"Wow, that was long". That's what she said. And what I thought twice during the eve of the Dark Knight Rises premiere. The line of Batman enthusiasts extended far from the entrance of the historic Fox Theater in Westwood, CA. It wove around street corners, broke briefly in front of restaurant entrances so as not to impede incoming diners and began again, snaking around and ending what seemed like a half mile away. After about 30 minutes of waiting and listening to conversations against my wishes, the expressions of those in unsurpressable anticipation lit up. We were finally granted entry.
Perhaps a main reason impeding me from giving The Dark Knight Rises my oh-so-coveted seal of approval is the fact that I was judging it as a follow-up to The Dark Knight as opposed to as a stand-alone film. The new villain, Bane, could never compare to Ledger's portrayal of The Joker. A tip of my hat to the late Ledger- nothing could ever dethrone him as the king of psycholocial antagonists. I still recall how disturbed I was by The Joker. Bane, on the other hand, simply invoked me to wonder what was under his weird, Darth Vader-esque facial apparatus. There was a breif attempt at explaining its purpose, but I was still confused. Did it help him breathe better? Did it reduce the facial pain he felt? Or was it just to change the tone of his voice and make him extremely hard to understand (I probably caught about 15% of his dialogue with clarity- it almost became entertainment to try and guess what he was saying)?
A standard in Christopher Nolan's triology, the soundtrack takes a cheap shot at the audience, using swelling brass instruments to tell us when to feel inspired. Another recurring element in his films, Nolan once more establishes his ability to affectively cut his audience to the psychological quick. But let's try and stick to one national stress-inducer, shall we? By trying to bring worries of nuclear warfare, political issues and the possibility of being cut off from the mainland (while living on an island connected by a few bridges) to the forefront of the audiences' minds, the plot starts to get a little cramped. Loose threads hanging everywhere. That's really saying something considering the film's running time of about 2 hours, 45 minutes. While exiting the theater, I once again thought "wow that was long". I guess Nolan decided to go head to head with Peter Jackson to see who could draw out a movie ending.
I have read inexplicable praises of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Personally, her presence confused me and seemed far from necessary except to provide some sex appeal (to supplement that already provided by Marion Cotillard) and to spit out some predictable, not-very-amusing one liners. Though, the audience in my theater definitely enjoyed them. I was seated amongst some very participatory young people, many apparently under the influence of alcohol. I read an interview with Hathaway in a magazine about a month ago concerning her preparation for the role. Aside from learning that she is a vegan (woot! go vegans!) I learned that she had to drop significant weight for the film. Why? So I could be distracted by her jutting-out collar bone? If that was the goal, then it was definitely achieved. I guess the anorexic, Angelina Jolie at the 2012 Oscars look is back in. Sorry ladies.
Ann shows off her new collarbone... I liked the more hidden one.
Though my critique here suggests otherwise, I do think the film was worthy of props. Yet, when a trilogy peaks at number 2, it is hard to be too impressed by the one to follow. That was the case here. Would I recommend seeing it? Yes. But don't expect it to even remotely live up to the precedent set by The Dark Knight.