Self-Important, The Dark Knight Rises Feels Like Batman Forever

Why so serious?

Self-Important, <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i> Feels Like Batman Forever

Christopher Nolan's ponderous, pontifical action movies are written less as screenplays than as operator's manuals, guiding an audience through assembling their important themes while scrupulously making sure you don't miss a thing. This is as true of Inception, with its reams of expositional walk-through, as of Nolan's superhero saga, now swollen into a trilogy in which the dramatis personae are always stepping up to identify themselves in statements of principle. All of the on-the-nose speechifying (scripted by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan) keeps the runtimes long, while the drum-tight rule of schematic relevance shuts out anything resembling wit, spontaneity, and recognizable human conduct.

Billed as director Nolan's final contribution to the franchise he revived with 2005's Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the events of 2008's The Dark Knight, eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, a/k/a Two-Face, still honored as a hero through the print-the-legend contrivance of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman, returning), and eight years after the villainized, fugitive Caped Crusader was last sighted in Gotham City, which has settled into a fragile peace. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has hung up his Batman suit and become a Howard Hughes–like recluse, only lured into the world again by a couple of women: a socialite investor in Wayne Enterprises' clean-energy programs, Miranda (Marion Cotillard), and a cat burglar who penetrates his sanctuary, Selina (Anne Hathaway, repeatedly proving the "No-Fun" Nolans' ability to make comic-relief one-liners fall flat amid their sepulchral, master-builder cinema.)

The overarching theme of the Batman films is the moral problem of vigilantism, as played out by name-tagged figures of virtue and vice. "The idea was to be a symbol," Wayne says of his anonymous alter ego in The Dark Knight Rises—and so this most solemn of superhero franchises duly marches ahead with the process of ominous signification, having established itself among those who accept its self-regard at face value as not just another blockbuster but the multiplex State of the Nation for the 21st century. If The Dark Knight openly invited interpretation as the War on Terror Batman, then The Dark Knight Rises, whose creators obviously scented the class discontent in the air, is the Occupy Wall Street installment. "You think all this can last?" down-and-out survivor Selina says upon meeting Wayne at a fancy-dress masquerade ball. "There's a storm coming."

That storm breaks in the form of the living incarnation of Have-Not rancor, Bane, played by the hulking Tom Hardy, face indistinguishable behind the ventilator apparatus clamped over his mouth. The visage will remind many of the unmasked Vader, though his fruity, magniloquent purr is closer to Vincent Price talking through a window fan.

Bane was "born and raised in hell on earth"—a pit prison on the other side of the world. In order to punch in Bane's weight class, the softened, fresh-out-of-retirement Wayne will first have to join the 99 Percent, eventually enrolling in the same third-world school of hard knocks that spawned his opponent. Training in dismal, prehistoric conditions trims away the fat of techie decadence and reinvigorates Wayne's sense of the ethical obligation of privilege. If this sounds familiar, it's because Wayne did a similar piece of slumming in Batman Begins. It is also the theme of Rocky IV.

As in The Dark Knight's conflict between Wayne and the Joker, Order versus Anarchy, the face-off between Wayne and Bane is a dialectical battle between personified concepts. Wayne is Gotham City's philanthropic chaperone; his company develops technologies with great potential for help and harm, which Wayne then keeps away from a polis that he protects without trusting. Bane is, in posture at least, a radical revolutionist, setting himself up as the champion of the disenfranchised, though it is difficult to imagine who would be seduced by his tactics or his plan "to return control of the city to the people," followed by the neutralization of law and order and the foundation of a Gotham Commune.

For the Nolans, it is characters who voice seemingly utopian goals such as "restoring balance to the world" of whom the most is to be feared. And while The Dark Knight's climax hinged on finding faith in the common man's decency, upon witnessing the goings-on in Occupied Gotham, it is impossible to imagine this revolution accomplishing anything decent—the citizen's tribunal kangaroo court, a fantastic production design flourish by Nathan Crowley, is Reign of Terror by way of Kafka, while a parody of the Bastille is played out before Blackgate Penitentiary. The Dark Knight Rises is not a reactionary movie outright—it would be more respectable if it were—but only on a villainous technicality. The perpetrators of the city-upending mutiny have no interest in a new order, only in seeing Gotham purged in blood with a rote ticking time bomb, an apocalypse that precludes the possibility of revolution either failing or succeeding on its own terms.

The Dark Knight Rises is a shallow repository of ideas, but as a work of sheer sensation, it has something to recommend. At two hours and 45 minutes, it's no fleeter of foot than its plodding predecessors, but Nolan has continued his experimentation with the IMAX format, and the sheer mass of what he has constructed inspires a dull awe—it is impossible not to be cowed by a film that's five stories tall while Hans Zimmer's stampeding orchestra tramples you. As throughout the Batman films, Nolan is at his best symphonizing second-unit footage, illustrating how the shock waves of an assault resound across the infrastructure of an entire city, a coordinated attack on Gotham's pressure points being a particular highlight here. (The city is composed of bits of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, with New York City for establishing shots, including a half-complete new WTC tower available for suggestive effect.) The history of Batman's burden is, however, increasingly cumbersome, and it's Mr. Bane who finally makes the pertinent point: "Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."

 
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63 comments
Richard1980
Richard1980

I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises and I must say I was really pleased with it overall! I loved how Bane was portrayed and the second fight against him was epic! The ending was so awesome and really left it up to the viewer to paint out the future of the characters in their mind. Awesome way to end the trilogy! yeah, and the people going through Wayne's possession at the end saying they can't find some pearls (which he defiantly took back from Selina before) ;) I love how tricky they are with the ending. Great conclusion that I think could satisfy everyone :) http://www.protopage.com/buy-electronic-cigarettes-online http://www.protopage.com/order-lasix-online http://www.protopage.com/buy-pall-mall-cigarettes http://www.protopage.com/acheter-des-cigarettes http://www.protopage.com/buy-african-mango-extract

LorengeU2
LorengeU2

Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you for watching the film, understanding it, and taking the time to write the best review of this film that I've read. I found your review on Metacritic along with some 40 plus others and it is easily the best I've read. On Metacritic it states you gave the film a 40/100 which is confirmed by the content of your review above (although I don't see an actual grade on this site), and while I couldn't disagree more with the scoring, I understand your view and opinion. After reading many of your competitor's reviews, I was pleased to finally find someone reviewing the film negatively who had actually watched the movie. So again, thank you for the quality of your analysis and the pride you take in your work.

 

Having said that, I loved the movie. I'd have probably put it in the 88/100 range. I've watched in three time seeing it in 2 different IMAX's and one regular theater and I enjoyed it more each time I saw it. So while I enjoyed the topics in your review, and understand your opinions, I have to disagree with them. 

 

1) I love his writing. You call it "pontifical", but I want my Director/Writer believing in their work fully. What your suggesting is near arrogance, I consider confidence.

2) It's funny to me as a fan that you find the series "swollen" into a trilogy, when I have my fingers crossed for a second Nolan trilogy, but when you describe what swells the films as an "expositional walkthrough" I can't ignore that in one case I agree. Miranda's speech near the end of the film describing her true identity felt like a long description. A story better told with a few more short suggestive scenes than a long speech (of course that probably would have taken more film time to create). However, that scene aside, the "speechifying" is the best part of Nolan's writing. Bane's speeches are terror inducing, bone chilling moments that give the viewer a true sense of fear and make scene after scene worth watching. Whether is Bane, Catwoman, or any number of other characters throughout the series, the choice to write speeches displaying the mind of the character instead of using that screen time to have some long flashback showing what Venom is, or what Catwoman's childhood was like, or how the Joker really did get his "scars", was the right decision over and over again. In Miranda's speech Nolan breaks from this, and that is the only time the "speechifying" doesn't benefit and in fact slows the film down.

3) while I agree with the "drum-tight" comment, again I think this benefits the film. The story is complicated enough, any anecdotal scenes that don't have a plot progressing purpose are unnecessary and should be left out. This does nothing to hamper wit or spontaneity. Did you really think the Batman was alive when the bomb went off, or that Miranda was Talia? There were more than enough twists is the movie while keeping the script "drum-tight".

4) Regarding the Occupy movement, I think you missed a key point. Bruce spends the movie trying to get Selina to change. She starts by wanting Anarchy, but ends by believing that that is not the solution. Nolan isn't saying Occupy is right (Bane's in charge of it after all) and he isn't saying the wealthy and privileged are right (he shows Board Member Daggett and the Wall Street trader as the stereotype what Occupy is against). Instead, he's suggesting that there's right and wrong and no matter what your station in life you can be above corruption, above the easy path. Bruce goes to the prison and looses his wealth, but he never truly becomes "one of them". In the first film he never really becomes a criminal, stealing only from his own company. In this film the prisoners define a difference between him and the other inmates/Bane, as he was a man from privilege while that was Bane's "home". When Selina thinks Bruce has lost everything she suggests he could sleep on the couch, he responds by telling her he gets to keep the house. Selina replies, "the rich don't even go broke like the rest of us". Bruce is never part of the 99%. At the same time he not the 1% either. Giving his personal wealth for the energy project, not attending charity functions because the money doesn't really get to where it's needed. He's just a good man trying to do what's right, just like his father before him.

5)The film does fail with its sound, and while Bane's voice is intimidating, and the booming score is powerful, the sound editing makes speech after speech difficult to hear. This is the worst part of the film.

6) I think the ideas in this film are far from "shallow". Even just what you touched on were more themes relevant to today's current events than most films contain. Further, the larger themes of Batman are ones that transcend time and while simple are far from shallow. I think he developed them beautifully over the 7 plus hours of screen time and gave of plenty to debate intellectually after seeing the films.

 

To finish, I thank you for actually saying something with your review. We seem to like different movies perhaps, but your perception of the screenplay and what it's saying are very interesting.

StutteringTom
StutteringTom

Wow.  I thought Bay and Emmerich fans were bad.  I thought Nolan made "intelligent" movies for "intelligent" people.  By reading these comments, I can tell that Nolan's fans are very much fanatical.  Here's the typical scenario:  A Nolan fan states -- "I love The Dark Knight, it's the greatest film ever, and Nolan's is the best batman."  Subjective statements of opinion which other Nolan fans have no problem with.  Then someone who is not a Nolan fans says: "This movie didn't work for me.  Or, I love Tim Burton's original better and here is why."  Another subjective statement but with a reason.  Then all of a sudden, all the Nolan fans start harping on the individual, and then they give all these reasons why Nolan's is better.  That's fine, but whenever someone proves a Nolan fan wrong, Nolan fans can't admit they are wrong or concede a point.  All the Nolan fans can do in the comments below (you should read them, they're quite impressive) is switch the argument.  Example:  A Burton fan says the sky is blue -- I prefer when it's a nice gold color; Nolan fans say the sky is not blue it's cloudy.  A Burton fan says well, the sky is cloudy, yes, but that doesn't mean its color isn't blue.  I'm talking about the color here, not its weather condition.  Then the Nolan fan looks at the sky again, and realizing his/her mistake but never fully conceding or apologizing for being needlessly oppostional states: "Yeah, but you got to remember it's such a pretty shade of blue."  Then the Burton fans says: "Well, yes, but I'm just saying I prefer a nice golden sky to a blue one."  Then a Nolan fan says can you please elaborate on why you prefer a nice golden sky to a blue one.  Then a Burton fan does elaborate, and provides a nice thought out answer, and suddenly a completely different Nolan fan posts a comment that says something like "why do you have a personal grudge against blue skies?"  Then the Burton fan says "I don't have a grudge against blue skies, I just prefer gold skies."   Then yet another Nolan fans attacks the Burton fan and says something to the effect, "wow man, you have too much time on your hands to ponder skies" -- forgetting the whole reason the person posted a long winded responsed to begin with is because the Nolan fan asked the Burton fan to elaborate!  It just doesn't matter what kind of logic or reasoning you employ a freaking Nolan fan is not going to be happy UNLESS you totally reaffirm their belief that Nolan's Batman films are the best and Burton's suck!

Batmanfan
Batmanfan

I'm going to agree with Nolan Sucks on this one.  If people want to talk about how Nolan revolutionized Batman by bringing some depth to the series... Tim Burton did the same with Batman Returns.  Batman Returns is about the sexual construction of identity.  Burton gets the themes across visually, not needing dialogue to spell everything out.  Remember when Selina and Bruce show up to the masked ball without their costumes on?  Their real lives are the costume, and their masks are who they really are.   Great stuff.  But nobody seems to remember how deep Batman Returns really was.  The 1989 Batman though wasn't that deep.  It was just a lot of fun and iconoclastic when it came out. 

BringtheRealBatman
BringtheRealBatman

Okay, I've been thinking about this movie and I'm less mixed than before.   Now I'm decidedly against it.  First, the big issues.  As if to continue his big middle finger to Batman fans, Nolan decides to take Bane's backstory (oh I can hear Nolanites now -- "but Bane never had a backstory and it wasn't confirmed by DC and okay so maybe he did have one but that was always open to interpretation), and give it to Talia.  Then, I'm to understand that a huge chunk of Batman's career was spent not  actually doing anything?  What'd he train for again?  Oh yeah, he didn't anticipate a plot device that involved the Dent Anti-Crime Act.  Then you take the way Nolan hamfists action sequences and plot points like a kid trying to stuff a pillow into a pickle jar.  With Nolan you get a mixed bag and many contradictions -- it's the most faithful to the mythology... but there are all these changes; it treats Batman realistically... but then there are moments that define reality; then Nolanites at some point shift gears saying, well, a faithful comic book movie would be boring so it it's really Nolan's changes that are brilliant; but some of those changes are unnecessary, yeah, but they're still brilliant so you just have to accept it as a Nolan film.  Though it's a minor point, the film's poster shows Crane wearing his creepy mask only to have him wearing a famous Nolan  fetish business suit.  I mean, c'mon.  Minor nitpicks include -- okay Nolan I know you want to stay away from Burton's phenomenal design choices, but Burton did gothic fantasy.  Gothic elements DO exist in reality.  I mean Anton Gaudi and his architecture ARE real.   You should know this as a supposed "architecture" buff -- which I think is another marketing b.s. angle.  Could you throw in some gothic elements of your choosing to help flesh out Batman's world?  Joker has to  be a real person.  But don't people snap and go insane in real life?  Scarecrow can't wear his outfit too much because it diminishes his grounding in reality, but Batman is running around as an armored Bat?  

 

I read the American Cinematographer article where Wally Pfister and Nolan talk about how Donner's realistic take on "Superman" was an inspiration for their take on Batman.  1) It shows that even Nolan admits his "realism" isn't new to the superhero genre; and 2) it makes you go waaaaah?  Superman yes existed in a "real" world but he still defied physics.  That's why he could still translate.  Batman has always been a product of his world.  Take away the world, and Batman can't exist, and his translation won't hold up to subsequent viewings.  

 

Really, I'm glad you're done man.  Maybe the producers will stop deluding themselves and hire someone who isn't going try to radically alter Batman's universe.

vls_powerful2002
vls_powerful2002

After reading your review, I can do naught but feel sorry for you! You probably enjoy 1 out of every million movies you watch. So sad of you!

Troy0310
Troy0310

After reading these comments, it just confirms my stance that we should ban the big-budget midnight movie screening forever. After all, it's geeks like y'all that REALLY caused the Aurora shooting. Get a life

tr1cky1
tr1cky1

'it's Mr. Bane who finally makes the pertinent point: "Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."'

 

Wow, for a paid columnist, someone did NOT do their homework.  This was the entire theme of the first film.  Who is this hack writing for VV?

turk
turk

... over/under on 'Nolansucks' posts by the time this here comments section closes? which is to ask ofcourse, over/under on enlightened mf'ers seen the light, son.

MartinL
MartinL

Well, let's look at the Nolans' take on politics for a moment. What happens here is akin to New Yorkers rising up in support of Bin Laden after 9/11. The movie tells us there's almost no crime in Gotham City, and at the same time tries to posit that people are hugely dissatisfied with the Gini Coefficient (gap between rich and poor). Well one thing we know is that big gaps between rich and poor do NOT correlate with low crime. The mob is ignorant and brutish. That's their take on, presumably, the people who buy tickets for their films. Oh, and while I'm here, under what situation would a trade in a shut down, presumably suspended, and terrorized stock market be honored, fingerprints or not? There is zero point in getting Bruce Wayne's fingerprints only to make it massively obvious you are intervening in the market. 

 

And all those months in the prison, no one ever uses the terms "he" or "she"?

 

There are too many stupidities in this film that only Nolan's blind worshippers will try to invent explanations for. (As they did for his OWN rule-breaking faux pas in "Inception": "Dream bigger".) 

MikeMarks
MikeMarks

I viewed the The Dark Knight Rises midnight show... what I saw through my paradygm... "The Dark Knight Rises" is a metaphor for "The People Rises."

Its morality plays out in a Gotham that is a modular Earth: Manhattan Island, its tunnels and bridges cut off, isolated from the rest of the world. The film directly references Wall Street. It depicts the consequences of maintaining an "us and them" divide between "Occupiers" and "law enforcement."

Real time, even the U.N. is noticing that divide occurring, with a $4.6 million encouragement to NYPD courtesy JPMorgan, in NYC and elsewhere.

While the first movie in the trilogy depicted corruption in the police department, the second set up the hope and inspiration that cured that corruption. The third reminds us that many police officers are, as consistently portrayed throughout the series by Commissioner Gordon, good, brave men, gentlemen intending to protect and serve. When they are removed, nearly the full force trapped in tunnels beneath the city, ordinary citizens are encouraged, by the mumbled blah blah ranting of villain Bane, to see and seize their freedom from law.

Speaking through a mouthpiece in his mask that distorts his voice, it is only at this point that Bane’s diction becomes something other than "I’m straining uncomfortably hard to make out what he just said." Perhaps that was Nolan's artistic choice since, like Orson Welles reading the phone book, like particular politicians at the pulpit, Bane utters, with Shakespearian elegance, crocks of shit hardly worth making out.

In their glee for freedom, the ordinary citizens encourage themselves to not see the new law of Bane’s thumb on their throats. Fed up with the rich, they invade homes and toss the wealthy onto the streets. As in days of the Fool King, they hold mock trials where they judge and sentence the wealthy, and the remaining untrapped police officers, including Commissioner Gordon, to exile and death upon the thin ice surrounding the island. Thus the movie depicts a version of Anarchy winning out, while only suggesting, to the imaginative, the consequences of the alternative, the Police State, winning out. Either scenario winning out would prove undesirable for Joe Public, but would serve Joe Public's mutual enemy... a League of Shadows that every citizen must make a stand against... because every citizen matters.

A character like Batman makes a strange Joe Public. But Bruce Wayne, stripped of his own wealth and physical health, gets much more screen time than Batman. Presumably years of superhero activity has worn the cartilage from his joints, the death of loved ones has crushed his spirit, and Catwoman antics upon the fingerprints of his apathy has left him penniless. Even as he takes a final gasp to rise, Bane breaks his back and leaves him imprisoned in the pit of his childhood well.

Finding what is important enough to raise ourselves from that pain, despair and hopelessness, is the thick story that plays upon the backdrop of rich and poor, war and wall obstacles. There is a wall to scale that can only be accomplished with the full commitment of abandoning the net. To trust what has killed you will not kill you again. To give all that you can give and then to rest, knowing you have inspired the good you’ve seen in others to carry on.

This movie’s premier was marked with real time tragedy. Should we make a blanket statement of "man massacres audience/movie bad?" The shooter may very well be a kid with a loose screw, even one whose screw unwound via engaging with violent media. Yet, in this world that we all know contains, at the very least, "secret shoppers," is it too much of a stretch, too comic booky to consider, that it also contains "secret operatives" being, or employing, "catcher in the rye screwdriver" types? Idealistic influence via artistic ability, to maximize counter consciousness in our culture via whichever movie genre may catch large audience attention, is one of the few weapons we have against the psychopaths pulling our murderers' strings - the shadows without a mask - the Bankman.

Am I missing the compassionate element of the massacre? I personally know what it is to lose a teenage son. Among things I learned from my own tragedy is that there is time required to cry the tears to settle the soul, and to learn to cherish more what was once had, rather than solely miss what is now gone, so sadness may be a sweeter sadness with memories sweetly recalled. The world doesn't necessarily cooperate with giving us that required time when we want it. Sometimes, even while there are tears in our eyes, there is work that can not be delayed or dismissed.

mabella
mabella

But the very significant theme to me, that you've completely overlooked in your analysis: what happens when a very powerful force or demagogue gathers up, seduces and manipulates the tsunami of the people's discontent and desperation? Can we not see him/them using that multitudinous power for their own selfish or greedy ends to either rule or destroy the people? How can the people be spared that path toward annihilation, when their very leadership has been either bought outright or seduced by the need for safety or popular approval? 

WideAndNerdy
WideAndNerdy

You're right. This movie does take itself too seriously. Its just funny hearing that accusation from a Village Voice critic. Talk about the pot and the kettle. 

Moviegirl
Moviegirl

Avengers and spiderman = everything goes.  Nolan's Batman films = rules.  Nolan breaks his rules.  Avengers and Spiderman and Ironman have no rules to break. 

joewilscam
joewilscam

Its always good to read a review by someone who loves themselves as much as this .... To think... that anyone could write something like this with nothing but a Webster's and Thesaurus in hand... Somewhat tedious to get through the alliteration but altogether garbage grinding tedium serves to take one's attention from the lack of professionalism - bye bye

Moonsmurf
Moonsmurf

Christopher Nolan is pure camp.  I read a review where they said he was "the single greatest visual director since Ridley Scott."  Huh?  That's like looking at a Brian Bolland panel and saying his work resembles Moebius.  Or looking at an Ingres and saying it's like a Picasso.  I mean really when people can't even distinguish the characteristics of completely divergent art styles, doesn't objectivity and credibilty go right the window? 

rltowler
rltowler

Spoiler Alert: Batman is Millionaire 1%er Bruce Wayne

 

JJ
JJ

The sheer fact that so many enraged fanboys are spamming message boards of any critic who dares to say something other than 'it would be an honor to be the meat in a Nolan brothers sandwich' tells me I'm right for suspecting this to be a monumental turd of a movie.

Adam Pfleghaar
Adam Pfleghaar

It's not an assumption it's a statistically verified demographic and by the caliber of those posting here I would say it's fairly accurate :) Hahaha! Being called pretentious doesn't bother me in the least. If you found my comment offensive that was my intention. It seems people here like to fight so why not bring it down to their level. I don't mind a good fight :) What astounds me the most is the rampant display of proud ignorance. In most countries people have enough dignity to stay quiet when they don't know what they are talking about. Not here, in good ol' US of A, we are proud of our stupidity and flaunt it like peacock feathers. Anyway, I had my moment of fun. Back to real life.

Liam Pisan
Liam Pisan

You have to suspend your disbelief for all superhero films. In the Avengers, we supposed to believe that the U.S. government just decided to let the Avengers handle the alien menace instead of helping at all (apart from nuking the place). In the Amazing Spider-Man, we are supposed to buy that the world literally revolves around Peter. In Iron Man, we must accept that he survives... literally everything (he falls from a thousand feet in the air, a fall that destroys his suit, but survives; he survives the shrapnel wounds; he just blasted by that massive laser explosion, and explosion that kills Iron Monger, but is fine), is able to casually create the ultimate source of energy (WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!), and is able to move every person away from those robot bombs before they explode. In Captain America, we need to believe that he just has to crash the plane into the ice. In Spider-Man, the audience are supposed to buy a train full of passengers are not going to say anything to anyone. And in X-Men, when Xavier first targets every mutant, then every human, we are must accept that it did not cause worldwide chaos (he essentially revealed every mutant to the people around them, and imagine all the car and plane crashes, let alone the heavy machinery accidents). So, please, tell me: how are Nolan's films any different?

Liam Pisan
Liam Pisan

What justification is there to give them higher ratings? Are you rating them as bad movies? "Yeah, for a terrible movie, this was amazing!" That is not fair reviewing. Yes, I understand differentiating reviews based on genres, but even in their respective genres, those movies are absolutely dreadful. So, yeah, it is a completely legitimate complaint.

Liam Pisan
Liam Pisan

Fine, explain why those ideas were stolen. Also, could you sound like more of the douche? Congratulations on discovering a thesaurus.

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

Films without plot holes: "El Topo." "Holy Mountain." "A Clockwork Orange." "Citizen Kane." "Fritz Lang's Metropolis." "House of Bamboo." "Jean Epstein's Fall of the House of Usher." "Road to Perdition" "Django." "Doctor Zhivago." "Pinocchio." "Finding Nemo." "2001 A Space Odyssey." "Full Metal Jacket." "Toy Story." Noe's "Irreversible." "Taxi Driver." I mean really I could go on and on, but you only asked for one. But I wanted to reveal how stupid that comment really was. Nolan not only stole the premise of Inception, but he stole the treatment. And not only did he steal the treatment but he also stole the themes. Of course, you will argue with every point to the death, but I will humor you just so you can try to plead your relativism because as the philosopher says "When in doubt, relativize." But here we go: The premise is itself a fusion of two Borges' stories "The Approach of Al-Mu'tasim" and "The Circular Ruins." Though Nolan himself at first argued against this, he later came out and confirmed it. I'm sure literature buffs could recognize the same approach as perceptive literature buffs realized he stole "A Man in the Crowd" from Poe for "The Following." (Stealing from Poe is very common for newb filmmakers; the more obscure it is, the better it is). These two stories were in fact the basis for the Christopher Priest novel " A Dream of Wessex," which also was the inspiration for Cronenberg's "Existenz" (he hired Priest to adapt the novel to a comic book). Priest as I'm sure you have learned from your wikipedia readings as opposed to your actual literary readings is a remarkable science fiction author, and Nolan adapted one of his other works called 'The Prestige." The ideas and themes and plotting of "Inception" are nearly identical to the same events in "A Dream of Wessex." The structure of simulated reality fiction is so cliche now, that perceptive writers and artists fight against it. The formula is the following: Start with a premise of reality, reveal a device or conceit that upsets the perception of reality, question whether the first order of reality is really real or whether it's not, and then leave the reader/viewer to decide for himself. This was the structure of many tv shows/ books/ movies. By the time Nolan got his hands on it, it became more than passe. In the creative world, if everyone starts using the flare plug-in from Video Copilot, it becomes repetitive and cliche. You may not be hired just for having the cajones to use it. Nolan was too lazy to even deviate or challenge the very structure of simulated reality fiction. At least other artists use the conventions to espouse a personally unique philosophy. Cronenberg suggested that simulated reality would be the liberation of sexual consciousness which would then could possibly lead to societal collapse. The idea that sexual identity could be used to facilitate revolution through the introduction of simulated realities is not something many sci-fi writers have explored to the degree that he did. That doesn't make the film great but at least he had a philosophy. Nolan has only one general and cliche philosophy with "Inception" -- life is a matter of what you choose to believe. Geeze, haven't thought about that before. "Inception" is content with replicating the experiences you get from watching and reading greater examples of simulated reality fiction, but it never espouses a unique philosophy. In fact, it's the worst form of simulated reality fiction because its sole purpose is to exist as an amalgam of higher greater texts. It's simulated exploitation. Throw in "Dreamscape." "Total Recall" and "Paprika" and you have a film that doesn't really do anything more than to exist as a premise to string along pretty sequences that are themselves recursions of greater scenes. In that sense "Inception" is a parody, a mass gag created by a filmmaker who takes his ideas so seriously that he's unaware that his true genius lies in absurd comedy. He lacks the awareness and the self-consciousness to realize the double meaning of the thought he gave birth to. And of course, his followers are too busy goosestepping to the drums to realize their social routine is part of the cosmic joke as well. That is a meaningless act designed to give signification in a system lacking any significance whatsoever. In time, "Inception" will be watched back-to-back with films like "Showgirls" and "The Village" enjoyed for the only value it truly possesses -- camp. Because camp is the sophisticated mind's reaction to the absurdity it perceives and is a reclamation of the ideas that were misappropriated and maligned to begin with. Like when John Landis said: "I love Roland Emmerich films. They're funny as hell! I think they're should be more of them. They're funnier than anything I've ever created." That is my reaction to Nolan. It's gonna take some time, but eventually the rest of society will wake up just like they did with M. Night.

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

You missed the point. Realism wasn't the problem. The application and definition of realism was the problem. And nobody said "how dare they put realism." Donner's Superman thrived on realism. Some characters can't handle it. Unless, you are willing to suspend all disbelief. So many people have to try TOO hard to suspend disbelief to swallow Nolan's realism. Not all people. But many people. And the fact that many are Batman fans who have been so for more than 30 years should say something to you. Because we built the Batman empire on a certain perception of Batman that Nolan has mired. When the series are done, we will still be buying the comics, while people like you will simply wait for the newest glut of sensory overload.

LeeLea
LeeLea

 @Batmanfan no - Batman 1989 is not deep because Tim Burton has no (or little) real feeling for characters, stories or the audience. His films are about pop goth design ideas and don't explore any supposedly deeper ideas like the 'sexual construction of identity'. If you're reading that in his 'Batman Returns', its because you choose to, or fail to see that those character qualities existed before Burton came along.

 

Chris Nolan is difficult to follow, but has a far better sense of tension and hard-hittting drama than other pop filmmakers at the moment, so I guess older (ticket  buying) viewers get more emotional substance from what his films offer. 

tr1cky1
tr1cky1

 @MartinL Wow, I guess some people are not fans of deep character investment and will look for small details to attempt to tear apart some of the most well-made entertainment pieces to have graced Hollywood in years.  Who cares about the minutia, when the most important pieces of the film are about the characters, their hopes and dreams, and then supplying us with a thrilling emotional roller coaster.

lukemilwauker
lukemilwauker

 @MartinL Well one thing we know is that big gaps between rich and poor do NOT correlate with low crime.that is exactly what we have now!

tjmoerman
tjmoerman

 @MartinL For that matter, what did the president of the engineering company that laid the charges--the one who talked back to Bane--think was going to happen? I mean it's a gigantic corporation that it won't take long to figure out was the immediate actor behind blowing everything up. I'm not saying the powers-that-be are real good at holding billionaires accountable, but when they're directly involved in physical terror attacks their assets get frozen pretty quickly--even Bush was able to get that done after 911. Plus he's arranged it so he'll be on the island when it's cut off, when all the dirty unwashed plebeians go all Robespierre on him and his. What was his intention in all this? What did he think was going to happen?

tjmoerman
tjmoerman

 @MartinL While we're at it... how are you going to trap three thousand cops in the sewers FOR MONTHS? You know, there are manholes on every block. Did Bane blow up part of every single city block (he'd have to, since he wouldn't know exactly where the cops were when he pushed the button) ensuring that the entire system becomes a series of mutually-isolated cells? If so, I can tell you there ain't going to be any trucks driving atom bombs around town... or anything else for that matter.

Santiago
Santiago

 @MikeMarks Of the all the stuff I´ve may have read so far about the TDKR, you are the first one who got the same point as I do: the story of Bruce Wayne is that of the individual who must find his real inner strength and keep going and act for the better, even if the better is a relative term to those around him. Most reviewers seem to dimise my favorite scene of the whole trilogy: rising from that prison hole, and he raises because he learns there is no point of being alive only waiting for death: he is alive and he has a resposability to make the best of it while he is still alive.

 

Sorry about your son.

MartinL
MartinL

 @mabella How desperate are they? There's low crime, remember? The only major crime in their city in eight years has been Bane himself blowing up their city and imprisoning the police force that has given them that low crime rate.

 

The Nolans have a very low opinion of democracy and "the mob", if their political take is supposed to be serious or thought through. 

LalToofan
LalToofan

Fair enough mate, but being hypocritical really just makes you the same as the people you are abusing. I have to admit I really hate the ignorance and stupidity as well, but I do not 'fight' them by joining them.

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

Somebody already explained this to you before.  Do you even read?  Oh no, I forgot, as Snider proved with his fake review of Rises, Nolanites don't read they just react. 

 

The suspension of disbelief is something all filmmakers must address so that their movie seems real or fun or plausible. 

 

Filmmakers deal with it in different ways.  1)Some filmmakers eschew any act or idea that could not possibly be considered real by any test of the imagination. 2) Some filmmakers embrace fantasy so that the question of whether or not the events are probable are quickly dismissed by context alone. 3)  Some filmmakers straddle the divide, depending on the respective subject matter, to achieve a balance.

 

How a filmmaker establishes his/her world (writers do this as well) is crucial from the very first frame.  Good filmmakers will even use a pre-credit sequence to help set the tone and the rules in which their characters operate.

 

1) Michael Mann and those of 60's Kitchen Sink Realism will tend to only script and direct those stories that have some sense of reality.  Biopics lend themselves to this approach because you're telling the life stories of real people. 

 

2) Tarantino, Burton, Lynch, Guillermo Del Toro et al will typically establish the tone of fantasy or "unreality" or "cinematic" contrived reality from the first frames of their films.  This is so that you know you are watching something that could not exist in the real world.

 

3) Spielberg and Martin Campbell and people directors who work on properties like "Indiana Jones" and "James Bond" tend to straddle the divide.  Whenever Indiana Jones pulls off something ridiculous (like shooting five Germans in a row with a luger), he expresses incredulity and the music punctuates the impossible with a sense of humor.  When Martin Campbell directed "Casino Royale" he knew he had to be very careful about not having Bond do anything that would cry foul (like Quantum of Solace did -- falling from an airplane and having your chute open at the last minute but still surviving).

 

How the audience responds and whether or not they are willing to suspend disbelief depends on a variety of factors -- 1) whether they want to suspend disbelief, 2) whether they understand the conventions and tone of the film, 3) how much the director excuses the impossible with humor or with something else (such as the charisma of a leading man).

 

Someone like Scorsese blurs the lines because his movies rely on a complex interplay of the objective and subjective -- as well as his right as a director to impose his own presence by playing with the plastics of cinema.  That's why something like "Raging Bull" or "The Aviator" or "Casino" have these brilliant cinema verite moments punctuated by subjective moments that can only exist in the minds of the characters. 

 

Since no two audience members are the same, the director has to use his instincts and his intellect to strategize the best way possible to overcome the doubt and criticism of those audience members who might not be famliar with the conventions of the film they are trying to make.

 

The Batman franchise is huge.  Even people who don't buy the comic books, think they know a thing or two about Batman from the films.  If you make a realistic Batman, and you say these events are absolutely real -- you as a director have already created a rule to which the audience holds you accountable.  If you change or violate that rule, then the audience goes "Wait a minute, but you just said, and if that's the case why is this okay and why is this not?"  All of a sudden, moviegoers start to debate which aspects of Batman's world could be "adapted" to a real world scenario, and nobody really has the answer only illogical or logical arguments at their disposal.  Then, these audience members are left at the mercy of the studio to prove which aspects of Batman's universe are real, forgetting that the person who established the 'real" standard had no absolute or consistent conception of realism to begin with, which is why "Batman Begins" and 'The Dark Knight" have moments where if you are not a Nolanite, you go "Wait a minute, that's freaking impossible."

 

By introducing the concept of realism, Nolan painted himself into an aesthetic corner, but he can't go back and "undo" what he did.  All he can do is move forward and hope that people forget the standard that he set.  That would by like George Lucas introducing laser fire in the void of space in a New Hope, and then eliminating it altogether in "Empire Strikes Back."

 

If you look at the comments on the internet, Nolanites had no problem suspending their disbelief because they are not there to see Batman, they are there to see Nolan.  Many many non-Nolan fans have expressed confusion and dissatisfaction with the films' contradictory standards of realism.

 

That's what makes Nolan's choice so different from the Avengers.  Avengers doesn't try to say this is real . It says "This is a comic book movie, and everyone buckle up because we are going to have fun."  Within the context of the "The Avengers," a viewer says "These costumes are kinda silly," but it doesn't matter because it's all fun.  Nolan's films don't invite you to have fun.  They invite you to contemplate the physics of the central character and whether or not he would possibly exist.  Unlike the Avengers, you start out going, 'Wait,Batman's costume is really cool," and only as you progress do you realize how ridiculous his costume actually is within the context of the real world Nolan establishes.

 

The suspension of disbelief again is not the problem; it's the director's strategy on how he overcomes this issue in relation specifically to the Batman universe that divides moviegoers, except for Nolanites who don't really even care about such subtleties or distinctions.  

 

 

 

 

 

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

NO.  This is a one sided debate.  I have constantly elaborated to humor you.  And I created a rather logically compelling argument for why "Inception" is camp and by virtue of its being camp -- one aspect of why its similar to "The Village" (how about incorporating a passe "twist ending" without a twist). I'm not even sure you possess the intellectual mortar to understand the nature of that argument.. You need to explain why these ideas aren't stolen.  If a magician comes to you with a trick that David Copperfield invented, but he tells you that he came up with it himself, and you go around saying look "he came up with this great trick" -- doesn't Copperfield have the right to be pissed off?  Doesn't he have a right to his intellectual property?  If someone like Roger Ebert who said that Christopher Nolan did something wholly original with "Inception" misidentifies the director as the source of these ideas which have been spread out throughout time and media, based on his ignorance of such media, doesn't that mean that the director has been heralded for achievements that others have already made?  And if so, what does it say about the objectivity applied to the director in question?  And what does it say about the nature of those achievements? I tell you what it means -- it means exactly what that critic Sider proved it meant by posting a fake review of "The Dark Knight Rises."  It means that Nolan fans are reactionaries and they have already "brainwashed" themselves into liking a movie they haven't seen and will defend it against any rational criticism, just as you are fond of doing. 

batmanfan
batmanfan

 @LeeLea Actually, someone responded to Nolan Sucks saying that despite Nolan's flaws, he brings a lot of depth to the Batman films.  I am responding to Nolan Sucks response that Nolan's "depth" includes themes already explored in vigilante films.  I never talked about Batman, which I think is superficial entertainment, but Batman Returns did have a lot of depth.  You are right, I did CHOOSE to read those themes.  Luckily for me, Daniel Waters, the writer on Batman Returns, agrees with what I read into -- and states that he and Burton talked about the crazy dark romantic comedy that they set out to write with Batman Returns.  Maybe you should read other people's comments in their context, and do some research on your own.  And while you're at it, take a couple film classes so that you can pick up on the finer points that writers and directors embed in their "texts" so you don't think every insight into a film is the product of individual hallucination.  

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

 @vls_powerful2002 That's a tasteless comparison.   The Aurora shooter was someone who didn't understand civility to say the least and your comment lacks civility too.

tjmoerman
tjmoerman

 @MartinL Oh, and not to pile on. But we're told that the atom bomb/reactor core can be set off remotely (Bane will do this if anyone tries to leave) or it will go off on its own as the core becomes unstable. We seem to have pretty precise knowledge of when that will happen, considering that it's an unintended consequence of the core's properties. So given those two potential triggers--why does the core have a bright red countdown timer? Did we start just automatically building them into any device that might someday explode? (You know, you get five of them for a quarter from your suppliers in China, why not?) The Ticking Time Bomb is a ludicrously overused (plot/visual) device in the first place, but when there's no logical reason for the timer....

Santiago
Santiago

 @Nolansucks  I don´t think that Nolan tries to stick his Batman in a real world, because he would have stoped dead cold from "a traumatic millionarie who wears a bat disguise to fight criminals". While most of your arguments are spot on (Picasso said the great artists steal, right? And you missed Maya Deren´s "At Land", and "Jacob´s Ladder" and even that duck comic book as steals for "Inception" witch I think is a fine achievement), the big cacht is that pinpointing all those flaws seem to deflect you from the subjet matter itself: what the fuck could Nolan would want to express with a character like Batman? In spite of all his flaws, I think the real discourse behind his Batman has lots of pertinence: beyond the morale for kids you would find in the Avengers or most blockbusters, Nolan adresses that acting for the sake of whatever one thinks is good has consecuences, among them that "good" is very relative from individual to individual; that sometimes acting for "good" permutates in "bad" for somebody else, that you can´t have everybody happy and that while we are alive there is no scape from some damn hard decisions to make from time to time.

 

It´s a matter of taste if somebody doesn´t like the way Nolan adresses what he is trying to say, but nobody can´t deny that the man brings to the table much more interesting stuff to the table than what he really needs to produce your typical hollywood fare.

TishTash
TishTash

@Nolansucks Wow, wayyy too much naval-gazing, dude.

tr1cky1
tr1cky1

 @Nolansucks Wow, someone is really on a single-minded crusade against one of the greatest directors of our generation.  I remember Spielberg mentioning that what he really aims for in the end is just telling a great story.  And Nolan knows how to do this in great fashion.  And he does this in a way that a lot of films seemed to have lost in contemporary times.  And that something, is creating a fundamental emotional connection with the characters.  This is something he has built throughout the series with Alfred and Wayne, the salvation of a deeply flawed character.  If you're looking for original ideas, then South Park said it well with the "Simpsons Already Did It" episode:  Nearly all original ideas are actually repeats.  Some are purposely repeated, while others are coincidentally repeated, as there are only so many story structures that make for a compelling drama.  But as I said earlier, it's in the execution of the story that really matters to me.  How well the story is told, whether it's an original one or not, is what really makes the difference for me.  This might not be how you perceive the quality of filmmaking or of other fictional media, but I'm fairly certain that the majority of the viewing public would feel similarly.

orangevening1
orangevening1

Any movie with big floating rubber ducks, missiles on real penguins, and silly circus preformers is hard to take seriously.

And I liked Barman Returns

NolanSucks
NolanSucks

 @vls_powerful2002

 Actually, he didn't make that comparison.  YOU did.  In context, his statement, spread over two sentences, indicated that the behavior of obsessive fans and their cultdom ultimately attracted a violent killer in the guise of the Aurora shooter.  You then made the comparison to the Aurora shooter and somehow assumed that the commenter was someone who hated Batman, though the original commenter never gave any indication that he hated Batman.  You made the comparison.  I called you out on it, and now you are trying to say that it wasn't you but HIM who made the comparison.  NIce tactic buddy.  And when you realize that your defense doesn't hold up, you fall back on simple solipsism -- "I don't care!"  Why didn't you just admit that from the beginning?  You don't care that you made a false and wrong comment and instead of apologizing and saying, sorry, my bad, you keep digging your own hole.  Good job!

vls_powerful2002
vls_powerful2002

 @Nolansucks I don't give a rat's behind if can't understand it. It is ok to criticize a movie. But its not ok to compare everyone to the idiot who mass-murdered people. If you find my comment tastless, then that's up to you and honestly I don't care!

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

 @vls_powerful2002 Then I must be giving lots of good karma out because life is giving it back to me in truckloads.   I like how people on the net make comments and then try to clarify what they meant.  What you wrote is the only thing I have to evaluate; and what you wrote was tasteless.  I can't divine what you meant based on what you didn't  write.  I fail to see how your comment rebukes Troy, but if that's what you meant to do, then you should try writing a rebuke and not a tasteless comparison.

vls_powerful2002
vls_powerful2002

 @Nolansucks I just retorted to what Troy0310 said. It was a baseless comparision. Comparing us all to that freak who murdered so many innocent people is outrageous. You want civility? You and Mr.Troy give it to the world first coz what you give is what you get! Its called Karma!

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

 @Santiago Nolan has admitted in various articles that his basis for Batman was the Superman '78 Donner film which impressed him as being grounded in reality and has said that he wanted to make a "realistic" Batman. Your argument is what Batman fans have been making against Nolan for some time.

 

As far as what Nolan brings to the table -- you could argue the same about "Batman Returns."  "Returns" is in many ways a brilliant comedy about the 90s battle of the sexes in the guise of a comic book film taking place in the mind of Tim Burton.  There is some deep meaning in this film, even to the point that it was called "the first art house summer blockbuster" by Peter Travers.

 

Metas don't make a movie.  "Rear Window" implicates the viewer in voyeurism.  And "The Ninth Gate" takes you through nine gates just like the protagonist.  Subtext and meta-themes don't necessarily make a great movie.  They might elevate the material to a more cerebral level.  Raiders of the Lost Ark has some very little depth, but it's still a great thrilling movie. 

 

Even Nolan's philosophy is also not unique to the concept of vigilante movies.  You forget, Nolan is a supposed "auteur" -- part of the criteria of being an "auteur" (at least as the Cahiers du Cinema and Andrew Sarris defined it) involves having an original philosophy -in the same way that new philosophers advance new philosophies.  To say that no idea is new is the same similar to saying that "Relativism" and "Dualism" are the same thing.  

 

Auteurs build off works of the past, both in terms of singular works as well as conventions within a genre.  Tarantino is able to lift whole scenes from other movies because he always "recontextualizes" them to make a comment either on the genre or to add meaning to the film. 

 

For Nolan to be ignorant to vigilante films like "Dirty Harry," "Taxi Driver," and William Lustig's "Vigilante" (not to mention the thousands of westerns that originally explored these issues) and not to distinguish himself from those films is also problematic. 

 

Today, the prevailing thought is that someone who establishes himself as knowing the public good is ultimately an egoistic and flawed individual.  A boundary-pushing director would probably want to play devil's advocate just to promote public thought and to challenge that notion. 

 

If Nolan were truly transgressive and "auteurish," he would rarify the Batman myth and glorify the individual.  Instead, he asks you to get off on the concept of the Batman, while saying, but, wait, this might not be a good idea at all.

 

You can make the same argument while in a far more clever and sarcastic way, by saying "Wait, Batman is the best idea ever, and I think we should do away with collective justice all together and embrace nothing but vigilante justice."

 

Nolan is not an "auteur."  The thought he ultimately provokes has already been sanctioned and stamped with the public's seal of approval.  He is not challenging myth, as Roland Barthes would say -- myth is being spoken through him.  He is myth. 

 

Revolutionary directors like artists, novelists, poets and philosophers are interested in breaking down and challenging every myth, conception, prejudice, expectation and philosophy that we cherish.  Because most all of these are the product of our collective bullshit.

 

Auteurs help us to keep it real while blowing our mind in the process.  That is their fealty to their art.  That is why governments do away with artists first.  Because a true artist is dangerous to your very mental being. 

 

They don't think like you.  They don't behave like you.  They probably don't look like you.  In fact, they probably kind of frighten you because their viewpoints cause you to reassess years of internal logic and coda you have naturally formed and which have proven useful to your own existence. 

 

Batman, as a self-imposed outcast, is a vehicle for some truly progressive and revolutionary thought; Nolan could have been the man do such a thing.  But as most of his films demonstrate, he is interested in re-affirming that area of the brain that you think is progressive but is really still conservative.

 

 

 

 

Nolansucks
Nolansucks

 @tr1cky1

 Completely disagree.  Let me challenge this idea you have been inculcated with POSSIBLY by a public institution of education to imprison you with ideologies that limit your human potential.  If you accept the idea that no idea is new -- don't you limit the possibility that within your own imagination lies the gateway to a novel world?  Have you not been taught a valuable word as applied to the human condition by Darwin -- "evolution"?  Isn't change the cornerstone, the very foundation of evolution?  And when something changes, do our methods of recording such transient instances not only reflect that change but the very instruments of recording also change as well?  Does your own face look the same today in the mirror as it did many years ago?  Does not language adapt, as it did for the concept of "evolution," to describe and relate that change through spoken and written communication?  And don't new stories arise based on these changes?  There are many beautiful stories which had not existed prior to their own existence.  Here we must make a distinction between stories, and themes, or emotions.  Contrary to popular belief, Shakespeare did not write every story.   Your mind is so unique that though it bears striking resemblance to other human minds, it is still personalized as your own.  The elasticity of human cognition is what distinguishes us from the animals that serve us.  If you tell someone that Shakespeare has done it all, and you are treading territory already traveled by his pen, then doesn't that place an incredible burden on future generations?  Shouldn't the point be to encourage them to do the impossible so that they are not doomed to replication from the get-go?  Or do you wisn to live in a society of mediocrity?  Where everyone is comforted by the notion that the person next to them is unoriginal as well.  Isn't that a lot like saying all life in our vast universe must look nearly identical to human life?  I choose to believe Joseph Campbell on this topic as opposed to "South Park" -- though "South Park" has made some wonderful observations.

 

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