Monday Morning Critic – Top Five Reasons Not To See The Dark Knight Rises, The Firm (Season 1)

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

It’s The Dark Knight Rises week here at Inside Pulse Movies and I’m genuinely excited for the film. While many of the staff members enjoy press screenings so they can write about films early, I’ve always enjoyed watching most films on opening day instead. I like seeing a film with an audience of people who’ve paid as opposed to members of the press for a lot of reasons; mainly I like to observe people’s reactions to certain things and moments. It’s rare that I take time off from my actual job to watch a film but when I do it’s for a film I’m genuinely excited about it. I’m seeing The Dark Knight Rises early for this very reason: because it’s one of the few films of 2012 I started out being genuinely excited about.

Seriously … watch the trailer. How can you not get excited about the film after watching it? I felt giddy and excited, like a fan. It was the same excitement I had for Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva 2 last weekend; sometimes it’s nice to kick back and be a fan for once.

I started talking about the film, and this column, with my friend Nick the Stand Up. He had the same level of excitement for both. But he also said something that fired up the creative juices.

“I bet you can’t name five reasons to not see this film.”

Thus a challenge was born and thus with The Dark Knight Rises coming out this weekend I’ve come up with five reasons to NOT see The Dark Knight Rises. Every now and again you have to do the contrarian bit, I suppose, so now it’s perhaps an interesting contrarian viewpoint. And I didn’t have anything to write about this week, so I took up his challenge.

Top Five Reasons NOT to See The Dark Knight Rises

5. Letterman spoiled the ending

Letterman had an interview with Anne Hathaway and may (or may not) have spoiled the film. You can watch it below.

Here’s the thing: something from the first film strike me as being relevant though. Bruce Wayne talked about being a symbol, more than a man. A man can be destroyed but a symbol is incorruptible, et al. We’re probably going to see the death of Batman, maybe, but we’ll get something like Bruce Wayne walking away from the caped crusader because he’ll have found someone to take over the mantle. He may not have given them everything, not yet, but in something that appears to be his death Batman “dies” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes over the mantle somehow as the caped crusader, with some awesome unveiling where he finds the costume. Throw in some stupid shot of Bruce Wayne having a latte with either Marion Cotillard or Anne Hathaway, because both are sort of love interests in the film’s trailers, and the film has a super happy ending while accomplishing the overall character arc. Bruce wants Batman to be a symbol, more than a man, and if he dies someone will step into the bat suit.

That’d be my guess as to how it ends; Nolan could shock me but I’ve always thought the series was about the rise and death of a hero. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhardt) said in The Dark Knight that “you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Batman has done the latter and my guess is that Nolan kills off Batman in some form as his final stamp on the hero; he can’t do another film in the franchise if it’d be with a new man playing Batman, etc. But I think he likes Bruce Wayne the character enough to let him walk into the sunset as opposed to be carried in a coffin, ala the finale of House.

4. Expectations are way too high

I disliked The Avengers for a lot of reasons and I think a lot of those reasons are the ones people enjoyed it for. I went in hoping for a good film and was thoroughly disappointed because it was all the things people complain about films like Battleship … and yet they were embraced as good things because it was the Buffy creator and the Marvel universe. Expectations for that film were high and yet … The Dark Knight Rises has the highest projected ceiling of any film of the year.

This is supposed to be Nolan’s masterpiece and has had such a remarkable buildup that anything below The Godfather Part 2 with a little Die Hard will be a grand disappointment.

I imagine we’ll get a number of people who over-praise the film to extraordinary heights, a number who’ll go the contrarian route, and the general consensus will almost feel like it was disappointing because it wasn’t so brilliant that doves cry when mentioning it. Could it not get a fair shake from people because the film’s perceived quality is such that anything short of life-altering will be considered poor? Perhaps.

3. Christopher Nolan has a stinker in him … and it could be this one

No director has a record of sustained brilliance in recent history like Christopher Nolan. Think about it for a moment; he’s done enough films that we know he has a style, signature moments, et al, and yet all in he hasn’t had a universally perceived bad film. Oliver Stone has two Oscars and what seems like two dozen bad films on his resume. Steven Spielberg has two of his own and yet he balanced out a brilliant Tintin film with one where it felt like a glorified Zoophilia-esque love story. Martin Scorsese has an armful of bad ones despite being perhaps the best director of a loaded generation.

You can go on and on with first rate directors but the case is this: every director has a Xanadu in them. Never heard of that film? Watch the trailer for a moment.

Somehow, somewhere, someone thought that was a good idea for a film. And it had a first rate cast and is Gene Kelly’s final film … and it’s horrible. Just plain horrible. Don’t think for a minute that The Dark Knight Rises won’t be referred to with “and then falls on his face” by people. Nolan can’t be this good this often, right?

He has to have a bad film in him, somewhere, and this might be it. No director is perfect and for all the hype this could be a perfect storm for Nolan to crap something out instead of put together a classic. Not that I think it will but it could be.

2. Bane’s not a signature villain of Batman

When it comes to Bat-villains, Bane is kind of like a member of the B-team I think. He’s not your first guy to take on Batman but he’s certainly not a one-shot guy either; he’s a good backup, a sixth man of the Batman Rogues’ Gallery, but not quite a first teamer. Which is why potentially the film could not be strong; it’s all going to be in how Nolan designs the character.

I’m always reticent when a hero of any sort with a traditional high level villain or 12 gets someone who isn’t quite a first teamer. It’s kind of like the NCAA Football Championship being played by the winner of the SEC and the runner up from the MAC. It might be a nice school and such but when Alabama is playing #15 Marshall for the biggest prize in college football when #3 LSU, #2 USC and #5 Notre Dame are on the sidelines then it doesn’t quite feel like it. And that’s my only problem with Bane; I love the fact that Tom Hardy is in the role and I think it could be a great final foil for Nolan’s Batman.

But finishing off with Bane when you have the Riddler, the Mad-Hatter, Clayface, et al on the sidelines is a bit off to me as the non-comic fan. I always thought they could have used Harley Quinn and trigger it with some accident where the Joker dies off screen (to explain Heath Ledger’s death) and she goes for revenge on Batman, et al, but that’s just me.

It did make me curious as to what Nolan will do with the character, etc, and Tom Hardy’s a heckuva actor. But the avoidance of one of the big villains for someone who doesn’t have nearly as many years of comic history with the Dark Knight is a curious one and could end up backfiring. With someone like Riddler, or Clayface, you’ve got long established characters you can work with. It’s like Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man not fighting Doctor Octopus or Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man not fighting the Mandarin at some point.

Granted most of the big ones have been done before in the previous iteration of the character but if Heath Ledger can create a substantially different and dynamic version of the Joker it stands to reason that Leonardo DiCaprio as Riddler or Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin wouldn’t have worked out equally as well as Ledger’s Joker. Bane is a curiosity, mainly because it means they’re following a more cinematic equivalent of the “Knightfall” storyline, but the fact that Nolan is using it for a third film could spell trouble.

You would think that if Nolan wanted to go all out and finish Batman he’d bring in a bigger name villain; Bane is nice, and doesn’t have a lot of cinematic history with Batman sans being a heavy in Batman & Robin, but you’d think someone like The Riddler would be more appropriate for this film. It doesn’t feel like there’s a big heft going in; it’s like retiring as world’s heavyweight boxing champion after beating up your biggest foe instead of retiring as champion after a knockout of another bum to pad ye olde record.

1. Final films in a trilogy almost always are the weakest entries

The Godfather Part 3. The Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Austin Powers in Goldmember. The Bad News Bears Go To Japan. Blade: Trinity. Pink Tush Girl: Proposal Strategy. Return of the Jedi. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Transporter 3. Spider-Man 3.

What do they have all in common? They’re films that paled in comparison, quality wise, to the first two that capped a trilogy. Well, maybe not Pink Tush Girl 3; that’s an actual porno franchise listed on Wikipedia that just sounded funny.

The point is that usually third films in a trilogy are usually the weakest links. It’s the rare occasion when a final film in a trilogy isn’t the weakest entry. Back to the Future 3 was the weakest, though to be fair both sequels to the original were weak, and a film Toy Story 3 is more of the exception than the rule. Odds are that this is going to be the weakest entry in the series; the past can often show us the future. And the future could be, in this case, that this is going to be the weakest of the three.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Firm (Season 1)

Television shows rarely intrigue me but this one did. Focusing on what happened after the events of the film, The Firm has recast all of the principals and given us a glimpse into the future of Mitch McDeere. Anytime you can serialize something about a cinematic universe’s future and figure out where everyone would be years later, after the events of the film changed their lives, something interesting can come out. Whether that’s good or bad is left to those behind it.

Based loosely off characters from the film and John Grisham’s novel of the same name, it’s a reboot of the film in an odd way. Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Holly Hunter and David Staithairn are out for this and we have Josh Lucas, Molly Parker, Juliette Lewis and Callum Keith Rennie are in their places as principal members of the cast respectively. This time around Mitch is older and wiser, having exited Witness Protection and living a public life under his real name. Now in Washington, D.C, Mitch is a criminal defense attorney with two fairly substantial cases. He’s representing a woman who may or may not have killed a senior citizen while also taking on a gigantic corporation over a failed medical device.

When the former requires him to join a big firm once again to take on the corporation, Mitch winds up over his head and back into another conspiracy from which he has to risk a lot to try. Bringing down bad guys as an attorney, Mitch winds up having to deal with all sorts of shenanigans as well as a blast from his past coming back to haunt him.

Coming in with a lot of hype, the show has a horrible time slot on Saturday nights. It’s a shame because it’s a really interesting show. I’ve been following it via Hulu, if only because Saturday nights for the past six months of this first season has been filled with films and fights, but it’s worth the watch. I like what they’ve done with Mitch and his family, character wise. In the film he goes from wide-eyed to a hardened because of his experience. Now he’s older, wiser and experienced. He knows the score and doesn’t have the idealism of youth anymore.

It’s an interesting arc and I like Lucas in the role. He’s always been a guy who comes off like a second-rate Matthew McConaughey in films, mainly because of his accent and similar style, but it’s also a bit of a disservice that he isn’t a star yet. He looked like he was about to hit that moment, right around Glory Road, but never crossed that line.

I wouldn’t have liked him as a young McDeere but as the older, savvier McDeere he’s perfect. He heads a solid television cast and overall it’s an enjoyable show. It just had its first season conclude, with indications looking like NBC will pick it back up for another year.


What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Dark Knight Rises – Batman is back and now he has to face Bane and stuff.

See It – I may have found five reasons to not see it, but let’s face it. This has all the potential of being the best film of the year and Christopher Nolan will find a way to make a crappy film that doesn’t have a superhero in it, I think.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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