Good news. Anne Hathaway did not ruin The Dark Knight Rises.
I have a couple of bullet points about director Christopher Nolan‘s decisions when it comes to casting leading women in his movies — but before I get into all that malarky, I want to share with you all of my racing thoughts about the final installment of what could be the most refined superhero movie in history.
I saw the final installment to Nolan’s Batman trilogy on Wednesday evening (and in IMAX!) and have held back on writing a review about it because I wanted it to marinate. Also, I was lazy and I just got home way too late last night to write something that was coherent enough to publish. Bottom line is: I liked the movie. In fact, I liked it a lot. But, like any other self-indulging skeptic, I had a couple of qualms about the movie.
First off, as amazing as the opening airplane high-jacking scene was in the beginning, it took me a long while to sink my teeth into this fine film. I was — dare I say — a tiny bit bored (on a minuscule level). But mostly, I was leaning into the gigantic movie screen trying to understand what Bane was saying. I know that Mr. Nolan tweaked his voice in post production because, initially, it was difficult to comprehend. It is still a little bit difficult to understand. He sounds like a asthmatic robot who swallowed a frog. It’s as if Darth Vader and C3PO’s voices had a baby but then decided gargle a bunch of thumbtacks.
But you get used to it…but what is the deal with characters in The Dark Knight and raspy voices? It seems like many of the main characters are in desperate need of a lozenge. Perhaps Gotham City needs to focus less on the crime and more on the air quality. Sure, Batman and Bane may be the only two who have throat troubles, but this certainly can spread to other citizens — especially since the two of them come in contact with so many people on a daily basis. As a precaution the citizens should take some Airborne and B and B should always have some Chloraseptic on hand.
But back to the the frenemy/bromance between Bane (a freakishly cock swoll Tom Hardy) and Batman (Christian Bale of Newsies fame). Hands down, the two have the most compelling superhero-villain relationship since Rachel McAdams and Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. It’s just so damn toxic like the relationship between Jem and the Holograms and The Misfits. They really hate each other — and the one-on-one interactions with the two of them is gloriously violent, tense, and bone breaking (literally and figuratively).
Why do they hate each other you ask? Simply put, Bane wants to destroy Gotham City and Batman wants to stop him. Sure, there are lot more layers than that. There’s Bane’s origin story, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s coping with coming out of retirement and his need to prove Batman’s innocence (Remember? He was blamed for the wrongful murder Harvey Dent in the last movie. The murder was TOTALLY justified). For nearly three hours, they spread this story out into a captivating, edge-of-your-seat story that doesn’t drag it’s feet (with the exception of parts of the beginning and the middle portion.)
The movie is definitely a satisfying bookend to the rebooted franchise that Nolan built. He has set a standard when it comes to doing superhero movies and doing them right. I am sure that the movie has relevant undertones to the current social and political climate — but I am not even going to go into all that because that’s just way to smart for me — but I did catch on to those themes. Nolan does a good job of veiling these issues. He has a way of giving us action and fantasy, but flawlessly folding in a humanizing element of thematic storytelling and character. This makes me wonder what a Nolan-directed Green Lantern would have looked like.
Let’s now focus our attention on Anne Hathaway. I am a Hathaway expat. I used to adore her. After her great work in Rachel Getting Married, it seemed like she just started flailing about and doing bullcorn movies like Bride Wars, Valentine’s Day and then the God-awfulness that was One Day. Then she decided to do the Oscars which was just unfortunate. When she was cast as Selena Kyle/Catwoman (BTW: They never really call her Catwoman in the movie), I groaned and rolled my eyes. Then there was that one clip from the movie that played over and over and over and over and over again in trailers and TV spots. The one where she overacts in a deep, breahty, sex phone operator voice and says, “There’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne…”
Despite my qualms about Miss Hathaway, her place in the movie didn’t bother me. Her character wasn’t as big of a character as the marketing suggests her to be. Sure, she does play a key role in all that is going on, but the writing for this character was wise and I would like to say that she added the perfect amount of “Hollywood” to the movie. Nonetheless, this movie (and the Les Miserables) are a means to accept her back into my life.
Hathaway’s questionable casting in this movie brings up the argument of Nolan’s choice for some of his female leads for some of his recent movies — particularly the Dark Knight franchise. There was Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) and then Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight). Then there was Ellen Page in Inception and Scarlett Johansson in The Prestige. This list of actors just seems bizarre. There’s something so vacantly Hollywood and intolerable about all of actors and the characters they played. Or perhaps Carrie Ann Moss just did such an impeccable job in Memento that all of his female leads after that were eye candy aftertoughts. Or maybe I just don’t like any of those other actors.
…but back to the movie.
There are other actors in the movie like Joseph Gordon Levitt (who, as we all remember, was Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Marion Cotillard (whose brother was in the audience at the screening I attended! Exciting, right?) — who play key roles. If I talk about them too much, then I just might spoil the whole movie for you and then you won’t spend $15 for your ticket and not contribute to the trillions of dollars this movie is going to make. Then there are the usual Dark Knight suspects Morgan “Swaggerin’ Shawshank” Freeman and Michael “Drop it Like it’s Hot” Caine. Yup, they’re in it too… and they do stuff.
In summation, many other critics have been saying that this movie isn’t necessarily great as a standalone film, but is wonderful as the end of an epic trilogy. I totally agree and wish I would have said that first. Instead, I decided to complain about Nolan’s past female casting choices and give fun nicknames to Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. But I will say this about The Dark Knight Rises: it is not only the perfect bookend to a well-executed franchise, but also the perfect bookend to the summer blockbuster season.
The Dark Knight Rises opens in theaters today.