Dick Powell, I do not want to go shopping with you. Especially not in the basement.
So, I have a Tumblr thingy, and I just saw this movie; ergo, I have to write a quick mini-review and throw it into the ether because that’s what we do now. And I have to write this self-deprecatory preamble because that’s a prereq, too.
Overall: GOOD. But: The Dark Knight was significantly better. Mainly because every plot twist about the final chapter in this trilogy was predicated on Batman mythology, so if you knew that at all, then you weren’t really surprised by any of the sudden complications. Like [plot twist redacted] doing that one thing to [plot twist redacted], which if you know about [plot twist redacted] at all, you already know that [plot twist redacted] is famous for doing that one thing to [plot twist redacted]. Among other not-at-all-unexpected turns. Whereas with The Dark Knight, the story was about the Joker, whose only mythology is that he’s Batman’s ultimate antagonist, so all the twists and turns (think: who’s tied up to the oil cans that explode?) weren’t moored to some already-known backstory, which allowed that film to actually shock you—and, more importantly, engage you.
Don’t get me wrong, this one is mighty entertaining—and even engaging at times—and the bat-cycle and bat-plane are great set pieces. But since there aren’t many questions as to how the major action scenes will end, they’re less awe-inspiring than they were in the second go-around.
Then there’s Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Let’s start with some facts: Anne Hathaway is a better actress than Michelle Pfeiffer. However, Burton’s Catwoman had a much darker edge. She was unwaveringly cynical throughout the film. Nolan’s, not so much. Sure, she’s dark and pessimistic at the beginning, but she gradually cools in the second half until she finds herself in an almost nauseatingly saccharine finale. She’s definitely not the sort of Catwoman who tells Batman, “I’d love to live with you in your castle, just like in a fairy tale. [nearly kisses him, then claws his face] I just couldn’t live with myself, so don’t pretend this is a happy ending.” The [SPOILER ALERT] EXACT OPPOSITE happens in Nolan’s version. That’s fine. I suppose Nolan’s take is more psychologically realistic, and we shouldn’t be surprised that psychological realism and German expressionism don’t quite go hand in hand. But did he have to tie everything up with such a nice bow, into such a happy ending? Maybe it’s more psychologically realistic, but isn’t Burton’s more realistic to the human condition?
I think it’s that pretty bow that bothers me so much. Nolan’s take on Batman has been about contradictions. About how everyone’s living a double life that you’ll never truly understand. About how every character has some secret you’ll never know. About how murky the distinction between good and bad can become. So having some jolly resolution with no loose ends feels like an abandonment of a pretty well established tone.
Yes, I cried. Yes, I jumped in my seat. Yes, I had fun. But it was a bit too debased of what it used to be to actually be great.