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Monday, 23 July 2012

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KWK

For all the hyper-realism that comic book movies go in for nowadays, I sometimes appreciate a bit of pulp-y melodrama too. Bane provided that in spades, so I actually enjoyed the overwrought verbiage that poured out from behind his mask (when I could understand him, that is).

Of course, you're trained to respond to different things than I am; ask me about nuclear physics in the Nolan-verse and I will be much more tempted to toss around terms such as "maddening silliness".

Devlin du Genie

"Nuclear physics" Oy.

I'm still waiting for that shockwave. The scene was only a whisker more believable than Indiana Jones in the fridge. It dropped me right out of the movie.

Adam Roberts

I quite liked the chutzpah of structuring a ticking-bomb tension narrative around ... an actual ticking bomb: so cheesy it passed beyond cheese and back into tension. And I liked Bane! I liked the combination of his old-school politesse of manner and his rabid gorilla physical bulk and violence (Hardy modelled his performance on Bartley Gorman apparently, which is nice). I didn't think I liked the Tale of Two Cities stuff: it struck me as a misreading of New York to imagine it being like Paris-in-1788. Afterwards I decided I disliked all that stuff because it was the point where the fascistic sub-plot became Conservative-fascistic Actual plot. Two things I really didn't like: the fact that the film was 107 hours long, and all the hole-in-the-ground prison in NonSpecificMuslimland stuff. Silly.

Josh K-sky

Members of the League of Shadows aren't "insecure thumbsuckers [...]"

No, but more than just the League of Shadows are underground -- witness the dead orphan whose brother explains to John Blake that there's work underground. It's tendentious to call them "thumbsuckers," and this may bolster your point that Nolan made it confusing, but the underground population seems to be a combination of the LoS and Gotham's sans-culottes.

If a sequence seems make no sense it's because the Joker's lost the plot.

Have you discussed Jim Emerson's close visual reading of TDK? He was really put off by its visual incoherence. (A quick site google says no. But still I ask.)

SEK

Have you discussed Jim Emerson's close visual reading of TDK?

I've recommended it, but not discussed it. Basically, I agree with his account of the direction, I just think what he considers incompetence was actually purposive. (Or did, until the latest film. Now I think I might be wrong.)

Jake

Okay, Batman Begins may be the most structurally sound and thematically coherent of the three movies, but can you honestly say the plot was all that good? Ra's Al Ghul's plot at least. It was so silly.

Gary Farber
Two things I really didn't like: [...] and all the hole-in-the-ground prison in NonSpecificMuslimland stuff. Silly.
Wait, what? Those scenes were filmed in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. This is Mughal dynasty stuff, but I don't understand why the movie would be better if it were somehow more SpecificallyMuslim. I'm not even sure what that means. But you'd like the film more if it were more specific about the Muslimland? Really?

What's the relevance? I'm sincerely puzzled, and willing to believe I'm being slow.

Adam Roberts

Gary: you're not slow. The nonspecific modified Muslimland not because I wish the film had been specific, but because I fear 'Muslimland' is the early 21st-century version of what 'The Orient' was to the early 20th. To quote the propriety of this-here very blog 'The geographic and narrative cues align with the visual to demand that the League of Shadows be seen as an old school Oriental menace whose politics amount to whatever-frightens-white-people.' Or to put it another way: I can't see that TDNR is a film with much to say about the specifics of Mughal dynastic history. It is a film that says: 'New York faces a devestating threat from ... these people, people who lock their prisoners in a cruel-and-unusual prison like this ...' The identity of 'these people' being left blank for audiences to overlay their current prejudices upon. Except that they're from a hot and dusty and violent place somewhere to The East, where human life is cheap and etc etc.

Gary Farber

Thanks for unpacking your point for me, Adam.

Robert M.

Is it too late to de-lurk and participate in the conversation here? Because now I've finally seen the movie, and (as usual) the comments here have smart things to say.

I should also say... spoiler alert.

I think the situation is actually worse than SEK makes it out, actually. The plan required not only immediate strategic sophistication, but also some subtle and entirely successful manipulation of Wayne Enterprises and Bruce Wayne himself stretching back years and possibly decades. Consider that Tate built up her own fortune and reputation to the point where she could serve on the board at Wayne Enterprises, and then at some point during the eight-year lapse between TDK and Rises, convinces the corporation to commit to building the fusion reactor. Meanwhile, Bane is building his reputation as a central Asian mercenary, to the point where he can credibly be hired by Daggett.

And all of this is, apparently, aimed towards taking over and then destroying Gotham. So it's not just a calculated, precision plan, but one requiring a decade of patience and Byzantine manipulation.

But what really broke the movie for me was that while none of Bane's plot would have worked without both Bruce Wayne and Batman, Batman was in turn entirely unnecessary in undoing it. Wayne's paranoia about the reactor (and the inexplicable assent of the hundreds of other people who must know about its construction) leads to it being a hidden secret, rather than a public and publicly-guarded facility. Similarly, the secrecy surrounding the reactor results in the financial peril of Wayne Enterprises that Bane later exploits. Wayne's bizarre hermitage results in Fox hoarding defense prototypes against Batman's possible future need. Wayne's idiotic refusal to report the theft of his fingerprints to the police leads to the success of the stock market robbery, without which Tate would not have had access to the reactor, and Batman's unplanned distraction is critical to Bane's successful getaway after the robbery.

But it's Gordon, Blake, and Foley who do the essential work of ending the threat to the city. Batman's toys are partially necessary, but surely there's at one person in Gotham aside from Fox and Wayne who could have devised a device to block the detonator signal--and once the right truck was found, it could have been hijacked in half a dozen ways by Gordon's small group of resisters. There was nothing about undoing Bane that required Batman at all, and as a result, he feels shoehorned into the most of the last act.

SEK

There was nothing about undoing Bane that required Batman at all, and as a result, he feels shoehorned into the most of the last act.

Yes. I have more to say about this, but it'll require another post. The short version is, yes, Batman wasn't necessary anymore, except as the owner of a bit of flying technology that anybody could've flown, especially since it did actually have autopilot.

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