(Planet Me)
Saturday, July 28, 2012
The Dark Knight Rises : THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Think of a movie. Any movie. What;s the first one that comes to mind?

Star Wars? Raiders of The Lost Ark? If the first film you think of, by the way, is GI Jane, or perhaps Bad Boys II, stop now, and call the NHS.

Every film you have ever seen has plotholes. Some huge and gaping. Others minor fallacies of lapses of logic. Some where humans are … I don't know, human, and make mistakes. Others where humans are perfect, unfeeling, machines. Go here, say this, shoot bad guy. Smirk. Say something appropriate, like “You've know when you've been murderised.”, as the latest rock/rap crossover trails over the end credits.

You have my sympathies.

Movie make shortcuts. A realistic film would be boring. Gasp as our hero brushes his teeth, makes a sandwich, and completes Mission Get To Work On Muthafucking Time!

Movies need plotholes. And fallacies. I can understand the ”Stupid Protagonist” plot. Things wouldn't happen without a major character breaking with logic and reason and doing something stupid. Run in the same direction as the spaceship is crashing! Touch the angry peniga/vanis sex-snake in the alien cabin. Yay.

But really, “The Dark Knight Rises”, did no one sit down and just ask some basic questions about your plot?


1. The Howard Hughes Of Heroes

The film opens with Batman / Bruce Wayne / The Black-clad Angry Jesus Who Died For Our Sins, living in seclusion in his mansion. Bruce hasn't been seen in eight years, and now, Bruce Wayne mopes around in a wing of his mansion. Everything seems to be covered in white sheets. Bruce hasn't been watching television, or seemingly doing anything, for the past eight years. He walks with a cane and a beard. He doesn't have the long Howard Hughes nails. Firstly, why? Being an eccentric billionaire with more money than sense, whats stopping him going full on superturbocharged crazy? Come on, if you're going into self-punishment : Do It Properly. Don't just hang around your house sitting in the dark. Wear Pyjamas and go to Poundland. Grow your fingernails. Go Bonkers. Buy and shoot beautiful animals. Climb Mountains. Secondly, why not go the other way? Perhaps, Batman, Go The Other Way. Go full on crazy, trying to cure all the world's ills. Go to every city. Go “On Tour”. Batman Vs Rio. Try to eliminate every criminal ever. Batman is a badass. He's not some moping teenager clunking round the house feeling sorry for himself. Batman is a badass motherfucker. This does not make sense. This breaks the Batman mould. Batman doesn't hide away. He takes the problems, and crushes it somehow. In short, Batman is not a pussy.

2. CIA? Crap Idiot Agency, obviously.

The opening. We have an opening, which sees several people being tortured in a plane. It's all a bit “Mission Impossible III”. But more than that, we see a supposedly strong, intelligent, fearless and ruthless Government Agent open the door of the plane and threaten to throw some bad guys out of the window. But he doesn't.

Why? How did this man get to be a CIA agent? He has the steel of Zoolander. Anyone knows their shit knows that frankly, if you're fucking with Bane (and this is a Batman movie), if you say you're going to throw bad guy out of the plane, you better throw a bad guy out of plane. They're bad guys. They're not exactly chilled, easy going, lovely guys. They will garrotte your cat for breakfast and cook your girlfriend for burgers if they were hungry. You don't pretend round these guys. Therefore, if you open the door and dangle a bad guy out of the window – YOU BETTER THROW HIM OUT.

Not even mentioning he let three guys in hoods get onto his plane without even checking who they were. Amateurish, schoolboy errors.

This guy would have failed the CIA test. He's not CIA or KGB. He's the Poundland of intelligence Black Ops guys. Everything he learnt about being an agent, he learnt from X-Files. So, with all due respect, this agent deserved to die.

3. What's My Motivation?

Bane. Yes, he's a bad man. And,in the final moments of the film, his motivation is revealed. Well, his alleged motivation, according to the plot. It's the typical Plot-within-a-plot of the type that M Night Shalmayan always gets wrong and always uses to make you think he's a master storyteller when he isn't.

But think of it from this way : for the vast majority of the film, Bane is basically a sulky teenager. Utterly charmless, for the most part – not that this is a prequisite for being a 'good' bad guy – his role is generally that of an incoherently angry man. His occasional speechifying – on city steps and football fields and other places do not make sense. There's no inner logic in his public persona or actions. Largely, Bane does things because they are naughty. Not because there's a reason.

On The Trading Floor, Bane has those naughty people in suits that have caused the financial penury of billions of people in the palm of his hand. He could, if he wanted take their iPods out of their nanosheaths and ...But why? Bane explains not these things. He does not speechify when faced with people with money. Small people in a baseball stadium, and criminals on a city steps, sure, he'll lecture to them about giving power back to the people like some confused uber-fascist, but not when faced with those who actually have financial influence. Not even a half-arsed line such as “You, the people have always wanted power. Now I give you the power. If you thought it was bad before, wait until you have what you have always wanted.

With an Modus Operandi that stretches as far as two steps, being :

a) do bad things
b) Blame The Rich

Bane's character is as thin as a supermodel. There's no agenda such as a half-arsed excuse to rectify the abuses of the uberrich through giving the money back, or anything like that. Bane's agenda seems to be largely incoherent – unless his aim is chaos at which point, you have to make other people believe it even if you don't believe it yourself. Chaos for a city and Power for himself. King For Five Months, Dead For An Eternity. Bane's character doesn't make sense in any public way, and only vaguely does so at the end of the film. That's the difference between manslaughter and murder : motivation. And Bane is about as motivated as a Sandwich Shop employee.

Of course, Bane's role could very easily have been played by Ledger's Joker with a mild couple of tweaks, and rocked the hell out of the role, were Ledger not taking a dirtnap. It would also have avoided the staggeringly shallow big reveal at the end of the film that is presented flippantly with little power, glossed over, then forgotten about.

4. The 5 Months Of Madness.

We're well into spoiler territory here. After the huge baseball stadium heist, Gotham is laid siege for several months. But what happens in this time? Nothing changes, apart from the fact that there aren't any policemen. Apparently Hospitals still opearate, electricity still powers the city (mostly), rubbish gets collected, toilets still get flushed, and people still eat, admittedly only on starvation rations smuggled in. What about money? How does the economy work? Do Cashpoints still exist? Phones still work. How does Bane know that communications aren't planning on overthrowing him somehow? What about the citizens with guns? Surely one crack, right wing NRA pro-gun nutter crackshot with a snipers rifle tried to off him from an abandoned skyscraper? No? What about the economy? Knocking out a city the size of New York would surely fuck up the world economy in a major way. The Tsunami that knocked out Japan destroyed the hard drive / memory industry for a couple of years – surely something as big and naughty as Bane's megaplan would decimate the world economy? Or maybe not. Who knows? Fundamentally, this plot is utter bullshit and utterly ludicrous. Even within the suspended world of disbelief that exists in a narrative where a billionaire playboy can be a part-time rubber suited crime fighting avenger, this is absurd. How do people eat? How do they shit? The schools are still open. Vehicles still run. The whole city seems to be in some kind of hibernation and no one is at work, so how does shit happen? Do supermarkets open?

The only semblance of normal life is that food trucks transfer food in, so why not leave vehicles abandoned in a no-mans land on a bridge? There – that Bane. Thick as pigshit. On the surface it feels somewhat odd, but OK : but examine it closely and it all falls to pieces. Just hold on tight. Don't think so much!

5. Escape From Gotham :

When John Carpenter turned Metropolis – sorry, New York, sorry Gotham – into a ruined gangster paradise thirty years ago, he made it real. Gangs roamed the streets. The rivers were mined. The city didn't just run as normal, barring criminal courts. The place was genuinely ruined and barren. Nolan's Gotham merely feels like Gotham at 4am on a Sunday Morning, deserted and grumpy. There's no thought about how criminal martial law would actually work, barring a mild bit of occasional fighting.

6. Going Underground

I'm no expert on post traumatic stress disorder, but I imagine that, if you were trapped with 3,000 or so policemen underground – all of whom are SWOTted up to the eyeballs with military equipment and weapons – for several months, you'd go batshit insane. You'd had fingernails the length of a Led Zeppelin song, a beard that looks like you should play bass in the kind of band your weird brother listens to, and live life through a healthy topping of being stir crazy.

I imagine that, wearing the same work uniform for months on end, your underwear would chafe, you'd stink like a hobo, and if you ever saw daylight you'd crawl out blinking in surprise. But not these guys. Gotham Cops! They're like Superman. Stick 'em underground and their beards don't grow. Stick 'em underground and they don't go crazy. Not one of them kills themselves. They eat imaginary food and shit in convienient boltholes and underground toilets. Not one of them walks down the railway lines looking for an open station. Not one of them looks for a manhole cover to climb out of. They are – in short- fucking stupid. Not just indestructable with the psyche of robots, but as smart as a hamster. Their first thought when released is simple : lets have a massive fight!

7.The Broken Bat

So, lets say you're Batman : you've come back for a couple of days work after an 8 year break. You've reformed like a touring rock band – this is your big payback and reunion gig. After a couple of days, you get your ass whipped and your back broken by an angry strawman.

Most people – and I know a guy in a rubber suit fighting crime isn't “Most” people – would give up. It's not as if Batman's motivation is unperishingly strong at this poiint. He's spent almost all of the past 8 years sitting around moping. When he gets thoroughly broken, you might be forgiven for him regarding this whole episode as a dismal failure and giving up.

Not Bruce Wayne. Somehow he defeats all known medical knowledge, and manages to repair a broken back with the aid of a) stubbornness b) a rope c) a punch to one of his vertebrae and d) about five weeks of montage. Gotta have a montage! Even in the crazy movie world of Batman, this is a physical impossibility. To have one Redemption point in any movie like this si somewhat improbable : the trope of a superhero losing his power then regaining it after a personal journey of revelation is a tired furrow (Superman II, Superman III, License To Kill, Spiderman III, etc. etc.), but to labour the point twice in such a short space of time and defy the laws of medicine? Utter, illogical, sloppy-thinking bullshit.

8. No passport, no money? No problem!

After Bruce Wayne regains his freedom, he is a man alone. Escaped from a prison with barely the clothes on his back, his assets in tatters, halfway across the world, and with barely hours to save Gotham from the usual rigmarole of certain destruction. How did he get back? Did he pull a James Bond and just walk, ragged and broken, into a nearby hotel, to be greeted with open arms : “Oh, Mr Wayne! Presidential Suite!” ?

9. Batman In Space!

We're in crazy spoiler territory here ladies and gentlemen. This only works if you have seen the film. But what the hell. Buy the ticket, take the ride. The end of the film. What looks to be the end of all things. From the moment Morgan Freeman succinctly states “Oh Dear”, and everything goes very very wrong, the long mooted Fall Of The Bat is somewhat inevitable. Batman, using his immaculate logic, pulls a daft stroke worthy of Metroman – in a grim and humourless remake of “Megamind” - by taking The Bat and flying it out to sea. An airbone version of Judge Dredd's Long Walk if you like. Now, I'm sure someone has a theory about the strength of the atmosphere and relative lift of The Bat, but why, when carrying a huge thermonuclear device with more power than Chev Chelios, did he not take the route of The Iron Giant : you don't go out, but go up? What could be more thrilling than see The Bat rise straight up, and ascend to space? To see it slowly disintegrate against the thinning atmosphere, and finally, when on the edges of space with the curvature of the earth, to see it detonate? Certainly better, and considerably less generic, than the Remake-of-True-Lies ending with the most impotent nuclear explosion since Cameron's appalling 1993 whimsy of racist garbage. Also, considerably less damaging to Gotham, which would be plunged into an inevitable nuclear winter, with a off-coast detonation merely a handful of miles : even at 400 miles an hour, The Bat could barely put 15 miles between itself and Gotham in two minutes : not to mention the ensuing tidal wave that would drown Gotham in a post-detonation Tsunami? If Bruce Wayne went into seclusion after the death of Rachel in “the Dark Knight”, how would his battered psyche cope with that on his conscience? I doubt that Batman is familiar with the Endor Holocaust Theory of a long nuclear winter of extinct Ewoks.

10. Megaman, Batman, Musicman!

As is hinted at the end, Batman has an autopilot on The Bat. When Morgan Freeman and team are examining a Batplane, the scientists assert that Bruce fixed the autopilot : how do they know this? The Bat was blown in the MASSIVE DETONATION OFFSHORE OF A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Or, was it? Was the whole thing a collective hallucination inside Batman's post traumatic mind? Is the whole film really a therapist couch dream?

I'm no expert but this whole Hero-Fakes-His-Own-Death-To-Retire was done much more effectively in the absolutely stellar “Megamind”, it was better thought out, and far more plausible. I half expected to see a shaggy Christian Bale with a beard, chilling out in the abandoned Wayne mansion, strumming a banjo, singing folk songs “I got ride of Bane, and I'm Bruce Wayne. You thought I was Batman, but I am Music Man!”

Utter bullshit, of course.

11. Robin.

Why for the love of common sense. Why?

What an absolutely fucking shit idea.

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