Batman 7: The Big Bat Finale (Until the Next Reboot)   1 comment

“Miguel Garcia, have a cigar, Cuba’s finest.” – Miguel Garcia, Cuban Diplomat
“Jay Sherman, have a Star Trek 7 pencil, Nimoy’s lamest.” – Jay Sherman

Top Line: Batman 7 is a sprawling, overly serious, nearly three hour epic that is the very epitome of a modern big budget blockbuster.  It is not without problems, several of which are serious, but it is a lot of fun and is unequivocally worth seeing on a big screen.

Who (probably) should see this movie: Anyone who doesn’t want to be left out of just about any political, movie, or general cultural conversation for the next couple of months, and people who liked the first two Christian Bale Batman movies.

Who (probably) should not see this movie: Anyone who disliked the first two Bale Batman movies.

Special Note About the Mass Murder in Colorado:  A few years ago, a reporter named David Cullen wrote a book called Columbine about the 1999 high school murders that left 13 victims and 2 perpetrators dead.  The book is the definitive account of that incident, and one of the most striking things it concluded was that, with the exception of basic facts like the number, names and ages of the dead, for the first few weeks almost nothing reported in newspapers or on television was correct.  It was all hot air generated by people who weren’t directly affected rushing to comment, conclude, and otherwise insert themselves into a situation that screamed for privacy and healing.  Theories and rumors that began as nothing more than miscommunication or uninformed speculation took on a life of their own and ended up causing serious emotional and social harm to people who should have been left to their grief.

The murders last night took place only a short drive from where the ones in 1999 happened, and there are enough other similarities that the word “Columbine” is already in the air today.  As of this writing, a very likely suspect is in custody, twelve people who were breathing yesterday are not doing so today, and innumerable other people, media figures and not, are already rushing in to speculate, comment, and opinionate.  None of the latter is necessary, and some of it may cause further trauma to survivors and others directly involved.

There is no danger to the general public related to this crime (looking at you, NYPD), and the vast majority of us who are lucky enough not to be involved owe those who weren’t so lucky their privacy.  Only with time and careful investigation will this young man’s alleged actions begin to make sense.  For now, those of us fortunate enough to be unaffected should set it aside and go about our lives.  Rubbernecking is neither helpful nor justifiable.

Box Score:

Runtime: 2h:45m – And it feels longer in places.
Rated: PG-13 – This is probably Batman 7’s biggest problem.  For all the super-serious violence and epic, city eating story, there is almost literally no blood in the entire film and the cartoonish nature of the violence routinely undermines everything that’s happening.
Three Stars:

  1. Anne Hathaway – Catwoman:
    Plays the only character in the entire movie who gets to have any fun.
  2. Christian Bale – Batman:
    Does his customarily top notch job and keeps the growling to a minimum.
  3. Tom Hardy – Bane:
    Seemed to be enjoying himself more than the rest of the cast of this relentlessly dour picture.
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +2 (this is one of those rare movies where everyone really will be talking about it, best to see it quickly)
  • +2 (see above)
  • +2 (is an action movie where many of the biggest sequences aren’t totally computer animated)
  • +2 (Nolan movies tend to be the most fun the first time you see them and this is no exception, a real theater adds to the experience)
  • -1 (it’s still just a bloody movie)

Final Score: 9

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +2 (it’s easy to see movies at home these days, and this is far more entertaining than most releases)
  • -1 (it’s a third movie that isn’t as good as the second one, a year from now, only movie geeks will care)

Final Score: 6

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • +1 (Catwoman has a female sidekick and the two of them make some minor trouble together)
  • +1 (Marion Cotillard gets a real character to play)
  • -1 (pretty much a dudes movie)
  • -2 (little to no independent female action)

Final Score: 4

IMDb Sez:

Director:

  • Christopher Nolan:
    You know, he made those other Batman movies, plus Inception, The Prestige, Memento, good to great movies all.

Writers:

  • Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan:
    See above.

Ratings:

  • Users: Too Few Votes
  • Metascore: 80/100

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics:

86%

  • Average Rating: 8/10
  • Critic Reviews: 201
  • Fresh: 172 | Rotten: 29

Top Critics:

78%

  • Average Rating: 8/10
  • Critic Reviews: 41
  • Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 9

Audience:

94%

  • Average Rating: 4.6/5
  • User Ratings: 361,854

Notes:

  • The PG-13 rating is a killer flaw.  This movie could’ve been one for the ages with the greater freedom and credibility an R rating provides, but the box office gods must be appeased.
  • The movie is paced very unevenly in that it jumps months ahead a couple of times with little to no warning.
  • The plane hijacking that opens the movie is one of the most innovative action sequences to come down the pipe in a while.
  • The motorcycle chase doesn’t live up to the epic car chase in The Dark Knight, but it’s damn good.
  • The Batplane is a little too goofy to be as cool as the movie thinks it is.
  • It definitely feels like the third entry in a trilogy in places, with unnecessary flashbacks and somewhat pointless cameos.
  • Way too many pieces of the excellent supporting cast are underused.
  • There’s plenty of both beef and cheesecake for everyone.  Anne Hathaway spends much of the movie in very tight clothing (including bent over riding the Batcycle, which the camera definitely notices), and both Tom Hardy and Christian Bale show plenty of well muscled skin.

Bottom Line: Batman 7 is a very above average summer movie, but it suffers from three (3) major structural problems which, long term, will probably relegate it to being considered closer to the good-but-not-great Batman 5 rather than the much loved Batman 6: the PG-13 rating, the length, and the galaxy of villains, none of whom can fill Heath Ledger’s brilliantly insane purple suit.

For a good example of how the restrictions of PG-13 snuff out the realism on which the movie relies, consider a scene near the end where one of the many (many) minor characters gets killed.  First we see him firing his gun, then we cut to the other side firing theirs, and then we cut to his supposed corpse, which is perfectly clean, bloodless, and doesn’t have a hair or button out of place.  Childish aversions to even minor gore (Batman gets a nosebleed at one point, which may be the only blood in the movie) are such a running theme that the movie feels lifeless even as it wants the audience to fear for people’s safety.

Batman 6 made up for those same shortcomings with a quick pace and a wickedly funny performance from its main villain.  Batman 7 moves much more ponderously, and Bane, Catwoman, and all the other assorted bad guys put together aren’t nearly as much fun as the Joker was.

All that might have been less noticeable if the movie had either been forty minutes shorter or forty minutes longer.  There’s a trend in franchise movies right now to split the last installment into two parts (Harry Potter did it, Twilight is doing it, and Hunger Games is going to do it).  Batman could’ve benefitted from the same expansion of space to tell its sprawling tale.  That, or it could’ve moved along much more swiftly by dropping some of its excessive backstory baggage.

Still, even if it’s got problems and could’ve used more comic relief (the audience only laughed two or three times), this is an epic film that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to spectacle and menacing characters.  Bane is an enjoyably intimidating foe, Catwoman is a bit underwritten but believably badass, and all your old favorites from the first two movies get to show up and do their thing.  It’s fluff, but it’s very well executed fluff, and if that’s what the public wants, then that’s what Christopher Nolan and company have given us.

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Posted July 20, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Box Score Cinema, The Critic

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One response to “Batman 7: The Big Bat Finale (Until the Next Reboot)

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  1. Regarding Nolan: Watch Following if you haven’t. It’s my personal favorite film of his.

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