Have you guys heard of this movie? It’s just this little independent movie that only REALLY cool people have heard of. There was SO much anticipation for this movie, possibly the most anticipated movie of the year, so it’s kind of hard to live up to those expectations to any extent. After all, it’s just a movie, it’s not going to change your life. One great thing and one terrible going into this movie was just being able to guess and hypothesize and assume what plot elements would take place based on the Batman comic books I have read. It’s great because of how much I liked those comics, and it’s terrible because so many of my conjectures came true. My completely spoiler free review of the movie is that it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, because there’s no way it could be that good, but it is just as good, if not better, than Batman Begins. The first hour or so has its fair share of rocky, questionable moments, but everything after that is highly enjoyable and fulfills the expectations that had been set by Christopher Nolan‘s previous Batman films. However, if you are looking for your fair share of spoilers, continue reading.
But how do you eat things, Bane? HOW DO YOU EAT THINGS?!
It’s eight years after Batman has taken the fall for the death of Harvey Dent and he hasn’t been seen since. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) barely leaves his house, until he intervenes with a thief, named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), trying to steal his mother’s pearls. Bruce Wayne is also confronted by a young cop, named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who lets Bruce know that he knows he was Batman, and that Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) needs Batman’s help in apprehending a new, ruthless crime lord named Bane (Tom Hardy). Bruce Wayne has another obstacle in his life by the name of Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) who is a rich lady trying to get involved with Wayne Enterprises or something. The first hour basically covers Bruce Wayne deciding to take up the mantle of the bat, which causes Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) to say he’s no longer interested in helping Mr. Wayne get seriously hurt, and probably killed, in the process. With Selina’s help, Batman is able to follow Bane’s trail into the sewers, only to have Selina double-cross him, and leave him for Bane to do with what he wants. What does Bane do? He beats the shit out of Batman, lifts him up over his head, and breaks his goddamned back over his knee. FUCK. YES.
“So wait, you’re telling me Hugh Jackman ISN’T going to show up with funnier facial hair than me? I’M OUT!”
Bane sends Batman down to a prison, which we learn is where Bane had spent a majority of his life, with the information that Bane is planning to destroy Gotham and wants Bruce Wayne to watch. Bane starts to destroy Gotham by intimidating its citizens with the threat of an atomic bomb, releasing all Gotham inmates, and trapping thousands of Gotham’s police force underground. Bruce is forced to watch this from a TV in his cell, but rather than losing all hope, he hears stories of a child that was able to escape. After months of healing his back and lots of working out, as well as using the story of the child who escaped as inspiration, Bruce is able to escape from prison. He returns to Gotham to find allies in John Blake, Jim Gordon, and Selina Kyle, and he is able to free the trapped police officers so they can confront Bane. Batman confronts and seemingly defeats Bane, only to have Miranda Tate turn on Batman as she reveals that she is the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. Apparently Bane wasn’t the child who escaped, but was an inmate who protected the child and helped her escape, and his reward was to be trained by Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows. Luckily, Selina Kyle intervenes and kills Bane. Batman realizes the atomic bomb is about to go off, so he grabs it with his airplane and blows it up over the ocean. Batman returns to heroic status, but it has cost him his life. That’s when we learn that Bruce Wayne remotely upgraded some Wayne Enterprises technology, proving he’s alive, and we see John Blake picking up some items of the “deceased”, which was a GPS tracking device that led him to a Batcave. We also see Michael Caine going on vacation and seeing Bruce Wayne sitting there, alive, with Selina Kyle, and all is well because Gotham has a new Batman.
Sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was good in this movie, but was he as extreme as he is going to be in Premium Rush? I DOUBT IT.
The difficult in reviewing this movie is that there were so many awesome things about it, it’s hard to pinpoint specific awesome things. It’s much easier to point out the problems I had with it, so let’s start there. For one, the scene where John Blake confronts Bruce Wayne about knowing he was Batman sounded something like, “Hey I know you’re Batman because I’m an orphan too and one time I saw you with an expensive car and a pretty lady and I just knew that you were Batman.” BRUCE DIDN’T TRY TO DEBUNK THIS. The next time the two meet, Bruce Wayne talks about why he’s Batman all casual-like. Another gripe was that when Alfred is telling Bruce he won’t help him anymore, he gives a dialogue reminiscent of Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting about how when Bruce disappeared years ago, all Alfred wanted was to see Bruce sitting in a foreign country drinking coffee with his new life, and the two wouldn’t acknowledge each other. Considering how out of the blue that dialogue was and how specific it was, you KNEW it was going to come up later and that it was the only reason that scene was included. That conversation also included a mention of Batman’s previous girlfriend, which caused him to fake cry. Despite being so deeply upset at the mere mention of her, he slept with Miranda Tate not all that much later and ended up spending his life with Selina Kyle. YEAH REAL DISTRAUGHT, BRUCE. Another specific line of dialogue that really annoyed me was a scene where Batman is talking to Selina Kyle in her Catwoman outfit when he turns and she disappears. Batman then growls something along the lines of, “So that’s what the feels like grrrrrr.” Seriously? Batman is making quips now? Might as well have cast Andrew Garfield is that’s what you’re going to do.
They were able to make it look like “Catwoman” had ears in the way her goggles flipped up, but the goggles never really served a purpose–OH WHO AM I KIDDING, ANNE HATHAWAY’S BOOBS IN A CATSUIT!
Want me to keep complaining? OKAY! Towards the end of the movie, when John Blake is picking up what was left to him by Bruce Wayne, the woman tells him there’s nothing for “John Blake” and he tells her to look up his legal name and hands her his ID. When she gives the ID back, she calls him by his legal name, with is Robin. I understand that this was symbolic to MOST people watching the movie, because so many people know Robin as Batman’s sidekick, but I think some of you readers know why it was a cop out. Firstly, none of the Robin’s have ever actually been named “Robin”. It’s been Jason Todd or Tim Drake or Dick Grayson, so as far as comic book continuity goes, that shit was completely fucked up. Secondly, this movie followed pretty closely to the “Knightfall” storyline, in which Batman is critically injured and someone takes over the role of Batman. That man’s name? NEITHER JOHN BLAKE NOR WAS IT ANY OF THE ROBINS. Speaking of the Knightfall storyline, I feel as though Bane was severely underused. In the comics, he was as much of a physical threat to Batman as he was a mental, intellectual rival whose primary goal in life was to destroy Batman physically, psychologically, and spiritually. The way Bane was presented in this movie came across more as a hired goon that got sick of taking orders from one of the corrupt Wayne Enterprises board members. He serves as a henchman in the way he takes orders, until he finally lets the board member know that Bane has always been the one in charge, and it certainly is all of Bane’s show after that point, but it might come across to some as Bane carrying out someone else’s plans without realizing how brilliant of a strategist he is.
Thought it was kind of weird to have a Bane vs. Batman hug-fight in the middle of the movie, but I’m sure it will get violent soon.
On the good side? Pretty much every single other thing that happens in this movie. The only reason I point out my disappointments with Bane character are because of how awesome of a job Tom Hardy did while acting through his face. Bane was so severely injured while in prison that the only way he can function is through his mask which is constantly feeding him painkillers. Despite not being able to use his face, he was an incredibly intimidating presence. Considering how high the bar had been set with Heath Ledger’s interpretation of the Joker, seeing how calm, cool, and subdued that Bane was able to remain throughout the whole film was terrifying in a different way. Even the ways in which his neutral stance involved holding the collar and lapels of his shirt and jacket was fear-inducing, and he wasn’t even saying anything. I think that’s one reason I had a complaint about his character, just wishing he had been used more frequently and his character had gotten the credit he deserved. Maybe it’s because I always think of her performance in The Princess Diaries that I had a hard time picturing Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, but I thought she did a great job. She was seductive when she needed to be, manipulative when she needed to be, and a bitch when she needed to be. Luckily neither Marion Cotillard nor Joseph Gordon-Levitt had as iconic of characters to portray, but I thought they were both great. And despite some early internet rumors that Cotillard was playing Talia Al Ghul, the way the story unfolded still left me surprised at the reveal.
BUT THEN THE HUGGING TURNED TO DANCING, WHICH TURNED TO KISSING! What a way to go out, Mr. Nolan!
Everyone knew that this was going to be the last installment in this Batman continuity, so there was a lot of pressure on how this franchise could end. Would it be open-ended like The Dark Knight? Would things wrap up completely and be left in a nice, little package? We got a little bit of both with the way the franchise ended. On the one hand, we know that Bruce Wayne ended his reign as Batman, he would no longer be a public figure, and he was living his life with Selina Kyle. Pretty happy ending if you ask me! On the other hand, we see the seeds being planted of someone else taking up the role of Batman and this shows that the spirit of Batman will never die, but as viewers, we will never see THAT version of THAT Batman in THAT universe. This film was able to tie the previous movies together as well as bring resolution to the story, but it felt more like a direct sequel to Batman Begins than a sequel to The Dark Knight. The reasons being that Joker was never mentioned once, and Harvey Dent was only referenced a few times, so it’s almost like the events of The Dark Knight never really happened. The incorporation of Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia definitely made it feel more like the first film, but the overall scope of Bane trying to destroy the entire city made it feel more like what the Joker was trying to accomplish in The Dark Knight.
“I know that you’re 40 years older than me and you were crying this morning thinking about your dead girlfriend who chose Harvey Dent over you, BUT I HAVE BROWN HAIR TOO! Pretty sexy, huh?”
So where does that leave us? Even though I’ve cited it on this blog before as one of the absolute best comic book movies, I try not to watch The Dark Knight all that often. The reason being that the longer I go in between viewings, the more new things I find that are awesome, and the more I’m reminded of all the things I love. As relieved as I am that this series, which has been 8 years in the making, has now drawn to a close and has done so with three great films, I also feel a little bit of sadness thinking that we’ll never see Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne again, we’ll never see what happened with John Blake, and the biggest tragedy of all being that we never get to see Heath Ledger as anything ever again. Ultimately, I’d say it’s better to go out on top, with three great films, before you have the opportunity to do something like throw nipples on the Batsuit or have to invent yet ANOTHER vehicle for Batman to operate through the streets of Gotham. I’m not sure what the future holds for Batman, for Christopher Nolan, or for any of the actors involved, but I just wanted to thank everyone involved in this franchise for showing us that superheroes can be handled with maturity and intelligence. Superheroes aren’t something just for kids, which is something that comic book fans have known for years, but it’s great to live in a time where some of the most successful movies of all time are based on characters who run around in tights and try to stop people from being shitheads to one another.
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