First TDKR Reactions

I’ve spoken to three persons who attended one of the two screenings yesterday of The Dark Knight Rises in Manhattan. Without being specific or spoilery it seems fair to generally summarize at least some of what they said. So here are the main observations, starting with the most positive and working our way down:

(a) “It’s going to be huge…dramatically and thematically a very powerful film,” says one. “It’s a special kind of blockbuster,” a somewhat younger media guy says. “The Avengers is a joke next to this…I know a good movie when I see one.” Another claims that “it’s better than both of the Joel Schumacher [Batman] films and the two Tim Burton versions put together.”

(b) One responder feels that “the best thing about it are the performances by Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon Levitt.”

(c) The geekboy known as “c*mfckn*w” who tweeted after last Friday night’s junket screening that “if this does not break the mold and win Best Picture, no comic-book movie ever will”…this guy is delusional, I’m told. TDKR will be a box-office behemoth, but like TDK and BB before, it’s just not Best Picture material. Certainly not as the average Academy member defines that term.

(d) It’s strong but quite long, and in one person’s view “not that compelling…there’s a really solid 115 or 120 minute drama with action in there [but Nolan] has made this huge bloated thing that runs two hours and 40 minutes.”

(e) Tom Hardy‘s Bane is an unmistakably strong figure in and of himself, but he’s no match for Heath Ledger‘s Joker. He just doesn’t deliver the same bark and spark that Ledger gave to The Dark Knight.

The rest of the reactions are too spoilery to mention.

  • great scott

    “It’s strong but quite long, and in one person’s view “not that compelling…there’s a really solid 115 or 120 minute drama with action in there (but Nolan) has made this huge bloated thing than runs two hours and 40 minutes.”

    Now I know EXACTLY what Leonard Maltin’s review will sound like.

  • lazarus

    Why is the fanboy quoted delusional? He didn’t say that TDKR would win Best Picture, or that a comic book movie even could. He simply said that if one was going to, this would be it. And that’s not a bold claim to me. Is there another A-list director who would treat superhero material this seriously? And is there a superhero the Academy would ever take more seriously than Batman?

    Not likely, on either count.

  • Kakihara

    Not sure how the Joel Schumacher films put together would ever amount to any level of quality.

  • Thom Phoolery

    Who the fuck is Joel Schumacher?

  • Ghost of Kazan

    Wouldn’t putting the Joel Schumacher films together make them even worse?

    “It even beats TWO pokes in the eye with a hot stick!”

  • moviesquad

    I hope the reboot three years from now to this franchise is called Batmen and stars Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Adam West for good measure.

    It could be Batman meets The Avengers. And let’s put Tim Burton back in the director’s seat for fun.

  • Eloi Wrath

    In the middle of a YouTube black hole today I found myself watching a ‘Making Of’ Batman & Robin and was amused to see Val Kilmer genuinely pissed off that he was replaced in the role. You’d think he’d be delighted in retrospect.

  • moviesquad

    Oh right, I forgot Val Kilmer needs to be there too.

  • fitz-hume

    (d) It’s strong but quite long, and in one person’s view “not that compelling…there’s a really solid 115 or 120 minute drama with action in there [but Nolan] has made this huge bloated thing that runs two hours and 40 minutes.”

    So it’s exactly like The Dark Knight.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Looking at the latest Gangster Squad trailer, you just KNOW that WB is going to have Ruben Fleischer do the Batman reboot and make it some sort of uber-stylized gangster pic with Josh Brolin as Two-Face and Ryan Gosling as Batman, etc.

  • notjon

    “The rest of the reactions are too spoilery to mention.”

    Sincerely and without snark, thank you, Jeff.

  • Los Bostonian

    I would love to see a reboot with with a little more comic book flair although Killer Croc and Clayface are both off the table. Let Batman be part of the JLA and all their glory, its not like these 3 “realistic” movies will go away. Gosling would be a terrible Batman and Bruce Wayne though, something tells me Armie Hammer has to be on the short list for the reboot given that he was previously cast and has that nice Garfield tie in.

    Just one thing, I don’t want to see an origin story.

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    I like the aging, multi-generational Batmen idea – they could make it like City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold.

  • scooterzz

    fwiw: saw it last friday and, as someone very sensitive to overlong films, it never seemed ‘bloated’ or padded to me…and i would agree that IF a comic book film were to win a best picture oscar, this would be the one….

  • reverent and free

    I still think Hardy’s Bane got his outfit from the Goodwill store of Star Trek the Next Generation.

  • MarkJ

    What fitz-hume said. Having said that Nolan’s Batman films are generally excellent and this one looks like more of the same. I just hope Nolan gives us Batman’s death, the dialogue in the trailer certainly seems to be some kind of portent of this: “You’ve given the people of Gotham everything!” “Not everything. Not yet.” Ending the trilogy with it’s own version of the ‘death of the hero’ myth is the way to go IMO.

  • lazarus

    Bruce Wayne doesn’t actually need to die to kill of Batman; just as he made the villanous Dent a hero to “save” Gotham, couldn’t he just substitute another body into the costume to make the hero’s sacrifice complete?

    To wit: let’s say the Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character dies in the big final battle. He could be “framed” as Batman so Bruce can retire with his mission complete, and the icon he’s created goes down as another martyr and symbol for the cause of good.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “To wit: let’s say the Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character dies in the big final battle. He could be “framed” as Batman so Bruce can retire with his mission complete, and the icon he’s created goes down as another martyr and symbol for the cause of good.”

    That really wouldn’t work emotionally, though (IMHO), because if Bruce voluntarily “retires” from the role of policing the city — you almost have to ask yourself…”was he ever truly Batman to begin with?”.

    If the fallout from the Joker’s rampage through TDK proved anything, it was that there was (and still is) a personal price to be paid for Batman’s “professional” choices; the two can’t really be separated. I think he finally comes to terms with this at the conclusion of that flick (cheesy or not, that’s what Oldman’s speech was all about), so for Wayne not to die at the end of this would be a pretty serious misstep, IMHO.

    Honestly, the trilogy has always felt like a bit of an inexorable death march towards ultimate self-sacrifice from the word “go.” But I think that’s fair because it’s a valid interpretation of the core of his being, a life philosophy adhered to without compromise.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “In the middle of a YouTube black hole today I found myself watching a ‘Making Of’ Batman & Robin and was amused to see Val Kilmer genuinely pissed off that he was replaced in the role. You’d think he’d be delighted in retrospect.”

    I think he was probably delighted at the time, too (did he even do any press at all for Forever? I seem to distinctly remember him sort of publicly slamming the flick not too long after it was released), but that’s an actor’s twisted mentality for ya — “I wouldn’t have said ‘yes,’ but fuck you for not asking me!”.

    Kilmer’s incredibly volatile — even by the average performer’s standards (which are really high to begin with). He’s obviously capable of greatness, but was completely forgettable in the dual role (ditto Clooney). Perfect scenario for me would be Keaton in the suit, Bale as the playboy billionaire, and Nolan directing (obviously).

  • moviesquad

    An overlong fantasy movie that wasn’t very good named Return of the King won Best Picture, so why can’t The Dark Knight Returns win?

  • Kakihara

    I’m beginning to think Levitt’s character is being groomed for Robin.

    Kaned: Well, Forever was his last big movie, ‘cus no one gave a damn about The Saint.

    moviesquad: Said it before, but LOTR is based on books which are considered literature. Batman is based on comics.

  • Kakihara

    Also, the thing about LOTR is no one believed the movies could be done.

  • lazarus

    NIce try, moviesquad. Perhaps YOU didn’t like Return of the King, and many of its fans still felt it was too long, but that box office and that critical reception (including a Best Film award from the fucking NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE) doesn’t translate to any consensus of “wasn’t very good”.

  • The Thing

    If 3rd Rock is the Robin, or Nightwing, or the next Batman, fans will be up in arms. His character isn’t mentioned in any of the canon comics (it’s only mentioned in the official Batman coloring book, or something stupid like that, and even then he was just a some random kid).

    Dick Grayson, the first Robin, was only under Batman’s study because his parents died in a circus accident (kind of stupid origin, and probably can be changed with some flexibility). He then becomes Nightwing, the Batman of Bludhaven, a city not too far from Gotham. Then, a few years later, he comes back to Gotham to take over being Batman. That’s his character arc, and that’s the only one any director will stick to, if they don’t want fanboys to flip their shit. Also, it makes sense; some one who trained under Batman will actually be able to do the stuff that Batman does, rather than some random cop pulled off the streets.

    In my opinion, sight unseen, JGL is just a popular face that they added in order to flesh out some plot points and possibly add a bit more tension to the movie when Bruce Wayne/Batman is off in hiding.

  • The Thing

    “Batman is based on comics.”

    Man, I wish I was around when Sci Fi was considered a trash genre where nothing of merit could ever be produced.

  • The Thing

    Or when anime was in the same boat.

  • scooterzz

    ‘…and that’s the only one any director will stick to, if they don’t want fanboys to flip their shit…’

    while there are a thousand nits to pick in the new film, i’m willing to bet that fanboys will only be flipping their shit in a good way…

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  • Eloi Wrath

    “Honestly, the trilogy has always felt like a bit of an inexorable death march towards ultimate self-sacrifice from the word “go.””

    There was also that line in Batman Begins about how Thomas Wayne’s death shocked the rich into acting to clean up the city a bit, even though it lapsed after a while. So you wonder if Bruce dies in this one, if Levitt’s character will simply be a symbol of the post-Batman era – a decent guy willing to fight for Gotham after being inspired by Bruce Wayne’s sacrifice.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Assuming Levitt’s character is indeed simply John Blake and not any pre-existing comic character… this is another thing that seems to piss of the comic fanboys, that Nolan creates new characters to serve the story as opposed to just shoehorning in any random fuck who appeared in a frame of Detective Comics #98234983 in July of 1956. It’s like some of them don’t seem to get that Nolan’s goal isn’t to make some shrine to the characters, a film that exists only to bring the comics to life (which is what The Avengers felt like – a 2.5 hour celebration of Marvel). He’s actually interesting in telling a story, and he’ll put whatever characters in to help him do that.

  • moviesquad

    @lazarus, I never said it was consensus. It is my opinion that ROTK isn’t a very good movie, and I suspect it won Best Picture based more on the accomplishment of making the trilogy than on the quality of ROTK as a movie.

    But… I do think it is the best comparison for the possibility of TDKR being able to win Best Picture. Plus, with Nolan directing TDKR stands a chance of actually being a great movie and not just a filmmaking “accomplishment” like ROTK was.

  • JLC

    I haven’t watched a trailer in awhile, but the early trailers indicated to me that Levitt is playing the reincarnated Ra’s Al Ghul. I think Neeson appears in flashbacks and maybe only to show his body being lowered into the Lazarus Pit.

    I still doubt they’ll kill Batman. It seems Gotham is still such a cesspool that sacrificing himself to take out one crummy villain like Bane is a copout. If the sacrifice of Harvey Dent couldn’t turn things around, I don’t see how the sacrifice of Bruce Wayne would. And it’s an awfully risky strategy in merchandising terms. But who knows? Maybe they will.

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    (c) The geekboy known as “c*mfckn*w” who tweeted after last Friday night’s junket screening that “if this does not break the mold and win Best Picture, no comic-book movie ever will”…this guy is delusional, I’m told. TDKR will be a box-office behemoth, but like TDK and BB before, it’s just not Best Picture material. Certainly not as the average Academy member defines that term.

    So, wait — TDK wasn’t “good” enough for an old-geezer Academy Best Picture-nod back in 2009, but District 9 Was, just one year later?

    It can be realistically argued that the entire reason for the doubling-up in Best Pic noms after 2008 was the whole TDK snub-backlash factor. If any other comic book-derived film could ever conceivably finally land that nomination, it’ll be Nolan’s own sequel to that movie.

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    Sorry — accidentally capitalized “was”, up there (still holding down shift when I hit the “W”-button). Gah.

  • Eloi Wrath

    This is pretty good: http://www.theonion.com/articles/dark-knight-rises-opts-for-lighthearted,28746

    Devin Faraci would probably prefer that version.

  • Kakihara

    The Thing: “Or when anime was in the same boat. Man, I wish I was around when Sci Fi was considered a trash genre where nothing of merit could ever be produced.”

    It still is; Miyazaki’s movie won, because he’s Miyazaki, and many people don’t lump in his work with “anime”.

    JLC: And yeah, they’ll probably “kill” Batman, but hint he’s not really dead like Matrix Revolutions did with Neo.

  • The Bandsaw Vigilante

    @ Kakihara:

    You’re probably correct, re: the “killing” of Batman, or rather the “killing” of the Batman persona, as far as the greater Gotham public is aware.

    My theory at the moment is that Bruce lets Batman “die” in some final apocalyptic confrontation with Bane, then takes over the League of Shadows at Talia/Miranda’s behest — in effect becoming the “new” Ra’s al Ghul — to steer it in a more benign direction than beforehand.

    …At least, that’s all based entirely upon the rumors to date. I’ve been wrong before.

  • Cadavra

    “Man, I wish I was around when Sci Fi was considered a trash genre where nothing of merit could ever be produced.”

    Trust me. You don’t.

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    Sincerely and without snark, thank you, Jeff.

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    Oh right, I forgot Val Kilmer needs to be there too.

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    Oh right, I forgot Val Kilmer needs to be there too. prom limo services