Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review: Not the ending we needed, but the one we deserved

I promise, there won't be any spoilers in this review, so fear not if you haven't already seen the movie.  I will most likely write a more in depth analysis in a few weeks once I can be reasonably sure that most people have gone to see it.

Well, director Christopher Nolan definitely raised the stakes for Gotham City in this final installment of his run at Batman, and it paid off pretty well in my opinion. What struck me the most was how well the plot was crafted.  I've seen a lot of critics say that the plot was convoluted, but if you just watch it all unfold, Bane's plan becomes apparent, and the pieces fall together wonderfully.

Poor Tom Hardy.  He had a tough act to follow, standing on the shoulders of that giant created by the late Heath Ledger.  There were parts in the film where I would have liked Bane's voice to be clearer through the mask, but he was perfectly clear for most of the film.  Nolan's Bane is no Joker, but if you really pay attention and think about it, he is far more complex than some people are saying.

Sure, Bane is an uncompromising brute, and that's putting it lightly.  He's an absolute menace who will kill anyone to achieve his ultimate goal.  One thing he shares in common with Ledger's Joker is that he is very comfortable with killing, but he doesn't do it just to prove an intellectual point.

Everyone says that the Joker was all about chaos, but he wasn't.  The Joker set out to show the citizens of Gotham that deep down they were just as twisted and awful as he.  Why?  Because he found enjoyment in it.  Bane is wholly different.  He doesn't want to show the citizens of Gotham that they are horrible: he wants to kill them all. 

His eyes appear to be emotionless at times, but that's part of the character.  Bane is so comfortable with what he's doing, so confident in what he believes to be his inevitable success, that he's almost entirely detatched from any emotion that we would recognize as human.  Up until the end of the film, in Bane's mind he has already won, and you can see that just by the way he walks.

Bale does an excellent job as a tortured Bruce Wayne.  Both physically and emotionally broken, he dons the cape and cowl out of a sense of duty to Gotham, if a bit suicidal.  He symbolizes an undying hope in the ultimate goodness of man, and as Batman he is that watchful protector who never gives up on someone, even if he feels he may have little chance of saving them.

So why is this not the movie we need?  Well, although the film ends on a more positive note than The Dark Knight, it's still a fairly grim ride until the end.  What fans needed was closure to the Joker.  What we needed was Heath Ledger to get back into the face paint and somehow add some insanity to the brutality doled out copiously by Bane.  But sadly, we know that it could not be so.

But this is the ending we deserve, because it provides us closure to the central question of Nolan's trilogy: what would happen in the real world if someone turned into an incredibly powerful masked vigilante?  The Dark Knight Rises answers that question.  Bane completely bests Batman in nearly every way, and to think that Batman was the alpha male of the whole planet was silly.

There is always someone out there who embodies everything we detest.  There will always be at least one person in this world that wants to break you completely in mind, body, and soul; and if given the chance, they most assuredly would break you.

The world is a horrifying place, but we can't stop fighting for it.  It takes sacrifice and unwaivering commitment to keep people safe and to make sure that justice is done.  That's what we need in this age.  We need to look deep inside ourselves and find that hope that we've been missing for so long.

Nolan's Batman is the personification of that unending hope.  Even people like me still have it, or at least we want to have hope.  We want to believe that everything is still worth fighting for because we deserve better.  Nolan and his cast and crew gave us what we deserve: a reminder that hope is only lost when we decide to give up.  If we never give up, then hope can never be lost.


buddy2blogger said...

Great review! The movie is about finding one's purpose in life.

Chris Bale was at his best and Anne was great as Selina as well.

Check out my review .


Silverfiddle said...

My son went with friends to see it Saturday night, and he said it was awesome.

I hated "Batman Begins." Was that part of the trilogy? I got a pirated copy in a bazaar outside of Bagram in Afghanistan the week that movie came out and we watched it in the Colonel's hooch.

I thought it was slow and boring and overly pretentious, but the one with Heath Ledger was awesome, and I loved the whole "Bush as Batman" meme that grew up around it.

Jack Camwell said...

Begins is the least favorite in the trilogy for me, but I thought it was pretty darn good.

It's funny because I was also deployed when I first watched it. We were sitting about 10 nm from ABOT and KAAOT (Iraq's Persian Gulf oil terminals) and we had movie night on the flight deck.

Begins didn't really have much of a social message, so it was more of a comic book fan orgy.

And yes, with The Dark Knight I eventually came to the conclusion that Batman was not unlike GWB. I didn't realize it was a meme, I just thought that was the logical paralell.

Interesting fact about director Christopher Nolan. When asked which character better symbolizes America--Superman or Batman--Nolan replied "Superman is how America sees itself, while Batman is how the world sees America."

As I said to a friend of mine yesterday in a completely unrelated conversation, other people's perceptions of you are usually more accurate than your own perception of yourself.