I must admit to being a fan of both Adam West as a very young child, Batman: The Animated Series, and the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton vision, and maybe it has something to do with the tender age at which I was exposed to them. I could pretend that I was enthralled by the millions of dollars of advertising, and give this film a great or a mediocre review. However, there are plenty of drones doing that as we speak. I want to talk about what bugged me about this film.
Anne Hathaway was the best choice I could imagine. She’s a great actress, which allowed her to put quite a few different faces on the character, from the uncaring hardened criminal to the wise cracking flirt. She mastered the unattainable seductress and the eventual reluctant softy. Thanks to the writing, she’s also the only character that showed any kind of character development. Not that that’s a prerequisite in my comic book movies.
She’s also the only character who smiled. It should be said that she filled out the cat suit quite well, maybe even better than an emaciated Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s funny, you combine the words cat and woman, and you imagine a sexy jewel thief. Combine cat with lady, and you think of something entirely different. Tim Burton tried to combine them with marginal success. Nolan, instead creates a character almost identical to the Lee Meriweather version in the 1966 Adam West Batman minus the purr puns.
This time out, Batman doesn’t rely on the gadgets he usually does. In fact, not once does he reach for his fabled utility belt. He rides his weeble-wobble-wheeled Bat Bike on occasion, as does Catwoman, but his Humvee meets Transformer of a Batmobile gets stolen by the enemy. He does get a new Batwing which appears to be a mixture between a vectored thrust, fixed-wing and a helicopter, but the blades are underneath it so there’s no way they’d be able to get enough air to provide any lift.
I will hand it to the new ride, though. Despite being as slow as molasses by current military specs, it can apparently outrun what appear to be the slowest guided missiles in the history of rocket propulsion. You won’t be seeing any Baterangs, bat grappling guns, rapid ascenders, or any of Batman’s other essentials. Instead, he prefers to engage armed assailants in endless haymaking fistfights.
The acting is what we’ve come to expect from Christian Bale. Whether he had to use the squishy Cookie Monster voice because he didn’t have the acting chops to separate Batman from Bruce Wayne, because somebody told him it was cool, or because Welch people have no idea what Americans really sound like, is beyond me. Even when he’s chillin’ with Alfred in the Batcave, he’s gotta use the voice. I found myself wanting to ask the Imax theater in Universal Citywalk to rewind the film so I could hear the Batdialogue, despite being cranked through the best 5.1 system known to mankind.
I don’t know if Christian has been abusing his Shake Weights or what, but he seems to have lost even more weight for the role. Instead of the square-jawed beefcake we see in the comics, he’s a pointy beaked scarecrow with sunken features. Did I mention he’s from Wales? Really Hollywood? Three hundred million people in the USA, and we can’t find one to play the most American icon since George Washington?
In this movie, the billionaire playboy is no playboy, and for much of the movie isn’t even a billionaire. I realize that Bruce’s supposed to be torn up about his parents, but holy bloody tampon, Batman. Get over it. You’re 40. So your parents would probably be dead by now anyway, and you probably had it a lot better than any other orphan would’ve. Adam West didn’t whine about his parents. Michael Keaton dropped off a rose, listened to some Seal, and got right back to being rich and banging chicks.
This movie documents a one-man pity party, already in progress for 8 years, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Leaving Las Vegas. He’s a lip ring away from being a member of Dashboard Confessional. There’s not one witty remark, knowing wink, or even a sideways glance. The one time he gets laid is obviously a sympathy screw. The fact that the chick who gave it to him turns out to have orchestrated the movie’s entire plot to make him suffer seems like an ill-conceived afterthought.
I also learned a lot about human physiology from watching this movie. Apparently, you can punch hardened body armor with blows that smash concrete pillars for 45 minutes and never hurt your bare hand. Also, people with paralyzing back injuries have all been sandbagging this whole time. I mean, all you need to do to walk again is hang from a rope and have an old Afghani man slap you on the back once. Do a couple pushups, and you’re good as new. Screw stem cell research.
First off, I’d like to start by saying Bane was a bad choice. In the mythos of Batman, he’s too young. He showed up in 1993, and is mainly used as a henchman because his addiction to Venom makes him easy to control. They gave him the same Nacho Libre appearance and mask which they make only a superficial attempt to explain, but they place his origins somewhere in the Middle East, rather than a fictional Caribbean island which makes the Mexican wrestler getup even more out of place.
They decided to give Bane a poorly overdubbed voice so obviously done by a different actor that it recalled the 1983 Hercules film, starring a speech impaired Lou Ferrigno. It’s vaguely British sing-song notes ring loudly despite his volume and without reverb despite his environment, sounding like a cross between Yoda and the singer from Disturbed.
It’s amusing to me how he yammers on like a community college philosophy professor while he fights like a semi-professional wrestler at your local VFW hall. Sadly, nobody seems to realize his weakness until the very end. Spoiler alert! Turns out it was bullets. Michael Keaton would’ve had him Baterranged, hogtied, and delivered to Arkham before Christian Bale threw his 98th punch.
What we learn near the end, is that Miranda’s father left her in a pit in the Middle East to die. She was the only one to escape. Since Batman killed this father that she never knew, who left her in a pit to die, she wastes her life figuring out how to make him suffer. It makes zero sense.
She poses as a billionaire philanthropist who just happens to choose clean energy as her platform. How she knew Batman is Bruce Wayne, Wayne Enterprises is into energy and that they have a functioning nuclear reactor hidden under the city is never explained.
When Bruce has nothing, she takes him in and bangs him. Believe me, if chicks who spent their lives hating me were suddenly dishing out delivery tacos, I’d be making a few phone calls.
Even when Batman’s locked in an inescapable prison, she still maintains her cover. If she were so sure he wouldn’t escape, she would’ve revealed herself as soon as Bane beat him the first time.
Also, once he escaped from the pit, he was penniless with no ID in a hostile foreign country.
- How did he get home?
- I mean, how did he find civilization?
- How did he prove his identity?
- How did he book a plane ticket?
- How did he make it through American customs?
- How did he make his way to Gotham, since their airport was obviously not functional?
- How did he make it into the city, when the military was keeping everybody out?
None of it’s answered. The logical step for him would’ve been to call his only well-funded, well-connected friend: Miranda. However, she was as shocked as everyone else when he showed up.
All in all, the plot “twist” at the end seems like Nolan said, on take 42, “Hey, let’s do one where it turns out Miranda was behind it all.” Then, because that’s the only take in which you can understand Christian Bale, they used it. At least that’s what I think.
They shot this movie in Los Angeles, Pittsburg, and Chicago. This was mainly because they didn’t want Gotham to resemble any one city too closely. Unfortunately, all those cities look the same. They’re hazy, smog-filled skylines made of concrete and glass.
Now, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I think Gotham ought to be dark, looming, filled with gargoyles and other strange statues, and look like it rained just a few minutes ago. Metropolis should look like every major metropolitan area. With the exception of a single motorcycle chase, this film was done almost entirely during the day and Batman makes no attempt to use stealth or subterfuge, instead relying on his Batwing to save him when he’s cornered. Why our military intelligence doesn’t use giant apache helicopters to carry single unarmed troops trained in bar fighting is beyond me.
Bane and his army of homeless sewer orphans who are somehow trained in special forces tactics and better armed than a Juarez drug cartel raid the stock exchange (now in Gotham) to bankrupt Wayne,. Meanwhile, the wrestler executes a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises to retrieve a secret nuclear reactor everybody already knows about that he turns into a bomb.
Bane beats Batman down, and smuggles him out of the country, using the old Bond cliché of not killing him, but simply revealing his entire plan and leaving him in an easily escapable situation. Meanwhile, Bane uses explosives to trap thousands of police in the sewers, despite there being manholes every 10 feet. They isolate the city by blowing bridges and emptying the prison.
During this anarchy, they use rhetoric reminiscent of the Occupy movement, such as stealing from the rich people who’ve kept you down. They play with a few other motivations, but anything that makes sense is obviously a ruse. Despite Bane telling a televised stadium full of people that he’s killing the only person that knows how to disarm the bomb, nobody seems to remember 10 minutes later that it’s eventually going off.
Turns out, their whole goal was to piss off Batman and then blow up themselves along with all Gotham’s citizens, thus completely wiping out their own organization, The League of Shadows. That’s the same organization they’re pissed off at Batman for interfering with in the first place. That’s like Bin Laden marching every last Al Queda member into Dallas, and blowing it up just to piss off Bush. At least that guy had a political agenda.
The city’s helped by Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordan who goes from being laid up with a gunshot wound to jumping off buildings onto tanks in a couple of days. You also meet a cop named Robin Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt which should make Dick Grayson pretty mad. Catwoman predictably betrays Batman, helps him, betrays him, helps him, etc.
In the end, a lot of red shirts die, and Batman carries the nuclear bomb 50 miles off the coast. I’m not sure if Nolan stopped to ask folks 50 miles from Chernobyl what that’s like. What’s that? They’re all dead?
If there were a Batman 4, it would be Wayne getting fined 45 billion for ruining the fishing trade off the coast of Gotham, and dealing with the nuclear winter and two headed babies that followed. Batman 5’s enemy would obviously be Godzilla. Well, by that point, I would be so beyond caring that it wouldn’t surprise me if he stuffed the whole city in a refrigerator with Harrison Ford.
Other Things that Bugged Me
- 10 seconds after Batman’s return to Gotham, he lights a huge bridge on fire in the shape of a bat. That would’ve taken weeks to rig in real life, and everybody would’ve seen the guy in the cape painting the bridge with flammable gel. Besides, he should’ve had more important things to do, like cutting himself and listening to the Cure.
- Batman hates guns but his Batmobiles and Batbike are armed with rockets. SMG’s never run out of ammo.
- In the opening sequence they take apart a plane and suspend it from another plane. I don’t know if it’s bad editing, but it’s impossible to tell what’s going on other than it makes less physics sense than the A-Team steering a plummeting tank by firing the gun.
- The Batsuit once again has nipples. We see where that got us last time.
- The music was unmemorable and weak. If you’ve seen the film, hum one note of the music. You can’t. Now hum the Adam West TV theme. Now hum Danny Elfman’s Battheme. I don’t know if the director complained that the music was interrupting his vision, or if the composer was just phoning it in, but it was just piss poor.
- No Arkham Asylum.
- Catwoman doesn’t know Batman’s identity, despite Bane yelling it out during one of their marathon punching contests.
- Despite their training, the cops band together to march on the bad guys Revolutionary War style until they exhaust their 6 bullets and then get right to the fist fighting.
If you like movies that look like the studio spent a lot of money on them, you might like this one. I mean, if you’re hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for The Day After The Day After Tomorrow to be made, this is your movie. If you like endless, pointless, unbelievable fistfights, you’re in luck.
If you think you might be getting a BJ during the movie, and are worried about missing something, this might be just the film, but if you’re looking for a well-thought out, well-acted action adventure, this might not be it.
If you’re older than 12 and remember more accurate attempts to adapt the comic book to film, you sir, are SOL.