Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Six Most Bizarre Artistic Decisions For The Dark Knight Trilogy

Christopher Nolan gave the Batman franchise a dignified, ethical and serious reboot that supplied audience members a reason to believe that super hero franchises can be incredibly awesome.  I have sat in theaters, mesmerized by the sheer workmanship of the Dark Knight trilogy.  But amid the powerful and provocative styles of the Nolan think tank, there are somethings that bother me greatly about this movie.  If you think of the Batman movie as a beautiful collage painting, there are some places that have cheesy stick figures.  The number one obstacle is taking a man wrapped in hard plastic with bat ears and making him look credible.  For the most part, Nolan did a great job, but here is where I cringed a little.  [Caution!  Contains spoilers for the new movie]

6.  World's Silliest Batman Voice

Everyone knows that Batman's voice is silly.  It's so silly that everything the caped crusader says fills us with tiny lightning bolts of corny sensations.  It's almost as if Nolan could see his movie dominating box offices so he put a fail safe in to make sure it didn't collapse the economy.  To have a character who is written so serious and troubled and to give him a voice that sounds like some kid's dad trying to dress up as Batman as a party favor is just truckloads of sillyosity.  How can any director sit through one of Christian Bale's cigarette induced raspy rants and think, "I made a healthy choice today?" They were obviously trying to go for intimidating, but somehow they took a page out of the Nicholas Cage school of overacting.  It's not quite as bad as bat nipples on the suit, which is a decision that sends my whacky meter off the Richter scale into lockdown mode.

5. Anne Hathaway

I get it, Nolan!  You wanted a chick that was fresh and unexpected.  Who better than the girl who melted our Disney hearts with Ella Enchanted and Princess Diaries?   She was a credible Cat Woman and a decent actress.  But for some reason, poor Anne can't shake the fact that she is cradle robber bait.  Forty year old men love to be her love interest in movies.  She was the love interest of Steve Carell in Get Smart and now she was shacking up with Christian Bale. She is a twenty something bombshell actress who deserves to girlishly giggle in the arms of Thor or Spider-man.  She shouldn't be wooing Liam Neeson type characters.  Is there a creepy relationship clause in her contract?  Luckily there was no intimacy parts or real on screen chemistry, but the implication was there.

4.  The Marvel Ending

The difference between Batman and a Marvel movie is that Marvel cannot break the barrier of "pop culture good time adolescent fun."  The most serious and film noir Marvel has every gotten is on par with Disney's  John Carter.  This is why I think Marvel could also name their movies, The Marvel Fun Times Awesome Hour For Kids.  Marvel loves the sappy hero cliches, safe story telling and foreshadow that is so obvious that you might as well have Stan Lee text you spoilers.  You can't really blame them because God forbid we get another Hulk movie.  Dark Knight Rises jumps on that territory with no shame at all.  Gotham has a nuclear bomb with a textbook 5 minute countdown.  This gives Batman just enough time to kiss the damsel in distress and fly off over the bay to sacrifice himself.  They even include overused movie slapstick lines like "There must be another way!" and "There is no other way."  Now, I believe that Christopher Nolan had an urgent potty break and in his desperation told the intern to take over for him because there is no way in Hades that he would direct that.  I half expected Captain America to fall in the same bay and get frozen.

3.  This is not the Batman Universe

  I will admit that Nolan has adapted his Batman characters based on pivotal comic books in the series.  But for the most part this Batman is an exception to the rule rather than the rule.  Nolan's Batman is super detailed and drained of all fantasy to the point where every character is tethered to drama, realistic and completely adaptable to real life.  Basically, these movies are a view of what Batman would look like if he lived in Chicago and had heavy violin music follow him constantly.  Nolan killed the fictional suspended belief of Batman by removing the Batmobile, nixing any science fiction elements from the bad guys, and making Gotham into virtually any city in the US.  In actuality, the Gotham universe is rich with fantasy.  This is a place where freaks grow organically, villains murder without ideology and personalities are rich with crazy.  The whole point of Batman's crazy world is that he fits in with the psychopaths who dress up as The Mad Hatter.  I'm probably going to get hate bombs for this, but Tim Burton's portrayal of Batman's world is more faithful to the comics.  His doses of macabre, mixed with outlandish landscapes is more fitting for a man who dresses like a bat.  Nolan makes a great movie about Batman, but he didn't necessarily make a Batman movie.  Which brings me to my next point...

2.  This is Not a Batman Movie

The best Batman movie barely has Batman in it.  I'm referring to Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne gets more screen time than the actual Batman.  Now let us add the fact that Batman is crippled, disinterested in detective work and does most of his scenes in vehicles.  Seems like Nolan views Batman as a dessert part of the meal and his focus is clearly on the dinner.  The main focus of the movie is Gotham and it's well being in the face of passionate villains.  What did we come to see?  We came to see Batman kick the ever loving crap out of thugs in amazing ways with technology and martial arts.  What we got was a great coming of age story with Bruce Wayne as he fights his morals to find the best way to save a city.  Batman is the whipped cream on the sundae, but if you watch carefully the actual costumed character is not the ice cream.  Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were great portrayals of Batman, but The Dark Knight Rises merely lets Batman tag along just so they could fulfill it as an action movie.

1.  Stupid Final Fights

You have the Scarecrow and Bane in your movie and you've spent the greater portion of the story building up their evilness.  Now one would expect a huge final brawl where Batman gets the upper hand and sends them on a one-way ticket to dream land.  Not true.  Scarecrow is defeated by Katie Holmes with a taser and Bane gets shot right out of the film by Cat Woman.  I know we are dealing with a very cerebral and deep Batman, but at least give us a sweet action scene.  This is equivalent to the Hulk not saying "smash!" or Wolverine having a sit down talk to resolve his issues with bad guys.  Batman had a great fight with the Joker so it is not like Nolan is completely inept in the field of standoffs.  Even George Lucas will get off his golden fan boy throne to deliver a lightsaber battle between two guys.  I feel robbed that Batman never gets to be the one who finishes his evil thugs.  I have to give kudos to Marvel.  The Avengers clearly had some sweet chin music with Loki and not once did an audience member yell, "get back to the deep convicted discussions between Steve Rodgers and Tony Stark!"


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