Thursday, July 26, 2012

A look at Bane (Warning Dark Knight Rises Spoilers)

*Warning: The following post contains heavy spoilers for the Dark Knight Rises. If you have not seen that film; get to the theater the fastest way possible and watch it. Then come back and read this if you like. I would appreciate if you did both.*

I loved The Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to do a review, but figured it was sort of pointless. Especially now that if you haven't seen the movie you probably won't. One of the things I loved most was Bane. Tom Hardy was terrific. His voice fit the character perfectly, and he was intimidating as hell. There were several scenes where I was speechless afterward. He was absolutely nothing like the comic Bane, but the Nolan Batman films were hardly close to the comics. He was Nolan's creation; comic Bane in name only.

I recently ran into a friend of mine in a bookstore(mostly because I hate hipsters, and I was going to go glare at them) and asked him what he thought of the movie. He didn't like it. As of now the only people I know who didn't love that film are him and that critic who got all the death threats on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the reasons he said he did not like the film was Bane. What? I asked. Bane was one of my favorite parts. The specific reason, he claimed, was that Bane really didn't do anything except beat people up. He said everything else was actually Talia. I thought about this, and agreed to a point. His statement actually got me to realize what Bane essentially was; a mask.

What is one of the common themes Of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy? That Bruce Wayne is actually Batman's mask. That when Bruce Wayne created Batman; he himself ceased to exist. There was now only Batman. Batman then created the mask of the fictionalized Bruce Wayne,(the playboy womanizer type that Gotham believed him to always be.) and used that as a mask to hide who he now was; The Batman. The same is true for Bane and Talia. Though the situation with them is a bit more diabolical.

Okay, we know the story from the film. Talia was the daughter of  Ras al Ghul(Liam Neeson from Batman Begins.)and the daughter of a warlord. Her mother was banished to a secret prison while she was pregnant with her. After she gave birth her mother died, and Talia was taken under the protection of Bane who helped her escape. Bane was attacked during her escape and permanently wounded, but was rescued from the prison by Talia and Ras later. Talia and Bane later try to recreate her father's vision during the events of The Dark Knight Rises.

One of the major complaints I heard was that we never learn much about Bane. Well, yeah. That's the point. We learn just enough to know how he met Talia. That's all we should know. Revealing more would ruin the character. Bane even says in the movie that he was nobody before he wore the mask. Nobody cared who he was. It's what separates Batman from any other vigilante. Bane himself is a mask of Talia's. One of two obviously; the other being Miranda Tate. Talia could not have been the poster child for Bane's group. An incredibly muscular masked man is a better leader for an anarchist group than a beautiful woman. Obviously Talia was the mastermind giving Bane all the order's. This relationship is almost abusive in a way, because of the vibe we get from Bane towards Talia. He seems ready to do anything she says even if it risks his own life. He follows her implicitly.You see this in the last and only moment between Bane and Talia where the compassion in Bane's eyes is almost heartbreaking. Like a loyal dog who somehow knows this is the last time it will see it's master. Bane is not afraid; he is only afraid of failing Talia. Bane lacks this fear of death. He is able to ignore it and be unafraid. This allows his followers to be inspired by him, and possibly die in say a plane crash if it serves his cause.

This is why, like Bruce Wayne is Batman's mask, Bane is Talia's mask. He may be physically causing the conflict, but she is pulling the strings and making the decision. I guess a puppet/puppeteer analogy would be more accurate, but I like the mask metaphor. Also, it parallels Batman. Especially how most Batman antagonists mirror him. Most dealing with insanity, and he himself being a guy who dresses a bat and fights crime. They all reflect him in some way. Especially in the Nolan movies.

This analogy is also how I see Bane's conclusion in the film. Most people thought it was a little abrupt. Bane just getting blasted by Bat-cycle(or whatever it's called.). Well think about it. Let's just say I'm right,(hold on, I think hell just dropped a few degrees.) and Bane is supposed to be Talia's mask. Well, just a few minutes before she took off her mask; revealing herself as the child of Ras al Ghul. What good is a mask when your cover is blown? Also, we learned that Bane was a real person. We got to see such raw humanity in those amazing eyes of Hardy's. Bane loved something. He wasn't the monster we assumed him to be. Not completely. So the mask no longer had the same effect.

Or, at least that's how I like to look at it. It probably was that they had to speed things up for the climax. Nevertheless Bane and Talia were great characters in a great movie, which was a conclusion to a great trilogy. I really wanted to write about this. I would love to know what you think.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon Review

The post-apocalypse. What a splendidly morbid setting. So many things can be done in the future wasteland, yet most post-apocalyptic fiction generally feels the same. Not Swan Song.

A nuclear war. Good VS Evil. A young girl named Swan, whose only protection is a worn out wrestler named Josh; who may be the world's only hope. Sister and the glowing ring. The man with the scarlet eye.
Colonel Macklin and the Shadow Soldier, Roland Croninger: the "king's knight". So many great characters. All of which will affect Swan's journey of becoming the last best hope for the human race.

Let me attempt to recite the plot without giving any spoilers: After a nuclear attack; the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, has become a wasteland. Humanity's only hope is a young girl named Swan who may be able to breath life into the dead Earth. Along people will try to protect her from those who wish to harm her.

That is about all I can say without giving too much away, but there is so much more to story than what  I just wrote. This is a book about hope in a world where there is none. About how humanity might be worth saving after it nearly destroyed itself.

There is a small detail that a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction forget about. Hope. Pelting the reader with death and despair. Only to show us a sliver of hope, and hinting that possibly; the world might be saveable. Or even better; worth Saving. This is something that Swan Song exceeds in. You feel how important Swan is, and realize why people would give their lives to protect her. The giant battered wrestler, Josh; and the tough stubborn Sister.

One thing that surprised me about the book is that there are certain parts which genuinely scared me. I'll just write the name of the character(Or at least the name that the characters gave him; his actually name is never revealed; though I'm fairly certain it rhymes with the level.) The man with the Scarlet eye, the man who likes movies, and the most disturbing in context; Friend. He is the head antagonist, and does whatever he can do strip all the hope out of the hopeless wasteland of that nuclear war left the human race.

The two other antagonists are also great. Their story is just as interesting as the other characters without interacting with the protagonists until two thirds into the book. This may sound strange, but it gives the characters time to grow and change. The story keeps you hooked. It constantly keeps the tension up while you are wondering when they are going to meet. I can tell you; when they do, you will not be let down. 

This story is so much different than I thought: in so many great ways. Robert Mccammon is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He knows how to shape a truly original story that is difficult to predict. I loved this book, It is one of my favorite books of all time,  and recommend it to anyone who loves post-apocalyptic fiction. Or books that are just plain great.

I have heard this book compared to Stephen King's The Stand. I have never read the stand, but from what I've heard; they sound similar plot wise. One thing I would love to see is Swan Song made into a miniseries. The book is around 900 pages, so I don't think a movie could fit in all the important details. Sadly, Robert Mccammon has been ignored when it comes to Hollywood. I don't know why, but there a lot of things about Hollywood that I will never understand. Anyway, Swan Song is terrific. Go buy it.