Firstly, the movie itself is all about Bruce Wayne returning as Batman. Naturally, it plays out more like a drama than an action flick. Prior to the final battle, there are probably about two instances where Batman is Batman and so there are portions of the film that feel more like dead weight than need be.
But, that’s not to say that the movie’s about billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne – it’s more about Bruce Wayne rediscovering himself as Batman. In other words, we witness the same thing we did in the first movie. IN the end it works, but it’s a little too obvious that there’s just not much to go with anymore.
That said, just because your Batman movie isn’t stuffed to the balls with explosions, doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining. Yet, once again, that’s where it gets heavy. Because it’s about the emotional struggle of putting your shattered self back together again, it’s very, very emotional. Alfred (Micheal Caine) doesn’t go a scene without crying, and Bruce Wayne himself sheds more tears than we’d probably like to see. Granted, Michael Caine’s scenes are definitely affective – he’s the father figure who’s tired of seeing his son being beaten by knife-wielding psychopaths and 300-pound muscle-bound geniuses. Still, they’re not easy to make it through. You just can’t help but feel for the poor guy, he’s so good.
So, surely while you ride this emotional roller coaster, you can have a lot of fun with the villain, right? I mean, The Joker managed to be threatening, while still being freaking delightful, so maybe if we wish hard enough, this time around-
NO. NO, NO ONE WILL SMILE IN THIS MOVIE. THERE WILL ONLY BE EMOTIONS. AND TERROR. AND CHIAROSCURO AND WEIRD, TORTURE PORN.
Bane? Yeah, he’s scary, but he’s really, really unsettling. Part of it is intentional, and another portion is due to his voice, but on the whole, he’s just plain terrifying. Yeah, it’s effective in a villain, but there’s not much more to him then that. The Joker wants to show people how plans fall apart easily. Bane wants to make people feel bad, then kill them, I guess.
As you might know, fan reaction to his voice in the trailer has been a matter of black and white. Either you can’t understand him, or it’s just too cool. In a manner of speaking, it’s almost not what they did right with his voice that makes him who he is, but what they did wrong.
Bane’s got this… thingy on his mouth. He’d look stupid with a Mexican wrestling mask, so it was a practical stab at adaptation. But this thing? It garbles his dialogue somewhat, and makes it sound like he’s got a mouthful of marbles, and to make matters worse, the inflections in his voice fluctuate mid-sentence, so you never get a clear peg on exactly how he’s trying to express himself. Worse yet, he’s got this metallic reverb dealie going, and so there’s the added dimension of never having a solid tonality, either.
So, you’re looking at this big-damn… guy, and you never see his mouth move, and he kind of sounds like a Parrot from Wales caught in a hollow aluminum room, and it never really fits. Worse yet, the ADR is very, very clear, so this in-your-face sense of dissonance also speaks one and a half times louder than anyone else in the room. Naturally, you never really settle into the character, and even in his best moments, out-of-place alien aura about him. To compensate for the fact that there’s nothing to tie his voice to his image, he moves his eyebrows a lot when he talks. Yeah it’s scary – but, like – really?
Interestingly, I think that’s what people will remember most about him. For better or for worse.
Thankfully, Selina Kyle brings a much needed dose of lightness and humor to the picture, but it seems all the more incongruent because you’ve got Big-Ass Bane and Angsty Batman and Alfred-who-cries and that out-of-nowhere third act. Then again, maybe that’s what’ll make her so likeable. She’s a refuge from the darkest depths of despair in the form of a leather suited- ultra-flexible jewel thief, so what’s not to like?
Now, don’t get me wrong – Batman The Dark Knight Rises is a good movie – it’s just a bit tragic, is all. The previous film was raised up to these abstract heights that put it on this magical dream pedestal, where we feed it grapes. Now, in a last-ditch effort to please fans, we’re left with a movie that is entertaining, yes, but carries an atmosphere with it that makes us wonder whether or not it was a good idea in the first place.
We’ve moved from the sense of “Gray vs. Black” morality in The Dark Knight, wherein even the good guys’ actions had consequences, to a very conventional “Good vs. Bad” tale, wherein everybody cries. The themes of class equality kind of just float on the surface (“If we talk about bad things out loud, it makes them themes, right?”) and the ending feels like a twist that fits in just about as well as Bane’s voice. At the end of the day, the movie winds up being almost as much about Jim Blake as it is about Batman – but that’s kind of because it has to be.
The Verdict: [rating:4]
Go out and see it for yourself. Nolan does his damnedest and entertains the whole way through. It’s not a bad film, by any stretch of the word, it’s just something of a sobering reminder that movies are just that – movies. When we make them out to be the second coming, there’s bound to be some snap-back at one point or another. Go see it, and be entertained – that’s what it’s there for, after all.
Frankly, I’m surprised Nolan didn’t smother Tom Hardy with a pillow in his sleep to generate the publicity he needed to-
EDITOR’S NOTE: FOR EXHAUSTING HIS WORD QUOTA AND EMPLOYING THE USAGE OF TASTELESS HUMOR, NOFACENORM WILL SPEND THE GREATER PORTION OF CONSTRUCTION HOLIDAY WITHIN THE NORTH BRANCH OF THE CUBE. WHERE WE KEEP THE BADGERS.