Monday, July 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I'll keep this relatively short. While I'm not a huge fan of comic book movies in general and the DC movies in particular, I thought Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot was fairly well done. A more "realistic", less cartoonish view of the character compared to the movies of the late 80's and 90's.

However, I didn't think TDKR was all that hot. I found it overly long, really slow and all too often, the overall effect was one of stentorian music with not all that much going on. That Christopher Nolan signature foghorn-esque BWWWWWWAAAAAAAMMMMMPPPPP was sounded a hundred times throughout the movie's two and three-quarter hours, and after about the third time, I was tired of it.

I'm not going to give this movie a blow-by-blow, but I just felt the idea was fundamentally flawed. We're given a detailed explanation of how battered and damaged Bruce Wayne's body is, and then by the end of the movie, after he's been beaten near to the point of death and spends MONTHS in some vile underground hell-pit, he's suddenly back in the peak of his physical conditioning.  I also find the hand-to-hand combat in all of the Nolan Batman movies abysmal, and this movie especially so.

Furthermore the entire plot device for the last half of the movie was really tiresome and wholly unbelievable, even by comic book standards. I understand this is "comic book reality", but you can't both make a "realistic, gritty comic book movie" and create a narrative that seems utterly unrealistic. Not to give much away, but essentially the city of twelve million people is suddenly cut off from the rest of the outside world for about five or six months.  There are apparently "shipments of food and supplies", but whatever. I'd imagine 90% of the population of the city would be dead due to starvation, violence, or general suffering by the time the bomb threat is a reality.

Oh yeah, the bomb threat. I will try hard to not spoil the ending, but let's just say a four-megaton nuclear weapon leaves...quite a footprint. Using this awesome website, you can see that a 4MT bomb will, at the very least, shatter windows up to around 30 miles away. Something to consider...

Anyhow, while people will no doubt be flocking to this movie for weeks to come, I just wasn't that enthralled.


Indyguy said...

This is a fair and reasonable description of the movie. I also saw the movie over the weekend and while I looked forward to the experience of big screen batman, I had certain reservations as I sat down to nearly three hours of what turned out to be...a fairly un-epic movie that wrapped up a quasi epic, three movie cycle of Batman which was overall strangely unsatisfying.

The movie is long, but my gripe about the length is that it felt so terribly disjointed. After a nifty beginning featuring a great action setpiece, some spiffy character introduction and fairly succinct exposition, Nolan's movie works in grinds along in fits and starts more like a big lumbering tank that reaches its goal only after taking every bit of possible abuse thrown at it. Little is left standing but it finishes. But it's really not a thrilling ride; just a grind that you sit through until the finish for the ability of saying, "Hey, I finished that. Whew, now I'm tired.

Perhaps I failed by not seeing the picture in IMAX, but Nolan and his cinematographer made this look like one of the most pedestrian big budget movies I've ever see. I understand the movie is designed to look 'gritty', but the grit was shown in boring shots, dutifully but not imaginatively staged action sequences* that paled to many television shows. I never felt that I was watching anything on a giant movie screen that wouldn't play as well on a television set.

Dialogue consists of great swatches of banal exposition on 'good and bad' and looking within oneself to find fear, conquer fear, etc etc. It is the kind of dialogue written by people who make fun of comic book dialogue and try to write comic book dialogue that they think smart people would like. What I'm getting at is Batman wants a PhD in literature. However,like the visuals, nothing I heard rose above people dutifully saying things specifically for the audience to hear them.

Dark Knight Rises is a hero movie. Just nothing seemed particularly super about it.

*Action sequences in this movie are filmed and edited with MUCH more clarity and technical competence than Dark Knight. Yes, I mean that.

Ben said...

Ambition and expectations are a bitch. I'm going to see this on Thursday and don't expect too much. You can't craft a classic thinking "I'm going to craft a fucking classic", which is exactly what Nolan did here. It will always be overdone. Classic are born out of a certain candidness. You have to want to just make the best movie you can and have the viewers decide whether it's going down in history or not.

That said, you just made me more curious

MrsDeen said...

I think you absolutely hit on the flaw with this film. The TDK was so incredible because it was a sprawling urban crime drama that drew background and character influence from comic books.

While this one proceeded as though it were tonally identical, it was ultimately cartoon-ish and required the usual suspension of belief needed to successfully watch a superhero film.

Nolan employed his paint-by-numbers signature production style for high-concept dramas (including the Hans Zimmer score and running time, as you noted) but the scope of this film as a drama was so limited as to render that approach incongruous with the content.

PS thank you for this blog, I wish more pulp enthusiasts were as vocal and/or well-written as yourself.