The Dark Knight Rises (Filthsposition)
The Dark Knight Rises was a solidly good movie, but not great. Totally and completely respectable, just not one of Christopher Nolan’s best films. The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Inception were films that I saw in the cinema, and then immediately wanted to go back and see them again. Rises on the other hand was certainly very enjoyable, but not to that level that I usually associate with a Nolan movie.
* For a nearly three hour movie, the length wasn’t really much of an issue for me at all. That’s an achievement in itself.
* The cast in general was awesome, but Anne Hathaway was particularly fantastic as Catwoman. She stole the show for me. It’s more than just her sexiness too (although she certainly delivers that in spades). She really inhabits the character and brings a lot of personality to the role.
* All of the stuff involving the prison really worked for me. Some of that material was nicely surprising, like the true identity of the child who once escaped. Other parts were simply satisfying. For instance, we immediately know that Bruce Wayne has to eventually succeed at his escape, but that didn’t make the moment any less glorious when it finally arrived. I thought that all of the scenes set in that prison were just particularly strong storytelling, on conceptual, thematic and emotional levels. Even with that said, I still don’t quite understand the logistics of how Bruce Wayne got back to Gotham City so quickly and easily after his escape. More than once the Prison was said to be “half a world away” from Gotham, and it looked to be in The Middle East. This was one example of dozens of little narrative discrepancies I noticed with the film, which I will discuss later.
* The movie was generally very entertaining from start-to-finish. There was some epic cinematography at times. And there was even a certain extent of humorous moments in the film, which were effective at providing some relief from the darkness of the story. The action scenes were generally fantastic too.
* There were a TON of little details of the plot that didn’t quite add up. Chris Nolan is great at giving his films such impeccable presentation (in terms of direction, pacing, casting and overall level of polish) that it is easy to get swept up in his films and not notice these little plot holes. But they do exist in his films to varying levels. I’d say Inception, Insomnia and Memento are his best and most airtight films, I can’t find many nitpicks in those at all. But I always felt that The Prestige and the Batman trilogy had a whole lot more little issues than some people recognize. The Dark Knight (2008) is a wonderful film and easily the best of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but even that one has a ton of little problems that I can find after having seen it half a dozen times. The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, has many many more little nitpicks than its predecessor, and this time they were fairly noticeable to me on my very first viewing. Rises still provided a good story overall (as opposed to the truly awful storytelling of a movie like Prometheus), the plot issues here were mostly pretty forgivable, but they were consistently present and pushed me out of the film a little bit. In my opinion this was the least cleanly-orchestrated storytelling that Nolan has ever done, by a noticeable margin. Thankfully the brilliance of the cast, the direction and the other elements managed to redeem the somewhat flawed screenplay rather nicely.
* Bane was somewhat problematic. For every moment when he showed some personality, there was another when he seemed one-dimensional. For every moment when he seemed effectively terrifying, there was another when he seemed just plain silly and cartoonish. He had some great moments, but overall he didn’t quite have the level of personality, motivation and memorability that I wanted. The Joker was always going to be a hard act to follow, but I still expected more here. Bane’s back-story was very good, but it didn’t seem to connect to the present-day character in an entirely satisfactory way. And while I at first really loved the uniqueness of his voice, there were other times when I got really sick of listening to it. I was constantly changing my mind throughout the film on how much I liked Bane (or didn’t like him). I think ultimately the character was probably not as good as he could have been.
* Talia Al Ghul was just a pain in the ass. Aside from a nifty twist moment when we find out her true identity, she never rang true as a character. Bruce Wayne’s romantic connection to her felt very unconvincing, and she was pretty generic as a villain later in the film too. As I said, the twist moment was nice, but the film may have been better off without this character.
* Overall the film wasn’t as emotional as I would have liked. Michael Caine’s scenes as Alfred were nicely acted, but seemed to be trying too blatantly hard to constantly go for the heartstrings, so I didn’t fully buy into that. The scene where Batman gets absolutely hammered by Bane was successful at creating a feeling of unease in the audience, and Bruce Wayne’s escape from the Prison was nicely triumphant. The reveal that Bruce was alive at the end too was decent, though I couldn’t help but wish Nolan had been ballsy enough to kill him off for real. Or at least to only imply that he had lived (cutting to black on Michael Caine’s smiling face at the end and not showing what he was looking at, perhaps), rather than blatantly show it. The end was nice, but felt a little too “happily ever after” for my tastes. Despite some effective emotional moments, the movie never managed to make me shed any tears of sorrow or joy or exhilaration at any point. I expected to be more emotionally overwhelmed by it, given that it is the final chapter of the trilogy. Killing off at least one beloved character may have been one way of upping the emotional stakes.
Definitely a good film, at times a very good film. It was well worth seeing. But overall it was just too flawed for me to rave about it like I do with some of the director’s other films.
PS. I did have very good company, which was a bonus. I think the young lady I saw it with is definitely a keeper. I’d say she’s much too good for a guy like me, but at the same time I couldn’t be happier that she seems to disagree