Sunday, December 30, 2012


I loved what Christopher Nolan brought to BATMAN BEGINS, because it was the first time a superhero film presented itself in a wholly plausible way. As time has gone on, and Nolan's claim on the character has gained volume and distance over Warners' previous, increasingly fruity franchise, my admiration has begun to slip, a shift of opinion that coincided with my noticing how much it had looted the mythos of another character, The Shadow. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, with Heath Ledger's Joker, seemed overwritten, overdone and overly concentrated in reality, to the point where the heroism aspect wasn't uplifting anymore. And this third and final film in the set literally incapacitates superheroism for the most part to focus on a pinpoint of straightforward heroism, embodied by a new character. It also deprives us of the story promised by the ending of the previous film, the story of how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) continued to fight against crime while being publicly smeared as a criminal and vigilante in order to protect the late Harvey "Two-Face" Dent's reputation, a political lie considered more important to the hope of Gothamites; instead, this film picks up after a near-decade of inactivity on the part of the Batman.

I'm sure it's one of those love it or hate it things, and I know there are people out there who speak with reverence of "the Nolan Universe," but I'm just slightly south of ambivalent. It looks good, it's well-cut and mostly well-acted (I liked Anne Hathaway's Diana Monti-like take on Catwoman); it has moments, it even has clusters; but Bane (Tom Hardy) is too brutish to be intriguing and the Nolan brothers can't tell a story. Their characters can't stop orating even when there are seconds left to go on a ticking nuclear warhead. It's takes 10 minutes to pack some kids onto a bus. It often feels more like engineering than filmmaking, and less directed than air-traffic-controlled.

Viewed on Amazon Instant Video HD.

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