The Dark Knight Rises: Excruciatingly Boring

I don’t sit well with Batman fans, I know.  Specifically, the Batman according to Nolan.  So glad, this trilogy is finally over.  Sandwiched between Cynthia and TK in the cinema, I had to stay entertained.  The girl sitting beside Cynthia was playing with her wireless phone throughout the 165 minutes show.  I can totally relate.

This show is boring.  My brain bled in utter boredom.  It is hard to stay spoiler free for a not so positive write-up.  Hence, if you are planning to watch The Dark Knight Rises, read no further.  Chances are you will thoroughly enjoy the movie.  Many do, especially when you love the previous Nolan installments.  The aggregated score for this movie is very high, which I struggle to understand why.  But that is just me.

This movie is called The Dark Knight Rises.  I want to see Batman in action.  Majority of the film has nothing to do with Batman.  If it was up to me, I would rename this film to Bane: Power to the People.  For most part of the movie, I see the villain Bane way more than I see anyone else on screen.  The fear and destruction Bane has laid upon Gotham City.  The long and emotional speech Bane gave, which I wish Batman could have had a similar opportunity.  Screamed in my head I did: “Shut up! I want to see Batman!”  I get it. Batman franchise is always about the villains.  Like Joker and Two-Face.  Bane gives me nothing.  He is a fat and buffed man that seems to punch hard (reminds me of Butcher in Diablo 3).  He has a strange mask over his face that synthesizes his voice in a hollow and an unrealistic way.  He commands a terrorist network.  Gotham City has to be destroyed, once again.  With a mask covering his mouth (how does he eat or drink anyway?) and that computerized voice, I find it hard to connect to the character.  His weakness?  The mask over his teeth.  It takes Batman 165 minutes to figure that out.  Oh God.

The chemistry between Bruce Wayne or Batman and his potential love interests is terrible.  For no reason or whatsoever, Bruce is in bed with Miranda played by the beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard.  Since when Bruce Wayne is into one night stand?  No courtship, no relationship development thereafter.  It is the finding of solace, and then business.  Heroes wearing masks to protect those they love.  Who is Bruce Wayne trying to protect?  I was in joy when I heard that Anne Hathaway plays the Catwoman (actually not officially mentioned as one even though the costume has suggested so) or rather Selina Kyle the cat burglar.  There is no transformation on Selina Kyle.  No background story on her becoming a cat burglar, except she is doing it for the people or to erase her past or a bit of both.  The drama between Batman and Catwoman is a tease.  The relationship could have been so much more.  What about Catwoman is the reason for Batman’s comeback and it follows through?  In the end, it is reduced to two big kisses (I think), from Catwoman to Batman.  What a huge disappointment.  Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman still holds a special place in my heart.  Sadly, Anne Hathaway is likely to be one of the two reasons why I can tolerate The Dark Knight Rises.

There is something tragic about The Dark Knight Rises.  The background story of Bane’s younger day, Miranda’s childhood, and even the story of Ra’s al Ghul has a much better potential than this Batman story.  It touches my emotional core so much so that I could weep on that.  I wish there will be a spinoff like the Scorpion King story from the Mummy.  Too much of this movie is focused on the plan to destroy Gotham City.  Too little has been told about such a potential powerful story of Ra’s al Ghul and his heir.

To say that Batman is missing in action most of the film is also not entirely correct.  First part of the story, we see a crippled Batman in retirement.  Doctor has already told him that his body can no longer take all the physical punishment.  His joints are giving way due to years of beating.  Bruce could hardly walk!  Yet, donning the Batman suit with an artificial kneel assist device, Batman is out to take on Bane.  And he failed.  For a good part of the movie, Bruce was stuck inside a prison cell.  Sure, fans would want to see the comeback of Batman.  The so-called transformation through training and willpower can be motivating.  But have we not seen this sort of plot time and time again?  Miraculously, Bruce’s body is totally healed inside a prison cell where he should have died of malnutrition.  He is even strong enough to punch Bane to his face, this time with better precision and power.  Yet, what kills Bane is something else.

There is this one scene when the truck carrying an atomic bomb fell down a bridge.  Maybe a four stories fall.  The young one seated at the front of the truck trained by the legendary Ra’s al Ghul could not survive the fall while an old man inside the cargo area at the back next to the bomb could.  Mind you, this old man was supposed to recuperate in a hospital.  He got out the back of the truck OK.  No bruise no shock, it was a miracle.  I was like: Huh?!

TK reminded me that this is a fantasy story and I should not read too much into it.  Perhaps I should have switched my brain off for this 165 minutes movie.  Logic glitches aside, I find that the ending sequence very exciting and satisfying.  I wish the filmmakers show more civilians in the last part of the movie rather than a school bus full of children.  Batman has saved a lot of people.  It doesn’t appear so.  To sum up, I love the ending; I love the Bat-bike and the Bat-plane.  The bike is so hot.  Having Catwoman on it makes it even hotter.  The rest is a yawn.

Will I watch another Batman movie?  Why not, since TK and Cynthia are such huge fans.  There is always hope for a better reboot.  The Amazing Batman perhaps?

The Dark Knight – Being the Rare One Who Cannot Connect to the New Bat Franchise

Erm.  Yawn?  Zzzz.

OK.  It is hard to write something knowing that over 90% of the population will disagree with.  And if I am to continue my ‘review career’, I have some serious recalibration to do.

Cynthia loves “The Dark Knight”; I had a headache watching it.  So what happens?  I will get to that in just a bit.

Great casting, no doubt.  The acting is rock solid especially from the late Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart.  Both I adore and respect a great deal.  Jack Nicholson’s Joker as far as I can remember is comical; Heath Ledger’s Joker is pure creepiness and madness.  Give Ledger his Oscar.  He deserves it.  Did Warner Bros. modify the ending to be sensitive to the circumstances?  I have no clue.  Warner Bros. did change the promotional campaign after Ledger’s death.

Just how much of the success of “The Dark Knight” is contributed by this unfortunate event?  I also have no clue.  What I do know is that I have done some serious reflection on why this film doesn’t quite work for me.

Maybe I am addicted to computer-generated imagery especially after that jaw dropping non-stop special effect of Hellboy II, “The Dark Knight” looks a bit bland to me.  I am not sure how most audience feels about the 153 minutes film.  But isn’t it a bit too, lengthy, with too many gaps of how-you-wish-there-was-more-entertainment-per-minute?

Sure I could overlook the above easily.  I love the Batman franchise.  I really do.  Probably one of my favorite superheroes.  If I close my eyes and think of Batman, I see a strong association to the flying bats, I see the bat cave, I see Batman sleeping upside down like a bat, I see a bat mobile with absolute sleekness, I see fast moving fights, I see a Gotham City so dark so thugs infested that induces fear, I see my heart leaps when Batman appears from nowhere, and I see myself living in a fantasy world captivated by its creator.  As I opened my eyes and watched “The Dark Knight” in a theater, I saw Batman making a rather unglamorous entrance, I saw Batman standing on top of the modern IFC building in my birth town Hong Kong (read: where is the fantasy when I know that the building was officially opened in 2003?) having absolutely no animalistic association to bats or whatsoever throughout the film, my heart sank.  If Batman was to stand on top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, I would have thought of the film “Entrapment”.  In fact, I did think of that film briefly while I was watching “The Dark Knight”.

And maybe I am still an old school when it comes to comic book adaptation.  I want to see frame-by-frame scenes composition; I want to see a rather simple storyline and I want to feel with and for my hero.  Anyways …

Having said all of the above, I can understand why “The Dark Knight” has a mass appeal.  Over 90% of the population loves this film, why wouldn’t you?  Can the gross revenue of “The Dark Knight” overtake the original “Batman” (1989) by Tim Burton?  Only time can tell.

OK.  I am done.  Back to my recalibration process.