The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A few late thoughts about the knight

with 31 comments

Anything you possibly can say about The Dark Knight Rises has already been said. Some of my dearest, most frequent readers have openly declared that they’re done with TDKR reviews.

Admittedly Nick at Cinema Romantico reassured me that he still wanted my take on this since he thought I’d bring a unique perspective on it. But to be completely honest I doubt I’m able to pull that off.  However I liked the film too much to not not mention it at all. So for whatever it’s worth: here are a few late scattered thoughts.

Whining podcasters
It’s been a while since I watched it. I was delayed since I’ve been away for some vacation – in the real world, as well as in a fantasy novel book series. During the time that has lapsed I’ve been listening to the discussion at a few podcasts, which to be honest turned out to be a pretty awful idea.

You see: I was SO enthusiastic about the movie right after watching it. So what I ask myself is why I didn’t let it stay that way. I had been visually, emotionally and intellectually entertained. So why not remain in this happy state of mind? The only thing those shows did to me was to make me discover and start to think about plot holes I hadn’t considered for a second and to question a whole bunch of aspects of the film that I until that point had been perfectly okay with.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate film podcasts, on the contrary. Usually I’m a vivid listener, not to say an addict. But it is as if there’s something about the biggest box office hits that triggers the worst sides of the participating film buffs. People who normally are reasonable, with a positive, loving view on most movies, all of a sudden transform into whiners, nitpicking their way through the show. You would think they were running a competition where the one with the longest bullet list of complaints is going to win a big prize. Perhaps it makes them feel clever. “Ha! Look at this inconsistency I found! Mr Nolan isn’t as smart as people say! Gottcha!” But it wears me down after a while and gets tiresome.

The opening night
Anyway – let’s get back to that wonderful night a little more than a week ago when I went to the Swedish premier. The theatre – one of the largest I’ve been in – was sold out. There were candles outside and a few people had put on their best batman t-shirts, which added to the festive mood. Before the screening started, some people from the staff went up to greet the audience and hand out a few give-aways to a few lucky cinema-goers, as they do on big opening nights like this one. The fact that they’d dressed up like Batman and Cat Woman made their appearance even more popular.

For once I wasn’t alone in the party. My entire family was with me, including my teenage daughters and my 68 year old mother, who I frankly was a little bit worried about before the film started. I glanced at her when they told us about the length, which I until that point hadn’t checked up since I tried to know as little as possible about the film before watching it. Almost three hours! Would she last? She would usually go to bed at hour when we would be half way through the movie. The conversation we’d had on our way to the theatre also made me weary. I hadn’t realized that she hadn’t watched part 1 and 2 in the series. She was familiar with the Batman concept, but would that be enough of background information for someone to enjoy it?

I shouldn’t have worried though. Because when the lights went up and we started our walk home from the theatre, it turned out that we were all on the same page. Me, my daughters and my mom – we were all praising the film.

I’m not entirely sure my mother did get every little piece of the plot – I didn’t. So what? The film was big in every sense, not to say spectacular. It had astonishing sceneries, fighting scenes that even I could follow (mostly), chases that never got boring, a few crazy gadgets, well, everything that you can expect from a movie with a budget of this size. But what I liked most was the human side of it. The more the Nolan brothers decided to torture Bruce Wayne, getting him deeper and deeper into trouble, the more interested and invested did I get into the story. Superheroes are at their best when they take off their suits. And in The Dark Knight Rises, the suit was more off than on.

My efforts to stay away from information were also properly rewarded in the end. Twist after twist, reveal after reveal came up and I hadn’t foreseen any of them, which made them so much more enjoyable. I admit that I’m a bit of a moron when it comes to those things, but sometimes it’s good to be a moron. It makes the movies more fun.

The voices
Don’t I have any objections at all? I do. The major one is the voices. Darth Vader had his charm once upon a time, but at this point it’s just old and silly. There must be other ways to make villains and heroes appear scary than to have them talk into tin cans. It’s more laughable than frightening. And I can see that Bane’s voice even causes problems for English speaking people to hear what he says. In Sweden we’re fortunate enough to have subtitles, so I didn’t have any issues.

And now I’m done. That was my nitpicking. One point. If I made an effort I could surely list a lot more. A mystical transportation of Bruce Wayne from one point on the world to another in no time, which I didn’t understand at all (maybe I missed Scotty beaming him over?). Or I could mention the strangeness in his sudden sex adventures that seem more like James Bond than like Batman. But why should I?

I’ll remember the film just as we experienced it that night, before I listened to all those whiny podcasters:  immersive, thrilling, funny, touching and surprising. And I’ll remember the wonderful audience that laughed when it was funny who held their breath when it was exciting and who took up a huge applause as the movie finished. It doesn’t get much better in a theatre.

The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

August 3, 2012 at 1:13 am

31 Responses

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  1. Yes! Exactly! I don’t hate podcasts either – and it’s not just podcasts, it’s reviews and articles – but the insane scrutiny this film received, THAT’S what wore me down and caused burnout. I suppose that does say something about what Nolan achieved with these movies, that people so immediately wanted to tear this one apart to take a closer look, but I feel like the WAY in which a lot of people examine it is less than useful.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed it, glad you wrote about it, glad you’re back. Hope your time away was exhilarating. Sounds like it was.

    Nick

    August 3, 2012 at 6:02 am

    • I had a wonderful time Nick! Thank you for reading the post despite your burnout. And yes, I don’t know what it is about Nolan that makes people go crazy. Some of the “flaws” people have pointed out have been on a ridiculous level. What happened to suspension of disbelief? You would expect people who watch superhero movies to have some willingness to go for it.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 9:03 am

  2. It looks like we have almost the exact movie-experience about this one. I love it! I really do. I don´t want to ruin this feeling by thinking too much, I just wanna stay in the euphoriamode. 😉

    And it IS good to be a moron sometimes, I agreee totally on that one.

    Fiffi

    August 3, 2012 at 8:32 am

    • Euphoria! Sing it aloud! 🙂

      Maybe we can have a little euphoric chat when we meet in August. No whining and nit-picking. Just some happy gushing over how entertained we were, recalling the movie magic.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

  3. Great review as always Jessica. If truth be told I’m a bit sick of hearing about the film (and superhero movies in general) but you’re personal touch always adds a fresh perspective. I will definitely see this but I expect it will be way further down the line when the dust has settled, summer has gone and we finally get a break from men in spandex.

    Mark Walker

    August 3, 2012 at 8:49 am

    • Thanks Mark! I can’t blame you for getting tired of it. Seeing it when the dust has settled sounds like a good idea, even though the big format in a theatre was a nice addition. But perhaps you have a good system for watching at home. 🙂

      In any case: stay away from spoilers as much as you can. And again: there isn’t too much spandex in the film, which is what makes it stand out above other superhero movies.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 8:56 am

      • No spandex? That’s a major spoiler right there Jessica! 😉

        Mark Walker

        August 3, 2012 at 9:08 am

        • Hehe… I didn’t say he didn’t wear a suit! He might have switched to a more modern material. Gore-tex? 😉

          Jessica

          August 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

          • Does he wear his underpants over his trousers? Or at the very least, a cod-piece? 😉

            Mark Walker

            August 3, 2012 at 9:15 am

            • My lips are sealed. I’ve said too much already. Won’t dive further into spoiler territory. You’ll need to find out for yourself.

              Jessica

              August 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

  4. Not seen it (of course) but sometimes the aim of a film is to entertain and tell a great story. Being internally consistent and so on isn’t always necessary to do that. Also, nothing breeds snobbishness like success. I recall reading an interview with Terry Pratchett a few years ago when he was asked if he minded the fact the literary critics disliked Discworld. His response was something long the lines of he had tthe bank account to prove many thousands of people did like his work, so he didn’t really need to worry about what the critics thought.

    stnylan

    August 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

    • In this case it seems strangely enough as if the professional critics are far more positive than the fanboys are. For instance my favorite Mark Kermode loved it and had no need whatsoever to go into nit-picking. It’s the amateur bloggers/podcasters who claim they love Nolan’s other works who now go nuts trying to be the one who finds most faults with it. It’s baffling.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

  5. Great review, I think like gaming bloggers, film bloggers (maybe cos they are mostly men? 🙂 ) sometimes discount the power of personal experiential accounts. How a film made you feel is important.

    I loved TDKR, thought Tom Hardy brings an awesome physicality to the role — when he was strutting around like a warlord, I believed him. Great rendition of Catwoman — she’s sexy but has more self respect than to doesn’t actually use that as a weapon (in the way Michelle Pfeifer’s catwoman did). Also loved the Robespierre-esque Scarecrow as judge and jury in the kangeroo court. I also thought it felt very contemporary, like the issues felt contemporary. Also thought Nolan absolutely nailed the ending.

    But yeah, like you, the one plot hole (sic 🙂 ) that nagged for me was wondering how Batman got so easily in and out of a locked down Gotham to get to the prison hole and back.

    spinks

    August 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

    • Thanks Spinks! To be honest I speak from a personal point of view because it’s the only way I know how to write it. I’m not a “real” critic. Just someone running a personal blog.

      Yes, Tom Hardy was excellent! And it was not because of the mask, which was more silly and puzzling than frightening. His presens was enough to make him reallyt threatening.
      I agree completely about Catwoman. I loved that she was treated by the camera with some kind of respect. I realize she’s sexy, but they didn’t focus on the ass like they do in a beach volleyball match so to say.
      I really loved the way how she swtiched between moods, from villain to victim within 1/10 second.

      And the ending: yep, he nailed it. Interesting enough it seems as if there are some completely different interpretation of it to the one I did. There is apperently a bit of ambiguity to it like in Inception. I didn’t think it when I watched it, but when I heard Kermode talking about it I realized that there might be more ways to see it. Some people are bugged by such, but I’m not. I thought it was wonderful.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

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  7. You pulled it off, maybe not to be bring a new perspective ot the film but rather to film watching and analyzing. I remember seeing Prometheus and just enjoying it and then the film community (podcasters, bloggers… even people IRL ;)) pointed to the obvious plot holes… and I realised I had noticed them during the screening but just accepted the fact that I was watching a movie and just went on with it.

    “…sometimes it’s good to be a moron. It makes the movies more fun.” Funny point! 😉

    Jojjenito

    August 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    • Yes, it was exactly the same with Prometheus. A lot of crazy looking for flaws that went on after it. I should take a decisio to go easy with blog reading and podcast listening after releases of that type of movies.
      I should probably go careful with The Hobbit when it comes up. I’ve got the feeling it could fall into this category.

      Jessica

      August 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

  8. So, no nerdy in depth discussion next Saturday, then? 😉 But a great review as always, because, as someone pointed out, it’s so personal. I hate to say it, but I actually had a better experience there and then of Prometheus than TDKR and I can’t even blame other reviews, podcasts or trailers since I partook about an equal amount before each movie. But naturally TDKR offered one hell of a ride, I can’t argue with that.

    Sofia

    August 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    • Yay, let’s spoil away on Saturday and compare our respective rides!

      Jessica

      August 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

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  10. What the series gave us in terms of story arc for Bruce Wayne was outstanding. As a comic to film conversion it was near perfect, and as a stand alone film tDKR was very entertaining. I cannot understand why people think it is not a successful film, except that Nolan didn’t ask for their opinion and then follow it (grin).
    For me it was well worth the trip to the movies, and the sticking points are very minor. My true quibble is that the “honest cop” character should have had more justification for sussing Batman than he had.
    I’ve written a review on my gaming blog with a few observations too, which’ll go live soon-ish. http://ironboundtome.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/dark-knight-rises-quick-review

    typhoonandrew

    August 6, 2012 at 6:55 am

    • Why, I didn’t know you’d switched blog! Or maybe it’s an additional one? Anyway – I agree with your point about the voice. And now that you say it the flying vehicle isn’t necessary – apart from being fun to watch. And maybe that’s a reason as good as any?

      Jessica

      August 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      • On second thought the Wing was exciting, and perhaps was needed to get the bomb away from Gotham, and yup – cool gear! (the scene with him cornered in the alley was perfect Batman) I have an aversion to toys for movies though.
        This blog is my pen and paper RPG blog, and the old one is still ticking. 🙂

        typhoonandrew

        August 7, 2012 at 1:03 am

        • They have to have toys on the screen! How else are they going to market the merchendise?

          Jessica

          August 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

  11. “…sometimes it’s good to be a moron. It makes the movies more fun.”
    Haha, loved that.

    Fantastic post, Jess 🙂 I’m glad that you and your family enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it too.

    fernandorafael

    August 8, 2012 at 6:45 am

  12. Great post, Jessica. You said some true words there. The only thing that matters when it comes to experiencing films is your gut feeling, moron or not. Especially when it comes to comic book movies, I think.

    I’m happy for you that your gut’s feeling was sweet, Unfortunalety my gut didn’t get the same deal. I think I might have been looking for another film from Mr. Nolan.

    TDKR was still an entertaining and very good film, don’t get me wrong, but it did not come close to give me the “Wow” feeling I got from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Sorry, I did not got it.

    Henke

    August 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    • Sorry about that. On a general level I think you ARE a little bit grumpier than I am about movies. I suspect you’ve watched a great deal more movies than I have and I think that might have an impact. You get more critical over time.

      Jessica

      August 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm

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