Here’s a movie that can’t win. We’ve already had the definitive Batman. Unforgettable scenes are already in our heads. Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his immortal turn as the ultimate villain. There is no way to top The Dark Knight. No reason, ever, to want to go back; unless, of course, you count money. And it’s fair to say, the one thing new movie doesn’t lack is adequate funds. Bruce Wayne goes bankrupt in this film, in what could be read as an in-joke about exorbitant costs. The Dark Knight Rises is bigger in every way than its predecessor. But you can’t buy lightning in a bottle. No paycheque will bring Heath Ledger back. As Bane, the muscle-bound new villain has to learn, there are limits to bulk.
If you make movies for adults, then you have to talk careers. Yes, there’s love, and situation comedy as you get older, but most of adult life is spent at work. A career is when your work matters to you. The director Michael Mann sees anything outside of a career as superfluous. That’s why he makes so many cops ’n robbers movies, because both livings exclude all else. Mann’s protagonists are men the way cowboys were men; their work defines them. Women have too many feelings for Michael Mann. If a stay-at-home mom was his subject, she’d handle her baby like a machine gun. His latest, Public Enemies, is a tale of two workaholics trying to best each other. They’d both choose death over a desk job.
We wouldn’t win a war against the machines. Most of us struggle with spreadsheets. Humans, at a bare minimum, need: food, shelter, sex and shoes. Machines just need a plug. And therein lies my basic problem with Terminator Salvation; no matter how sexy the human resistance might be, you’d have to bet on the robots. Like the Terminator franchise, they can multiply ad-infinitum. They don’t need motivation to fight, or an explanation as to why they do things. I picture the resistance: bursting for a piss, unsure whose side the lights are on in the toilets. That’s not a battle I’d want to fight.
Come back Adam West, all is forgiven! Though I doubt TV’s Batman would find much of a home in the new, brutal, unrelenting Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Perhaps he could be beaten to death as a pretext for another set-piece, but beyond that – No. The Dark Knight is not a movie that would welcome West, Burt Ward, or anything fun. I know I’m going against the grain – against doctrine – to say I didn’t like The Dark Knight, but this movie is to summer what a chain-saw is to a daisy-chain. The idea that its primary audience is children and young teenagers (it carries a PG-13 rating in America and a 12 rating in Britain) is pretty bloody depressing.