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July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises -- A Preamble

Before I begin, I want to take some time out to offer my condolences to the people of Aurora, Colorado.  Even if you never meet me, hear me, or see me, know that my thoughts are with you, and I pray for brighter days to return to your community soon enough.  What happened there was a tragedy, and even though all I can offer are my words and my feelings, I hope they're enough to help you move past this.

If you're reading this -- whether you're a part of that community or not -- I hope you'll take time out to have a moment of silence.


And now, let's move on to a different subject.  Click the jump for my typical irreverence.

…This is gonna suck.

(Warning: spoilers to follow.  Leave now if you haven’t seen the movie.)

(Warning: seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie -- and want to remain impartial to the movie and form your own opinions when the time comes -- then close the page and go read something else.)

(Warning: you’re still here?  Look, it’s a nice sentiment, but don’t try to be a hero; what follows is going to be a slew of spoilers, but more importantly a series of highly debatable, highly controversial opinions.  If you’re the sort that’s easily incensed by opinions that don’t match your own, this is not the post for you.  Leave.  Now.)

(Warning: beware the Portuguese man-o-war.)

I…I, uh…I don’t…I mean I kind of…urrrrrrrrgh.

All right.  I guess I’m just going to come out and say it.  As of this moment -- until I inevitably spend seven thousand words and the better half of a week pounding out my final thoughts -- I…

Oh wait.  Hold on a second.  Wheat lands, swathe me with your divine protection!  Barrier!  Okay, good.  That’ll give my defense a boost, at least for a little while.  Now where was I?  Oh right.

I don’t really like The Dark Knight Rises.

I know, I know.  Blasphemy in its purest form.  I must confess and attempt to repent for my sins, but even then it won’t be enough.  All that’s left for me is to be excommunicated, and plunged into hellish depths so yawning that the devil himself would be afraid to venture in.  But make no mistake: this is going to be one of the hardest things I’ll have ever written.

Do you think I like feeling this way?  Do you think I like feeling underwhelmed and disappointed by a movie that humanity itself has practically anticipated?  Do you think I like walking out of the theater, knowing that my own preferences and ideas will inevitably be called out because I dissent?  “Oh, you don’t like gritty stuff, so that’s why you don’t like the movie.”  Or “Oh, you’re not a Batman fan, so you have no right to speak.”  Do you think I like knowing that those two statements aren’t ones coming from others, but from myself?

I mean…just…dammit.  This is just so aggravating; I spent a walk out of the theater stewing.  I spent the ride home stewing.  I spent the remainder of the night -- from getting back at around 12:30 A.M. to eventually falling asleep at around 3 -- stewing.  I even started pacing around my room at one point, rubbing my head and trying to sort out my thoughts and opinions -- trying to convince myself that I was overthinking things, and I should just be happy.  Doubly so considering a friend of mine who went with me; he came out of that movie practically glowing, and proclaiming with utmost honesty that TDKR is a perfect, badass movie.

I envy him.  I envy everyone in his little viewing party (one that included myself, my brother, said buddy, and four other friends) who managed to watch that movie and come to a decision.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing, thinking to myself that A) I’m over-thinking, B) I’m waffling, C) I’m trying to change my opinion into something more acceptable, D) I’m letting my preferences get the better of me, E) I seriously need to relax or I’m going to give myself an ulcer, or F) all of the above.  I don’t like feeling this way -- and to that end, I’m going to do all I can to lay these feelings, and this movie to rest.

So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to write.  I’m going to go over what happened in the movie.  I’m going to give my thoughts and opinions -- what worked, what didn’t work, comparisons, contrasts, etc.  I’m going to do a service to TDKR; I didn’t pull any punches when it came to Prometheus, and since I committed myself to a new standard of being impartial and analytical, I’d be betraying both myself and the work of hundreds if I didn’t offer an honest opinion about the movie.  Then -- and ONLY then -- will I be able to decide my true, final thoughts about TDKR

There’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.  I’m just going to do what I always do: write.  I’ll write, give my opinion, and do what I can to prove my case.  Make of it what you will; come to your own conclusions, correct me, agree with me, whatever.  Just give me some space for my thoughts, and I’ll gladly do the same for you.  That’s all.

And now, with all that said, let’s talk about The Dark Knight Rises.

--So the movie opens with --

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.  Hold on, there are two things I need to bring up first.  Before I get too ahead of myself, I want to start by saying that The Dark Knight Rises is NOT -- I repeat, is NOT -- a bad movie.  It is a good movie.  It is a movie that deserve respect for the amount of work and talent put into it, and worthy of praise heaped on by those that see and enjoy it.  Just because my opinion is…well, let’s call it mixed for now…doesn’t mean that it’s objectively bad.  And likewise, I’m not going to try and convince you that the movie is bad and you shouldn’t see it.  Because you are either going to see it anyway, or have already seen it -- again, because you exist.  In fact, I’d argue that if you haven’t seen it or don’t want to see it (if you’re some kind of contrarian), then you should see it anyway.

The second thing I want to bring up is the inevitable comparison to The Dark Knight -- or better yet, to give an analogy.  I like to think of the two movies in this respect: The Dark Knight is to The Dark Knight Rises as Final Fantasy VII is to Final Fantasy VIII

In case you don’t know, FF7 is kind of a big deal to gamers.  FF7 is the game that established RPGs -- JRPGs especially -- as a tour de force in the public conscious.  It was big, it was bombastic, it was brutal, it was brilliant…but it also had depth, meaning, memorable characters, and has largely withstood the test of time.  It is THE game that gamers think of when someone mentions Final Fantasy or JRPGs -- a fact that developer Square Enix is all too aware of -- and in many respects, everything that’s right with the genre.  Conversely, FF8 is considered to be the origin and enduring symbol of everything that’s wrong with the genre…to say nothing of the (often justified) confusion, disappointment, and hate heaped upon the title.  While I wouldn’t call FF8 a masterpiece -- in spite of spending more time with it than I care to admit back in the day -- I think that it’s not as awful as people say.  More importantly, I think that FF8’s greatest crime was being the follow-up to the people’s darling FF7.  You don’t follow up a massive gift to your lover with a palm-sized one; otherwise, you’re just inviting disappointment and a night on the couch.

TDKR is in the same situation.  Like I said, it’s not a bad movie -- but compared to TDK, it might as well be.  I plan to discuss this later, but for now let’s stick with a comparison of villains.  Comic fan or not, I know that Joker is one of Batman’s most iconic villains; moreover, he’s one of the most iconic villains in comic book history.  I know him best from the cartoons of yesteryear as a smiling, laughing, tackily-dressed psychopath with no shortage of prank-themed death weapons.  That’s fine.  But when I saw TDK, I saw Joker in a whole new light.  I saw Joker as more than just a villain; he was someone rightfully and legitimately terrifying.  Chalk it up to the late Heath Ledger’s skills or just Nolan and the movie in general, but Joker provided a chilling performance as he toyed with everyone and gave ol’ Brucie a run for his money.  Granted that was partly done with no shortage of omniscience, but it still made for a genuinely gripping movie.

Bane, on the other hand…Bane never struck me as anything more than hired muscle.  I saw him as someone who provided a foil to Batman, but on a different axis than what was on display in TDKR; whereas Batman relied on intelligence, skill, preparation, and technology to win, Bane -- by virtue of his strength-enhancing serum -- relied solely on dumb, brute force.  He was a thug, but a deadly one nonetheless.  Not knowing the comics (though a quick jump to Wikipedia suggests he's more intelligent than I gave him credit for), I can’t be sure as to how accurate a declaration that is; that said, I have my image of him.  And that image naturally contrasts with the movie; was Bane ever that cultured and silver-tongued?  Is he really the type to come up with his own plan and command others?  I suppose there’s no sense in wondering, given that the movie’s out and the interpretation has been made…but even if this Bane is more intelligent (or not), he’s not all that compelling.  That’s with regards to Joker AND fiction/writing as a whole, mind you; he’s certainly imposing, and certainly dangerous, but not once did I feel the same amount of fear I did from TDK’s Joker.  Not once did I think “Wow!  Bane is an amazing villain!”  He was just a villain -- and in light of the pedigree at hand, he could have, and should have been amazing. 

I’ll add more on Bane later, but I think I’ve made a fair enough point already.  So now, finally, let’s talk about The Dark Knight Rises.

--My favorite characters in the movie (from 3rd to 1st place) are Lucius Fox, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon.  I almost wish the movie was more about Gordon than Batman...and by almost I mean certainly.


--..What, you were expecting more?  

Don't worry, I'll get to it.  Oh, believe you me, I'll get to it.  But I've already blown nearly two thousand words on this "intro" alone, and I want to have a nice clean slate for the next post.  So...yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and sign off now.  Tune in very soon for more flaky reasoning and worship of old men.


  1. Aha! Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Strike it down with all of your hatred! I agree that far too many people regard these films with religious reverence. But seriously, stick to your guns. Troll them if you must.
    Two out of three Batman films have been ponderous beasts linking set-pieces together with philosophy recitations. They both break dozens of basic story-telling principles but people don't notice because of the 'splosions and hype.
    They're Michael Bay films with some sermonising filler used to make people feel obliged to praise their intelligence.
    I like Rises more than TDK because, well, stuff actually happens in Rises. For real. TDK was a plotless, listless load of planned mishaps. But they're both pretty boring and unimaginative.
    You missed the part where they said "Oh Em Gee, it's a noocleeyah buuuum!!!1!11one!" twenty times within half an hour, in case we forgot. Got on my nerves.

  2. Light side of the Force 4 lyfe -- 'cause that's how a real Jedi gangsta does it.

    I probably should have made a note to watch the other two movies in the trilogy as a point of comparison; I haven't seen TDK in full since the theater release (in IMAX, of course, because my buddy wouldn't have our midnight screening any other way), and I may or may not have fallen asleep during Batman Begins when it was on cable...though in my defense, I'd had a rough school day. My point is, I wish I could see those films now so I can dissect them as much as I have, say, Prometheus; I wonder if either of those movies would satisfy me. That said...

    "...linking set-pieces together with philosophy recitations."

    I definitely see what you mean there. I mean, it felt like there was some important talk going on, but in the end it all just ended up being white noise to me. I just couldn't bring myself to care, especially when Bane (in that silly, silly voice of his) breaks into his big damn speech. Again, I need to see the other movies to decide, but this one is a disappointment in its own right.

    I'll get my stuff posted pretty soon, so if you feel like dropping by again, go right ahead. Because when it comes to ranting, nobody does it better than me. Well, except maybe Bane. *rimshot*

  3. I love your visuals!! Let out all them feels sir!

    My only mindset going into this film was "I'm looking forward to it and I hope it's enjoyable" and I came out with "That was a good ride". There were one or two minute little bugs for me but nothing that decreased the value of the film at all.

  4. There's very little that can't be accomplished with the magic of Microsoft Paint...though it can be a bit cumbersome at times, as I've discovered.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, and my feelings aside I can see why it's earned the praise that it has. Even in negative reviews/posts/vlogs people are quick to mention that it's still a good movie regardless; it's just not up to their standards and preferences, that's all. In my case, there were just too many things that I couldn't help but take issue with -- things that you'd think Nolan and crew would be able to handle, but...well, here we are.