Looking Back at the Dark Knight Rises, Cake and Devin Townsend’s new album

I’m not quite sure how to even start talking about The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve been in extended counseling since walking out of that theater months ago, and still feel completely ambivalent about the entire experience. By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I am going to assume you’ve been stuck in a North Korean prison camp, or possibly kept hostage by the Amish, so this is my uncomfortable attempt at a spoiler-warning.

I do find this Batman the most difficult one to approach of all the Batman’s. Even Batman and Robin is easier to approach. It’s just shit, there’s nothing complicated or difficult to talk about. It is just the most absolute, mind-bogging, nausea-inducing, terrible, ghastly, fucked-up, itsss…it sucks. Bat credit card? What the shit?! Robin’s constant juvenile whining? “It’s Batman and Robin, not Robin and Batman, blahblahblah, I want a Robin signal up in the sky” IT JUST KEEPS ON GOING! Batman does not need a side-kick, especially one as ridiculous as Robin. Never mind another pointless side-kick, because one just didn’t do! Lets add another disbelievable and pointless character to draw the story away from Batman. A brooding superhero who inside is a messed up and contradicted individual with actual depth? Fuck that shit! Lets cast him with George Clooney, give him bat-nipples, a ridiculous Batmobile, a BAT CREDIT CARD and surround him with cretins who shoot lame one-liners, survive by sucking awesome out of all the scenes they’re in and secrete awkwardness all over the place. And seriously, where the hell do they send the credit card bills? “Batman, Wayne Manor, 11 Plot Hole Lane, Gotham”? Jesus…

“Bane, lets take all the ‘serious’ out of this scene”

Fucking Batgirl…dear god. And Bane? Rubbish. Does it do any justice to one of the best Batman villains? A character with the depth and charisma of a cardboard cut-out? You could replace him with the cartoon Frankenstein monster with the bolts sticking from his neck, and the story would not be impacted in any way or form. I’m sure people wouldn’t even notice. It was that goddamn goofy.

Anyway, moving on. This one doesn’t suck. It’s not great either. Or well, at times it’s really awesome. Really, really awesome. And at other times, it really sucks. It’s difficult. This probably has something to do with its complicated writing-history. The Dark Knight was a real Batman-masterpiece. It was a bit disjointed, Batman’s voice took a neanderthal turn and was essentially a very villain-driven movie, but everything worked great in it. Especially Heath Ledger’s performance, that could carry virtually any amount of other minor problems without suffering for it. Then he died. It sucked, and was a real loss on this current generation of actors. And I seriously think fucked up any plans that may have been in place concerning the last Batman. So the scripting of the movie took years, and it kept being pushed further into the future. And as far as I understand, the script was worked and reworked to death, and it shows. And not in a good way. Some people have said that the movie is “bloated”, no surprise spanning a humble 165 minutes, but I would call it rather “branching-out-in-too-many-fucking-directions”, adding so many new characters and giving everyone a bigger piece of the story to stuff down their necks, like Blake, Albert, Gordon, Selina, Fox, they all have to have a lot to do, especially Albert.

Anyway, the beginning and the ending of the movie actually are the shittiest bits, with all the good Bane-filled goodness in the middle. The beginning of the movie, where Bane is introduced to the audience was just fucking great. The way this guy can menace, tied up, with a bag over his head…epic. And then we move on to the shitty bits. Bruce has been living like a hermit hobo for eight years (who happens to be a billionaire with a huge mansion), and the story can be given to us by characters walking onstage spouting exposition everywhere. If you were sitting in the theater next to me, the moment you would see my mouth drop open in perplexment would be at the first mention of the words “Harvey Dent Day”…what…the…cock? Fucking Harvey Dent Day? Good shit-eating Satan, what fucking Harvey Dent Day? What kind of cocaine-fueled moment of psychosis would convince Nolan the best way of emphasising Dent’s significance in the movie’s back-story was to include a goddamn HARVEY DENT DAY in the first ten minutes of the movie? There is such a principle as Show Rather Than Tell, and I’m pretty fucking sure you could come up with something a bit more subtle than adding a public holiday. Why not the opening of a new temple, with Gordon giving a speech, celebrating his ascent from the district attorney to Godhood, while a hundred virgins get sacrificed on the altar of Dent-ness. A couple hymns from the book of Dent? Unveiling of a statue of Dent with a Halo and the Scepter of Justice, with two blazing fires where his eyes should be? Oh, nevermind.

Neither does it make any sense why Bruce Wayne would spend EIGHT YEARS as a hermit, pining after that whiny bitch Rachel. This is not supposed to be Twilight, and he should not be that idiot Bella either. He is fucking Batman! He took his parents death with a lot more goddamn composure. There are many stages of loss: denial, anger, depression, acceptance – he is not even trying! He hasn’t even got to the first one. In EIGHT FUCKING YEARS sitting around in Wayne Manor, and a lot of time for introspection.

Busy being awesome

Once the painful first act is over with, the story gets moving with the new villain, Bane. Now his accent is just distracting. Some people complain its hard to understand. I don’t think it is, I just think it is a bit silly at first, like a cross between Darth Vader and Sean Connery. It is a strange direction to go to, but ok, I’ll buy it. First it was really off, but once I got used to it, I did think it’s kind of cool. This is not as villain-driven as the previous Batman, but the most fun part of this movie is Bane. He is really intimidating and fun at the same time, speaking eloquently through a goatse-mask like a sir, and just breaking the shit out of everything at the same time. Tom Hardy did really well doing this role, even though it’s challenging by both being really physical and energetic, and by having his facial expressions limited by the mask. He is a good villain: calculated, energetic, menacing and shit-loads of fun, without going comically over the top. He’s also got some really cool one-lines, that become iconic as soon as he consents to say them. “When Gotham liesh in ashesh, then you h-have my permishion tho die”. Awesome.

The second most fun part of the film is Catwoman. Damnit. She is hot as shit, and kicks ass, and is wonderfully acted by Anne Hathaway. She just kind of has a shitty back-story behind her motivations. But nevermind, she is tons of fun.

The whole center of the movie is Batman’s fall and rise, happening around the middle, and is really the best part of the movie. Batman has an emotional moment with Albert going “I’m getting tired of your shit master Wayne”, and Batman walking towards his confrontation with Bane, though he knows how desperate it is going against a villain with half the movies still left to go, and has his ass handed to him…with his spine still attached. In this sense this movie somewhat resembles Rocky III, and Batman finding his Eye of the Tiger sitting in a pit in the middle of Unspecifiedistan, while Bane is tearing Gotham to pieces. And man is it fun while he’s doing it. Cillian Murphy also comes back to do a hilarious role as Scarecrow acting as a judge in Fallout: Gotham. This whole act suffers somewhat from plot-holes and illogicality, but is still pretty fun. It is a bit confusing building up towards the big explosive end, but no surprise there, we are talking about “Inception” Nolan, the man who writes movies the way House maintains personal relationships. Bane turns Gotham into his own personal social-experiment, which is pretty badass on the whole, but suffers from some serious brainfarts. It’s a bit complicated for me to start to go through it, when so many other people have already done it, and it’s just more funny to reference this video.

Before we get to the big ending, there was one more stupid thing in the movie. Why the hell does Batman still do the voice, even when he is alone, talking to himself. When he’s hanging somebody upside down on the top of an apartment building, it’s fucking cool. When he’s alone on top of said building, saying “So that’s what it feels like” (when somebody buggers off while you’re looking in the other direction like an asshole), it is a whole different thing. “I’m hurting my throat for no reason”. And this is especially silly when he has to do a long monologue growling all the way through it, and having to draw breath and pause every 3-5 words. *sigh*

So it turns out that the girl Bruce Wayne just had sex with is actually Talia Al-Ghoul and you needed to watch Batman Begins before walking into the theater. Surprise! This last act is pretty cool on the whole, as Batman-lead-cops and Bane-following psychos have it out properly on the streets, and the action really goes into overdrive.

The last part is where my biggest problems came in, and I still occasionally wake up screaming, drenched in sweat, as a direct consequence of this. So in the end Batman must save Gotham fly off into the sunset with a nuclear bomb, and bravely stage his death, and going off having a nice pension with Anne Hathaway. What a hero. The real, absolute kick in the fan-boy-center comes with revealing that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose character has been largely unnecessary, if very well acted, goes off to become Robin. Or Nightwing. Who cares. OH-MY-FUCKING-GOD! The one thing Batman needs less that rubber nipples, fucking ROBIN? Why the hell does the new generation of Batman’s, that so far had held up extremely well as movies, shined with the absence of that unnecessary, disbelievable tosspot, really need to throw him into the series, almost like an afterthought. This is not even a deus ex machina solution, its a fucking deus ex foris plot-point. I can sort of see why Nolan would do this, as it sets forth the idea that the legend of Batman will keep going, even without him, and that the story of Gotham is not essentially over. But still…Robin…lame.

Anyway, once we are over this last moment of shock, and the credits start rolling, I still don’t know what to think about this movie. Is it a great movie with shitty bits? A shit movie with great bits? Part of the problem is the frame of reference: though I personally consider it a weak Batman, if it was rated outside the frame of the other Nolan Batman’s, it’s a seriously good movie. The fact is, that right now it is rated a solid 8.8 in IMDb, and a 78 metascore. That is a good score. So I’m left wondering, why did I not enjoy this as much as these other people? Am I just a nit-picking asshole getting caught up about minor details in the awesome whole, or is everyone else a gibbering idiot? What? Why? Did I just not throw myself enough to the movie? Now I’m waiting for the DVD release, as I really think it needs more than one watch to really open up. And in the end, I think the movie contains lots and lots of great stuff, great performances, great moments, especially headed by Bane tearing shit up. It does have some clumsiness, characters spouting a novella’s worth of exposition at the camera at the drop of a hat and some outright confusing plot-points. But on the whole, again, pretty good. I would pay another admission to see it again, and I know I’ll go and buy the DVD the day it comes out. It is a pretty good movie, just doesn’t quite hold up to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Again, recap:

– Bat Credit Card: NO!

– Harvey Dent Day: NO, no, no, fuck no!

– Catwoman: Yes, absolutely yes.

– Bane: Bring it on ❤

Concerning Cake

So I had my birthday and I can again feel a whole lot older. And the cake…is not a lie. It’s actually just about the best part of turning older. It was strawberry and cheesecake.

Devin

I just got Devin Townsend’s Epicloud (Epic+Loud=Epicloud), and it is just as good as one could expect from Devin. He really is one of those annoyingly over-talented people, who does everything himself and does it better than anyone else. The album is full of Devin’s typical layered, playful and epic-as-fuck progressive, genre-ignoring metal-awesomeness. I prefer the Deconstruction, Strapping Young Lad style Devin Townsend much better that his usual solo-material (great as it is), and I really like this one, as it is like Addicted pushed into overdrive, or a bit more coherent, lighter Deconstruction. Really catchy while being as heavy as Gojira. This one does have gospel-choirs over Meshuggah-riffs and blastbeats and all the usual Deviny madness, but really beautifully structured and overall great. All the songs are like a constant stream of consciousness in musical form, and just works great.

Also, another awesome album from Whitechapel, haven’t really had time to listen to it.

Buy it. Play it loud. Have sex with it. It’s cool.

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