Digital Polyphony

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Nit-Picking Batman

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

I like /film a lot. It's one of my favorite blogging sites for film. But sometimes I wonder if they check the material they're putting on, most recently with this rather self-congratulatory article about the "15 Problems" of the Dark Knight Rises.

There's also one for Film School Rejects further down. I figured a lot of the issues of the film are reflected in these two articles, but I'm taking some time to put in my thoughts as well. Truth is, I think a lot is people looking for something to dislike, far from major concerns or problems in the film, and others aren't really looking at it in terms of the past films and all their flaws as well.

There are spoilers, and I'll have a review later this week, but here's a run down.


/Film's "Dark Knight Rises" Problems


"When and how did Bane find out about Batman’s identity and Applied Sciences?"


Would it have been nice to see all this? Yes. Is it relevant to our film and pertinent to the story at the time? No. In terms of script writing, some things are needed, other things are not. This isn't a television series to expand every single detail (then have people complain it's taking too long) it's a film, and often times you have to assume things as long as it's believably assumed. IN this case, Bane is very, very smart, he has connections and probably drew the conclusion the same way he did in the comics (logical deduction and observation - which is never shown either).

And let's not forget, it's not just Bane out there either. There's another very smart person at work.

I think this is a good lesson in script writing. Some things you need to include, other things aren't quite as needed to the story. Bane going around an "observing" and having a sudden epiphany would have made for boring if not outright bad cinema. Plus, it would take away from his menace. The fact he sudden calls Batman "Mr. Wayne" was a great reveal, and considering how smart the man is, it's not hard to realize he could figure it out.



"Blake Intuits That Bruce Wayne is Batman"


In contrast to what I just wrote, this is something that was included and really shouldn't have happened at all.  Blake figuring out Bruce Wayne is Batman, and when he was a child no less all through "watching him," makes you wonder just how dumb everyone else in this world is. This is by far the worst thing in the film and the one thing that really keeps it from being "great" overall. It's just dangling there, and it's a constant throughline. Blake's character is nothing more than a plot device. As a character, he has nothing going on and everything feels way too convenient. Plus, you can tell they were only using him to push the plot along because by the end, he had nothing left to do. I like the character of Blake, I like how he's used as a bit of an "everyman" but when it comes to something like this or that awful scene of him near the end on the bridge, I kind of cringe.



"Bruce Wayne Is Down, Then Back Up, Then Down, Then Back Up… "

Considering the scope of the film, I don't have a problem with this as much as others do. Yes, the repeated cycle lessens the impact. It would have been easier/better to just make Bruce Wayne still be Batman (and for 8 years instead of in hiding) right from the get-go. The arc would essentially be the same, and the whole "pick yourself back up" bookend with the first film is still there. It slightly works because the film is so long, but it certainly could have been done better.

Also, you may not be a medical doctor, writer of said article, but you are a film fan and I would think you would have noted the fact it has been months, not weeks, that Wayne was in prison. Now, if you want to say "Nolan does a piss-poor job showing the passage of time" then I'm in full agreement.


"Alfred Says Goodbye to Bruce"

This certainly needed to happen (it's been building for two films, plus it happens in the comics during the Bane storyarc) but it needed to be handled with a little more grace. That's an issue throughout all of Nolan's Batman films: the emotional punch just never is set right, and drama is often undermined by awkward pacing. Caine was terrific in the scene, though, it just needed a better build up and a better read by Bale in a reactionary manner, who was great other than this moment.


"Why Wouldn’t the SEC Just Overturn Bane’s Fraudulent Trades?"

Who cares? This is where you kind of just have your suspension of disbelief and nit picking this is grasping at straws.



"Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard Have Sex"

The fact they have sex isn't the issue. It's the fact they don't build a relationship at all. This entry should have been labeled "underdeveloped relationship" not "they have sex."



"So Batman is a street artist now?"

Again, not really a big deal and kind of irrelevant. Batman did it as a calling card. Is the way he did it a little contrived? Yeah, but nobody seemed to bitch about that when the Joker did it.



"Bruce Wayne Forgets to Do Proper Background Checks"

Bruce Wayne didn't hire any of those people at the event. This is clearly stated in the film, he doesn't have a lot to do with what's going on. Note the world "recluse" used often, plus the direct statement that Alfred is the one doing the details almost all the time.


On top of that, this is a major, major stretch to complain about doing "background checks." That's not how the service industry works. If you hire a caterer, you don't ask them for a list of everyone and then spend months checking backgrounds.You hire the caterer because that's their jobs, they do the background checks. Plus, who's to say Selina Kyle was officially working for the event in the first place?


If you want to grasp at straws, because that's what this one is, and nit-pick the film to death, blame Alfred, not Bruce. Hell, if you want to put in a real entry on this list, how about complaining that Alfred seems to be able to find out everything about Bane when professional agents don't know a thing out of sheer convenience. There's even a montage of it.

"Why Does Bane Take a Break from His Master Plan to Ship Bruce Wayne Off to the Desert?"

1) It's not Bane's plan. That seems to be what people haven't put together yet. All this outlining and planning is because of a partnership, not just one person, to hurt Batman, to hurt Bruce Wayne and to hurt Gotham step by step along the way. Step one was to gather resources. Step two was to infiltrate. Step three is to bring Wayne/Batman out of hiding. Step know, you get the idea. It's pretty straight forward and not nearly as difficult to figure out as some have complained about. The plan is still going on, Bane being an escort is a part of it because Miranda is still overseeing it all in Gotham.

2) Besides, he was gone maybe a day or two? Again, this is serious, serious nit-picking. Shit, people did this to Avatar to death too, complaining about stuff that really is inconsequential considering the span of time the film covers.


"How Does Bruce Wayne Get Back to Gotham?"

Like the first entry, this is one of those things that would have been nice to know, but it's also not all that important either. Far from something that should "bother" anybody. It's a detail that would be nice to have seen, but in the grand scheme isn't really all that relevant. In case you haven't noticed for all these movies, Bruce Wayne is pretty damn resourceful, it's easy to deduce he probably didn't have too hard of a time getting back to Gotham.



"Why Does a Prison Exist Where People Can Possibly Climb To Freedom, And By Doing So, Free All The Other Prisoners?"

Probably one of the bigger contrivances in the film. I can understand why it exists. It's a form of torture to put out false hope (it's also meant to be a metaphor for the Lazarus Pit, but I'm not getting into that now)…but someone DID escape at one point and that probably should have been a sign that your prison isn't working all that well. Yeah, it was one, but all it takes is one. From a sheer logic standpoint, it didn't feel quite right. I'm fine with a prison, fine with an escape plan, but all the "climbing" motifs felt a bit forced.


"The Post-Bane Gotham Feels Totally Fake"

Certainly does, but it's a cool Post-Bane Gotham none the less. I can see what they're going for visually and in terms of atmosphere, but it needed a dramatic take and, again, that's something Nolan has never been able to really capture. The sense of desperation is far too fleeting and it just doesn't feel real. I like the setting, I like some of the scenarios (like the court or barren streets) but nothing feels grounded.


"Are the Gotham City Police Department and CIA Really THAT Dumb?"

This whole scenario feels like it was done in a rewrite. You throw in all the police? Really? That's…convenient. Certainly in agreement on that entry.

The CIA thing I can forgive, though. CIA is a bunch of arrogant jerks. But the whole Gotham Police thing doesn't make a lick of sense.


"Most of the Hand-To-Hand Combat Is Terrible"

This is new? Nolan's never done this well. As great as he is at showcasing spectacle and large-scale action, when it comes to basic fisticuffs he still hasn't quite got it.  That being said, this is probably some of his better hand-to-hand action. It has variety and there's a few standout moment. Plus the first fight between Bane and Batman is fantastic. The way it's shot fits perfectly. Call that awful if you want, but the "dizzying" and out of focus effect combined with no music at all was incredibly well done.

As far as staging goes, the bike-chase scene is fantastic and the large brawl in very well done. The fight scenes with Catwoman also nicely done.


"Multiple Ending Syndrome"

Again, this isn't surprising. Just look at the last film, Nolan has never been able to do a good Batman ending. At the same time, he doesn't dwell here. He shows what's going on with each character and runs through them. It's saying good bye, the same way the Lord of the Rings in a way did, only here a bit better because it's not starting/stopping repeatedly.


Film School Rejects

Another list from another of my favorite blogging sites. Again, click the link to read their complains, but here's my views.

"Bane’s Voice"

It was certainly hit and miss. Sometimes it sounded great, other times it was difficult. I liked the sound. I liked the accent. I like the delivery…I just couldn't understand it sometimes. Not a HUGE deal, but an issue they probably should have dealt with.

"Blake Knows Who the Batman Is Because…"

As mentioned earlier, this is probably my biggest issue with the film as well. I don't know anyone who doesn't have a problem with this and I'm surprised it ended up in the movie at all. It's too bad, because Gordon-Levitt is really good in the film, hell he even delivers the "explanation" to how he knows Wayne is Batman wonderfully. A great read with conviction and emotion. At the time you kind of buy it. But then that passes and you kind of just think... "Wait a minute..."


"Tell It To Me One More Time"

I don't have a problem with a lot of exposition, to be honest, but I did kind of have a problem with Alfred doing nearly all of it. There's a lot of it and it's almost entirely of him, and it's not spread out all that much either. There's a whole series of scenes of just Alfred talking...a lot.

I love Nolan's take on Alfred. He really created a wonderful relationship and Alfred is the emotional core of the entire trilogy, making that poetic final scene of him at the end probably the most memorable moment in the entire film. If there's anything that's going to be remembered about this entire trilogy it's the relationship between Bruce and Alfred, it's too bad a lot of him in Rises is exposition with Bruce and only a couple moments of actual emotion.


"The Central Easily Outwitted Agency"

Again, I didn't have a big issue with this. This one is a bit nit-picky too. Planes crash in weird ways, so I can buy that.  Shit happens. The CIA are idiots. Not the first movie to do that.


"The Eight Year Gap"

Here, the issue is whether or not Batman would retire for 8 years. My point is that Batman has been re-imagined plenty of times in comics and nobody cared, so why does Nolan have to be 100% faithful when there's no one-defining trait on Batman in the first place? 

I don't have a problem with that he's "retired" I just have a problem with that he didn't HAVE to be, and the film probably would have been better structured if he was just always Batman. IF anything, the fact he's "retired" (in his late 40s by then) is the same through line as The Dark Knight Returns…and everybody loved that. In this world, I can understand someone retiring for years then called back to duty because it was demanded of him.


"Blake Hates Guns Until He Needs One"

The "disgust" of Blake's gun usage is certainly short-sighted. They probably should have saved that scene for after Gordon's scene in the hospital. Or even during. It was misplaced structure-wise, certainly, and the impact was a footnote for the character

"(Almost) Literally Every Cop in the City Goes into the Sewer"

Yep. And still pretty dumb as I already went into. This one really tests your suspension of disbelief.


"Foley is Fairly Dumb, But Doesn’t Even Get a Hero’s Death"

Eh…it's an inconsequential character, far from an issue of the entire film. But that being said, I think it actually worked. I think he DID get a heroes death. He led the charge at the end and was gunned down. He went in KNOWING he was going to die and did it anyway. That's damn admirable, and showing that he died in a quiet shot of his body was more than fitting.


"The Police vs The Goons, a Battle of Stupidity"

It was a street fight, nothing more. It pretty much played out like a street fight…not organized, but emotionally desperate. I thought it was staged pretty well, though I feel Batman and Bane "finding" each other seemed a little cheesy when it happened.

"Bane’s Anti-Climactic Death"

See, why wasn't this on /film's list? This absolutely didn't work. There needed to be something grander here, because that's what it felt like it was building to. Then it was just cut off and at the cost of a thematic principle of Batman (in this film mind you) being undermined entirely. There's no final "Bane moment" and in a film full of "Bane moments" there needed to be one. Then you can have Catwoman shoot him. I don't care about that because you knew she was going to save Batman anyway. But the rug was pulled out in terms of a satisfying end to Bane. The guy broke Batman, there needed to be something bigger here.

"Is Batman Ultimately Out of Character?"

Again, who's to say what Batman's character is, especially if you're going to reimagine it and especially with the one Nolan has well established by now? The principles are still there (kid's parents die, he feels need to become a vigilante, beats up bad guys, willing to die for his cause). If your'e going to start nit picking details, then, sir, you have a lot of comics to read and re-read because Batman is damn sure different in a lot of them.

Oh, and this is kind of stupid:

"Secondly, Batman not only retired from crime fighting for 8 years (because his girlfriend died, boo-boo)"

Actually, the film clearly states that organized crime has been wiped out thanks to the Dent act. Batman's retiring came from that, not the loss over Rachel.


I personally like the more human take on Bruce Wayne. He's an emotional wreck, arguably a little insane. Showing his beginnings, struggles and end fits this world Nolan has created for him. I've got no problem with his character. At all. More importantly is I like how they ended this story.


So, that's kind of my thoughts on various things. I decided to link to the blogs because I feel those blogs reflect a lot of people's views on the film and are written nice enough to get the points across. John Blake's intuition, the underdeveloped Miranda Tate relationship and the shoving all the cops underground thing are probably my biggest issues with the film (the first of those being the only one I would call a major, major know kind of how Batman decided not to save Ra's at the end of Batman Begins and kind of brought the whole movie down).

But man, when it's doing things's really doing things right. The scope. The desire to be as practical and "old school" as possible while maintaining a sense of "sweeping epic." Anyways, I'll have my review up on Friday.


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