This post by Bhagwad reminded me that it had been ages since I watched a movie and also that the latest Batman flick was coming up. I was enthralled by The Dark Knight; I gradually realised it was not just the most profound superhero film I had ever watched but it was simply one of the best Hollywood films I had watched in the past five or so years. I could watch it over and over and find myself absorbed and something new to muse over. And it showcased Hong Kong in all its stunning glory, finally provoking me to choose sides in my own personal tale of two cities.
So I got off my butt and booked tickets for the latest instalment, refusing to settle for less than IMAX and thus having to wait for two weeks till we got good seats, Finally, on Saturday, we watched the film.
It doesn’t match up to The Dark Knight. It’s a good film, one of the better superhero films, but not a great film. It doesn’t provoke thought or leave you moody and unsettled like its precursor. It skims surfaces as Hollywood is want to do, mostly for effect. Bane is a fearsome villain but he had nothing of the depth and complexity that Heath Ledger brought to the Joker.
Gotham City, like Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, has always been an undisclosed location. It is supposed to be a city in its own right, not an existing city. Once very briefly the creator of the comics called it New York. Nolan used parts of Chicago as the backdrop (in my mind Gotham City has always been identified with Chicago because when I visited that city, someone pointed out to me that Gotham City was the inspiration). In this film though, Christopher Nolan decided to simply blows the cover off Gotham and the sense I got was that it was New York itself, though some research indicates he filmed it in several locations. I felt the mystique and drama surrounding Gotham City was lost.
I am not a fan of the comic series, so I don’t have any quibbles about being faithful to the original. But some of Bhagwad’s other points came to mind while watching the film. Like the funny shape of Christian Bale’s mouth when he’s wearing the suit, which is apparently due to the costume being too tight and his voice (though that I’m okay with because I think he’s supposed to sound non-human in costume).
What I enjoyed about the film, funnily enough, was the humour. There were some really good comic moments. I also loved Anne Hathaway’s performance; I have never been a fan of her’s but this time I think she really brought it. I thought she walked a little too curvaceously and its ridiculous that she had to run in high heels but that is part of the character, I guess.
My big grouse, how she is a powerful character all along but they just had to make her break and go weak-kneed over Batman at one totally jarring point. In general, both kisses in the film were just odd, with nothing natural leading up to them, making it obvious that they had been stuck in there because the film needed to have some mouth-on-mouth action by decree of mainstream Hollywood. And by similar decree, women must, no matter how strong they are, have their moments of weaknesses, and these must always relate to men.
Another thing that jumped out at us immediately was the use of a white man as president of the United States. It’s one thing that women or non-whites were never used because there had never been a female of non-white president so they could defend their casting prejudices on the grounds of realism (though that’s pretty rich in a superhero film). But when the current president is an African-American and a whole of the other events are based around current or recent events, it just seemed really lame that they had someone who, if anything, looked like Joe Biden the current Vice-President depicting the President. Boo!