Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
An epic finale to an epic franchise. Christopher Nolan killed everyone (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s a turn of phrase) in his awesome take one of the most legendary Super Heroes of our time, with BATMAN BEGINS. Then he did the impossible and legitimized Super Hero movies as being not just for a niche market, with his follow up, THE DARK KNIGHT. Last summer he closed the trilogy with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Nolan’s worst movie ever! Here is my Movie Review…
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (TDKR henceforth) had everything stacked against it; a near perfect predecessor, huge expectations and an even bigger cast than last time around. Controversy surrounding the title, to casting rumors, to wildly assumed Spoilers (some of which shockingly came true)… it raged on and on. However, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES end up being an incredibly mediocre Nolan film, but is still light years ahead of the average film, Super Hero or otherwise.
I liked TDKR, I liked almost everything about it… almost. This film was no THE DARK KNIGHT. Every sequence of the 2nd film of this franchise had jaw dropping action, tension and dramatic flair. TDKR failed to deliver on that aspect. I realize that not every movie is going to be thrilling every second, but the scenes didn’t feel… epic. Some interactions felt flat, like the first meeting of Selina Kyle and the hermit Bruce Wayne… eh.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES also failed to deliver on any sort of… grandiose symbolism or allegory, which THE DARK KNIGHT was chock full of. Instead TDKR beat the ‘rising’ symbolism into our heads over and over again. Evil Rises. Bruce has to literally ‘rise’ from the Pitt he’s been imprisoned in. So on and so on. I realize I’m being unfair by comparing the 2 movies. So let’s judge TDKR on it’s own merits.
An amazing cast, no question about it. But did they really do anything? Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox was just present as alumni of the franchise. Not much to do other than stand in with some obvious delivering which were quasi-instrumental to the plot. Marion Cotillard didn’t do much until the last act of the film. And here’s what I have an Issue with in a film such as this.
[ MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD ]
Casting such a high profile actress, with whom the Director has worked with in the past, in a role meant used as misdirection, was completely contradictory to the outcome of the film. Because her significance in the movie is given away by, the fact that she’s been cast in the damn movie! Everyone could see it coming, and some did, that she was cast in he role of Talia Al’Ghul. Why would such a credible actor be on the docket, if her role didn’t carry some weight, other than being a nameless CEO along for the ride?
When, if you really think about it, any talented actress, maybe a foreign industry veteran who would’ve been unknown to majority of Hollywood audiences, could’ve pulled off the part of Miranda Tate just as well as Cotillard. The casting was the biggest spoiler for TDRK in regards to the final ‘twist’ in the story.
Michael Caine’s Alfred had some amazing moments on screen, but they were brief in their duration. Even Christian Bale’s performance seemed more restraint, considering he was supposed to be completely broken down in this film, physically and emotionally.
As usual, a story penned by Jonathan Nolan is going to be awesome and layered and awesome (I realize I said it twice). And TDKR was that. However, a lot of plot points and sub plots seemed shoehorned in for the sake of layering, than actual purpose.
Catwoman’s involvement with Bane and crew throughout, and explicit knowledge of Bane’s plans, seemed out of the blue, despite her being saved by Batman from those very same people earlier on.
Or was that a plant for Batman to trust her, so she could lead him to Bane later on? Couldn’t have been, as Batman showed up unexpectedly the night that Kyle was attempting to steal the Clean Slate from Daggett. So Bats saves her from Bane, and then she, somehow knows where Bane is hiding to lead Batman to him redeeming herself with Bane. Later on she’s shown as being a member of Bane’s group as she bosses around some lower minions.
We’re never given an explanation of any sort of background of the fact that whether Selina is proactively working for Bane, or is she just there in the chaos? We see her wandering the streets in some scenes, and then calling shots when she brings in Wayne as a ‘captive’. She seems to have intimate knowledge of Bane’s operations too. It just didn’t make much sense.
Bruce Wayne’s reasoning for donning the suit 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent, seemed almost 2 dimensional. I find it hard to believe that he would go back to fighting crime, simply for the allure of a girl in tight fitting leather. Alfred’s freak out over Bruce returning to the masked life, looked like an over reaction, especially considering it didn’t build up, but rather just blew up, out of nowhere. Even the ending, was a little head scratchy. And speaking of:
The ending of TDKR was the biggest plot hole EVER. Unless of course I’ve grossly missed out on something? So let’s see here. The original plan upon Batman’s return to chaos infested Gotham was to try to get the Nuclear Core back into the Reactor to stop it from going Kablooey. The entire final action sequence was based on Fox, Batman & Selina trying to veer the truck carrying the Core, towards where the Reactor was.
However, at the last minute, it’s revealed that Talia Al’Ghul flooded the Reactor, so there was no hope of reconnecting it to avoid the explosion.
So Batman comes up with a Hail Mary of taking the core over the Bay, away from the population and sacrificing himself in the process, since the autopilot doesn’t work. 5 minutes alter, he apparently blows up and dies. It’s later revealed that he didn’t die. The autopilot on the flying vehicle known as The Bat, was fixed months ago by Bruce himself.
So the question is, if Batman flying the core out over the ocean and ‘killing himself’ was all a ruse, did he come up with it all within the last 5 minutes? How did he plan to do that, if scenario wasn’t even a possibility until the very end. And even if he did decide to fake his death seconds before he did, why did he lie to Fox hours before that saying the Auto Pilot doesn’t work, when he actually fixed it months ago?
This is a glaring hole in the entire plot of TDKR, as the entire ending is supposed to be a passing of the torch of the Batman symbol. But it’s all rendered moot when you realize that there is no way that Batman could’ve seen how the final minutes leading up to the explosion were going to play out, and thus planned out his death how he did. Impossible.
Besides the above points, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was a very well done finale to a legendary and groundbreaking Franchise, which probably redefined how ‘Superhero’ movies are perceived. It’s not Christopher Nolan’s best, actually it’s probably his worst movie ever. But, similar to an outgoing King, I am choosing to give the franchise the esteem that it deserves based on its established legacy, rather than condemn it for mistakes made in the twilight years.