Film Review: The Batman Rises Once Again

I guess it’s about time to pay attention to the Bat Signal. It’s been pretty damned insistent. Cue in the dramatic musical score and …

So a few weeks ago I saw The Dark Knight Rises. What can I tell you. Well, first of all I’m going to make a Spoiler Alert. Then I’m going to say that I liked it. I really liked what Chris Nolan did and what he tried to do. In Batman Begins, we see Bruce Wayne becoming his “true self” after his tragedy and his training with Rais al Ghul and the League of Shadows: which I always thought was a really interesting and new approach to just how disciplined the man had become. In the second film, Dark Knight, we see Batman move away from dealing with fear and the Social Darwinist sense of justice that al Ghul attempted to unleash on Gotham in order to battle the forces of chaos and chance incarnate in the Joker and Harvey Dent-turned Two-Face.

By the third film, we see a very different Bruce Wayne. He’s become a reclusive and something of a broken man. Somehow, he has even sustained a permanent injury from his exploits eight years before. Batman has been blamed for the death of Harvey Dent: to make sure that the latter remains the symbol of justice that he rejected after his accident and has disappeared from the public eye.

Of course, Gotham is never safe ever. Someone always wants to either destroy its corruption or just watch it burn to the ground out of a sense of amusement. Bane seems to want both. Bane is a character from the Batman comics Knightfall story-arc that methodically and brutally breaks the Batman. Of course, everything is not as it seems and as Batman returns to save his city, he realizes that he must unlearn what he has learned: about having no fear.

This was a very intricate film. I really appreciated the details not only in the villains’ plot and the character of Batman himself, but also in the little things. The minor characters actually get a lot more expansion and you see that even as heroes can falter, not everyone has a happy ending and everyone receives a reckoning of some kind. Nolan tries to make everything in this third–and I think final–film come full circle: which is very hard to do considering the show-stealing manic power of Heath Ledger’s Joker from the previous film.

It was fun to figure out who some of the characters were before they were named or revealed. I also liked some of the social commentary that was going on in the film itself. Essentially, Bane creates the ultimate Social Darwinist experiment turned horrible joke where he tells everyone he has a fusion bomb with a counter in the city. Someone in the populace has the trigger and a way to turn it off. He keeps outside aid from coming into Gotham and uses his thugs with stolen Wayne Enterprises technology to help the common people–I guess the 99%–dispense “justice” to the 1% … and anyone else they don’t like. Of course, the joke is that Bane plans to detonate the bomb anyway, but he seems to enjoy watching the ad hoc show-trials–reminiscent of the French Revolutionary tribunals–condemning people to walk on thin ice anyway. Even Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle–who is blatantly hostile to the upper-class and steals from them constantly–begins to see just how sick Bane’s sense of “social justice” truly is.

You could read the social narrative under this movie in a variety of ways, but there was a lot of overall depth to the film’s plot and the way that Bane totally uses Commissioner Gordon’s own speech–a document of truth–to damage Gotham’s self-esteem further was genius. I don’t know if I quite agree on how the characters of Bane and Talia al Ghul were used–Talia in the comics would have respected Batman for being able to defeat her father multiple times and she carried his child as well–but for the movie they served their purpose well. Alfred and Lucius Fox were still in character too and I enjoyed seeing them again.

I did have a few other issues with the film. They might seem minor and hard to define, but I will try my best. The plot, while very intricate, seemed very spread out and if you didn’t pay attention to certain details you might have missed a lot. At times, it even seemed to drag on … a lot. Also, I admit that in the dialogue between Batman’s rough voice and Bane’s metallic one, sometimes I’d only get every other word.

Batman: *Rasp*Rasp*Justice. *Rasp*League of Shadows.*Rasp**Rasp*

Bane:*Rumble*Gotham*Rumble*You will be broken.*Rumble*

Maybe it was the theatre I was in or how the sound effects behind them in their fight might have interfered with acoustics, but I really wish I could have gotten everything that those two intelligent “bad asses” were saying.

In some ways, I feel like for all the depth and such that the film had, it fell short as the concluding movie. I find myself wondering sometimes just what might have happened if Heath Ledger hadn’t died. I mean, the Joker wasn’t killed off in Dark Knight–when Nolan could have easily had him terminated–and if all had gone well, he could have made a comeback. Would The Dark Knight Rises have been different if that happened? It would have been really interesting to see the remnant of the League of Shadows deal with the Joker. The thing about the League is that they are trained to deal with logical or sensible enemy psychologies. Even Batman is just another form of idealist to them: just as they are. All of them deal with an understanding of basic human corruption.

But how would they have dealt with the Joker: an almost shamanic madman who cares nothing for money, or power, or even has a steady personality profile. He is literally a wild card that can read his enemies well while always shifting psychologies. Essentially, the Joker’s purpose is pure chaos. He would die just to make chaos. How would the League of Shadows deal with something so unpredictable. Would they see him as a psychological reaction to global corruption? Or as chaos incarnate itself? As an ally or enemy he would dangerous at best. It could have also been a nice dichotomy between villains: between an inhuman need for justice and a sense of pure madness. I guess we will never know that now, if there was ever such a plan or if this film was the thing Nolan was going to make no matter what.

I will give this film a four out of five. It is worth seeing and it ends the trilogy fairly well. Until next time Bat-fans.

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About matthewkirshenblatt

I am a writer and blogger living in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario in Canada. When I'm not writing for the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization and GeekPr0n, I tend to write science-fiction, epic fantasy, horror, literary and mythological revisionisms, and generally weird fiction stories though I have been known to make poetry, television and comic book scripts. Also, when left to my own devices I tend to write weird and strange hybrid creative opinion piece articles like those you will find on this Blog. I am also very interested in comics, video games, Star Wars, table-top role-playing games, Neil Gaiman's works, H.P. Lovecraft, vampires, zombies, and budgies.
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3 Responses to Film Review: The Batman Rises Once Again

  1. I didn’t know that Talia carried Batman’s child! You learn something new everyday. I’ve also done a review on this film and it’s nice to see someone elses take on things that you don’t notice.

    • Yeah, apparently she did. She and Batman have had a … complex relationship to say the least. It’s always really cool to see different perspectives on a film or creative work as well. I’ll be checking out your review too. 🙂

  2. Great Review, I feel the same way, the movie was really good. The best one I have seen this year. Bane’s Voice was difficult to understand indeed.

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