Frail and faltering follower of Jesus

Oh dear knight – Dark Knight Rises, I am disappoint --(

By Gavin Davies

I am pretty devastated that I didn’t enjoy the Dark Knight Rises…

Not sure who made the trollface batman - I found it on the Internets!

This is FULL OF SPOILERS!! Don’t read if you haven’t seen.

I so, so wanted to enjoy this film. I love Batman, he’s by far my favourite costumed crimefighter.

Most people seem to have loved the latest Chris Nolan Batman film, and good on them. I wish I’d enjoyed it, I really do, but despite some great scenes, strong visuals, and astute casting, I just gradually stopped caring as the film went on.

The main problem for me was the depiction of Bruce Wayne/Batman; I just don’t think Batman works on this scale. He’s not Superman. Batman is a crimefighter, a mortal man, for me, he is at his best in the darkness employing stealth and detective skills. That’s why the Arkham [Asylum|City] games were so brilliant; they nailed that aspect of him. There was very little of Batman’s “Crazy Prepared” genius in this film.

He was also a bit wet. I know in Knightfall, Batman is essentially completely broken in every way by Bane, and they conveyed that well, but Bruce had two comebacks in this movie, both of which I just found unsatisfying. It would easily have been fixed – Frank Miller’s DKR nails it by having Batman take out a few street thugs first. I know it would have been an aside, but I wish they’d shown Batman could actually be a legitimate threat to Bane, and not just a broken down eccentric. I suppose what I’m saying is this movie’s Batman is not my preferred Batman. There were some awful scenes. After Bruce gets stabbed, he just kind of glitches out and waits for Bane to kill him. No gas, no Batarang, no grappling hook, no solution, he just TAKES IT.

And then on to the plot holes. Suspension of disbelief is a fine thing, but this movie took it too far. Here’s a few that bugged me:

  • Bruce’s doctor’s report was initially interesting. I have joint problems myself and looked forward to seeing my hero solve them. He did so by strapping a brace to his knee for a bit then later on he doesn’t need it. O-kaaaaay.
  • A slipped disc fixed by a punch in the back? Well, I recall from a Horrible History book I read when I was 11 that there is historical precedent for that, but I find it unlikely. I really don’t think he’d be doing chinups after a serious back injury.
  • So all Bane’s goons shoot into the floor as the police run at them? A huge bunch of men with automatic weapons could mow through them. I get that it was an emotional scene representing men inspired to greatness, but if Nolan is going to go for a level of realism he’s going to have to maintain it.
  • I know you have to nerf the police and military to an extent in comic book movies, but come on. There are a couple of points where the army would have been called in, even BEFORE Bane announces he has a bomb.
  • How on earth does Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham from that prison? I guess this one can be answered easily: BECAUSE HE’S BATMAN. Fair enough, I’ll concede that.
  • Surely they’d have found some way to get the thousands of police officers up from under the ground in 3 months or whatever it was… Also, no WAY would they have sent 90% of the cops down. Half the force? Maybe.
  • Yeah, right, spend time listening to Talia and kissing Catwoman when there’s a MASSIVE BOMB ABOUT TO EXPLODE
  • YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL BATMAN HE doesn’t NEED THE ROPE. HE KNOWS THAT. HE’S BATMAN. That took away badass points that Batman badly needed at that point.

These holes were just a few that I noticed. There are other problems. The action was unsatisfying and a bit cheesy – Batman fought like he had no idea what he was doing, he was swinging like a chimp. He used no intelligence, didn’t go for his gadgets… He went in half-cocked. Now, I suppose this is similar to Frank Miller’s TDKR to a degree “I made a mistake, I tried to fight like a young man”, but really at least let Batman get a few shots in! Bane takes ridiculous shots to the face and even a man that size will take some damage. As a villain, Bane was great, I really enjoyed his voice when they cleared it up a bit in acts 2&3, but the lack of Heath Ledger’s energy and charisma did hurt the movie.

There was also cheese. I actually winced at the Robin revelation. In fairness, though, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great as Blake and you could kind of see him taking on the caped crusader’s mantle (we also saw the Bat-signal get repaired).

There were positives, however. I spotted dozens of nods to some of the great comic books (such as Batman’s thermite not working, the back breaking scene, certain things Bane said). Great cameo from Liam Neeson – perfectly judged. Tom Hardy was hench and commanding as Bane. Anne Hathaway is a slinky marvel as Catwoman. Batman energising the populace as a symbol is understated brilliance – the cowardly chief getting killed was predictable yet moving. Michael Caine is strong. The scene with Alfred seeing Bruce finally happy is emotionally satisfying and if anyone convinces me it’s a dream scene I will write this film off as terrible! Christian Bale portrays Wayne’s tortured soul fairly well (although as I stated I don’t enjoy this lost-his-way Batman so much as the master manipulator detective incarnation).

Oh yeah, and it was waaaaay too long. I found myself thinking “get on with it!”. There were times where it got the blood pumping but mostly I was pretty bored. Maybe I was just tired when I saw it. Maybe I was in the wrong mood. Maybe if I see it again without expecting Batman to be such a tough guy, I’ll enjoy it more. When it comes out on XBox live, I’ll give it another watch. Dark Knight still stands up as my favourite movie. This one? I feel that, for me, it’s a miss.