Sunday, 22 July 2012

There's life in the old bat yet

The Dark Knight Rises is good. Very very good. Despite some overly lengthy punch ups and a really unconvincing death, it's pretty much worth the three-hour running time.

I read a fair amount of Bale-bashing these days. Various gossipy half stories about his bad temper and method acting muleishness, and of course, the video where he apparently acted like the king of douches, but I've always liked him. And not just because he's the sex. Because he is.

The first time I saw him was in Empire of the Sun and he was really, really good. I didn't think he was the sex then. Because he was 11 and that would be wrong. The final scene haunted me for years until I realised it was about Ballard who didn't  actually spent the rest of his life rocking in a mental ward. Bale managed to convey such horror and mental breakdown at what his character had seen and endured that I believed fully that he had been lost for the rest of his life. Pretty impressive for a child who hadn't had any acting lessons before the film.

I have a theory that in the UK we do child actors spectacularly badly. I mean, there are obvious exceptions but for every Liz Taylor there's a Daniel Radcliffe and for every Christian Bale there's a whatsername who played Hermione. The US seems to have a factory that churns them out. Rarely is a child actor with a major role in a Hollywood film as stilted, awkward and amateur as most of the cast of Harry Potter.

The next time I became aware of Bale was as Teddy in the version of Little Women that so woefully miscast Jo they chose Winona Ryder to play the plain, tomboyish, awkward star of the show. Anyone who read and reread these American classics as a child would never have put Winona in that part. But the rest of the cast was pretty spot on, particularly Bale as Teddy, the rich kid who thinks he loves Jo before realising that actually he loves her youngest, blondest most beautiful sister after all. What a shock.

I can't imagine it's the kind of role Bale would ever do now, but he was good. And, oh my days, didn't he grow up nicely? And then The Machinist and American Psycho. So he makes psychotic murderers and unstable 80s fantastists hawt.

It occurs to me that I may not have been reviewing Batman with an unbiased eye but fack it. I've heard loads of people saying they didn't like it, and yeah, the plot is shaky for sure. And Batman is basically sulky, grumpy and limping, Michael Caine is rheumy, tearful and oh so old, Catwoman gets stuck with all the cheesy one liners and keeps randomly snogging the Bat. Mind you, can't blame her for that. And Bane totally sounds like Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon, not so much menacing as like a camp Darth Vadar. And the ending was a bit silly. But I loved the French Revolution parallels and the unrelenting darkness of Nolan's Gotham.

And, frankly, it beats the shit out of  previous iterations. I mean, Batman Forever anyone?

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