While walking home from the movie the other night, we addressed a very important issue about The Dark Knight Rises: how does Bane eat?
John: “He’s gotta take it off to eat, right? So, does he just scream in pain for the entire meal?”
Me: “Can you imagine having Bane over for Thanksgiving?”
John: “I’d like to see a cooking show with Bane.”
Lots of spoilers from here on out. Proceed at your own risk.
The Dark Knight Rises put me in a really foul mood. I really had a problem with its message and its politics.
And before anyone flounces around about mindless summer film entertainment, consider this:
We can’t legitimately excuse The Dark Knight Rises as another summer fluff piece, joyful escape, mindless entertainment and all that. Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have never been about that, so I’m not going to start letting him get away with that, now. Also, DKR has effing Revolutionary Tribunals, for crying out loud. You don’t put a staple of the French Revolution into a mindlessly entertaining summer movie.
So, let’s all agree that DKR is a movie of substance. Or wants to be a movie of substance, like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
But, there doesn’t appear to be a purpose to DKR other than fulfilling a contract. Whereas the first two movies had clear statements about overcoming fear and resisting chaos, DKR says nothing.The whole thing is muddled. There’s no sense of time. Events don’t make sense. Motivations aren’t clear.
We had this conversation over dinner after the movie:
John: “Why was Bane doing that stock market thing?”
Me: “To bankrupt Bruce Wayne so he’d lose control of Wayne Enterprises.”
John: “But, he just went and took it all by force anyway. I mean, he already had the explosives set up underneath Lucious Fox’s armory. So, why do the stock market thing?”
Me: Silence. “I don’t have an answer for that.”
There were times when it seemed that Christopher Nolan wanted to make a statement about our billionaire masters of the universe and instead settled for pithy lines of dialogue about who benefits from charity balls. Other times, it seemed that he wanted to make a statement about the 99% movement and instead settled for visuals of a modern Reign of Terror with an ice covered river standing in for the guillotine.
The populist demonization is far more prevalent than real constructive criticism of the 1% and what they do. There’s no question that the billionaires are the victims and those with a concern about income inequality is equated with murderers and other assorted criminals.
As the night went on, we started just vocalizing random things that were annoying:
“No one noticed the conspicuous tarp on top of that building, hiding the Bat Plane for five months?”
“How many goons does Bane even have? Gotham is a city of millions and it seems like Bane’s guys outnumber everyone.”
“Underground Indian prisons have the best doctors. And cable TV, apparently.”
“You’ve got 12 hours until a nuke destroys your city. How much time do you spend tagging a bridge with fire graffiti?”
The sound on DKR really sucks. I thought it was just our crappy old theater, but I’ve read that it’s been a pretty common experience. Seemed like half of Gary Oldman’s dialogue got caught in his mustache. The rest of the cast could barely be heard above the score, which was distractingly loud. Then Bane’s voice came in at near the same volume as the music.
Like its predecessors, the performances are top notch. Anne Hathaway steals every scene she’s in. Tom Hardy is effective as Bane, working the hell out of his eyes and massive physicality. Gary Oldman, as always, is perfect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake also puts in a strong performance, which is lucky, because a lot of DKR hangs on his shoulders. So much that I’m inclined to say this is Blake’s movie more than Batman’s.
It wasn’t a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and, moving forward, I don’t think I’m even going to consider The Dark Knight Rises as part of Nolan’s Batman story. For me, it started with Batman Begins and ended with The Dark Knight. I don’t know that we needed more than that from this Batman, anyway.