SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t already watched the movie, please go and watch it before you read ahead. This review is filled with spoilers and is meant only for those who have already watched the film and are looking for an outspoken, unbiased opinion.
It’s been a long 4 years since Christopher Nolan left me awe struck, staring at people in the theatre, looking for approval, having just witnessed one of the greatest entertainment movies of a lifetime. Honestly, I’ve never been into superheroes, I’ve never read comic books and I find the idea quite silly. So I walked into the theatre with no if not low expectations. And that speaks a lot for the movie, and then a little more, because I came away with a cinema experience I will remember for a long time to come, or until the sequel. At least that’s what I told myself. Finally, today was going to be that day of reckoning. I sat there, trying my best not to have any preconceived expectations. Of course the hype that had been built up around its release was of no help. In the back of my head, I knew it was going to be a good movie, but I wasn’t going to be happy with just good. No, I wanted brilliant, better than before! Isn’t that the whole point of sequels? I sat, waiting patiently for the crowd to stop hooting and whistling at the starting credits. And then there was silence (I wish).
2 hours and 44 minutes is quite a long movie by Hollywood standards. But no one seemed to complain; so far so good. The very first thing I noticed about the movie was its numerous loose ends. The story line is far from tight. It isn’t convincing and leaves several questions unanswered. Batman seems to appear at locations he has no prior knowledge of, just in time, and in succession, which the movie depicts in real time. His sudden and timely cinematic appearances are greeted with loud cheers from the crowd. One might say, “He is Batman after all”. True. However there is only a certain amount of superhero prowess that can be overlooked. It is greatly over done here.
Bruce Wayne has some serious health issues going on. A doctor taking a look at him suggests that the hero is nearing the end of his time, his knees, kidneys and brain tissue all in rough shape. But a quick strap on brace later, all is forgotten. Batman is also suited up in top notch armor, bulletproof, impenetrable (but not to knives?). Miranda Tate seems to figure out his only weak spot and stabs Batman with the tiniest of daggers, leaving him incapacitated. Thugs with automatic weapons don’t seem as trigger happy when up against Batman at point blank range. Bane’s informant is never revealed. Batman breaks his vertebra, which gets mended with one hard punch from a care taker assigned by Bane himself. Bruce then proceeds to effortlessly pump out perfect push-ups like the boss that he is. He is also conveniently placed near a Doctor who prefers to give cryptic advice sitting on his butt rather than offering a helping hand. A little child is able to clear a jump 4 times ‘her’ height. Bruce Wayne on the other hand finds it quite the task. Every time he decides to have a go at it, there is a well-built bouncer waiting on him, ready with a rope to break his fall. How this fall doesn’t break his already sore back, I will never know. Also present are the two time winning State Penitentiary Choir Champions, ready to burst out into chant. This prison is ‘hell on earth’. Open cells, no guards, well fed inmates, cable TV and safety rope. Fine, I might be being over cynical on that last one, but these points and so many more kept nagging at my brain, and many a time I found myself asking my unfortunate neighbor if he was buying into this.
Bane’s character and portrayal is another let down. His dialogues were some of the best in the movie and I loved his voice acting. My problem here was the mismatch between his persona and voice. A little grudge would do him good. The concept and depiction of his face mask is also an area they didn’t put enough thought into. A detachable tube appears to be his lifeline, but Batman would rather beat the crap out of him than fight like a woman. The mask is also set-apart, with no tubing to any other parts of his body, making me wonder what the mask even does to keep him out of pain and alive. Kudos though, to Tom Hardy, who packed on 30 pounds for that monstrous body. There are however unconfirmed rumors that CGI was used for the physique for Bane. I’d leave that up for debate.
I cannot help but question the writers’ creativity. They seemed to have laid all hopes on the visual effects and cinematography to carry the film through, which is exactly what happened. Undoubtedly the movie was a visual treat accompanied by a terrific sound track, but with all superhero movies now setting precedence, it is something you would expect buying a first day first show ticket to an anticipated sequel.
As wannabe responsible viewers and critics we have to define what entertainment is. Is it just shiny, high definition CGI? What ever happened to storyline? The acting in this movie was good, nothing out of the ordinary. There were a couple of dreadful performances however; far below-par. Marion Cotillard’s portrayal of Miranda Tate was emotionless and failed to garner initially the possibility of her significance to the plot. Even after the shift in her character’s role (a major twist in the plot), I saw no change, still straight-faced and void of emotion, not very different from her role in Inception, a role I now understand why she portrayed so well. I’m sure there will be hard opposition to face here, but we are all entitled to our own opinions. Her natural disposition seems to carry her off as a great actor, a pat on the back to her choice of films. Her death scene in the movie was a farce. It reminded me of deaths in old Chinese martial arts movies, where the victim dies with an impulsive jerk. Sigh. Matthew Modine who played Foley, the 2nd in command to Commissioner Gordon was also quite the disappointment. I still can’t tell his character’s significance to the movie. His death failed to pull together a sigh of disappointment from the audience. His fluctuating character had me second guessing his role. By the time he was killed (quite stupidly at that) I was indifferent.
The final battle which seemed like a parody on the Spartan charge was laughable and foolish. 3000 police officers (cannon fodder) with hand pistols, shouting battle cries and charging head on towards machine guns and rocket launchers was nothing short of comical. Bullets mind you still missed their target, seemingly ricocheting off the ground. Melee combat appeared overtly coerced.
The audience I shared my viewing experience with would ever so often burst into cheers, howling and whistling at every little thing throughout the movie. For god sakes, it’s a movie! It made me wonder, “Maybe the people do want a hero, not a hero they deserve, but a hero they need.”
Easily the most memorable moment for me was a trailing shot of Anne Hathaway riding the Batpod (Batman’s motorcycle), her rear end in all its glory and splendor. It wasn’t however just her perfectly shaped and supple tush that I remember her for. Anne Hathaway’s performance was absolutely brilliant. Her dialogues were executed with class and panache, for me the only saving grace of the movie.
After watching this movie I couldn’t help but think of the huge part Heath Ledger’s Joker played in the success of its prequel. I missed him. It’s unfair I think to compare The Joker and Bane, but the absence of a strong, well-written and dark character shows. Bane’s emotional attachment to Miranda Tate was uncalled for and took so much away from the buildup to the character and what it stood for, which ought to have been pure evil.
I thought the fate of Bruce Wayne quite predictable, mainly because of the tagline. It was never going to be so obviously predictable which meant it was going to be clichéd. A loss-loss situation. The ending nevertheless was well played out, and managed to capture the audience, a glimpse of Nolan’s true capabilities. I did also like the subtle way in which Robin was brought in and introduced. His part in a future endeavor now set in motion. I am also told this movie kept quite true to the original comics. Huge brownie points for that from my side!
Is it a must watch? Yes it is. If not purely for the hype, then for the stunning visual effects and action packed cinema. Others will see it differently, because others like to jump onto a bandwagon, in this case blind praise for a long awaited block buster. Alas true lovers of the series and those who appreciate a well written plot over visuals will be left disappointed. I give it an 8/10 solely for good cinematography, mind blowing CGI and Anne Hathaway.