Saturday, September 8, 2012

Flotsam, Jetsam and Lagan.

In his brilliant novel, The Man Who Laughs, Victor Hugo wrote that there are things that float on the surface of the ocean (flotsam), things that float to shore (jetsam), and then there are those things that sink to the bottom (lagan). This post is about the latter.

I saw The Dark Knight Rises last night, and I had the first religious experience of my life: I could not stop praying, "God, please let it be over."

This review has some spoilers, so in that spirit, I recommend you read on.

Seriously, the hype I read about this movie was mildly overrated. The comparison that many made of the prescience to our current political situation would be laughable, except that the comparison will be lost on 99.99% of the American public. The endless symbolism I found grating and was longing for even one concrete idea stated unapologetically.

The story was endlessly slow to develop, with a meandering plot (if it had a plot) that needed a mini-series to properly develop. I got extremely tired of the machine-gun presentation of scenes or shots of scenes that lasted only a few seconds or fractions of a second (if that). The score was annoyingly ever-present and overly loud, when there were definite moments that it should have shut the ____ up. Perhaps for an hour or two. (At several points I had to put my fingers in my ears.)

The plot (again, if I can call it that) was a predictable pastiche of many movies that came before. The villain "Bain" was so obviously Darth Vader as to be laughable. The phrase "cliche-ridden string of memes" comes to mind, except, "meme" is really just an avant garde synonym for "cliche", so I repeat myself.

There was virtuallly no development of character motivations in any serious sense. The secret villain who is only revealed in the climax (in a ripoff of Othello), is supposed to make us believe that all the death and destruction was motivated by nothing more than revenge for the death of .... well, I'll leave out that spoiler, except you saw it in a few dozen other movies and hundreds of TV shows. How that ties in to Obama's class warfare shtick can only be done with sewing thread of some kind of bubble gum.

Then we have the absurdly unlikely plot elements, like, when every single cop in the city of Gotham descends en masse into a big sewer hole to chase the bad guys, who are nowhere to be found, but who have clearly orchestrated this unlikely event so that the cops can be bottled up like bugs in a botanist's bottle by explosions that seal off the sewers. Why the bad guys didn't simply kill them all in some visceral demonstration of Darwin's theory, I don't know.

And there the cops stay for the next three months while Batman decides if he wants to save Gotham, getting physical therapy in some remote prison fortress that consists of hanging him from a rope and having someone fix his protruding broken vertabrae by punching the bloodied chunks back in place as hard as possible.

Yes, chiropracty has come a long way, though there was never an explanation for Wayne's recovered knee, elbow, shoulder and other cartilage, which a doctor in the opening to this pot-boiler tells us is "non-existent". I should think the elixer for that cure would have a market.

The prison thread is replete with the ethereal appearance of Obi-wan-Kenobi pretending to be Liam Neeson, who arrives to taunt the clueless Wayne, but this merely spurs Batman on to rebuild his strength and escape his fortress of solitude for debauched superheroes. Escape involves a pointless "leap of faith" in an obscure kiling apparatus that Austin Power would have approved of, involving climbing a hundred feet up the inside of a convenient vertical smokestack of badly set bricks, and then, when halfway up, abandoning that successful strategy to jump across the empty space of the 15 foot column to a conveniently placed concrete shelf jutting out on the other side, from whence you climb another 50 feet up the remainder of the stack to emerge in the middle of a remote desert without even a taxi to get home.

This "leap" seems to kill most prisoners that attempt it, but not Bruce Wayne, and he falls over and over again to the end of a 50 foot length of rope that stops his descent without the obligatory ripping-of-the-spine-in-half denoument.

The curious thing no one noticed is, this rope tied to Wayne's torso is clearly shown going out the top of the smokestack where it it belayed somewhere.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why Wayne didn't just climb the rope. Don't trouble yourself with that thought.

The cops back home have meanwhile subsisted on 3 months of K-rations generously donated by the bad guys, who seem to care in some touching way for them, but are finally saved by the Catwoman who can do more with two rockets on her borrowed Batcycle than the combined forces of the entire Republic --in the intervening three months no one, not even the cops, have attempted to remove the 10 trillion tons of debris keeping the cops in their sewer-bottle.

Cops are released, uniforms cleaned, pressed, dry-cleaned, but sans body odor and other public health issues (seriously, what's your underwear like after three months in a sewer?), to do battle with the bad guys, hand-to-hand. Guns are still wrong, you see. But even hand-to-hand, they can't seem to muster a single brain with a plan, and the obvious solution is to just run at the bad guys as a mob and get mowed down by machine guns and cannon fire. I must remember this strategy for future reference.

The only positive thing to this movie was the Catwoman, who had a shred of characterization and intelligence, and I recommend her line near the end, when Batman is getting his ass kicked once more by the evil Darth -- sorry, Bain -- and she shows up to rescue Batboob (living proof that his hydrocephalitic cowl is concealing not a shred of perceptive ability) and blows Bain to hell and back, saying something to the effect of, "this non-violence thing isn't really doing it for me."

Me neither. At this point in the movie, the bad guys have killed about 40 berzilion people and are about to set off a nuclear weapon; I think we're past the point of self-restraint.

The obligatory nuclear weapon itself is based on time-tested dramatic principles of contrived science and phony time-pressure that would make James Bond's nemesis Goldfinger proud. In the beginning the "fusion core" (fyi, "fusion" doesn't use a core -- that's "fission") is reported to be a little unstable when unhooked from it's computer console in the storm sewers of Wayne Enterprises, but somehow that instability acquired a precision of microseconds by the end of the movie.

Yadayada. I could say more, but why bother. It held my attention at the level of trying to navigate the demolition derby of rush-hour traffic on the 805 in Irvine, or count my toes while taking a bath. If it was a fish, I'd throw it back. Can anyone write an adult movie?


  1. And yet by and large the O'ist response was that this movie was anti-Left and pro-heroism. See for example Aimy Peikoff's podcast where she and Bowsch raved about it.

    I don't know what is worse - Hollywood's movies or Objectivist reviews of Hollywood movies. They seem to find "heroic value pursuit" everywhere.

    I agree with you. This movie was repugnant on many levels. Hollywood screenwriters are incapable of writing a coherent script. This is because post-modern philosophy has destroyed all objective standards in EVERYTHING.

    D. Bandler


Comments must be polite and well-reasoned, but passion is allowed when directed at the subject matter and not someone who posts -- violate this, and your comment doesn't get posted. Comments may not post immediately -- I'm pretty busy and don't live on the web.