Driving home from the movies yesterday, my dad and I had brief conversation about Batman. He told me that when he was a kid, Batman and Superman were his two favorite heroes/comics. He especially loved Batman because of the fact that he had no super powers. Of course, if we look at the history of the Batman, we see that the character's first appearance was in Detective Comics #27. I don't say this to patronize anyone, especially since I know very little about the Batman comics (I'm sure Jason could teach me a thing or two)...but I do say this as a reminder that Batman is really just a detective in a mask.
And it's that fact that makes Batman so compelling. Alan Moore's Dr. Manhattan is a brilliant character because he's a super man who turns his back on the people, ultimately deciding that they're not worth saving. Compare that to Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, who is in no way a super man, who gives everything he has to save the people of Gothham.
There are a couple of great conversations between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. At one point, she tries to convince him that he doesn't owe the people of Gotham anymore and that he's given them everything. Later in the third act, she tries to get him to skip town with her. It'd be all too easy for a guy with a Batcopter to flee a city that's being held hostage by a terrorist with a nuclear bomb. And yet, fleeing never crosses his mind...not even for a second. It's nice to have someone who's looking out for you, even if that someone isn't invincible. Bruce Wayne/Batman gives everything he has to stop Bane & Talia and it all plays out beautifully in Nolan's film.
I'm definitely with Jeff and Brandon on this one. Heath Ledger's Joker is still the better villain, but The Dark Knight Rises is definitely the better film. It's cleaner, and so much more complete (imdb lists 39 continuity errors for TDK and 8 for the TDKR, so there's that as well). It seems that the criticisms I've heard about TDKR are only stemming from: a) those who never liked Nolan to begin with, or b) those who were hoping to see The Dark Knight: Part II. I'm not sure why those people were hoping to see the same exact film. Yes, we all loved Ledger's performance, but I never saw it as the only laudable aspect of TDK.
And don't get me wrong about Tom Hardy's Bane. It was perfect casting and he gives one hell of a performance. I mean, I guess I don't really have to explain myself, considering how brilliant Heath Ledger was. But Hardy is absolutely worthy of praise. I do love the voice (though there are moments when the audio is too loud - but probably better to be safe than sorry). And Brandon's right, rather than giving us something obvious to fit the brutish nature of Bane's appearance, Hardy gives us one of the most sinister high-voices we've ever heard. And know that the Joker has some great lines in The Dark Knight, but for me, Bane is just as quotable. Part of me feels that the masks hurts the performance a bit, though. Without the mask, Hardy's face could've added to what was already a pretty damn good job. I don't know, I'm torn. Also, quickly, praise for Marion Cortillard as well. I love the reveal/the scenes with Bane and Talia.
I would say, "say what you want about Chris Nolan..." but most people do that anyway. A lot of attention is paid to him, and it seems to me that the guy is criticized more than most directors. But I guess he brings that upon himself; he's one of two/three directors working right now who consistently gives us compelling blockbusters. He's a guy in the limelight.
In no way am I saying that he isn't without his flaws. A lot of fanboys love his movies unconditionally. When a few national film critics gave The Dark Knight Rises bad reviews, those mindless fanboys resorted to bullshit hate speech. It's disgusting really, especially since those people hadn't even seen the film yet. So I get it, these movies are popular and morons love them. But I also happen to enjoy them, and I don't care what the critics/fans have to say. Nolan always seems to entertain me, which is something that I can't say of most directors, and it's something I'll always appreciate about him.
And I love the way Nolan defines his characters in the The Dark Knight trilogy. I'm not a big Anne Hathaway fan, but she's brilliant here as Selina Kyle. It's a real credit to Hathaway and Nolan. We have a smart, tough, badass cat burglar with a bit of resentment toward the rich. And I do identify her as being the only representation in the film of the Occupy Movement. She's aware of the wealth disparity that exists today, and predicts a "storm" is on the way. But the storm that ends up coming is not exactly what she had in mind.
Jeff brought up A Tale of Two Cities (Brandon has some nice counter-points). While Nolan makes a habit of capturing the zeitgeist in his films, I do see more French Revolution than Occupy Wall Street in TDKR. While I commend the Occupy Movement for bringing more attention to an important issue, I can't give them any props beyond that. The movement is entirely too lazy. You're right, Brandon, time to do more. That isn't to say that it's time to break out the guillotine. But what we should do, what Occupy should do is nominate and vote for candidates who represent their values and who will actually stand up to Wall Street and the big banks. If we convince ourselves that that can't be done, then there's no point in staying in this country.
Anyway, that's a completely different discussion. The point is, Bane's plan says more about the French Revolution to me than Occupy. Yes, there is a danger with Occupy that someone could emerge from that group and call for bloodshed and/or trials. Based on what Occupy has been so far, I don't think we'll have to worry about that. But then again, if Occupy doesn't move out of the parks and into the polls, something ugly could happen. The problem is real and it will be addressed one way or another.
Bane is also using an atomic bomb to manipulate the people; their actions are only a result of fear. And Batman only seems concerned with that bomb. Sure, he doesn't have the time to think about anything else, but even when the people are at their worst, Batman is only concerned with their safety. I'm also positive he recognizes the full extent of the situation. Talia and Bane claim they're finishing Ra's al Ghuls' plan, but they're also getting into Joker territory here, too; they're hoping for fear and chaos.
I don't see it as a case of "Stop Bane and preserve the status quo," rather more of a "Stop Bane because he's got an atomic bomb...and if I have to comment, yeah this whole exile or die thing might be too extreme. I'm not at all opposed to addressing income inequality, though." Haha. I understand that a film needs a succinct message and this one might appear to present the former, but I honestly don't see it that way.
As far as the final five minutes of the film are concerned, Nolan wraps up the trilogy perfectly; I couldn't ask for a better ending. Many speculated that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character might be Robin in the film. I do admit that I almost let out a groan when that name was uttered, mainly because I think it's unnecessary. I mean, it's really just a little nod/wink for the fans, so I can't really complain too much (and I was sort of prepared due to all of that speculation). But yeah, more important than what his legal name is, I love the fact that someone of John Blake's ilk stepped up to keep this symbol of hope and justice alive.
And with Bruce Wayne's new life in Europe with Selina Kyle, initially I was thinking that it would've been cool if Alfred had looked up, smiled....and that was it. But as I think more on that, it would've been too similar to the ending of Inception. Also it's just so refreshing to see Christian Bale sitting at that table. Like Alfred, we know what he's been through and what he's given to us, and it does pull on the heartstrings to see that he's finally starting a real life for himself. The Alfred/Bruce relationship brings a emotional weight to the story (nice work as always, Bale and Caine) and it's done well.