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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My View of the Dark Knight Rises by Proxy

  For the first time at Room With No View, a guest blogger has supplied today's post.  I'm proud to introduce my son, John Reeser, a student at Louisiana State University.  Enjoy his review of The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises or How Nolan Completely Missed His Own Mark

by John Reeser


   To get this out of the way, I did not enjoy The Dark Knight Rises. It was the greatest cinematic disappointment of my young life and I resent it for that. The story was all over the place, the characters didn't offer any kind of emotional investment, and in some cases had no real reason for being in the film at all. Most of all, the ending of the film totally spat on the entire point of the first two films of the trilogy which I think is the worst of it all.
   However, after seeing The Dark Knight Rises, I went home and began reading as many reviews on it as I could. I was trying desperately to validate my absolute distaste for the film, because I sorely, sorely wanted to love it. Whilst wading through reviews, one writer mentioned that it shared similar pitfalls with Nolan's previous film Inception as far as plot-holes and character development/motivation.
   This got me thinking. Inception was surely flawed, but the flaws could be overlooked for the most part. Was TDKR any different or was I putting an unfair expectation on it? The Dark Knight Trilogy obviously carries more weight than Inception does, sure. Inception wants us to suspend disbelief, for obvious reasons. Going into that film with a ruler and calculator will yield a lot confused faces. So I love Inception, regardless of the plot-holes it may have. Why can't I love TDKR?

   I figured that of all of the things it had going for (or against) it, the most important was the overall theme. I hope I'm not spoiling anything when I reveal that the main theme of the first two movies was “Batman isn't a man, he's a symbol that can't be killed.” This is all over those first two movies. The deal with Ra's al Ghul being more of a force than a man (psst, after Bruce went to go find himself, he was trained by Ra's al Ghul, so that's kind of a big deal), the whole “let's inspire Gotham not to be so stupid and terrible” plan (which hinges on providing an ideal for the people, not a bodyguard), and the Joker's recognition of Batman's plan to revitalize the city (and his subsequent counterattack which targets the foundations of Batman's justice by being chaotic and evil with no reason).
Christopher Nolan's Last Batman Film
   But then along comes The Dark Knight Rises, making explosion noises with its mouth as it rolls up to the past two movies on its Big Wheel, and proceeds to spit all over these well-developed themes. Let's do a little bit of a brain-head experiment: if Batman is a symbol (not a man), stands for something that can't be killed, and comes up against a villain that is famous for breaking him in half, what should happen? Maybe... maybe he should die? Maybe Bruce Wayne should sacrifice himself for Gotham, knowing full well that Batman cannot be killed? Maybe someone else becomes Batman? Would that tie up the main theme well? Because it would. The Dark Knight Rises? Rises like... how about like a phoenix being reborn after a fiery death? Or a faceless citizen dutifully rising up to don the cowl in support of an ideal?
    Wait. I have a better idea. Let's have Wayne magically heal from a broken spine, climb out of the Sarlacc pit unaided, punch some guys in the face, save the city from a bomb like Superman tossing a nuke towards the Sun, and then retire in Europe with a smug sense of satisfaction, knowing that it was all him. Not Batman; not the ideal; Bruce Wayne. Yeah, that ties things up pretty well, but more like a noose than anything else.
   Nolan built this great Batmobile of a trilogy, put it through its paces, got it up to speed and then ripped out the wiring just before it had a chance to come full-circle. TDKR has a sappy ending and it is entirely dissonant with the rest of the trilogy. If Nolan had simply stuck to the entire point of Batman, he could have filled half of TDKR with Sprite commercials and it would still have been a better film than the one he decided to make.
   But hey, at least there's a lot of scenes with Batman face-punching guys in broad daylight.

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