Well, I finally got to see the new Batman movie yesterday and decided to share my two cents worth. This is a really hard movie to talk about, but will try to give it a shot. First, let me be clear about one thing. I did not hate this movie. It was not terrible. That being said, I did not love it either. I had problems with it. I saw Doug Walker’s review as everyone else has, and have to say I agree with most of what he said. If there is one word to describe my reaction to this movie it is this-underwhelmed. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I did not want to spend time comparing these to the old films, but there were two observations I just had to make. The first is that when Batman Returns came out one of the big complaints was that it seemed that Batman was hardly in the film. Compared to DKR he was in it almost too much! The other thing I wanted to say is that despite everything, I still enjoy the original (three) films more than these. I just liked the feel of those films more. That is not a slam on this trilogy at all, but those films will always be nearest and dearest to me. Oh, and I think Michelle Pfeifer was a better Catwoman but that takes nothing away from Anne Hathaway. Okay, let’s talk about this film and trilogy specifically. Of course, this is all opinion and if I repeat what others have already it’s unintentional.
I already talked about this, but briefly Batman Begins was ok. It was a little to realistic which was hard to get into. I did like how they showed Bruce training and getting his various gadgets ready. That is something that was missing from the old films. I liked the villains, when I thought of Scarecrow I always thought of the old Superfriends cartoon where he didn’t seem menacing at all but here they did a great job with him. Ra’s Al Ghul has never been a favorite but he worked in the film. The Dark Knight was good. It was also mired in realism as we dealt with a city under siege with crime and cops getting killed. But I loved what they did with The Joker and especially Two-Face.
So we get to this movie, and I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. I will say one thing about this; it didn’t feel like three hours. It did keep me engaged enough. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have lots of problems with it. The first part of this movie was actually pretty good. Before I talked about the film let’s talk about what thse films are about.
These films are about Bruce Wayne more than Batman. Batman is just a tool Bruce uses to fight crime, and there is nothing wrong with that. Being the old comics nerd I am used to Batman being the real characters and Bruce the disguise, but Chris Nolan can do whatever he wants. That’s why while I don’t agree with these Batman movies, they are good. To me the idea that Batman went into hiding and all the crime in Gotham is gone is impossible. But because these movies are about Bruce I understand why Chris Nolan did what he did. This isn’t like the comics were Gotham needs constant protecting and Batman is always needed. In Chris Nolan’s universe that is not the case. These movies are about Bruce, and as noted Batman seems to be missing from many parts here. Fine, I get that and can just take these movies by themselves as they are.
It started kind of slow, but it got better. I liked Selina Kyle, she was a good enough character. In fact the scenes with her and Bruce/Batman were really cute, even bringing a smile to my face. Bane was very well done, such a better job than in that ludicrous Batman & Robin. I had serious doubts when I heard he was to be the villain but they really made it work. The voice was weird at first but I got used to it. I have to say I wound up being impressed with the first half. It’s hard to remember everything because it’s been a few hours now since I saw the film, but the first half was really decent. When Batman does finally return it was a cool, if underplayed, moment. Then we get to the fight with Bane, and I gotta say it was really well done. This is what Bane was supposed to do to Batman, break him physically and spiritually. So, up to this point I was feeling pretty good.
Too bad the movie didn’t end there. Ok, let me stop for a second because I glossed over a few things. First of all, great to see the batcave again! John Blake was a decent enough character. I don’t mind spoilers, so I knew where his characters was going, probably a good thing because I enjoyed it a little more. Speaking of that, I was spoiled about the true identity of Miranda Tate. I didn’t want to be, but some Facebook commenter’s apparently never heard of spoiler alerts. But you know, I’m kind of glad that I was spoiled on that. Honestly I think I paid more attention to her because of that and could appreciate the character more from the start. Why they decided to make this a big surprise ten minutes before the end is beyond me. When she gets killed in the end, we hardly care. I think we spent a total of twenty minutes with her, and very little of that as the villain, so who cares? I will have more to say on the end in a second. I was a little upset to see Commissioner Gordon spend most of the film in a hospital bed, but they made up for it in the end. The mayor certainly got an unceremonious send off. Finally, Anne Hathaway was really good. This was a unique take on Catwoman and for the most part I enjoyed her time on screen. Yeah, she didn’t have enough to do but that’s cool. This was one time that they stuck pretty close to the way the character is in the comics. One gribe might I would have liked to see her be more willing to join Bruce in the end we didn’t need conflict. But that is a small gripe. By the way, Batman’s voice didn’t bother me as much in this film. Maybe because Batman was hardly in it.
So what didn’t I like in the first act? The opening sequence was only ok. Honestly it felt like a cheap attempt to duplicate our introduction to The Joker, but didn’t have the same excitement to it. One thing I hated was the way much of the Dark Knight was just pushed away. Not forgotten, but pushed away. Commissioner Gordon’s family are conveniently out of the picture even though it was clear that his family was very important to him (the fact his wife left him is ludicrous!). I got annoyed in the previous film with the way the crime was out of control in the city and the killing of cops and all that, that didn’t feel like a comic book movie, but in this movie that’s all gone! We’re supposed to believe that Gotham is a happy little paradise all of a sudden? Yeah, even with what I said in the beginning of this still not buying it. I would have liked a Joker mention somewhere in there. Finally, I never agreed with the ending to The Dark Knight when Batman takes the blame for Dent. Watching this film you wonder if even Nolan realized that was dumb, because the characters are chastised for it. I was upset that the end was not really followed up on, and wondered why we open eight years later to a hobbled Bruce Wayne.
However the first act was still really strong, and then we get to the second act. This is where the movie goes down the drain for me. First of all, the prison did not work for me. I liked the prison stuff in Star Trek VI more believe it or not. I just didn’t feel for Bruce and what he was going through. The backstory about the prisoner who escaped went on forever. In fact that’s a complaint I have with this film, too much backstory! This movie is definitely a sequel to Batman Begins, Liam Neeson even put in a cameo. The way Bruce is cured is lame and rushed. I am not sure if they made it clear Bane literally broke his back, but even if he didn’t the recovery seemed too easy. The stuff with Bane taking over went to long to, I just stopped caring, The stadium scene was trailer fodder, simple as that. It was pointless and unnecessary. A reviewer from another site made a great observation I totally agree with. He noted that we don’t see the people rise up and support Batman. In fact, we don’t see the people in the city at all. They all cower in their houses like wimps. At one point Catwoman says that they are not worth saving because they have never done anything for Batman. Believe it or not, I kind of agree with her! They try to have Bane “prove a point” the way the Joker did. But what the Joker did almost worked; here it doesn’t really go anywhere. The end they showed Gotham unveil a statue in Batman’s honor, there should have been more scenes of people using his images as a symbol earlier in the film it just would have had added more meaning.
Yes, the moment where Bruce escaped the prison is a big yawn, I was more impressed with the surrounding country. By the way, since when is Gotham an island? Love how they went from Chicago to New York to make the plot device of the bridges work. Of course the big gripe of this film, for good reason, is how did Bruce get back into the city? I would have settled for even having Selina ask only to have Bruce give a nod and smile but not an answer. Sure it would have been cheesy but at least that would have been acknowledging it! I mean, couldn’t they have shown something? You can’t be a realistic comic book movie and then for one scene pull the “well it’s a silly comic book movie so we don’t have to explain it” crap! Can’t have it both ways.
The last half hour of The Dark Knight, I was really invested. I loved Two-Face and what they did with that character really made that film for me. I wanted to see what happened, and believe it or not was a little sad it ended when it did. While I would not say I was bored exactly, the ending of this one did nothing for me. First of all, I was ready to yell at the screen “enough backstory!” I mean when Tate went on about her real identity I was like, whatever! Why didn’t they introduce that character sooner! I read enough Batman to know who Talia is but my father sure had no clue. They establish she and Bane were friends way too late for me to give a crap. The villains did not have the same allure for me. Of course with Catwoman that is forgivable since we are not sure if we are supposed to love her or hate her. But Bane starts good but ends up being so generic that I just didn’t care. The build up to the final action scene went on forever, and then the whole action sequence was just dull. Sorry, I feel many people hating me but it just was. The situation was so generic I could have screamed! An atomic bomb is going to go off and the heroes only have so much time to stop it! Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, more times than I care to remember! As usual in one scene they have days left and then suddenly it’s down to hours. They even did the tired cliché of having a clock ticking. I mean, really? Honest to god I may have walked out if I had been alone. How many times are we going to see this? It doesn’t add suspense to have a ticking clock because it has been done to death!! I wish filmmakers would understand that already!
The climax was a letdown. The plan is kind of weak but I can live with it. Yeah, I would love to see an original villain plan for once, but whatever. If the characters are strong it shouldn’t matter. The final battle just didn’t do anything for me; I almost missed where Tate’s vehicle crashed because I just didn’t care. By the way, that was how she died? In a car accident? Anticlimactic to say the least. In fact both villains die almost by accident, and Batman does nothing really to defeat them. I didn’t mind him being beaten the first time, in fact that was a very well done scene, but I expected better the second time. All we get is a fistfight (what is this, Rocky?) and then Catwoman saved the day. Hoorah. I really don’t understand why people are saying this is better than The Dark Knight, but that’s there right and I respect that. By the way I am not getting into the deaths caused by Batman in this film, but I did not like when he repeated Bane’s line about having permission to die. That is just not something Batman would say, unless maybe Frank Miller was writing him.
So let’s talk about the worst part of the film for me. The ending. Again I am spoiling it so if you don’t want to know how it ends stop here. So Batman takes the bomb and flies out to the bay, where it explodes apparently killing him. First of all, wouldn’t the explosion still affect the city? I mean they said it had a six mile radius. Superman used to fly these things into space to get them as far away as possible. Then what happens next just lost me. There is a funeral for Bruce because Commissioner Gordon figured he was Batman. What a slap in the face to the comics that is, talk about violating rule #1! Alfred is beside himself because he failed. Kind of makes the scene where he leaves unnecessary. The bit about turning Wayne Manor into a home for orphaned children was laaammmmee. The scene it was calling back to was weak too. We see Blake discover the bat cave and apparently his name is Robin….what? He was cool in the film but what did he do that makes him the new Robin? Then we see Alfred in the café where he spies Bruce and Selina. I am going to ignore the fact that they hardly had a relationship and complain about the thing which really bugged me and this goes back to what I discussed in the beginning. These three movies were about Bruce as I mentioned, and how does the story end? With a half second appearance in a café, and that’s it. We don’t even know for sure if Alfred really sees him (although it’s safe to assume he does), but what then? Is he happy? Has he moved on? Will Batman ever return? How do you end a trilogy like this! I thought I hated it in Return of the Jedi when the last we saw of our heroes was celebrating with teddy bears, but this was worst! We know this is the last film, so why not give this character a proper send off? This isn’t INCEPTION Chris Nolan!!! Well, I hated that ending. I mean, really really hated it! What a letdown.
So, those are my thoughts on the new Batman film. I liked The Dark Knight much more. This was not the worst thing ever, but not great either. Before I wrap up I do have one comment I need to make. I respect anyone for having an opinion, if you loved this film that’s great. But at the same time people are allowed to hate it. Chris Nolan is not the be all end all of filmmaking and let’s be frank, this film has problems. If you enjoyed it, great, but don’t bash people because they “had the nerve” to hate it. I say this after reading some of the comments after Doug Walker did his review, and some of those comments were a bit strong. I don’t understand why the fans are so protective of this trilogy, the movies were well made and lots of work went into them, yes, but they are still movies and people are free to hate them as they please.
Ok, that’s it for me. Feel free to comment and let me know how you feel or if I got a detail wrong. Until next time!