Punching Through Reality #2

The Dark Knight Rises

By Ryan Miller

     Have you seen The Dark Knight Rises? No? Then you probably shouldn't read this. I'm not kidding. Today's column is all about my experience with Chris Nolan's newest and final addition to his Batman franchise and it's going to have a hot and steaming pile of spoilers. If you haven't seen the film, or the other ones for that matter, avert your eyes and click that big back button, exit the window, or shut down your browser. Unless you're a masochist, you won't want to read what I have to say. Actually, you probably don't want to read what I have to say anyway as my opinions seem unpopular to many who I have discussed it with in person. You have been warned.

 

   Last night I had the opportunity to visit my local movie theater with some friends to witness the spectacle of Chris Nolan's final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Despite the title leading you to believe it was Axel Braun's newest entry into pornographic parody, I remained cautiously optimistic for the title. I can't say I was super-excited, but that stems from my unpopular opinion of the second film. To me, the second film had several glaring flaws that I couldn't overlook to say it was a great film. For all it's flaws, I thought the movie was okay. The obvious stand-out performances of Aaron Eckhart and the late Heath Ledger were most of what made The Dark Knight watchable for me. Others disagree with me and that's fine. I'm not spouting this like it's gospel, I just have a different opinion.

   You're going to call me names, you might say I just didn't get it, you might remind me it's just a movie, and you might make questionable assertions about my mother from behind you your keyboard through the internet but those things will remain nothing more than your opinion or allegations over the internet. I'm not asking you to agree, I'm just letting my two pennies drop into the internet.

   I went to the theater with three friends and we were already divided in half. In the left corner were two who were excited for this movie and had loved the previous installments. It may or may not be worth noting that the two are what I'd refer to as general audience and not fans of the medium that the films spawned from. They're the type of people who love the characters, but haven't picked up a comic since the first pimple sprouted on their cheeks. We'll call them group A. Then in the other corner were me and a good friend of mine who didn't find the previous installment as spectacular as others did. It may or may not be worth noting that we do read comics.

   While not intending to jump on a high horse and say "I know better than they", I'm sure it's going to come off as that. I'm glad they liked the film. I really am.

   We sat close to the front as it was hard to find seats in this oddly packed Sunday showing during a thunderstorm. I'm glad were able to find four seats that far from the screen, to be honest.

   The lights dimmed and a series of trailers containing very little I hadn't already seen greeted my party. It might be worth noting that while I knew the Man of Steel trailer would be attached to The Dark Knight Rises and that I'd already seen it, I was still excited to witness it on a bigger screen than my phone. Since seeing it at my theater I've watched the trailer multiple times, as well as the second trailer. There are two trailers. Both feature the same footage though are separated by different voice-overs from either Kevin Costner or Russel Crowe. I can't rightly decide which I like better as both were presented spectacularly with chill-inducing monologs.

   When I leaned over to group A and quietly told them this was a Superman trailer, an explosion of groans erupted. I refrained from further comments. This trailer, while giving us essentially nothing, felt very effective. It may look like a laundry soap advertisement or an advertisement for next year's newest fishing reality show, but I loved it. I will admit that I wasn't fond of the flight sequence at the tail-end, but I figure it was necessary for people to see that this was not, in fact, any of the aforementioned commercials for soap or television.

   It might be worth noting I've learned not to get excited for film from it's trailer(I'm looking at you Spiderman 3), but this looks pretty cool. Though we haven't actually seen much of the film, it does not look like anything we've seen from Zack Snyder. For me personally, that is a great thing indeed. Zack Snyder is a director who I don't particularly enjoy, yet always gets attached to projects I'm interested in. Terrible thing, that is. However, with Chris Nolan on producer credits, we might see something very different from his previous endeavors. Of course I'm well aware this trailer could be the complete opposite of the film, but there is hope.

   Many people who complain about Superman movies usually note the lack of action, and this trailer won't do anything to dissolve those irritations, but this is a Zack Snyder movie we're talking about, so I find any allegations toward that nature to be lacking provided Snyder doesn't do a complete 180 on us. If he does manage to create a movie with little action I'll be surprised. I have high hopes for this film.

   I'm rambling all over the place, so I suspect it's time for me to get down to brass tacks. I wasn't truly disappointed in The Dark Knight Rises because I didn't have the incredible expectations most did. When the film opens we discover that the setting is much different than when we left it. Eight years different. Due to the strange decision of having Batman a fugitive, blaming the entirety of Harvey dent's crime spree on Batman instead of a raving lunatic with clown make-up, he becomes a recluse hiding in a corner of his mansion brooding over the death of Rachel. He decides to exile himself, removing his cowl, because someone he loves is casualty to crime in Gotham.

   Hold on. Wait a second. So you're telling me that a man who originally put the suit on to avenge the death of his loved ones, will take it back off the second someone else dies? I don't buy it.

   In any event, in the eight years he's been out of the picture we're explained that the police have wiped out crime due to the Harvey Dent Act. The Harvey Dent Act denies bail and parole to repeat offenders, or something. I guess I can buy that, but just barely.

   The movie's villain, who isn't a Romney Corporation by the way, Bane is a menacing villain indeed. However it might be worth noting that whenever he speaks, despite what he says being fairly menacing, he still sounds like a Venture Brothers villain. Everything he said reminded of Doctor Henry Killinger. He might as well have been a card carrying member of the Guild of Calamitous Intent.

   His voice aside, Bane was the best thing out of the movie until the end, but we'll get to that later.

   So Bruce Wayne, super-rich philanthropist, becomes a hermit asking that Alfred only send the maids to drop his scheduled meals on a table before making a hasty exit to avoid seeing the brooding beast. It seems that Mr. Wayne has also allowed his company to decay, running it into the ground. He still holds regular fundraisers, but his personal appearances are rare. At one particular gala, Selina Kyle, infiltrates the maids and attempts to steal from Bruce's uncrackable safe. She steals his mother's pearl necklace, which has a tracking device in it despite being in an "uncrackable safe" for some strange and convenient reason.

   Speaking of convenient, the string of convenient instances thrown around the film seem a bit disrespectful. These Deus Ex Machinas show up to move the story pretty frequently. Barricades and hauler trucks become convenient ramps. Convenient tracking devices. A lone beat cop somehow knowing that Bruce Wayne is Batman because of some look or something from his childhood.

   Okay, I'll explain that last one. John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, is an orphan who becomes a cop. Long story short, because of a look Batman gave him when he was younger, Blake knows he's Batman. The extended version is that Blake saw through a fake smile Bruce gave at the orphanage he sponsored and assumed he was as angry inside as he(Blake) himself was. So he must be Batman!

   Bruce is now Batman again! Hooray!

   But he doesn't have any money because his finger prints were stolen! Oh no!

   It might be worth noting that at some point Alfred, loyal butler to Bruce Wayne, quits.

   Look, even though I'm spoiling some pretty big things here, I figure that if you're reading this you've already seen the movie. If you haven't seen it, I'm not giving a blow-by-blow of the entire movie. It was almost three hours long, after all. In any case, if you haven't seen the movie, I don't want to give away the whole damn thing anyway. I'm just paraphrasing the film, specifically the parts that pissed me off.

   Fast forward to the first fight with Bane. Batman and Selina Kyle infiltrate the sewers. Kyle betrays Batman. Bane breaks Batman. While a pretty intense scene, I'm confused as to why Batman went straight to fisticuffs instead using the environment to take down his opponents. It may be worth noting that Kyle has betrayed both Bruce and Batman's trust on multiple occasions.

   After fighting Bane and losing, Bruce is sent to some eastern European prison that is pretty much just a giant hole in the ground. I can buy that his vertebrae is out of place(Sure, why not?). I can buy that even though he had less than five months to recover before a nuclear bomb went off in Gotham(I guess I glossed over the fact that Wayne Enterprises made an energy source that is also a nuclear bomb and Bane has it now) he gets better Batman has had amazing training and amazing willpower none of us could ever hope to have! The stagnant eight years aside, Bruce Wayne doesn't give up! I can buy that Batman escapes from this eastern European prison, because dammit he's Batman! What I absolutely can not and will not buy is that a broke-ass Bruce Wayne somehow manages to get back to Gotham from an eastern European prison across the world in time to stop this madness. One minute he's on the other side of the globe, the next he's in a bat-suit in the League of Shadows occupied Gotham war-zone. How did he get there? Not important apparently.

   Fast forward to the final fight with Bane. Batman learns Bane's one weakness is punching him in the face, which I find baffling he didn't try that the first time. Bane succumbs to the furious bat-punch and is taken out of commission pretty quickly and the Batman saves the damsel in distress. Turns out though, in a last minute surprise twist, the damsel in distress is really THE VILLAIN! She stabs Batman, fixes Bane's face, and leaves Bane to murder the weakened Batman while she escapes. Shyamalan would be proud.

   Then Selina Kyle conveniently shows up and blows Bane away with a motorcycle rocket. Seriously? All that build up for the most anticlimactic scene ever. I wanted more from Bane. To me it seemed that he was a cunning, master-planner leading an army to destroy Gotham. He was calling the shots. He was the face of terrorism and, aside from a few giggles due to his voice, I was scared to death of that man and it turns out he was still somebody's lap-dog. That is a bitter disappointment to me.

   It might be worth noting that both The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers have pretty much the same end sequence. The selfless billionaire carries a massive warhead to his certain death and comes out unscathed. The difference is that at the end of The Avengers, Tony Stark is caught by the Hulk and in The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne fakes his death and runs around the world with Selina Kyle...with no money.

   I'm irritated by this because, without money, the two have no way to survive gallivanting across Europe unless Batman is suddenly okay with thievery. He certainly took to the thief who betrayed him in the film fifty times quickly enough.

   To top it all off, Bruce leaves the Batman legacy to John Blake whose legal name is apparently Robin. Seriously? This is the biggest load of fan-service shit since Venom was shoehorned into a Spiderman film.

   ...Aaaaaand here come the credits. Normally I wait through the credits, but I wasn't interested in Nolan's Batman visiting a Schwarma or something. If there was an after/mid-credit scene, nobody said so. In any case, I'll assume I didn't miss anything.

   After leaving, my party sat and discussed the film briefly. Group A liked it. Most of my internet friends liked it. Hell, most of my real friends liked it. Group A talked about how excited they were that Joseph Gordon Levitt would be playing Nightwing.

   Whoa whoa whoa. Hold up dude. He will not be playing Nightwing. The trilogy is over. Nolan left it open for us to assume, but he's not doing another movie. This movie will not tie into the Justice League movie currently being written. It's called the Nolan-verse trilogy for a reason. Zack Snyder is doing the Man of Steel, and even then we don't know if it's the start of Warner Bros playing catch-up to Marvel's shared movie universe. The rumor of course is that they will be inserting something into it. Something Wonderful indeed.

   Okay, that was a seriously bad pun. The rumor mill is saying that Warner is interested in making small references to Wonder Woman. None of this is confirmed, so take it with a grain of salt. The rumor originated from Comicbookmovie and spread like a virus from there. Supposedly they will be making announcements later this month. I'm gleefully awaiting more news for this movie.

   It might be worth noting that I wanted to like The Dark Knight Rises more than I did. The problem is, the more I think about it, the less I like it. It's not aging well in my memories. I'm really glad almost everyone I know liked it. I'm really glad Group A liked it as much as they did.

   Here's hoping for an awesome reboot.