With Fantasia and Otakuthon over, I finally gave in and bought a ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises. Best movie of the year? Personally, no. Great movie? Yes, with some reservations.
Christopher Nolan already explored the dark, gritty undertones in The Dark Knight with the overall conclusion that Batman is “not the hero that Gotham City wants, but it’s the one that it needs”. Strangely enough, this movie starts with Bruce Wayne living in seclusion and Batman missing. Nolan goes deep into depression and fanatism territory.
If we put the DC Comics Batman aside for a second and focus on a film that uses the persona of Batman and the other denizens of Gotham to tell a story that might not be canon, we find a movie that stands by itself. Nolan has focused on making a movie that explores some issues that are akin to the Batman mythos but not necessarily a Batman movie. This might be for the best, though.
The atmosphere is very heavy. Bruce has given up. Bane is actually a charismatic and fanatical leader of masses. His rhetoric is not only very close to a couple of ugly truths, it falls dangerously close to (but fortunately, short of) associating itself with the occupy movement. Of course, he does intend to kill everyone but he believes his own manifesto which makes him all the more dangerous.
As a movie, this has a lot going for it. We’ve got the story of James Gordon, John Blake, Selina Kyle and Bane. All of them are great characters. Bruce Wayne is a decent character too. Nolan has also gone to some extent to show the everyman in Gotham City with very nice results.
Batman… well, I can’t really criticize Batman without using the actual Batman – so I’m afraid Nolan’s Batman is still a bit too reliant on heavy machinery as was Burton’s. On top of that the angle of Batman being well-prepared and the “world’s greatest detective”, well that is completely absent from this film. The fact that I could guess Miranda Tate was not who she was and Batman failed at it, well – doesn’t speak well for the mythos of Batman here. Christian Bale scrounges up his face even more than in The Dark Knight, something that parodies basically ruined for me because I can’t take him seriously anymore.
But that being said, and minimizing the close up on his features, Christian Bale does work in a lot more scenes than I thought to convey the ideal of a Batman figure. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman brings in the film’s only breaths of fresh air. I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt as police officer John Blake. Gary Oldman’s Commissioner James Gordon is perhaps the closest character that I’ve seen that makes it close to its comic version, being also just as resourceful and heroic as the real Batman would.
A movie doesn’t have to be great for falling in line as close to the comics as possible and this one doesn’t try. Nolan has used the DC Comics universe to tell a story, which as dark, gritty and at some points downright depressing as it comes, is still a great story that makes for a good, decent movie.
I recommend with reservations though. If you’re up for a good movie and don’t mind the dark and tragic, it’s a sure fire hit. However, after the great, small movies of Fantasia which I picked also based on them being quirky and upbeat, I’m not really game to see dark and tragic. For the comic fan, it is a must regardless of how much of a fanboy of canon you are – because you know this movie becomes canon of pop references for years to come.
That will do for now.