The Batman Project: PEACE OUT, Y’ALL! THE DARK KNIGHT DONE ROSE!
1 Comment »Jul 23, 2012
It feels like only yesterday that we began this strange, funny journey down Batman lane. I had been lazy and forgetful and gone mildly insane on allergy pills (THAT SHIT IS NO JOKE, Y’ALL!) and as such, had gotten a late start. This meant that what was supposed to have been a reasonably paced jaunt became a virtual total immersion process. I began this experiment when I was 28 and I am 29 now!* I sat in a different place in my company’s office!** The couch in my apartment is on another wall now!*** All sorts of shit has changed! If I were feeling particularly ambitious, I might wax philosophical and use the cinematic portrayal of the Batcave’s evolution from the first serial installment to Nolan’s contribution as a metaphor for my own emotional growth and understanding of the Batman mythos. OH WAIT. I BASICALLY JUST DID.
I have decided – in light of the somber exegesis on the nature of death and chaos that was my last write up – not to use this installment as anything other than a joyous celebration. On that note – CUE MICHAEL CAINE’S PRODIGIOUS WEEPING!
If I were to sum up my feelings about The Dark Knight Rising, in two sentences, I would say: The Dark Knight Rising is a perfect cap to the Nolan Trilogy in that it is long, needlessly expository about its own complexity (the nuke device subplot is essentially no different than the stakes of the move Speed, only told in a span of nine hours), brutal, and accidentally revelatory about his feelings for the female of the species. As a stand alone film it is not good, and poor Alfred needs to get his shit together – or I will make Bane kill him.
OH WAIT. BANE CAN’T KILL ANYONE NOW, BECAUSE ANNE HATHAWAY KILLED HIM WITH HER LATEX COATED TROTTERS AND A BOOM BOOM STICK AND NOW HE IS DEAD. IF WE NOW LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE CATWOMAN CAN KILL BANE THAN I WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME TO A WORLD WHERE YOU MIGHT MISTAKE MICHAEL CAINE FOR JUDE LAW!
Okay, I’m back. I got a little upset, but I’m here, I’m focused and I’m ready to talk about about the time Pittsburgh was cut off from the world and we all pretended it was Gotham City. I’m sorry, I’m coming to this from a place of anger. I can’t promise this post won’t mainly be spoilers and me subsequently trashing said spoilers, but I can promise that I will absolutely recognize this was a film with strong moments, and really well-crafted characters. The most surprising of them all – was Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle! You guys….I did not hate it. As a friend who joined me for the movie (one of five of us, and one of two who fell asleep at one point) put it, Hathaway’s strength in her portrayal lay in her intelligence – she did not let the role overpower her. Like seeing an approaching wave, where you either go “FUUUCK THIS IS HAPPENING, HALLE BERRRRRRRY” or “Let’s just give in and ride this fucker out,” Hathaway understood that this was a role much bigger than she was. Her line-readings (I’m sorry, but here I won’t budge, that’s all they were) were astute, she looked absolutely beautiful in her very real-person way, and I believed her desperation in the face of those who wanted her skilled-jewel thief Selina dead. I believed her anger and her fear, and I believed her reversal at the end – deciding to return to Batman and assist in general saving of the day activities followed by Italian jaunts.
I did not, however, believe her physical strength. The fight choreography itself might have been to blame here – repeated moves, favored by Bane and Catwoman were simply too balletic and lacked any sort of directed strength. Where were her punches coming from? They were coming from her hands. While her agility and her grace were undeniable, I am still pretty sure I could kick her ass. CHALLENGE ISSUED HATHAWAY. ESPECIALLY AS SHE HAS BEEN FURTHER WEAKENED BY GETTING TO HER ‘FATINE’ WEIGHT. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, I BEAT UP DYING NOBLE WHORES LIKE IT IS MY JOB! I will close on my Catwoman thoughts thusly, it is vaguely aspirational to think that at the end of the day, Mia Thermopolis gets to bump uglies with old Bruce Wayne. Because you guys? Old Bruce Wayne is the combination of my favorite things – old guys and Batman! Booooooing!
The fatal flaw of Nolan’s final installment is its length (which, incidentally, is also what Mia Thermoplis said.) While everyone went into the film fully understanding that some time would be dedicated to bringing Batman back to the city after his self-imposed exiled, few realized that this would be a three hour segment, complete with Bruce making himself into a low rent Howard Hughes meets the Beast. While I loved the presentation of Bale’s Wayne as battered, older, and broken (what’s UP temple streak?! MEOW!) I decided roughly ten minutes in that if Gary Oldman took out that letter about really happened to Harvey Dent one more time and looked sadly about it I would projectile vomit. As though hearing my thoughts, another viewing companion began quietly farting for the film’s duration, an unintended but stellar commentary on the movie itself. By the time Bruce straps himself into his bionic man exoskeleton and gets back into the swing (the BAT swing!) of things, it is twenty minutes too late. I felt all hope drain from my person, like Commissioner Gordon through a sewage main.
Luckily, my mind was quickly taken off of this when all of the sudden my cat was in the movie! I was all “Rumi, why are you kidnapping that Russian doctor and staging an amazing plane crash? LOL! Kitteh, why are you taking over Gotham and beating the hell out of Batman in a sewer?! Calm down buddy, come here and I shall rub your belly and speak to you of noms.” The joke that I am making here is that Tom Hardy is my cat. There’s really not a lot more too it. I could mention how beefed up Hardy got, which was impressive – I continually asked my farting and sleeping viewing companions “Wait, wait, wait -it’s just Tom Hardy’s voice, right?” but they were just as confused all being like “It’s Sean Connery!” and “Why is Buffalo Bill in this?!” because they are the best.
Much has been said regarding Hardy’s vocal choice as Bane. Some folks argue that it is not his fault and cite the subsequent re-dubbing of his dialogue after his initial work was deemed unintelligible post Nolan’s heavy-handed tinkering. To that I can only respond with my private visualizations of my mother watching this movie and going, “Well it was very exciting but I had no idea what Shredder was saying!”
My own theory, and speaking as someone who thinks that Hardy’s portrayal and vocalization were a weak spot in the film, I think he made the error of looking back at other successful Batman villains (ie, Ledger, Nicholson,) and decided that ‘doing a voice’ was necessary. Unfortunately no one stopped him, making for one of the more confusing white washings of a character I have ever witnessed. Also, he kept grabbing his collar in a weird place and it reminded me of an actor I know who I straight up refused to work with because of what they did with their hands. I threw a fit. I threw another with Hardy. It’s your job to effectively use the space you’re given and to use your body to navigate that space – your gestures should not irritate me!
I thought it was kind of groovy to make Bane an exiled member of the League of Shadows, but then changed my mind at the film’s big reveal – that Bane had done it all for love of Miranda/Talia, Liam Neeson’s jail-jumpin’ bastard, made me depressed. This would have bee rectified had Bane thoughtfully sung a tragic ballad regarding his love. But that didn’t happen. Instead, he nearly blew up Gotham as a vengeance for Liam Neeson and was later killed by Catwoman. Really at the end of the day, I’m just glad my cat is finally getting the recognition he deserves from Hollywood.
The Marion Cottilard had sex with broke Bruce Wayne on a bear skin rug in front of a fire and I was an idiot and was all “Yes, yes, very well and good, but what about Bane, y’all?”
Due to my impatience I did not see Cottilard’s reversal coming REMOTELY. Instead, I took her to be a fancy rich lady who had accidentally made Wayne Enterprises build a clean energy fusion device that could be turned into a nuclear weapon. The set up for Bane’s eventual commandeering of the device and its activation were oh my god exactly the reason I turned off Inception thirty minutes in and then threw my TV out of a window.
Thankfully I lack the physical strength to hurl a movie screen from any sort of summit. Luckily, Nolan, sensing my wrath, then gave us the glorious sequence I like to call “Batman in the hole”. Imprisoned by Bane as the madman creates anarchistic panic in Gotham, Bruce regains his strength, heals his broken back, and aspires to climb out of the jail as he believes Bane did as a child. He eventually succeeds, when he realizes with some help from a blind doctor, that the thing holding him back was the thing literally holding him back – a rope tied to him for protection. Free of fear and powered by hate, he gets out of the hole. Now that I’ve spoiled it for you, you can enjoy some time staring at the faces of the inmates who are hilarious, and then become 85% sure that you could climb out of that hole very easily.
The twist here is that it wasn’t Bane who climbed out of the hole as a child, it was Bruce’s sex partner Miranda, who, as all villains do, discloses all of her life history and plan and stabs Batman up inside his tender lobster meat. Also Miranda is my sister’s name so I subbed her into this movie mentally pretty early on and I in no way regret that choice. So there is Batman all smote, as he was smote, so was I – after years of complaining about how Nolan doesn’t use women – let alone understand them – he GIVES ONE A TASTER’S CHOICE**** STYLE HAPPY ENDING THAT IS UNFAITHFUL TO THE NATURE OF THE CHARACTER AND HE MAKES THE OTHER A VILLAIN DRIVEN BY ABSTRACT CONCEPTS!
It was really bad, in a Bond way! I get so genuinely peeved when a woman just has sex as a weapon, and brandishes it fiercely. I get peeved when women on screen are characterized by their sexiness period! If I thought I was angry at Catwoman running away to Italy with Bruce (Seriously, did they just rip pages out of my private journal of sexual self-touching?…that I don’t have?) then I was even angrier when they were all “…and she’s bisexual! Meow indeed!” Reductive and lame! So I guess it’s inevitable that as Miranda lays hilariously dying I found myself bellowing just that, “REDUCTIVE! LAME!”
THEN BATMAN SAVED GOTHAM FROM A NUKE AND FOR, LIKE, TEN MINUTES I THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD AND SO DID ALFRED AND WE CRIED TOGETHER AND JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT WAS THERE! Oh man, that was going to be the end of this article and then I realized that I railed too much to talk about two other elements I reallllllly loved. 1.) The best part of when Gotham was cut off from the world was the return of Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, working as the ultimate judge and executioner of Gotham’s elite. It was funny and the scenic design was stunning! Also I would be happy simply to live under Cillian Murphy’s bottom lip.
The other element was a storyline that could have been absolutely removed from the film – and that’s little ol’ JGL, angry cop who ID’S Bruce as the Bat (as must be done in every Batman feature) and then begins to demonstrate his prowess as a detective under the tutelage of Gordon, and, though he spends far too much time trying to help a school bus full of orphans, he also is rad, intelligent, and the perfect Nightwing. Ha ha, in the theatre I was tired and over stimulated from the explosions and called Nightwing Dark Wing Duck. It was a good time. It is a shame, however, that JGL is inserted in the manner in which he is - a perfectly aligned but separate entity. It’s a strangely un-Nolan tact, to so staunchly set up another movie, but when it comes to this franchise time has shown that it is better by far to leave the Franchise like you’d leave a camp-site – better than you found it. JGL’s ascent on a watery cube of a cave of his own fulfills that promise, that and everyone awkwardly leaving Alfred to weep his eyes out at the Wayne plot and the Batman statue had me leaving the theatre happier than I would have been otherwise.
I want to close out this project by acknowledging that very often the write ups I brought your way were something different than a review. While I might have occasionally turned the critics eye to the work under consideration, I do not consider myself a movie expert, or even a buff really. What I do consider of myself, and what I hope has been clear here, is that I am a devotee at the altar of story and character. I wrote so much shit about Batman because to me he is in a many ways, the perfect tragic hero. While the way we tell stories will continue to change, the people we tell stories about maintain certain fundamental traits that make them compelling, no matter how prominent the nipples of their suits may be. I look forward to my next opportunity to talk about the Batman and his world, and in the meantime I encourage you to fall down a hole, face your fears, slap Joel Schumacher, and name the man behind the mask.
Smooches whores – STOKES OUT.
*My birthday was July 3rd, just like Tom Cruise and Franz Kafka! We had a party! It was not an event anyone would want to go to.
**Goodbye angry cross-word puzzle solver with a penchant for demanding my assistance and hello dickish dude who resembles a fat version of Elvis and the small Indian guy to my right who is afraid of me!
***Also it is super broken. Every time I sit down, I quietly speak in a Jaba voice, because it’s eventually collapse under my heft is inevitable.
****THE GUY IN THE TASTER’S CHOICE COMMERCIALS IS TOTALLY GILES FROM BUFFY!