DAYS OF WINE AND RISES: A LOOK BACK AT THE FINAL NOLAN/BALE BATMAN FILM
My love for a little art-house, sleeper hit, experimental film called THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is well documented on probably just about every social media platform.
I do acknowledge its failings. EIGHT YEARS..no Batman? all THOSE LOST SEQUELS / STORY-LINES FROM this ‘universe’ you set up in BATMAN BEGINS? Convenient when you boxed yourself in with the end of THE DARK KNIGHT, wot? Plot-holes, galore and a lull in pace to match, in an already overlong film.
Visual /thematic nods to James Bond, Die Hard, Godfather and just about everything EXCEPT the mythology of..BATMAN! ‘Miranda Tate is quite lovely’: same line, TWICE, from different characters..no she really isn’t..she’s rather..redundant and surplus in this film and yet Nolan insists on hinging everything on Marion Cotillard’s awkward performance. ‘This bomb is a..TIME-BOMB!’..moments of this movie are in fact MORE camp than anything ever happening in the whole ADAM WEST canon.
And yet..’There’s this Cafe in Florence’. One line, foreshadowed at the start of the film and paid off, quite spectacularly and movingly, at the end. I will be writing about that myself, separately, and its reflections on the very notion of happy endings. But a happy ending this is (spoiler!).
For all its faults, there is a genuine heart, soul, wit and sense of story structure and character closure to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. It is therefore one of my most favourite movies: always recapturing the blast of the feel good vibes it somehow harnessed back in 2012 (SKYFALL does something similar).
RISES is not a funny film (seriously, Warners: adding more ‘laughs’ to SUICIDE SQUAD is NOT a logical reaction to the drop in returns for BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE) but somehow it has moments of warmth and reassurance that make the whole thing worthwhile.
(Incidentally, there was also speculation that the Batman in BATMAN V SUPERMAN could have been CHRISTIAN BALE rather than the equally excellent BEN AFFLECK. Makes sense, too..a ‘shared universe’ after the event of Superman’s being revealed to the world..verisimilitude could have been intact, just narrowly, would have been interesting but a ‘reboot’ was safer).
But back to RISES..
Remember: THAT score..possibly HANS ZIMMER’S last truly GREAT piece was WHY DO WE FALL? Also, philosophically and politically, the script and tone remain painfully pertinent. Cities ARE being shut down by terrorists (albeit in less dramatic fashion).
And there remains a precariously anti-capitalist rhetoric pervading social media of late, despite the fact that many of the lead detractors are themselves dependent on a system of ordered privilege to have a voice in the first place? This movie somehow just captures that conflict in a few scenes: pure visuals and less of the preachy, stodgy dialogue defining the previous entries to Nolan’s take on the Batman story. It’s apt that the third movie in a trilogy essentially gives some hint of hope to politics’ ‘third way’ (ie one CAN be both compassionate AND capitalist).
Indeed, I’d go so far as saying RISES is better than its immediate predecessor, the -dare one say it – slightly – overrated – 2008’s DARK KNIGHT – ? (Though yes, HEATH LEDGER was a genius and his talents remain much missed, 8 years later). And ANNE HATHAWAY is to RISES what Heath was to DARK KNIGHT (ie excellent and a great acting partner to CHRISTIAN BALE). And it will be a long time before a film inspires me like this again. 😉
Still not satisfied? Well, the movie DID have a KIND of ‘viral’ campaign, with TOM HARDY’s look as BANE gradually unveiled to the ‘DESHI BASARA’ chant all the way back in 2011, a year before the film’s release. Yes, this film is perfect. Just about.
Don’t believe me? You STILL think I’m not being objective? Very well. Only one thing for it, so. Time to flash the signal! ONE CRITIC who can disagree with me in some areas (Miranda Tate /Cotillard..cough cough) and yet, on the whole..accept that this movie IS a great one. Take it away, MR. MENGARELLI.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is Christopher Nolan’s epic showboat that closes his already immaculate Dark Knight trilogy. It’s an ambitious task. It is grandiose in scope, closing out the series, whilst connecting the film to the opener, BATMAN BEGINS and having the Batman face his biggest challenge yet: Bane. Much like the previous two films, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is underrated on every film-making aspect possible.
Christopher Nolan is a master of his craft; a superhero film aside, Nolan is a diligent filmmaker whose film-making makeup is reminiscent of Michael Mann, Stanley Kubrick, and Nagisa Oshima – all filmmakers that Nolan had emulated in his own way throughout the trilogy, but particularly in his final outing.
The film is a grand idea; the Batman is twice removed and then is resurrected three times. All the Batsuits and gadgets and slick vehicles aside, this film is about the power of belief. Both the good and the bad. Batman becomes a morphing symbol throughout. He’s the hero that Gotham not only needs, but deserves. He’s justice, vengeance, and most importantly, the Batman is hope.
Nolan brilliantly adds Marion Cotillard as the idealist, Anne Hathaway as the mysterious femme fatale, Tom Conti as a spiritual guide, Ben Mendlesohn as his staple yet polished sleaze, Matthew Modine as the political fop, and the magnificent Tom Hardy as Bane. BANE. The most formidable of the Batman’s advisories throughout the saga. He is the brutish intellectual whose hidden motivation completely humanizes him in his final moments in the film.
Bane outdoes the Joker. The Joker didn’t care. He was all flash, no substance. He wanted to watch Gotham devour itself in a fit of anarchy. Bane on the other hand, wanted to turn Gotham inside out. He wanted it to eat its way out of itself. But not before he breaks the Batman, both physically and most importantly, mentally. Bane’s psychological warfare is his most powerful weapon, and his utilization of it is truly terrifying.
As heavy handed with its symbolism and disjointed as the film can be, it remains my favorite of Nolan’s trilogy, and second only to Tim Burton’s BATMAN. As opposed as being a hired gun by the studio to remake Batman, Nolan brings his own unique, grounded, approach to a worn down subject. He not only closes the chapter on his Dark Knight, but also brings the audience peace, and most importantly, he gives Bruce Wayne the sendoff he deserves.
JAMES MURPHY is the Editor in Chief at Movie Viral. A graduate of New College, Oxford and The College of Law.
Top movies include: GODFATHER PART 2, CITIZEN KANE, GROUNDHOG DAY, 4 WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, CASINO ROYALE, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, LA BELLE NOISEUSE and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Top Directors inc: Neil Jordan, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Tim Burton, Brian DePalma, Phillip Noyce, Mike Figgis.
Actors/ Actresses inc: Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Laurence Olivier, Jim Carrey, Robert Downey Jr, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence, Lea Seydoux
Hobbies include travel, so you might see him at a Cafe in Florence sometime, if you are very lucky.
Everybody relax, Frank’s here! After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, FRANK MENGARELLI decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank’s favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone, Abel Ferrara, Lars von Trier, Steve McQueen and Spike Lee.
Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT (1992), THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS.