Sloppy Screenwriting

2 Feb

Warning: the following contains spoilers (no, not those things on the backs of souped-up cars, but things that might ruin the surprise if you haven’t seen the films we discuss here, which are Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises.)

Here at De Jungle, we’ve always expected a modicum of plausibility from the movies we see. It does not matter to us if a scene is far-fetched, even preposterous, as long as there is a grain of believability. It irks us when filmmakers break this unwritten rule and dispense with that all-important morsel of credibility. Two films from the last several years,  Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises are guilty of the kind of plausibility-flouting that really yanks our chain.

James Bond / Batman

Plausibility? Who cares?

In the first film we see James Bond shot by a rifle, fall from a moving train, and plunge into a waterfall. The next time we see him, he’s on a bender after apparently surviving this ordeal. And how is it that he has survived the bullet, the fall from the train, and the rocks at the bottom of the falls? The movie doesn’t tell us, so we must fall back on what we have always known (but pretended not to know): he’s James Bond, and therefore cannot be killed. Not even “Well, the bullet merely grazed my forehead, and the limb of a tree broke my fall before I hit the rocks.”  (Don’t laugh, Arthur Conan Doyle resurrected Sherlock Holmes after he plunged into Reichenbach Falls.)

The Dark Knight Rises has not one, but two such examples. The bad guy places Batman/Bruce in a prison in what appears to be a Middle Eastern country. The hoosegow looks like a huge cylindrical brick smokestack, only deep in the ground. Our hero, determined to escape this hell, makes a Herculean effort to climb out, only to fail several times. He finally succeeds, amid the chanting of his fellow inmates.  We had no trouble believing all this; for us, that’s not the far-fetched part. What bothered us is that the next thing you know, he’s back in Gotham City. Here’s Batman/Bruce with no ID, no passport, no cash, no credit cards, and in a country where he likely does not speak the language. How is it that he’s suddenly back in Gotham? Again, we have to fall back of what we have always pretended not to know: he’s Batman / Bruce Wayne. He can do anything.

Much later in the film comes the second, even more egregious example. Batman get’s stabbed in the lower back. We’re not talking some paper cut; his assailant really twists the ol’ knife, and Batman recoils in pain, so his much-vaunted body armor has failed to stay the blade. Moments later, he’s back in action saving Gotham. We don’t see him so much as wince. No “Sorry Commissioner Gordon, but I have to go get this life-threatening wound taken care of.” It’s never mentioned again. Batman, like James Bond, cannot be killed.

Sure, we’re all for suspension of disbelief, but to us, this attitude of “let’s not bother telling a story that stands up to even casual scrutiny” shows how lazy screenwriters have become.


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