Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's good about "The Dark Knight Rises"

I'm very interested in leaving behind Christopher Nolan's latest film altogether, since it's rather brazenly overstaying its welcome in internet talk sessions, particularly for somebody who is not at all taken with it. Personally, I feel the need to move on towards other, optimistically better, film experiences, but I've caught myself with a few notions on "The Dark Knight Rises" that quite honestly aren't too shabby. If for no other reason than to alleviate some of the hate that's come my way due to my own personal opinion, which still stands. Just as most people can't understand why I hate it so fervently, I can't understand what so many people find great about it, but not for lack of trying.

Take for example the opening six minutes that played in front of "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" half a year ago, which whet my appetite deliciously for what this film could be. I still maintain that it was a ridiculous and frankly overcomplicated scheme that served only to get this character, who is an absolutely cartoonish mad scientist. That doesn't stop it from being the lone example in the entire film of a true cinematic set piece, with some reservations. The sequence doesn't say a whole lot about the world these characters inhabit, other than the fact that the police and CIA are idiots. It doesn't come close to doing what The Joker announcement in "The Dark Knight" did, but it offers some legitimate and ambitious thrills that the rest of the film utterly fails on. Also, as a plus, the CIA agent looks like my uncle Joe, so that's something.

Something that's much closer to a symbolic set piece, and would have been an even higher bookmark of this film if it weren't for the rather obvious staging, is Bruce's climb to freedom. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a prison to exist where people can use a rope to climb to freedom, while simultaneously freeing everyone else there. The flashbacks of the already evident symbolism of Bruce at the bottom of the well in the first film end up beating us over the head, much like the cuts of Ra's Al Ghul's child's original leap to freedom. The fact that so much is made of that third try, like that he has to be told what to do, cheapens the scene very much. But there's something resounding about that scene, and it is in the music.

I'm talking not just about Hans Zimmer's brilliant score, which remains the greatest thing about and outside this film, since far too much of the score is not even used, such as the thrilling track "Imagine the Fire". Zimmer's somber tones give all three attempts at escape a deep backdrop, more powerful than the imagery, the act, or the performance. What brings it to the next level is the chanting of "Deshi Basara", which we are told means "Rise". Of course that is given away in the trailer, so any impact of that line is lost entirely, but the gesture in these moments of attempted escape is a desperate cry for escape and freedom. Zimmer's score understands the tragedy of this story far more than Nolan's film does.

The last moment I have to bring up that truly reaches the potential that this film had was a lead up to an event, and also a prominent part of the film's marketing. Nolan has spoken of how he and Hans Zimmer were trying to find whoever was most appropriate to come in for a cameo to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the film's football game, which the fact that they were even considering somebody to come in for a cameo causes heavy speculation on spectacle over substance. However, both men ended up arriving on the right idea, which was of the young boy with a lovely voice, resounding purely throughout the stadium as Bane's plan is put into action.

I think Nolan becomes way too caught up in attempts at political subtext, such as pathetic moments in which the President of the United States comments on the goings on in Gotham, and people on tech boards analyzing stats on nuclear potentiality. There's an obvious shot of a tattered American flag that beats us over the head with its message. But all that's needed is that little boy's voice, showing the innocence of Gotham in a way that isn't as manipulative as the story of the poor orphans. Gotham's struggling lower-middle class is much needed in order to show the real cost of Gotham's current state, but is never once shown. But I've said enough about this film, and have no interest in spending any more time on it. But please, comment below on IN DETAIL on what you thought was great about "The Dark Knight Rises", and why!

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