Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dark Knight Rises: All the spoilers

Yeah, so seriously, all the spoilers here.

I'm not gonna hold back at all..


So after watching and really enjoying the film, I was interested to read online reaction. While its mostly positive, there are some people who really hate the film, for some... pretty stupid reasons frankly. First of all, many geeks saw the Talia twist coming.  I'll freely admit as someone who often sees twists approaching, it completely past me by. Of course, I hadn't been reading internet speculation sites where everyone was guessing that she would be cast as Talia, which probably helped a little. But as someone who didn't do that, and definitely knows who Talia is.. yeah, it was a surprise. Sure its a bit weird on reflection that Ra's had a son instead of a daughter, but the films have diverged from the comics in multiple ways so I didn't really spare it a thought.

The nice thing about this twist, even if its predictable, is that it explains a lot about the rest of the film: Bane has some weirdly specific knowledge, which its now clear he got from Talia, particularly Batman's identity. Some people have apparently also got annoyed that this makes Bane effectively Talia's bodyguard. Well... sort of, but he's clearly her equal, and the issue with Batman and Robin was not that Bane was working for Poison Ivy, its that a potentially very rich villain character is delegated to a mindless thug. The Bane of this film dominates it, and does exactly what he should be doing narratively. Being in love with Talia (or some kind of father figure thing) is just an added piece of motivation.

I think their plan holds together pretty well. The important thing to realise is their motivation. Bane, and thus Talia, were exiled from the League of Shadows, and their goals are not the league's goals. Ra's wouldn't die to destroy Gotham, he thinks much more long term than that, but Bane and Talia are avenging his death. They know Wayne killed him, and they know Ra's last wish was for Gotham to be destroyed. So they decide to torture Wayne and destroy Gotham. Its a cruel, disturbing plan, with the people of Gotham turned into animals for the chance to survive (hints of the the Joker's plan there), only to have it utterly dashed in their destruction.

Unlike the Joker's plan, its relatively (ha), straightforward. They want to nuke Gotham, but its not that easy for them to acquire a warhead and manufacture it there. So Talia sets up the fission plan, and Bane gets a scientist to work on weaponising it. They use Daggert for his financial resources. When Wayne cuts off the plan, Talia and Bane realise that he's caught on to the dangers, and need to put him in a position to reveal its location. They move into Gotham. Bane prepares his army (who would have been needed anyway), but has to bankrupt Wayne using stock market jiggery pokery (ok, yes, it almost certainly couldn't work: pretty sure all transactions that evening would be invalidated, but we can go with that). They also know that the additional threat will pull Wayne out of retirement (and even if it doesn't, they could just go and find him if necessary!)

The underlying political current in this film is a little weird. Its actually about how demagogues can subvert popular movements (which happens all the time historically: see the Roman Empire to the French Revolution), particularly in this case a fascistic presence, which Bane clearly is. The weirdness comes from the time this film is being made: after all this is a time when the worry isn't really the tyranny of the mob, but the tyranny of the elite who use and abuse us. This film could be seen as a criticism of the occupy movement, but I think its just a warning that such movements can easily turn much worse.

This leads to the scene with the police charging the people. Its... a bit weird. First of all, its a terribly stupid thing to do against people with automatic weaponry, second of all, its a bit weird that only the police officers do it. Authority versus anarchy. I guess that's not always a bad statement to make, but its certainly an unusual one.

Incidentally, I have no problem with catwoman finishing off Bane. Batman did defeat Bane, using the weakness he learnt in prison (fighting smart), so it was ok for him to be finished quickly: he'd served his role, and lost his metaphorical power.

There are, as always some plot holes. Why did the entire police force go underground? There's absolutely no way Batman could have got that nuke far enough away in time (could have been easily solved by adding three minutes to the timer, but I guess that'd be less dramatic), and it is a bit stupid that Alfred knows so much about the league (that's the film trying to save time by skipping Batman investigating it, but it comes across as a bit odd).

I liked Blake's arc a lot, but was expecting to end differently. I was expecting him to turn into the Azreal figure from the comics, a demented version of batman. Certainly his brandishing of fire arms made me think that. As it is, the film went for a much more hopeful bent, which is reasonable. The Robin thing was a bit silly, but I think thats just for the slower members of the audience. It seems likely he'll actually take up Batman's mantle anyway (yes yes he has no resources, but that really isn't the point).

Finally.. should Batman have died? I certainly liked him dying, and I think it would have been fine, but.. would have been very harsh on Alfred, who is completely broken in the funeral scene.

One note on Batman retiring. No, the comics batman would never give up entirely. But this Batman really isn't the comics batman. He's nowhere near as smart, or as committed. And that's fine. This Batman is a good man willing to give up everything, and while he hid for 8 years to perpetuate a lie, he knew it couldn't last (and hence didn't really quit). With the end of this film, its not really a lie: Batman is dead, or at least Wayne's version, and Wayne is free to leave the city in relative place. He's even given room for his successor, should a large enough threat rise in Gotham again.


At 3:26 pm, Blogger Boo and Trev said...

Interesting. I was a bit disappointed in the film although I know I am not the target audience at all. I found the fact that you couldn't see Banes mouth really distracting. His voice sounded superimposed (obviously it was) and I felt that Tom Hardy was a bit wasted in the role. I also found the very end a bit with the bomb and the helicopter a bitAngels and Demons. Trevor was actually snorting at that point.
But I also found bits of it a bit boring and found my mind wondering and the number or people in the cinema getting up and down implies it wasn't as gripping as it might have been. I think the 3 stars in the Guardian was about right for me


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