The Dark Knight Rises

I saw this movie last night with my daughter and really liked it. Rather than write a traditional review, however, I thought I would just start a discussion on it using the things I liked and didn’t like about it, and some things I was surprised about.


    Thumbs up:

Catwoman. Though she was never referred to as Catwoman, Anne Hathaway’s jewel thief Selina Kyle was realistic, engaging and struck just the right tone of rebellious, world-weary sexpot.

Alfred. The subplot between Bruce and his faithful valet over the note from Rachel and Alfred’s concern about Batman’s endgame was touching and effective.

Miranda Tate. Marion Cotillard is a fabulous addition to any cast, especially one involving Christopher Nolan as director. This character provided great drama and a shocking twist. I am not pleasantly surprised by movie characters like this often enough.

    Thumbs down:

The pacing. Good idea to keep it moving, but the pace of this movie is generally such a breathless rush that you always feel like you’re being dragged out of a scene before you can process what just happened. There are some scenes that need time to let the emotional effect sink in. No time for that in this movie though.

The sound. I may be just getting old, but I found it hard to hear some of the lines over the background noise. Especially with regard to Bane, I found myself unable to pick up some of the dialogue. Bane’s amplified voice was just garbled a lot of the time for me.


Robin. I thought this was the last of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Why introduce a new character at the end if you’re dropping the story?

Overall, this was a very entertaining movie. I especially liked the ending, which I didn’t see coming at all. Let me know your thoughts on this summer blockbuster below.


18 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Rises

  1. The ending was almost identical to a movie released earlier this year. I don’t think I’ve revealed too much to need a spoiler alert, but it wasn’t that surprising if you made the association.

    I go to the theater so infrequently that several times it was so loud I was worried it would wake up my kids…but they were 4 miles away.

    I didn’t have much trouble understanding Bane, but my wife did. I think maybe some people rely on watching lips more than others. I thought the Bane character was fantastically menacing. I also liked the Robin twist and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a welcome face in any action movie, I think.

    Nolan did such a good job in the first movie of making the guy with the bag on his head scary, that it made my wife’s skin crawl to see the actor in this movie as well. He is a great film maker in that way.

  2. cantinflas, what movie? Are you saying Nolan plagiarized another script or what?

    Yeah, it was awesome to see the scarcrow back as the hangin’ judge. i forgot about that. Details like that really can make a big difference. I also was surprised that Liam Neeson made such a brief appearance. Or was that just an out-take from the first movie?

  3. I think Neeson must have shot new material.

    I don’t think it was plagiarized. I think they both writers (both very good at what they do) came up with the same idea. There’s a lesson here that it’s just the plot twist and motive that 2012 moviegoers would love, and the movies we watch don’t define, but describe us pretty well. I hope this attempt at HTML coding works so this doesn’t spoil anything for anyone. The other movie with a strikingly similar ending was The Avengers.

  4. Really, I thought we were trying to be careful on that score, but if you think so then we must be blowing it.

  5. Cantinflas, i saw Avengers and I still am not sure what you mean. Now that we have a spoiler alert, can you explain?

  6. I don’t think I could watch this movie without wondering the whole time when all the killing began.

  7. Tony stark selflessly flies a bomb to where it will not kill innocents, in the face of certainty that it will kill him, or at least make his return to earth impossible.

  8. Ummm, yeah. Ok I get it. But that’s really only a small part of the ending. Plus, for Batman, there is certainty that he will return, and he even says so to someone before he leaves, i.e. he says he will engage the autopilot.

  9. Finally saw it. I have to admit not only was I disappointed (and I’d read enough bad reviews I went in with lowered expectations) but I have to put this as my least favorite of Nolan’s movies. That said there was a lot I liked. Surprisingly I really liked Catwoman even though I normally don’t care for the actress. Nolan got something out of her she normally doesn’t give. But the pacing just felt off everywhere. Not the “breathless” movement but just off in lots of weird ways. That meant nothing felt engrossing in the sense of really drawing me in. Whereas every scene with Batman or the Joker drew me in during the previous film. There’s nothing remotely equivalent to the initial scene with the Joker (not even the airplane scene) nor especially the scene in the underground road in Chicago.

    I didn’t mind the plot although it probably just was too ambitious to pull off. The action scenes were really poor I thought and I think having Batman broken and retired at the beginning was a really bad choice. (For one it makes his recovery less significant in the prison) Also the climb out – and maybe this is just because I used to climb a lot – was really wimping. I know people who climb way harder stuff without ropes all the time.

    A lot of people disliked Bane and the mask but I didn’t mind it. I liked the voice and it seemed perfectly understandable to me.

    I guess I just felt like at a certain element of direction everything went wrong.

    Also, was it just me, or was that wart on Christian Bale’s nose distracting for anyone else?

  10. I don’t recall the wart.

    The climb was probably over-emphasized, and it seems ridiculously unlikely to me that a young girl could make a leaping grab on that handhold but a grown man cannot. At some point, simple physics is going to say that’s just not possible.

    There were some other plot points that I didn’t like, for example the fights between Bane and Batman. Batman is always using special tools and devices to accomplish his goals and win fights. It’s his MO. He doesn’t just stand toe to toe with someone and slug it out. That would be stupid, especially in this case, and Batman is not stupid.

    Overall, I still liked the movie a lot, though I agree it probably wasn’t as good as the second one, or maybe even the first, which I just watched again and really liked. Ledger’s Joker was the masterpiece performance of the series, and you have to love the second movie for that alone.

    Is there any possibility that there’s going to be another movie with JGL as Robin and/or Hathaway as Catwoman? I’d really like to see that, with or without Nolan. The problem is that I think Bale is saying he’s done as well, so you’d have to find a new Batman.

  11. I think the point was supposed to be that the rope was limiting ones dyno (the climbing move to get to the shelf). The girl dynoed without the rope and Wayne only was able to make it once he released the rope which was supposed to metaphorically be the chains that bound him mentally. (The film was a tad too heavy on overt metaphor)

    Personally while this was one of my lesser liked Nolan films I still put it above most films. It was vastly better than Avengers (IMO). I hope that after a few years he comes back to it again.

  12. Yeah, Clark, that was obviously what they were going for with the rope, but rope or no rope, a young girl cannoy jump further than a grown man, especially a grown man with skillz like batman. I just don’t buy it.

  13. I think it’s a bit more complex in real life. There certainly are climbs easier for a short person dyno than a tall person. Especially when considering strength:weight ratios. The rope weighing one down I could buy considering it was probably a heavy hemp or horse hair rope. It could easily be 20 lbs + drag on a climber. And that will significantly affect a dyno. Of course then you have the problem that such rope isn’t dynamic like climbing rope and if you fall remotely far (i.e. more than 4 feet) on it chances are you’ll be severely hurt or even killed. (In the film it was more of a pendulum rather than true fall – but even so I winced first time I saw it)

    As I said though the basic problem is that something like those walls really aren’t that hard to climb for someone experienced (or willing to practice a long time) As a plot device though you needed it. It’s just that in reality folks would be escaping all the time.

    The bigger eye rollers were the weird device to fix Batman’s knee, Wayne’s ability to recover from a broken back in a few months, and some of the contrived fight scenes. But honestly, despite going for more realism, such things were always in the Nolan films. You had the drugs in the water system with a microwave dispersal. That made zero sense except perhaps in a campy 60’s Batman film. The second film was much better but had the implausible “treat all mobile phones as sonar integrated together” not to mention the Joker’s magical way of getting bombs everywhere with everyone looking for them.

    I guess relative to the previous two films I could excuse how they filmed the climbing sequence. (Which no one who wasn’t a climber would probably pick up on well) The problems in Rises were much more about a very complex plot avoiding character development. This needed to be a mini-series rather than a single film. Bane in particular comes off poorly because of this. You just don’t have the scenes getting to know him sufficiently, unlike Dark Knight with the Joker. The muffled voice made it worse (although I liked the voice – but many didn’t)

    Having multiple villains is always dangerous. I was worried with Dark Knight having both the Joker and Two Face. The way it was done worked surprisingly (although structurally many people didn’t like the “coda” at the end with Two Face after the Joker is dispatched). In this Tale of Two Cities Batman there’s just too many characters – more than Dark Knight. You have Catwoman, who’s by far the most interesting character. You have Talia Al Gul who is problematic as there’s no real chemistry between her and Wayne. You have the afore mentioned Bane. You have Alfred (which actually does work well). You have Morgan Freeman. You have Commissioner Gordan. You have the new Police Chief. There’s just too much.

    Of course I think there’s the same problem in Avengers with even more coincidences there.

    Honestly, I can’t quite figure out why Hollywood keeps going back to these things when they just never work in the time frame of a movie. (Although the boffo box office of both Avengers and Dark Knight Rises guarantees we’ll have more)

  14. It does make it difficult, but I think they pulled off the multiple character plotline pretty well in Avengers. I think it worked less well in DKR, just because there was so much they were trying to do plotwise that it just seemed rushed.

    You really hit the nail on the head with the Joker in Dark Knight. That was a great movie in a lot of ways but the idea that anyone, archvillain or no, could pull off anything like what the Joker was supposed to pull off in that movie is laughably ridiculous. There is simply no possibility that could ever happen. But what the hell, it’s a comic book movie.

  15. DKR definitely was more ambitious than Avengers. I’ll not repeat my Avengers critiques. I think the plot fell apart in several places but most people were caught up enough in the action that they didn’t notice.

    I guess I don’t like the whole “it’s a comic book movie.” I think it excuses too much. (In particular this was my problem with the many, many problems in the Avengers) I think what Nolan showed was it could be more than just a comic book movie.

    In DK it’s more complex as the Joker appears to have competing characteristics (by design). Is he a true anarchist chasing at the wheels of cars? Clearly not. But he’s also clearly not the type of planner people are used to. I think Two Face is how Nolan views the Joker. So he in effect gives birth to Two Face as a self-copy.

    I don’t want to say the Joker couldn’t pull off events. But it would be difficult. Holding family members hostage is a good trick though. What makes the Joker interesting is how complex his plots actually were. (Think the jailbreak) The only one really problematic, honestly, is the explosives on the boats. (The explosives in the hospital could have been done before since until he announced things on TV no one expected it) I’m willing to forgive the boats because it works plotwise so well and because we’ve already experienced the joker as a meticulous planner.

    I just hope that if they reboot Batman again in 10 years they follow more the Batman by way of Scorsese that Nolan gave us rather than Disney’s “embrace the comic” style. I think there is a good middle ground in the first two Spiderman films where Raimi had a great balance. The greatest weakness there were more the special effects – the industry had embraced implausible looking physics which got us to the uncanny valley. However the plots worked very well.

    What I’d really like, but know I’ll never get, would be a Nolan styled Batman with even more of a realistic edge but done as a 12 episode yearly cable show. i.e. have 12 episodes to follow the main villain putting together their plans and Batman’s reactions. I think it’d be more interesting if we had a more de-gadgetized Batman. There’s too much dependence on Bond-like implausible gadgets rather than strategic thinking which is characteristic of the best Batman stories.

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