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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, November 02, 2012

DARK KNIGHTS

"No.  Not everything.  Not yet."

These days its rare I see any movies in the theater, and when I do its at the local theater pub that does second run films.  My brother and I missed The Avengers down there because of scheduling problems, but managed to see Batman: The Dark Knight Rises last night.
I was disappointed, to put it briefly.  After the greatness of the first two films, I may have had too high a level of expectation, but I don't think so.  Reviews were more tepid and I had a trepidation before going in that I wasn't going to like this one as much and I was right.
There are levels of absurdity and suspension of disbelief I'm willing to put up with, and levels I'm not.  Once you get past the whole "guy wearing a costume fighting crime" bit, I expect these films not to too greatly insult my intellect or willingness to ignore logic.  For example, in The Dark Knight, the Joker was apparently able to teleport gasoline bombs wherever he wanted.  I'm serious, there's no possible way you could fill the hold of a ship with explosives without the captain being aware of it.  You can't cart enough explosives into a hospital to flatten the building totally by surprise.
But I was willing to put up with that because the rest of the film was so well done and captivating.  Plus, the took out Rachel Dawes and I never cared for the character or the actress that played her in the second film (sorry, Maggie Gyllenhaal).
But in Dark Knight Rises, there were just too many heaps of unbelievable, logic-raping plot choices and senseless events for me to tolerate.  Here are just a few:
  • Thugs with machine guns that apparently pop up out of the ground by the dozen, totally unnoticed until they walk into the frame.
  • A government willing to simply let a gigantic city be taken over and do nothing for six or more months.
  • Thugs able to sneak motorcycles into the stock exchange building unnoticed.
  • The SEC not stopping all transactions when the stock exchange was obviously hacked
  • Batman carefully painting a line across thin ice everyone else falls into and up a bridge, creating a gigantic bat of flame without anyone noticing
  • Bruce Wayne with no money or resources getting from the middle east to Gotham city, the town nobody can get into.
  • A hole that anyone could clearly climb out of unless they were in a wheelchair, that nobody can somehow climb out of.  
I'm serious here.  The entire sequence with the hole sucked.  That was a complete failure.  I could have climbed out of that thing and I'm an out of shape 46 year old.  Why didn't people just climb the damn rope?  Why would anyone climb to a certain ledge then leap to the other?  Just climb to the other ledge, the hole clearly was depicted as having hand holds all the way around it.  Or, perhaps you could walk on that 2 inch wide lip between the two ledges and get to the other one if you were so idiotic you couldn't conceive of climbing up to it.
The entire sequence of Batman fighting Bane was terrible as well.  I'm willing to buy that Batman is so tore up (absurdly so, from the doctor's description) after years of crime fighting that he can't take a big thug in hand to hand combat, that he'd just not be able to land any solid hits and be out fought.  I can even believe that Batman in that first fight would be so out of practice and fixated on doing things with his fists he forgets his entire belt of gadgets.  But that's not how it was shown.
Bane simply took all the hits (remember a few minutes earlier, Bruce kicked through a brick wall) without any apparent effect and just matched the armored Batman blow for blow until Batman just collapses.  Batman shuts off all the lights and we know he has IR lenses so it won't bother him but all he does then is stand like a jackass and listen to Bane monologue, then beat him up.
Batman uses his belt of tricks, but only to make a few pops in the air which would have no effect on any human alive instead of the knockout gas, poison darts and other crap he uses elsewhere in the films. The entire sequence was idiotic, just insulting.
At least in the comics Bane wears down Batman to the point of exhaustion and confusion by letting the entire Arkham Asylum go at once so Bats has to chase down every single criminal.  By the time he fights Bane, he's just unready to go on - and Bane has the Venom chemical that makes him immensely stronger.
In this film, Bane's just a dude who fought a lot of battles.  And the next time they meet?  Instead of using his head, instead of fighting smarter, Batman... goes at him face first and trades punches again.  And this time for no apparent reason, he wins?  He damages Bane's face mask which through some incomprehensible system reduces the pain his body is in, but only by accident, not design.
Has Nolan never seen a single martial arts film in his life?  The way to handle this is to have your hero outfought and unable to defeat the bad guy, then train in a method to learn how to beat him or fight differently to take advantage of an enemy's weakness learned in rehabilitation.  There's nothing like that here.
Instead we get some crap about fear and living a tough life (gee, Bruce Wayne never did that before, after 7 years in crapholes around the world training to be Batman) and suddenly he has enough "spirit" to beat Bane?
From the beginning of this film to the end, I was singularly unimpressed.  From the idiot horde of cops charging straight up an open street at guys with machine guns like some medieval battle to parking the "Bat" flying machine on a rooftop for half a year in a city being systematically looted yet somehow untouched, the entire film was frustrating and lame.
The only scenes I really liked were the ones involving Catwoman, although her heels were ridiculous and pointless.  I especially liked how they used her night vision lenses as "ears" to make her look more cat-like.  Not sure what the point of that mask on her face was, really, but Anne Hathaway did a good job with the part.
The Dick Grayson "Robin" character was okay, but didn't really stand out.  Commissioner Gordon was able enough, but overall this film was just a sad failure wrapped up in far too long a movie.  Two stars, and only for Catwoman.  I honestly cannot recommend The Dark Knight Rises to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

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