The Dark Knight Rises: An In-Depth Examination of the Movie and its Flaws.
Before I say anything, please, let me say that I enjoyed this film. I really did. From beginning of the trilogy right up to end, these movies were not treated like they were made for children. The material is dark and mature, and the performances Christopher Nolan summons from his actors are never anything less than impressive. But having said all that, I can also confidently say that The Dark Knight Rises, though a great end to a great trilogy, just did not live up to its predecessor, and in many ways, there is no way it could have. The following is my in depth analysis of the movie, and the questions it left me with after seeing it. If you were Robin and you read this article, you would say: Holy Spoilers, Batman! So if you have not seen it, go see it, then come back and read this.
So to anyone who thinks The Dark Knight Rises surpasses The Dark Knight, my response is: Honestly, how could it?
“Wanna know how I got these scars?”
Before I say anything else, I want to say I have already given my thoughts on the theater shootings, and this article is focused solely on the film.
The Dark Knight ended up being about as close to perfection in execution as any superhero film to date. It even transcended the title of superhero film and became a film about the thin line between good and evil. At times a nod to crime noir films, and at times, looking as visually sleek as Blade Runner (which Christopher Nolan based the visuals in Gotham city on)., it was many things. And did most of them well. And while the film does noticeably have holes (wait a minute, the Joker KNEW Batman would save Harvey Dent as oppose to his girlfriend? He KNEW Harvey’s face would get half burnt, even though it was burnt as a result of a fall in the warehouse of his own accord? How and when did he sew that phone bomb up in a guy?) it still delivered what I consider to be one of the greatest performances out of an actor I have seen in the last twenty years. I speak, ofcourse, of Heath Ledgers Portrayal of the Joker.
Really, I said it already, but how do you follow one of the most iconic introductions to a villain ever?
No one talks about it, but pencil-in-the-eye injuries were up 600% after The Dark Knight came out.
It was being so dedicated to playing The Joker that, some would say, ultimately played a role in Heath’s untimely death as well, just a few months after the filming wrapped. From keeping a journal of things he thought his Joker would find funny (“abortion” and “Nazis” are two things he had written down in there) to isolating himself for six weeks prior to filming so he could get into character. Even the look of the Joker, though conceptualized by Nolan, was all brought to life by Ledger, who bought the makeup from a pharmacy and did the first run himself, which ended up being the look they kept) he really did inject himself into the role. And end result was truly riveting. And still, to this day, it will always be a classic performance. A timeless, chilling performance that offered us all a glimpse into the insight of a madman.
If only he had lived. What kind of other breath-stealing performances did he have in store for us?
So why am I praising Heath Ledger if this is a review of The Dark Knight Rises? Or moreover, an examination of its faults? Because. the way this movie flows would be like eating a steak for an appetizer and then eating a piece of bread and butter for dinner. There was NO WAY The Dark Knight could have been surpassed, so maybe my feelings are the result of that. Truth is, my faults with The Dark Knight Rises are numerous enough that I feel like they can be addressed here.
First, there is no fault to be had with the writing or direction of the film. Christopher Nolan makes everything look stunning. Even the dilapidated city has an odd, other worldly appeal to it. And the immense scope of this opus is not to be ignored, either. This is a three film movie. So ultimately, this is the final stretch of an almost nine hour tale. To that extent, it wraps the whole story up in a tight little package that, on the surface, seems to address any loose ends or questions brought up in the other two movies. But in the same breath, it introduces new questions that it never answers and you can tell it never will.
But let’s all be honest. Any comic book fan worth their salt knows what Bane was famous for.
From here on, there WILL be SPOILERS, so I recommend only reading forth for those who have seen the movie. For those who have not seen it, it is a great film that just does not live up to the brilliance of its second film, but still holds its weight, telling the most mature comic book story (not written by Alan Moore) we ever been treated to on film.
Alright, first off, strengths of the movie. Obviously, the visuals were amazing. The score was perfect. never deafening, but hovering when needed. The performances were all enjoyable, with Joseph Gordon Levitt pretty much owning the film. JGL plays John Blake. A hard working cop with a keen eye, working under Commissioner Gordon. Though I had predicted most of the film accurately, they used JGL to sort of act as a bridge between this Batman trilogy, and the next Batman series, which will be a sort of reboot with a new director pre-inclined to put Jospeh Gordon Levitt in the Batman cowl.
I, for one, am really excited to see where the series goes, but I may be waiting for awhile.
Next, my feelings on Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. As much as I am NOT a Hathaway fan, she clearly had fun playing the role. But, to me, she lacked the sex appeal that the character is known for. Don’t get me wrong, I respect Nolan for keeping this a mostly sexless trilogy, but come on. It’s Catwoman. Even in Video Games there is something desirable about her.
Maybe I am going out on a limb saying this, but best version of Catwoman ever?
Also, the whole film she is pursuing a device that can delete out your criminal history and erase you from all databases, so you can “start fresh” and be someone new. But she is slick enough that she can get a job working at Wayne manor, and obviously work there long enough that is trusted to take Bruce Wayne’s dinner to him, directly, leaving her enough time to steal his Mother’s pearls and lift his prints from a safe, I am pretty sure she is all set. What, Alfred doesn’t do background checks or look to see if documents are faked? Right off the jump I had huge problems with that. Did Bruce Wayne lose touch THAT MUCH in his time in seclusion between films?
And she immediately knows how to use his bat-bike without any lessons? Aw, come on?
Come to think of it, every single terrible thing that happens to him in this movie is a direct result of Selina Kyle’s actions. She steals his Mom’s pearls. She sells his fingerprints, which end up costing him everything, financially. She also is the one who LOCKS HIM IN THE CELL WITH BANE. We all know what happens as a result of that. And then, at the end of this movie, Nolan wants me to respect the fact that these two end up together? Holy crap, Bruce Wayne is even more damaged than I had assumed, and I sweat the guy.
He may as well have ended this movie by pairing off with The Joker and eloping in Massachusetts. That would have been as brilliant a life choice as running away with Selina Kyle. The source of all your world ruining problems. Oh, and The Joker. You guys knew I was going to bring him up again, right?
It just isn’t a party without this guy.
I have to admit, I honestly believe that, in the middle of filming The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan knew he had hit pure gold with Heath Ledger’s Joker. Which is why the character is not killed off. The best way to end this trilogy would have been for The Joker and Batman to have the ultimate, epic, final face off (ie. one of them dies), alas, he could not do that because of the sad passing of Heath. But the final fight between The Joker and Batman in The Dark Knight was not an epic enough send off that the Joker character deserved.
Perhaps I am wrong about this. Nolan says he had this trilogy written, with the ending in mind the whole time. But now, we need to talk about the HUGE misstep that was Bane. Also worth noting, all of the prisoners in Gotham are let out (including Scarecrow, who plays a judge of sorts) so where is The Joker in this? I know the guy who played him so brilliantly died, but acting like he never existed when he brought the city to its knees before was silly and inconclusive. Our final shot of The Joker is him hanging upside down by his feet as the cops are getting him. Nope, that is not deserved of one of the best bad guy’s ever portrayed in cinema.
They even offed him in a more epic fashion in the Batman Beyond animated movie. For shame, Mr. Nolan.
Anyway, back to Bane.
When I heard Bane was in the final batman movie, it was what I like to call an insta-spoiler. You see, hanging off my wall, in front of my desk, is this:
And trust me, it is not for the art.
It has been hanging up in its little bag for years now because I know how iconic the image is for comics. That was an insane-memorable-moment. A character so driven with the idea of ruining someone’s life that he breaks him, but keeps him alive to suffer. And the end result of it (an actual broken back, an eventual addiction to “venom”, the drug that fueled Bane in the comic) was a dark spiral that made for a great read. And I was relieved when I heard Tom Hardy was playing Bane because I think the movie Bronson, starring Hardy, is one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen, and it is pretty much all Tom Hardy, all the time.
The guy with the mustache is Tom Hardy, and the movie ‘Bronson’ is amazing.
When I found out the guy who played the lead in Bronson (playing one of the most scary, insane, and compelling characters I had seen outside of Ledger’s Joker, ironically enough) I was instantly sold on this movie. Because of the movie Warrior, I knew Hardy was jacked, and could pretty much play anything (he also owned in the Guy Ritchie movie, Rock n Rolla) so that told me Bane was going to be deeper than the one note villain who appeared just to break the Batman. Thing is, I was wrong.
First, lets start off with the hugely misleading intro. Christopher Nolan knew he had hit it out the park for his Joker character intro, and he wanted to do that again. So you can tell he filmed the intro apart from the rest of the movie. While the scene itself is a marvel to watch, and the intro mesmerizing, it sets the wrong tone for the character. Think of just what he executes in this scene. He JACKS A PLANE. Like seriously, he uses a bigger plane to jack a smaller plane. Like I said, the scene was amazing (think Inception level of visual flair) but it does two things very, very wrong.
Someone needs to make this a meme, stat.”Come bat me, bro!”
The mistakes were this: They made the movie seem like it would keep that pace throughout, which, it really doesn’t. This is a movie that inches near three hours, and if you think this and the stadium collapse (which they ruin in its entirety in the trailer) are only two of the many, many exciting moments, you are wrong, While I am not implying the movie needed to keep that pace, but to the same extent, you don’t play your ace as your first hand.
Second, the ingenuity of the plan of the plane heist made The Jokers plans look juvenile. And Bane executes the plan pitch perfect. He also does an intro monologue, and between the strange indistinguishable accent and the mask, he was quite hard to understand or appreciate. The intro scene also implied a conniving level of brilliance that Bane just does not display for the rest of the film. And one more thing, why are his henchmen so quick to die for this guy? They never quite explain his quickly gained cult-like status.
“Cool mask, man. Sure. I’ll crash in this plane for your yet undefined cause and die for you, sir Bane. If I could f*ckng understand you”
You see, between the mask, which conceals all but his eyes and bald head, to the weird accent he chose to use, his ability to ‘act’ or perform is reduced to nothing. It is all eyes and scary accent, which, at times is inaudible. My girlfriend looked at me in the middle of the movie and said to me: That could be Mickey Rourke for all I know. And she was right. Sadly, anyone could have been in that mask and delivered the same performance. Which is a shame, because Hardy is brilliant. I, personally, would have got rid of the mask. I would have made him a true sociopath intent only on ruining one man’s life, no matter the cost.
Then again, I write a small blog no one reads. I don’t make movies. The nerds who are reading this and cursing me are readying their comments right now.
There is no denying how ‘cool’ the mask is, but cool doesn’t cut it in a final film of a trilogy.
Also, the other thing I need to address is Bane’s motive and potential age. While we find out in the twist that Talia Al Ghul is the one who has been orchestrating Batman’s destruction the whole time (and bangs Batman, for some reason, even though she already tricked him into the business deal and despises him for killing her pops), if Bane was kicked out of the league of Shadows, and he had already saved Talia from that Thunderdome subterranean prison, he owed her exactly nothing, so why was he still so set on destroying Batman?
And if Bane saved Talia from the underground-prison-from-hell when was about seven or eight years old, how the hell old did that make Bane by the time he met up with Batman in the film? If Talia was roughly thirty five to forty years old when she has sex with Bruce, and Bane looked to be about thirty when he saved her from the pits when she was a child, this means that, by the time he meets up with Batman in the film, Bane has to be roughly sixty five years old. No, seriously, do the math. Messed up, huh?
Also, for a guy who can break Batman, who no one can beat, why does he look like this?
Add some man-boobs and it’s basically my physique.
Yet, he looked like this when he made Warrior:
Is it weird that I find this Hardy scarier than Bane Hardy?
Also, Bane knew Batman’s identity the whole time, as did everyone else who was doing dealings with him (Selina, John, Bane) so why didn’t anyone just go to the press? A city so corrupt it is willing to turn on its own at the whims of a madman, yet theykeep the most valuable secret ever? You don’t think revealing Batman’s identity would be more likely to destroy him, long term? Also, by revealing him, he would have been taken down, because he was a wanted man for Harvey Dents’ death for most of the film. And why in God’s name, after breaking his back (which is never is never really confirmed or denied, but kind of shown) would he then throw him into the prison in the ground that he KNOWS you can escape from if you have enough determination?
” If you thought the Joker’s plan was convoluted, wait until you tussle with me!”
And this leads us to Batman and his broken back. Ok, they did it. They gave us the moment we all had spoiled for us the minute we found out who the villain was. But the weirdest part, Batman got his ass kicked mercilessly, and it wasn’t even an epic fight. I wanted a twenty minute fight scene that sort of went back and forth. Instead, we have a five minute fight scene and a back break that isn’t even accentuated with a sound.
Oh, and there is a circle of people around the cage in the sewer where Batman and Bane are fighting. And they see Batman’s mask break. By the way, how does a rubber mask break in half?It was a cool “trailer” visual, albeit a nonsensical concept. Also, you want me to assume all those people, including Selina Kyle, have NO interest in revealing who Batman is for personal gain? Sorry, but in our get rich quick world, that is just a huge thing to overlook. Catwoman will steal his dead Mom’s pearls and she will lock him in a cage and watch him get his back broken for the right price, but she WILL NOT REVEAL WHO BATMAN IS! THAT IS JUST WRONG.
Plus, you can make a drinking game out of how many times Bane catches Batman’s punches.
The other odd thing is, Bane beats Batman’s ass. Breaks his back. Tosses him in a hole. And turns Gotham into a city ruled by anarchy. Batman heals. Climbs out of hole. Finds Bane. Beats Bane’s ass, But how? Bane was an unstoppable killing machine at that point with no known weakness. There is NO training in between, and, if anything, Bruce Wayne has been made brittle by the inactive months in lock up and the broken spine. So how did he pretty much win that final fight on the streets of Gotham against Bane? Now some will say that,at that final moment, Bane would have won and blown Batman’s head off if the Catwoman had not come in and shot Bane with the bat-cycle-missile-gun, and I suppose they would be right, but what the HELL was that??. And ofcourse, she makes a quip. But wait, that would be an absolutely terrible and anti-climactic way to end the final fight in an otherwise trilogy, wouldn’t it?
Yes, yes it was.
You had me at the tank. You had me at the bike that came out of the tank. You lost me at the Bat-plane that looks like it should be in Total Recall.
And I didn’t even say anything about the nuclear bomb, I didn’t get into depth about the Talia Al Ghul twist,, or the number of terrible, non-sensical choices Bruce Wayne makes. I haven’t even said anything about the insane number of people who seem to get inside jobs at some of the most important places at Gotham just so they can let bad guys in. Yeah, Gotham is such a tightly knit city, killers get hired to work pretty much everywhere, and lower level thieves even serve food to super heroes.
And then when you tally all the people who went insane and died from the Scarecrow toxin in the first movie. And you add that to the number of people who died because Batman wouldn’t unmask in the second movie. And then you add that to all the people who die in the third movie. especially during the unseen interim when Bruce Wayne is broken and captive, for three months I believe it was, the death toll is staggering. If you take all those dead people and think about the size of Gotham city, it is safe to say the place would probably be safer and better off WITHOUT the Batman.
A world without Batman, would it be a better place? Do sociopaths breed sociopaths?
And the whole cafe scene at the end, with Bruce and Alfred acknowledging each other, was just a tad bit too melodramatic for me. HE FIXED THE AUTO-PILOT WHEN NONE OF US WERE PAYING ATTENTION? Oh, That Bruce! Always one to fake his own death and go out a martyr.
The most powerful scene in the movie was when Alfred was weeping at Bruce’s grave, saying he was sorry he failed him. That last scene even made that moment emotionally pointless. To me, the movie just ended up feeling like it was trying to be too many things to too many people. We call it Spiderman 3 syndrome, and many final movies in a trilogy meet the same fate. Though The Dark Knight Rises is still a pretty awesome film, plot holes aside, and really shouldn’t be spoken of in the same vein as that Sam Raimi mess.
I have even heard and read theories that state by John ( the Joseph Gordon Levitt character) referring to himself as “Robin” when he picks up the stuff Bruce left him in the will at the end of the film, that meant he was going to be playing Robin. I really find it hard to fathom people that are that stupid. No, the “Robin” thing was a nickname left for him by Bruce. It simply was a metaphor that he was the young “Robin” who would be taking over the cowl.
The trilogy is over. There will be no Robin. There will be no fat-bat-girl. Sorry, guys.
Now please understand, I know how sacred comic fans find this stuff, because I am a comic book fan. I have written about comic books and movies MANY TIMES over here at Unreality and before you all tear me, limb from limb, just know. I love the character, too. And I know that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale did him justice, pun intended. And I loved the trilogy, just like you. It was mature and suspensful and overall, it was awesome. Kind of how comic book movies SHOULD be! But, I feel like it ended on a weaker note than it should have. I expected more from Nolan., I expected more from Bale, and I expected more from Bane.
But that doesn’t mean it didn’t kick ass.
Look forward to this scene on the upcoming Blu-Ray release.
Now let the hate filled comments begin.