For obvious reasons I have hesitated to write this review. But here it is anyway.
I am seriously conflicted about this movie. There were some things I liked a lot, and some things I didn’t like at all.
For example, I like Anne Hathaway. I’ve enjoyed her since the first “Princess Diaries” movie. She’s got a very nice range, she can be cute, innocent and even bumbling, and she can be suave, sophisticated and charming. But what she doesn’t do well is devious, dark and mysterious. If there is a single major problem with the movie, it’s the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Now I’m not saying she doesn’t wear the catsuit well, there are a couple of scenes in that movie where…. oh my god… Are you kidding me? Let me see that again!
But she simply does not make me believe that she’s Catwoman. She comes across as playing catwoman which is a completely different thing. And that’s a shame because I really liked the way Catwoman was written, just not how she was portrayed.
Which brings me to Christain Bale as Batman. I know this will probably be surprising and will generate a lot of scoffing, but frankly Bale doesn’t work for me as Batman, or Bruce Wayne for that matter. In the first movies he barely managed to pull it off enough to keep me from rolling my eyes, but not this time. Maybe he’s lost weight, I dunno, but when he’s standing next to Bane he looks silly in his rubber suit muscles while Bane exudes menace and strength. But as much as I don’t buy his physical presence as Batman, there are two other reasons I can’t accept Bale as Batman. First, he’s simply not gritty enough. He’s still too pretty boyish. Second, his “Batman voice” is laughably forced and whispered. It doesn’t intimidate, it entertains. It sounds almost wheezy in his efforts to sound menacing. Between the voice, the rubber muscles and the fine bone structure… I just don’t buy him as the gritty, hard-muscled brick of the Batman.
The story itself isn’t horrible, but there are such gaping holes in the plot or story that, much like “Prometheus”, I just couldn’t swallow too much of it. This pit of a prison in the middle of nowhere with nobody guarding the exit, and the prisoners never manage to work together to escape? Nobody drops a damn rope down from the outside? Nobody thinks to take a bit of metal and a rock and pound a piton into the damn wall? I mean what is the message here, that prisoners in the nastiest pit of a prison in all of human history are going to “play fair” on the “escape” effort? Then there’s the timing of the whole bomb thing… The whole city just waits for the Batman to show up, knowing that a nuclear bomb is going off in two months? No, one month! Wait, three weeks. No, two weeks! Oops, five days! Now it’s ONE DAY and the whole city still just waits for one guy to save them?
Then there’s the nuclear bomb which apparently can survive being tossed about inside a military truck as it careens down the street and falls two stories off of an overpass without so much as a circuit board dislodging! That’s some bomb. Oh, but it’s not even a bomb, which might plausibly have some need to be built to deal with some rough handling, no it’s a fusion reactor that was intended to be coddled and protected…
Batman is one of my favorite comic book characters because he struggles with his motivations, his impulses, his soul. In the previous Batman movies there was some of that “dark knight” story going on, not enough, but at least there was some question about whether Batman was pursuing justice or revenge. Not in this movie. As the also horribly miscast Commissioner Gordon reads from “A Tale of Two Cities” at the end of the movie, this Batman is nothing but nobility and sacrifice. He makes Superman look like a putz he’s so damn noble. I don’t like my Batmen noble. I like them conflicted and a bit on the edge of violent rage themselves. This is not the “Dark Knight” that Frank Miller gave us, this is Batman channeling Jesus Christ himself.
And then there’s Bane. The brilliant mastermind of the League of Shadows. The ultimate villain. With his silly voice and supernatural ability to compel his minions to perform anything he asks, including suicide… I get that he’s brilliant and effective, but his plans just work too well, too often and with too many deux ex machinas moments. Everything works perfectly for Bane until the very end of the movie. Every step is perfectly executed with exactly the predicted results. But for some reason this man who murders his most trusted minions on a whim, and who plans nuclear annihilation of an entire city, this brilliant tactician and malevolent mastermind, not only leaves his arch-enemy in a situation where he can escape to thwart him (the classic evil super-villain mistake), no that’s not enough, this vicious killer doesn’t even bother to kill all Gotham’s cops when he has them cornered and trapped, leaving them able to be freed by a single missile fired from the bat-cycle…. aaaargg…
It wasn’t a bad movie, but it failed to live up to the “dark knight” billing. Virtually everything that was supposed to be a “reveal” was predictable (well, except for the BIG reveal at the end. While the betrayal didn’t surprise me, the story behind it did).
The bottom line is that the movie was more watchable then the previous two because the villain was not as overtly insane and the violence was less graphic and gratuitous (anyone remember the bomb sewed up in the guy’s belly?). But in the end it didn’t reboot Batman, it instead rebranded him from a Dark Knight to a Savior. And that’s just not what Batman should be.