After commenting on the tragedy surrounding the release of much-anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, I did actually get around to seeing the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy this past weekend. I largely agree with the ruggedly handsome and sweet-smelling Morgan Lewis in his more-than-adequate review from last week, so I see no need to clutter up the blogosphere with another TDKR essay. I will say, however, that the issues that bothered magical Morgan bothered me even more. Bane’s voice took away from Tom Hardy’s performance, absolutely. Batman appears in his suit so little in the movie that it could easily have been called Bruce Wayne Rises. I personally thought a twist during the climax was telegraphed (to comic book fans) but not well-developed. And due in part to the film’s epic scale, I felt it lost focus in a few places. But the ending more than brought everything, and I do mean everything together. It still ranks below Dark Knight largely because of Heath Ledger’s incredible turn as the Joker, but it was a very solid end to what has easily been the most meaningful, acclaimed, and successful Batman series put to film.
I will likely talk more about The End…and more importantly The Future of the Batman franchise at a later date when spoilers will be more appropriate. The Future is very much up in the air both despite AND because of the trilogy’s overwhelming success, and that certainly warrants further discussion. Even the caramel-flavored Morgan would have to agree with that as he sits on his throne of gold-plated NES controllers and sips from the Holy Grail.
Elsewhere in the world, specifically in jolly ol’ England, the 2012 Olympics kicked off last Friday with what I believe was someone’s LSD-fueled hallucination. I mean, it started off with James Bond and Queen Elizabeth parachuting into the stadium…and then got weirder. There were pastoral fields that transformed into smokestacks. There was an entire musical number about the British healthcare system, complete with glowing beds. There was a 100-foot-tall Voldemort. There was a flock of Mary Poppins. And Kenneth Branagh cackled madly through it all.
Then the orchestra played Chariots of Fire only for Mr. Bean – of all people – to steal the show, mugging for the camera in a dopey sketch that almost had to be funnier to the English than it could ever be to Americans. I guess it’s nice that they weren’t taking things too seriously, but it would have been nice to see them be funny in a more relevant way.
Things really went off the rails in a supposed-tribute to Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet. A love story mixed with a history of pop culture from the 1960s to the present mixed with the current obsession with social media. There was dancing and music and images from random movies projected on a “house” in the center of the stadium, and none of it was easy or worthwhile to follow. I think only the Japanese could come up with a more off-the-wall Opening Ceremony, and maybe even they would be hard-pressed.
The athletes paraded in after that, thankfully, and despite the announcers saying “this is one of the fastest parades I’ve seen in the Olympics,” it still took 47 years, 5 months, 16 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours, and 52 minutes. During this, NBC decided it would be a good time to promote the upcoming NFL season during a commercial break, essentially saying: “Hey, believe us, we’d rather be watching football, too.”
But there were some impressive moments. The “forging” of the Olympic Rings was visually stunning, as was the clever way the torch was constructed, lit, and transformed, not to mention the fireworks afterward. And you gotta love that the Queen was game for a little fun with Daniel Craig as James Bond. It was largely silly, though. An overwhelmingly grand spectacle of silly.
That, and the Aquatics Centre looks kinda like a vagina.