Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Batmania Rising

This review has been sitting in my queue, only partially written for the past few months, and in all of the time of reflection and thought on this film, the most I can come up with is "Batman pays for his sins, except not really."

This movie cribs a lot from Frank Miller's the Dark Knight Returns, in that it starts out with older versions of Bruce and Gordon, both completely miserable with the world they've created. i suppose the distinction, the Nolan twist, other than there being no crime in this film, is that they realize they're to blame. It's a fun angle.

Now the plot focuses on Talia al Ghul and her goon, her front, Bane, coming to Gotham to finish her father's plan, and to make Bruce pay. And it almost works. Hi-jacking some magical fission device Bruce had developed in his peace-time boredom, the new League of Shadows holds Gotham City hostage and turns it into a beautiful anarchy, or as Žižek had to say:
...the prospect of the OWS movement taking power and establishing people’s democracy on Manhattan is so patently absurd, so utterly non-realist, that one cannot but raise the question: WHY DOES THEN A MAJOR HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER DREAM ABOUT IT, WHY DOES IT EVOKE THIS SPECTER? Why even dream about OWS exploding into a violent takeover? The obvious answer (to smudge OWS with accusations that it harbors a terrorist-totalitarian potential) is not enough to account for the strange attraction exerted by prospect of “people’s power.” No wonder the proper functioning of this power remains blank, absent: no details are given about how this people’s power functions, what the mobilized people are doing (remember that Bane tells the people they can do what they want – he is not imposing on them his own order).
 This is why external critique of the film (“its depiction of the OWS reign is a ridiculous caricature”) is not enough – the critique has to be immanent, it has to locate within the film itself a multitude signs which point towards the authentic Event. (Recall, for example, that Bane is not just a brutal terrorist, but a person of deep love and sacrifice.) In short, pure ideology isn’t possible, Bane’s authenticity HAS to leave trace in the film’s texture. This is why the film deserves a close reading: the Event – the “people’s republic of Gotham City”, dictatorship of the proletariat on Manhattan – is immanent to the film, it is its absent center.
 Dictatorship of the Proletariat in Gotham City by Slavoj Žižek

Despite Bane and his forces having a military presence, they only exist to make the corrupt of the past rule pay. Another influence on the story was Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities, so "death by exile" is as much a guillotine as it is great joke.

Even if you don't agree with such politics, just look at how the characters are portrayed.

Bane is angelic, his voice is other-worldy, but it's light, it's authoritative, it's almost downright Connery at times. He commands a group that would die at his whim, without an objection. He punishes the rich and corrupt, gives the city back to the people, and is powered by love.

Batman is demonic, speaks like a bear, defends the lie of the corrupt police, protects the rich, and is fueled only by his hatred of the poor.

There's also the great bit that Talia is trying to continue in her father's footsteps, while Bruce has done nothing but destroy his father's legacy, literally in the case of the train system.

i also love that the fission device Bruce developed to help the world would be the downfall of Gotham. Honestly though, i feel the film would have been better had the bomb plot not involved a secret countdown, they should have just used the bomb as they said they would, and then only start the countdown once Batman showed his ugly mug. It would just reinforce how terrible Batman is for Gotham.

 This was also by far the funniest of the Nolan Batmen films, jokes and silly stuff abound, Bane was a complete blast to watch and listen to, and the climax of the film was stolen from the 1966 Batman movie:

Literally the last twenty minutes of the film.

As for the end itself... it was odd. It doesn't quite drag on as long as Return of the King did, but close enough. And honestly they could have cut away before it showed what Alfred was looking at, just him smiling. Hell it should have been cut like that, the arguments over whether he saw Bruce or not would be hilarious. When it comes to film endings though, i'm a bit cruel (Beyond the Black Rainbow, Excision, and Prometheus are all great examples from this year of endings i love, not surprisingly they're my favourite films of the year as well)
As mentioned in my revisit of the Dark Knight, this film continues the trends of ending on lies. Batman isn't dead, and now a celebrated hero. Gordon is a hero The rich and corrupt win. But then there's Robin, and Robin was amazing, honestly my favourite part of this film, was when everyone in the audience cheered when they revealed that was his real name. It's just something i never could have anticipated happening. A crowd cheering about the Boy Wonder, fantastic. So maybe there is hope for the future, Robin was sick of both the law and Batman, and now with the resources of an eccentric billionaire, perhaps he can do what Bruce failed to do, any good.

Over all it was a pretty decent, a bit heavy handed even for Nolan, and Catwoman's objectification wasn't quite as bad as the Black Widow's, but still not anything positive. On the plus side, Bruce and Selina's games were amusing, and Bane as already mentioned was a blast. What i loved about him, is that he was a man of myth, only talked about in about in half truths and exaggeration. He's kind of like a god, only strong as the people that believe in him. Once it's revealed that he isn't the mastermind (i do love that Bruce doesn't remember any of his teachings, the figure head of the League is never really the leader) nor was he mythical child that escaped the pit (he straight up tells the singled minded Bruce he didn't see daylight until he a man), he is promptly shot out of the film by Han Solo. Because much like Bane, Darth Vader was just a henchman, and the whole voice/machine head.... The point is, i laughed.

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