Fisk (fiskblack) wrote,

The Dark Knight Rises

Most of this movie was about what I expected. It was clear that each film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy cover an important period of Wayne's crime fighting "career", and that this would, by necessity, had to be his last. What I also expected, and came away validated on, was that the sorts of people who really liked the second movie in the trilogy, wouldn't like this one nearly as much because it lacked the same tension and pacing from the beginning, as well as the nihilistic Joker character who holds a philosophy that justifies many of their darkest fantasies in such a macabre way. To them, the film would have fallen "flat" because they aren't really there to analyze the entire tale, as much as they are there to enjoy mindfucks and good fights. It does leave me wondering what this third film would have been like if Ledger had still been alive.

Spoilers ahead, naturally.

In any event, I liked the film. I look at movies in a different way than most people I know, including my friends. It starts out more slowly than perhaps we would have expected, building very steadily to a level where the usual emotional body-blows and tension we expect are present toward the second half of the film. I can appreciate the challenge in fitting so much into the constraints of a marketable film. Imagining such a challenge, I don't know if I'd have the patience with the medium. Another thing that I enjoyed about the film, that no doubt will cause others to dislike it, is that it requires the use of your mind to fully grasp what's going on. The antagonist isn't just a bad dude who wants to destroy things, but also, heralding back to parts of the first film, Wayne has to fight parts of himself. He has to overcome his apathy towards death and regain a sense of his own life and happiness outside of his Batman persona. This was actually an incredibly refreshing thing to see in a modern movie about a hero like this, who actually goes on to live a good life instead of sacrificing himself at the end. I think expecting, and being disappointed, in Wayne's survival at the end, reveals a pretty bleak personality and I'm glad the movie avoided catering to that idea of sacrifice.

And no, I'm not really interested in listening to someone's opinion about how heroism necessarily requires sacrifice, even the ultimate one.

While I really enjoyed the second movie, there were a few things that left me uneasy at the end of them. Namely, that the foundation of Gotham's hope was left on the lie that Dent was a good, incorruptible man, as well as the false truth that Alfred allowed Wayne imagine by burning Dawes' letter. The third film went on to invalidate these untruths by illustrating the damage done by their revealing, and then the benefit of people acting with the clarity of reality once they learned the truth. Wayne was able to move on, and Gotham was able to rally around Batman as the symbol they needed. The temptation for the easy lie was accepted at first, but it didn't pay off. While the second movie seemed to denigrate the ordinary man trying to stand up and do things themselves (with the Batman copycats in the beginning of the film), the third movie implied a more noble version of this. Without relying on superheroes, regular people could take to the streets, coordinate actions, and assault bad guy strong holds. The turnaround of the douchebaggy police chief at the end of the movie, taking to the streets in his dress blues, was a nice touch.

Ultimately, I think my favorite parts of the film were the ones that played to an undercurrent theme throughout, starting with Alfred's suggestions here and there, and culminating in Wayne's climb out of the prison pit. It wasn't a fearless attitude toward death that made Wayne a capable hero and a fighter, but ultimately, it was his realization that his life was worth living, and therefor, worth fighting for. Again, an inversion of the typical hero template.

Selina Kyle was handled well, the only way Nolan could, I think. I don't think she was ever called "Catwoman" during the entire film. She was simply called a cat burglar on one occasion. She had no tail. She never purred or meowed, nor did she live in an apartment full of cats. Her "ears" were nothing more than protrusions from her goggles, which went away as soon as they were over her eyes. Catwoman was always a Batman character on the edge of villain and hero. The harshness of the city turned her into what she was, but she never succumbed completely. Even in the Nolan film when she sees the end game of her populist motivations, one can tell she's realizing her mistake.

Populism played a big role in the film. The concept of social justice and wealth redistribution, heedless to being rightfully earned, is used by those who understand its ultimate conclusion: the destruction of value all together. Talia and Bane use this populism as a trojan horse, tailor made to disguise their destructive intent. The film reveals how people motivated by altruism and social justice are more open to corruption, deception, and wanton destruction, than those motivated by their own sense of life and real justice. It also rejects the sense of "group justice" offered by Talia, which requires the destruction of an entire city, innocent along with the guilty, in order to "reset" society back on a path of their choosing. The fight against this motivation is a fight to preserve the innocent and good individuals, even if they are surrounded by bad elements. This is a pretty good rejection of the Platonic view of the world, where individuals are regarded as inconsequential to the overall group "concept" they may be a part of in someone else's mind.

Analyzing the movie from the context of all three, I thought it was a good way to end the trilogy. Some people will agree, others will think it wasn't as good as the second and therefor not a success. There may be some points about how the film could have been paced at the beginning, to add a more thrilling feel to the entire build-up, but without being able to see it a few times, I can't speak to that right now, and it's all speculative, anyway.
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