06 December 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I just watched The Dark Knight Rises for the first time this afternoon. Here are my thoughts.

WARNING: The following paragraphs contain SPOILERS!!! Stop now if you haven't seen the film! I bear no responsibility if your curiosity gets the better of you and you keep reading then get mad.  So there. Please come back once you've seen the film.

I'm going to add pictures to give you a buffer to leave.

First, the title of the film should be called "The Dark Knight Rises... and Falls." It's hard to get excited about Batman rising from the ashes when you know this is the conclusion to a trilogy. Why bother "rising" in the first place?

The movie begins with a bang-- a crazy airplane hijacking-- then lands us into Gotham where the city is commemorating the eight year anniversary of the hero Harvey Dent's legacy: the dispersement of organized crime and peace in the city. Bruce Wayne (and conveniently Batman) also hasn't been seen in that time. Our beloved billionaire vigilante enters the picture unable to stand without the help of a cane, a recluse in his mansion grieving over the death of his love, Rachel, while Wayne Enterprises is in shambles.

Wait, what?!

Let me get this straight, Christopher Nolan:  one of the world's richest men and brilliant minds who as a child watched his parents murdered in front of him and later exiled himself to a Tibetan (maybe?) prison, went through grueling training in martial arts and meditation to fight injustice, as well as return to Gotham to restore honor to the city and his parents' legacy is unable to cope with his grief over a woman and so he let everything his family built fall into ruin and ruin the lives of his employees? 


Then he bumps into Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman) while she's stealing his fingerprints-- I'm still not sure what for-- and suddenly Bruce is motivated to DO things again. Apparently this man is ruled by his penis emotions. BRUCE WAYNE/BATMAN WOULD NEVER ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN! I'm pretty sure the man knows how to deal with grief, wouldn't you say??

As the film continues, the plot holes become bigger and bigger until, by the end, you're left wondering what exactly you watched, why, and how everything happened. Since it would take far too long to write everything out and lists are awesome, let's start listing things that don't make sense.

Throughout the film you see aerial shots of the city as an island (like Manhattan) connected by bridges. Gotham City's population is 12 million. There's no way that many people live there.

Wayne Manor is an estate with extensive grounds... on Gotham City isle... with 12 million people... a bat cave... and several secret underground facilities. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Population of 12,000,000 with a police force of 3,000. I think the math does itself here.

Who puts a prison full of 1000 crazies IN THE MIDDLE OF A CITY?!

Michael and I couldn't figure out how Bane's tiny force of men were able to hold back a city of 12 million people, as well as the military, and keep the police underground for 5 months. And do you expect me to believe that a force of 3000 or so police officers sat around in the tunnels rather than find sewers and subway stations to escape?? Bane certainly didn't have enough men-- even w/ prisoners-- to cover all the exits.

Why is Batman blamed for the murders of the people Harvey Dent killed in the second film and therefore has the police after him in TDKR? Why not blame the Joker? Or you could say that, after hearing his fiance blown up, being blown up himself and half his body severely disfigured, suffering PTSD... that Dent's grief drove him insane? Why did Batman need to disappear? 

How did Bruce hurt himself and have to go through ANOTHER set of (boring) training sequences?

Why would Commissioner Gordon send the entire police force into the sewers to stop Bane? Wouldn't at least several hundred need to stay above and... like... maintain law and order?

If your plan all along is to nuke the city, why wait until the very.last.second. and give your enemy plenty of time to strengthen and escape. It reminds me of the villain in The Incredibles: "You caught me monologuing again." One giant five month monologue.

Anyone know what happened to Selena's friend?

I love that the filmmakers conveniently left out how Bruce Wayne got out of the Middle East and back to Gotham completely undetected. He just shows up. Like magic.

Alfred would never ever ever leave Bruce Wayne. Period. Besides his love of Bruce, Alfred's greatest quality is his unwavering servitude to the Wayne family. Not to mention he's a military man! I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure loyalty is a massive part of that life. It just wouldn't happen, no matter the circumstances.The lack of Alfred was a major disappointment.

While TDKR has a stellar cast, I didn't love Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Something about her "seductive and deadly with a razor sharp wit" character felt forced/fake. And I had high hopes. It's also hard to believe Catwoman would just hand Batman over without an escape plan for both of them-- she doesn't even fear the Joker, why is Bane different?

All of the stuff I mentioned above about Bruce Wayne... and, of course, Batman's voice.

No one says anything directly-- everyone either speaks metaphorically or needs to tell a story to make their point.
Bruce is tracking the stolen pearls and Selena-- Alfred tells a story.
Bruce wants to know about Bane-- Alfred tells a story.
Bruce wants to sacrifice his life to Gotham-- Alfred tells a story.
John Blake reveals he knows Bruce is Batman-- story.
Selena and Bruce dance-- story/ metaphor about a storm.
Bruce sleeps with Matilda-- story.
Bane captures Batman-- story.
Blake confronts Gordon-- story.
Man nurses Bruce-- story.
Bruce asks Man about mumbling imprisoned doctor (who conveniently only speaks English when he's saying something wise)-- story.
Talia stabs Batman-- story.
Gordon says farewell to Batman-- story.

A great drinking game, yes? You're welcome. Haha-- now the next time you watch the film you're going to be like "Not another story!"

Everyone on the planet (obvious hyperbole people!) knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Blake apparently guessed it off Wayne's face one time when he was 10 (sound a little thin to anyone else?). Bane knows, therefore his crew knows. Matilda/Talia knows. Alfred & Fox, as usual. Don't forget the guy in the previous film who knew and has left Gotham. Oh, and Selena Kyle knew right from the start.

Yet somehow, Commissioner Gordon, one of Gotham's greatest cops and detectives.... has no clue.

Look at the timeline. Bruce disappears for 7 years after the murderer of his parents goes free. He returns and the Bat shows up. He hosts a party that's crashed by the Joker, disappears, and the Bat shows up. Harvey Dent dies, Batman is accused of murder and disappears, Wayne becomes a recluse. Eight years later Bruce is out in public then shortly after... you guessed it! Batman. I mean... really???

And finally.... the BIG TWIST: Matilda, aka Talia al Guhl.
One of the disadvantages of being good at predicting films is that there are hardly surprises anymore. While my brain screamed "Talia!" as soon as Marion Cotillard entered her first scene, I still think that was a great misdirection appreciated by most audiences. However, her motivation made absolutely no sense and the stories-- oh so many stories!-- didn't match up.

Bane rescues Talia and she escapes the prison, finds Ra's, and the pit is taken over by the League of Shadows. Bane has been disfigured on his face but other than that he's normal.... SO WHY DOES RA'S THINK BANE IS A MONSTER??????  The man saved your daughter from rape and torture and a living hell, and you repay him by calling Bane a monster?!


When EXACTLY did Bane and Talia fall in love?  Wouldn't Bane be 20 or so years older than Talia? Somehow he didn't seem like a man in his 40's or 50's.........

Talia left LoS because she couldn't forgive her father for rejecting Bane. Then suddenly, after he's killed, she gives a crap and begins plotting. Why? What's the point? When she's all scrunched up in the truck, Talia said her father's legacy would be complete......... Let's head back to the first film, shall we?  Ra's al Guhl went after Gotham because that city was a hub of organized crime, scum, and general deterioration of society. Film two changed that and now Gotham is peaceful. So there's no reason to "finish the job!"

Whew! That was a lot.

My apologies for any negativity. I'm not trying to start something and I have no desire to dislike The Dark Knight Rises because it's popular. I was really hoping to enjoy the film and take in the action, yet I needed to be honest.

Production wise, the cinematography and editing are stellar, performances solid, and the concept of Bane taking over Gotham is good. The pacing and intensity of the film built nicely all the way through the football stadium scene, but became choppy and made the movie feel long. I even enjoyed the Ra's al Guhl connection, and how they wound down the trilogy. Batman's motorcycle is badass. Joseph Gordon Levitt will make an excellent Night Wing and perhaps they'll bring Michael Caine back for an Alfred cameo.

Sorry, I should clarify: I realize Bale and Nolan left the Batman series, but DC and Warner Bros. will work out a new trilogy with Levitt because they want $$$. It's just smart business.  Yet that brings up more questions: won't people recognize Bruce Wayne: International Playboy? How is Blake going to keep the Bat Cave running? Wayne has specialized training and the original Robin was an acrobat: what about Blake?

Overall, these questions and inconsistencies are what frustrate me most about the film. Because Hollywood needs to remain one step ahead of the trends and keep audiences interested in their films, I have a feeling screenwriters began building a script with Joker as soon as "The Dark Knight" entered post-production. When Heath Ledger passed away, everything-- including connections to the Joker-- had to be scrapped and the story made from scratch. And of course they had to watch budget, marketing, and production schedule to keep investors and audiences happy. It's insane. So I think many of these details were lost in the shuffle of getting the project made on time. Perhaps one day filmmakers will be able to delay film releases like video games do in favor of spending a little more time making great cinema instead of a mediocre movie.


  1. I totally had to skip over this post because I am angry that I haven't seen dk rises yet!!! Im normally not too into batman but I loved the dark knight so I am stoked to finish the series...Rand and i cancelled netflix so I just need to commit to redboxing it-maybe this weekend...then we can discuss!

    1. Let me know. I'll give you the gist: I didn't like the film. Too much required suspending disbelief and making plenty of assumptions for the unexplained. It's getting harder for me to enjoy films as I analyze them like crazy because of my film background. Kind of like having a musical ear so whenever you go to concerts you hear when things are off tempo or out of tune.

      But I think it's a decent film to watch and will be entertaining for most people.

  2. I agree with many of your points. It's like Superman. Why can't anyone figure out who he is? Are they that stupid? Aren't their investigative reporters who would kill to dig around to find out who Batman is?

    Also the end with Levitt taking over, where are his funds going to come from? That takes a lot of maintenance and money and Batman is known for being the hero who bought his hero abilities, so how do you keep that up without money?

    I didn't understand the Matilda/Talia wanting to avenge her father for the exact reasons you said. Didn't make sense.

    I thought the movie was entertaining all in all.

    1. Nice to know I'm not the only one. I HIGHLY recommend you look up The Dark Knight Rises Honest Trailer-- it's pretty amazing and hilarious.