Genre: Comic Book
Watched: September 22, 2012
Summary: Unrelenting dark
According to Box Office Mojo, the latest Batman film cost $250 million dollars to make. Some of these effects are understated, but this is certainly one of the largest scale movies in a long long time. Not only are there a bewildering array of main characters (many played by top actors), but the notable secondary roles are legion. Plus, the entire city of Gotham (New York reimagined) joins the cast. This is a big city movie that really feels like it’s in the big city.
It’s also dark. Unrelentingly and violently dark.
The plot itself is baroque to say the least. Lots of characters, lots of heroes, lots of villains, lots of ambiguity. Our main heavy, Bane, is a creepy truck of a man hidden behind a bizarre gas mask. Unlike the Joker, he has absolutely no sense of humor. He is, however, fairly frightening. His motives, even by the end of the movie, are cryptic. This is one of those stories where the villains have a ton of different plots in the works which serve mostly to set up grandiose scenes. I had the same feeling about the Joker’s machinations last time around. This year, the end goal, destroying Gotham with a nuclear bomb, sort of negates all the intermediate steps. Bane and crew seem to live by the mantra: “the journey is more important than the destination.”
This journey seems to involve taking over the city and creating an atmosphere of terrifying martial law. Plus locking Batman, who like all superheroes in their second or third film, is losing his powers, into a mysterious hole in India. There, because the existing six or so villains weren’t enough, he is visited by the shade of Ra’s Al Ghul.
Plot aside, it’s a very good film, bordering on great (if you like this sort of thing, and I do). The Hans Zimmer soundtrack is so dark and bombastic that it smooths over 99% of the problems, lending an epic quality to the whole proceedings. I’m not understating matters, as in Inception, the score is vital here. It creates the mood. It sells the scale. And there are some showcase crazy over-the-top scenes here. The opening with the airplane is pretty impressive, particularly as it tilts back and the wings rip off. Very Inception like, but taken to the next level (although I like Nolan’s more intellectual mind-bending prior film slightly better).
In TDKR, the acting is, for the most part, excellent. Bane is creepy, if a tad flat. Staples Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Liam Neesen deliver their usual slam dunks. Even in the midst of that star studded firmament, newcomers Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Blake/Robin) and Anne Hathaway (Selina/Catwoman) deliver with feisty charisma.
Overall, the film draws upon the Batman mythos and reinvents itself with a dark nihilistic 21st century zeitgeist. Stripped of camp, free of post-modern self-reference (which The Avengers is packed with), shorn of sentimentality, I’m not exactly sure what we’re left with. But Christopher Nolan pulls it off.
Spectacle is delivered.