Sunday, December 30, 2012
Too Much, Too Little, Too Slate
Last night I saw The Dark Knight Rises on pay-per-view, and I have to say it was a depressing, oddly unspectacular spectacle of a movie. Too long, too precious with its own sense of sociological importance, and way too dark. Too "dark" in the sense that the cinematographer took The Godfather movies way too seriously, and too "dark" in the sense that the director and screen-writers took the comic-book mythology, and themselves, way too seriously. The movie indulges in a kind of Call of Duty: Black Ops campiness in which tragedy becomes a sordid byproduct of machine-guns and stupid costumes. Throw in a little Dickensian pathos (orphaned boys in the sewers) and a little Dictatorship of the Proletariat doing the halftime show at the Superbowl and there you have it: too much, too little, too slate.
All kinds of attempts are made at emotional resonance, but in the end it's just what it is: a slow-paced, self-indulgent paean to self-indulgence. And Christian Bale really is the centerpiece of that self-involved sensibility. When he's not in the Batman get-up he's doing a self-pitying tango with his grown-in-isolation goatee, and when he's in the Batman get-up his voice goes into a chainsaw hyper-masculine contralto that has the humorous suspiciousness of a little kid trying to sound like a big kid. Anne Hathaway tries her best as the Catwoman, and god love her she seems to be the only soul this movie has. She plays it for laughs at times, but also seems to get that the seriousness can be used to good effect when you're not pouting and posing all the time.
The whole creepy enterprise is haunted by what happened in Aurora, Colorado of course. That adds to the strange stupidity of it all, especially when channeled through the arch villain Bane, a Darth-Vader-masked big-mouthed Anglophile thug who spouts Marxist/Leninist bull shit, and who delights in being "eveeeel."
By the end I felt sick and tired of being sick and tired. All that effort just to make the world seem worse than it is, so a bunch of dumbasses in kinky black outfits can ride around in souped-up helicopters and tanks blasting away at fake concrete buildings.
At least The Avengers had a sense of humor and proportion. A little old-fashioned self-consciousness goes a long way.