So, The Dark Knight Rises - the last Nolan Batman movie (God willing). I really liked Batman Begins
, which I think I saw in theaters with Christina when neither of us knew what we were expecting - and we were both like, "I think I really kind of LIKED IT" - and have a special relationship with The Dark Knight
, which I saw on my own in a shopping mall/movie theater in Surabaya after I bought a canvas bag that said "Life. Industry. Work. Strength." I saw The Dark Knight Rises
last weekend in another shopping mall/movie theater in Jakarta with mixed company, and I felt frustrated and disappointed with it.
Many people have talked about the questionable politics of The Dark Knight Rises
- I particularly like Abigail Nussbaum's review
(but when is that ever not true?). Others have pointed out that these weird fascistic/Randian trends have been in Nolan's Batman movies the entire time, although I must confess I didn't really see them. To me Batman Begins
wasn't very controversial politically, and The Dark Knight
was about the classic dilemmas facing public servants trying to do the right thing (I think the most interesting character in it is Dent's) as well as the personal mental collapse that takes place when you decide you can't take trying anymore (see for instance "that's it, I'm moving to Canada" on a much more mundane level, or "fuck iiiiiit" in meme terms). In the Order vs. Chaos argument, I think a pretty compelling point was made for Chaos, even if officially Order won out. The Dark Knight Rises
, on the other hand, was really playing up the 1% vs. 99% thing, and the 99% pretty much turn out to be duped by an evil that has no motivation other than to be evil. It actually kind of reminded me of Michael Crichton's "environmentalists are actually engineering global warming to scare us all into going with the Kyoto Protocol!" as well as of that terrible book by Glenn Beck. The 1% don't even really commit any sins except their parties are boring. And then there they are, being thrown out on the streets and executed by exile onto a sea of thin ice! Even Catwoman, the "Robin Hood" character, is all "Batman, you don't owe these plebes anything, they stole all your money." So yeah, all that: kind of sucky.
Beyond that, I didn't find the movie as much "fun" as I did its predecessors. I had heard a lot about the explosion in the football stadium scene beforehand but it did not pack the emotional punch that it truly should have, given me and my inclinations. I actually felt most emotional in the opening scene, during the nuclear physicist's surprise kidnapping. I don't really know why - maybe the claustrophobia and imminent death involved for such a small pack of people? But the police being stuck in the tunnels, then surprise!liberated and being gunned down like Theoden's Riders in The Return of the King
- meh. The random schoolbus of orphaned boys - meh. The pit? I did feel a twinge when Bruce Wayne makes it out at last, but it was for the cheering prisoners still in the pit, not Bruce Wayne. This one just didn't click with me. It felt cold and distant and unwilling to really give of itself.
On the other hand: Alfred the loyal-unto-death butler and Gordon the beleaguered police commissioner were great. I think those two and Blake (the scrappy new cop) were really the actual soul of the movie, as far as it had a soul at all - the most human characters, at any rate. Batman/Bruce Wayne was just kind of annoying/useless (ironically), Catwoman was like What Happens When Men Write Women #5a, or so, and Miranda Tate would have potentially been a competent character if not for the barren face heel turn. Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow was also fun.
If anything I sort of wished Batman was erased from this movie, and that it was just the tale of the horribly dysfunctional city that had to fend for itself - that there truly was no ubermensch to save it. Because I'm fond of Gotham - have been since the beginning - and I was always fiercely of the belief that the League of Shadows was wrong, and Gotham should not be sacrificed as hopelessly corrupt. Maybe that's because I come from a city that really reminds me of Gotham, sometimes ("criminals in this town used to believe in things - honor, respect!"), and Gotham being assailed by Chaos was like the Jemaah Islamiyah era here, when hotels were being blown up; and the Gotham being assailed by Quasi-Revolution is like what's happening now, with people burning suspected thieves in the street. And let me tell you: we have no ubermensch. What we might have, if we're lucky, is a Gordon, a couple Blakes. We certainly have plenty of Alfreds.
ANYWAY. Something else I realized while watching The Dark Knight Rises
: I think I may be finally shifting my gaze from older men (father substitutes, all) to men my age (the "damaged" ones, but oh well). I was way, way more attracted to Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this movie than Bruce Wayne (that scene where he's running to the hospital with the rifle! Rarr!), and that is new. I was talking about this with my mother, and concluded that regardless of who I actually date, my ideal type seems to be this older, married, brooding political scientist type that is clearly
a doppelganger for my father. And it's also! A completely safe, riskless outlet for whatever feelings I might develop, because I know in my hardest of hearts that nothing real can actually happen there. There was no possibility of anything developing. I couldn't really
get involved. I wasn't going to get heartbroken. Plus it let me deal with my Daddy Issues. Sort of, anyway. I mean, the walls I put up -- both because my father died and everything normal and happy was shattered, and probably just because of me, because I was born nuts -- were miles high.
But I think that's starting to change, and that's a good thing.