The Dark Knight Rises Above an Awkward Script

27 07 2012

By Kleinz 57

Two weeks later, I’m back. T’was not in vain, America. I was busy blowing money on IMAX tickets. WORK-RELATED IMAX tickets, so I hope that’s a tax write-off kind of thing. With The Dark Knight Rises, equal measures of proper research and weighted contextualization were required for such a highly anticipated film, so your utmost recognition of the thoroughness in my work ethic is sincerely appreciated. *farts*

It”s been eight years since Batman took the blame for the actions of Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been reduced to a pathetic recluse, refusing to move past the death of Rachel Dawes and probably taking full advantage of the newly-rebuilt Wayne Manor and its bitchin porn library. Of course Alfred (Michael Caine) and Wayne Enterprises Chair Lucius Fox have been plenty busy trying to get Bruce to whip out the ‘ole tumbler again, so it’s little surprise when the alluring Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) causes Wayne to finally come out of seclusion. Unfortunately, the masked criminal mastermind Bane (Tom Hardy) has some pretty nasty plans to turn Gotham into the next Oakland, which is way inconvenient since Bruce was just getting his groove back. Enlisting the help of beat cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), and business executive Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), Bruce dons the Batsuit once again to stop Darth Vader Lucha Libre from terrorizing his goddamn city.

Heath Ledger is dead as shit. Let’s face it: there was no way The Joker was coming back. So it’s little surprise that he’s not even given lip service. It’s just as well too, as any reference would’ve felt cheap short of a still-living Heath Ledger in full Joker regalia flipping the Bat-fans the bird in one final shot. That would have been the BEST of things. That also was the only way to top The Dark Knight in the villain department, no matter how much shit is flung at the wall. And there’s plenty of shit. But if poop metaphors aren’t your thing — and honestly, why wouldn’t they be? — think of The Dark Knight Rises as an overstuffed burrito. First, you get the rice and beans, but then you realize that your carnitas would taste so much better with pico and two salsas. Cheese, lettuce, and the guac. OH, THE GUAC. Let’s add chips and a drink to that, too, if only because this might be the last burrito you’ll be getting for a while. The Brothers Nolan’s script plays out like a thorough piece of fan-fiction, cramming dozens of plot points into a surprisingly brisk 2 hours and 45 minutes. Then again, David S. Goyer shares a story credit, so let’s preserve the Nolan personality cult and just blame this on the gallant chode-stroke behind Blade: Trinity instead. Yes, this story stumbles out of the gate, then trips, and limps for a few more yards before sprinting across the finish line; it’s strangely reminiscent of my days in high school track.

Now that the very few negatives are out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax, or in Anne Hathaway’s case, ASS TAX! Nailed it! Whatever this story may lose from its abruptness, it gains back from its not having Katie Holmes. There is a lot to love in Rises, and that includes Anne Fapaway in tight leather. I’ll risk having Mime status temporarily revoked and admit I’m a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, so I wasn’t at all surprised she brought credibility to the role of Selina Kyle. Bale is also quite excellent as Bruce Wayne, even more so than usual, and likely due to Nolan’s decision not to focus on showing how Jack Nicholson is a dark-mirror for Michael Keaton if you think hard enough and really butcher the mythology. I’ll say it again. Tom Hardy’s Bane is no Joker, but that’s more than a good thing; it’s a great thing. He’s built like a bus but sounds like Goldmember on helium, and that makes for such an unconventional combination it’s hard to hate on his peculiarities. Bane has plan, part of which involves Batman pissing blood, but to reveal any details would be taking away from the fun. And really, if you can’t review a film without writing out the plot ad nauseum, do quit your day job and start working for TV Guide.

While we’re on the topic of taking away fun, I get that the insurmountable shit storm of hype for this film just didn’t feel possible to top. Even so, a great many critics have framed their positive reviews around heaping amounts of criticisms and overanalyses. Why is the plan to destroy Gotham so elaborate? Why don’t we see how Bruce gets from point A to point B? And seriously, how does Bane eat? I bet you’re a real joy at parties. Why have any of Batman’s villains made elabroate plans to destroy Gotham since… always? And how did Val Kilmer take a leak in Batman Forever? Give the film a D if you want. Just don’t rate it an 8/10 and then follow up a few positives with a string of nitpicking paragraphs, because that sounds like a D to me and I’m allergic to nuance. Personally, I don’t care about every specific of how Bruce Wayne gets from place to place, you weiner wink. HE’S BATMAN, THAT’S HOW.

Let’s return to that overused food metaphor. Along with the crippling three-day marathon of diarrhea and your best Ring impression to actually eat it, an overstuffed burrito guarantees you one thing: flavor. Rises is easily the most thematically rich in the trilogy. So whether you think Nolan shrewdly capitalized off the Occupy Movement (before it even began) or if hey man, you’re just in it for a scholarly dissection of the boundaries between individuals and symbols, this is a dense, dense film. Dense in a good way, in that it rewards multiple viewings. Overrated hacks like Christopher Nolan tend to make those kinds of films. I’ve also got a sneaking suspicion comics shops will see a spike in customers asking if Darwyn Cooke ever illustrated a graphic adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.

With its absence of any self-indulgent camera pansThe Dark Knight Rises makes it perfectly clear it has little in common with The Avengers. Its ending alone bellows a gruff “Fuck You” to the superhero genre as a whole. This is the least well-crafted of the three, but it’s also the most satisfying in offering a true conclusion to a three-part story. FX has been playing Batman Begins twice every day for the past week, so maybe brush up on that shit beforehand. As crisp and taut as The Dark Knight is, Rises is distinguished by its slight clumsiness, but it’s also an ingenious tome of the comics mythos, a Lawrence of Arabia Meets Batman, and a sweeping epic of the highest order.

As internet fervor slowly begins to wane, the important takeaway here is that we immediately start obsessing over the next movie. Will Christopher Nolan break his word and return for a fourth? What about a Morgan Freeman/Michael Caine buddy comedy spin-off? While I can only speculate on any of those answers, Nolan’s successfully dark interpretation of a superhero most definitely has made one man happy; and if you pipe down and listen carefully, you can make out the faint cries of Tim Burton’s “I told ya so” as it echoes forth from his palatial gothic estate. Touche, Mr. Burton. Touche.




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