Film #62: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

20120806-171616.jpgdirected by: Christopher Nolan
language: English
length: 164 minutes (almost three hours)
watched on: 1 August 2012

This film has had a lot of hype surrounding it recently, although not nearly as much as the latest Spiderman and The Avengers, both of which I’ve sort of eschewed – although even if I’d wanted to see it, The Avengers isn’t actually out in Japan yet, as I found out to my mild surprise when I saw the poster in the cinema going to see this film. It seems that The Dark Knight Rises (confusingly called ダーク・ナイト・ライジング – ie, “Dark Knight Rising” – in Japan) and The Amazing Spiderman were both released “on time” in Japan – indeed, Spiderman was released here before it was in America and The Dark Knight was released only a week later. Anyway, I’ve kind of made that choice because I saw Spiderman 3 and hated it, although I’m aware that the newest film has a completely different set of actors and storyline, and because I got sick of seeing posts about The Avengers on Facebook and various other places on the internet. Plus, Christopher Nolan is a very vocal supporter of IMAX technology, and I’m not the kind of person to let slip an opportunity to go to an IMAX cinema.

However, IMAX cinemas here are surprisingly thin on the ground. It was either Toshimaen, near a theme park, or Urawa, which is not technically in Tokyo, although it was the one I went to because it was more convenient for my friend. Both are run by United Cinemas. There may be one or two more but they were even less accessible. There is simply no equivalent to the prominently-positioned London IMAX, which also proudly boasts a 20m high screen – in contrast, this was only just noticeably bigger than a normal screen (although to be fair, the adverts at the start took up a very small proportion of the screen). The image quality was pristine, though, and filled the entire screen during the important action sequences (during unimportant scenes, the image quality was lower and the screen was letterboxed).

As for the film itself, it was roughly the same as the previous two films in the series; fun action sequences, Batman, and pretty people. This time in particular they added Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, and JGL as some cop who Believes in Batman. There was also that French woman who was the evil wife in Inception… I think Nolan seems to be getting a high retention rate with his actors these days; all that was missing was DiCaprio to make this a “Who’s Who” of the Inception cast.

The storyline, unfortunately, was a bit unmemorable in places, although the main bit is easy enough to sum up: it’s about seven years after the last “Dark Knight” film, and Batman is in hiding, and there’s a madman called Bane who wears a mask, almost like Darth Vader but it doesn’t cover his face completely and looks like an insect, and he holds the city of New York Gotham to ransom with a nuclear bomb, which was somehow derived by taking the reactive core out of one of Bruce Wayne’s research projects. So Batman has to come out to save the day. Wayne ends up being captured by Bane and thrown in a prison pit somewhere in… India, or Arabia, maybe? And Catwoman, who’s basically a scoundrel and a robber, becomes involved along the way somewhere. Twists and turns abound by the end of the film, and are executed well. It did end up getting too complicated and contrived, though (although not too difficult to understand for someone who’s either not seen the previous films or forgotten them), so I just sat back and enjoyed the moment.

Anyway, the visuals, as I mentioned, were excellent, especially in IMAX, and the film itself was very enjoyable, if a little confusing in the plot department. I guess it could have been cut down a little bit, as almost 3 hours is a very long film, although I was generally satisfied with the length.

The character of Bane presented a few problems to the film, chief among which is that he can be very difficult to understand, and there were at least a few lines where I just didn’t catch what he was saying. This is because of some kind of distortion on his voice from his mask. Actually, I’ll have to mention the other problems later, because they’re kind of spoilers.

So anyway, I’d recommend this film. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s pretty good, and definitely worth paying the extra to see it in IMAX. Go on, go now, because then you can read the next paragraph. It’s got spoilers in it, I’m afraid. I do put a warning at the top of the page on my blog, but just in case you don’t bother to read that, I just want to reiterate it again.

So, you’ve been warned. If I had to pick out one thing that I disliked, it is that later on in the film we start seeing all-but-direct comparisons of Batman to Jesus, with references to Gotham as a city of sinners, and, as you can perhaps guess once you’ve noticed that, a sacrifice/redemption plot point at the end. I guess I don’t buy into this idea that people are sinners and “deserve” punishment – yeah, to be fair, this is the line of the villains, but the idea that then someone else has to bear the brunt of that punishment for them is rampantly christian and to me it’s a boring point of view. It’s kind of left open whether Batman is actually dead or not, in the same way as Inception did with “is the world real or not?”

As for Bane, the other problems with his character included breaking some of the conventions of film. The number one issue was that his mask was never taken off. Even with Darth Vader we got a look in in the third movie. It’s kind of like Chekov’s Gun, the convention that dictates that if you have a gun in a scene in a film, it should go off by the end of the film; here, if someone has a mask on, they should take it off at some point. So I was waiting around for Bane’s mask to come off, and when it didn’t, I left a bit unfulfilled. Bane’s introduction also came a bit too early in the film for my liking, leaving it difficult to build up any mystery or intrigue around him, although in fairness, this can highlight the sheer bluntness and brutality of his character, that he’s able to simply muscle into the film without much fanfare in almost the first scene. And as for his death, it was too anticlimactic. I know Nolan is a “visionary” director who likes to play with the “language of cinema”, but I think some of these conventions become expectations, so they certainly left me disappointed.

Oh, and the other thing that filmmakers need to stop doing is only showing the title of the film right before the ending credits. I WANT AN OPENING TITLE CARD, DAMMIT!

But just to reiterate, good film, and I liked it.

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One Response to Film #62: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

  1. geekoverture says:

    Reblogged this on geekoverture.

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