger, was twisted and evil. But you could see his face. He had some personality to him. Bane is an emotionless robot of a man with a ton of strength, but lacking enough depth to satiate a thimble. Certainly, screenwriters Christopher and Jonathan Nolan attempted to fill in some backstory and bring some depth to him, but this seemed forced and left me confused and even more annoyed by the character. Granted, I don’t read the comics, and those that do say the portrayal was spot on, but this movie was my first exposure to Bane and I hope it is my last. I kept waiting for the mask to come off, for some shred of humanity; after all, even George Lucas showed us the face of Darth Vader, but, this never occurred. He was a flat character and was difficult to understand through the mask and with the booming voice that often distorted, further annoying me.
I can’t even give Tom Hardy credit for portraying the character well (even though I loved his work in Inception) because the character had no emotional arc, depth or range. In fact, I took his performance as a personal insult. He helped make a film with a run time of two hours and forty-five minutes seem much, much longer.
When the plot was not being improbable or confusing, it was being to be too big and overarching… and a little too possible. Part of the joy of escaping into a super hero film, is the idea that the story is pure fiction. What is portrayed cannot and will not happen. Instead, we’re left with a plot that left me squirming in my seat, uncomfortable, concerned and annoyed. I won’t get into the plot, because I understand people want to see this film and I don’t want to spoil the show, but, I found it far too dark in a film already cloaked in darkness.
There were myriad plot holes and questionable plot lines, and the film was poorly paced and down right painful to watch at times. For example, for the first half of the film, Cat Woman appears to be a lesbian. However, this story line is suddenly and inexplicably dropped, her lover disappears without further mention, and Cat Woman ends up in love with Bat Man.
The film is saved from total dismalness by brilliant performances by Joseph Gordon Levitt (Blake), Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway (who plays the best Cat Woman yet) and Gary Oldman (reprising his role as Commissioner Gordon). Nolan shines as a director, even with a preposterous script that he helped write. The film itself had far too much gratuitous action and, aside from Wayne, very little character growth. It was a disappointing close to an otherwise brilliant film franchise.
While the majority of the film appealed to the baser instincts of movie goers and was more along the lines of the shallowness of Michael Bay and not the typical brilliance and range of Christopher Nolan, the final forty five minutes was incredibly satisfying and somewhat made up for the previous two hours of drivel. If the story line built up to conclude the film is ever brought to life, I have hopes for future Dark Knight films.