The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Film Review, a movie directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Stewart, Daniel Sunjata, Burn Gorman, Diego Klattenhoff, Josh Pence, Matthew Modine, Tom Conti, Joey King, Alon Aboutboul, Nestor Carbonell, Brett Cullen, Thomas Lennon, and Juno Temple.
I could spend 3000 words dissecting this loosely constructed superhero opus but since its writers didn’t put a similar amount of effort into their script, I will not do so for this film review.
“Let’s get this one over with quick.” – Warden William Smithers, Demolition Man.
The Dark Knight Rises is the weakness of director Christopher Nolan’s three Batman films. The villain, opening segment, and many of the scenes in The Dark Knight are the best out of the trilogy. Similarly, the pacing, scene transition, and fight scenes present in Batman Begins are the best in trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises houses no bests. The Dark Knight Rises is a sloppy, unsound wrap-up film that is undeserving to follow its two predecessors. The Dark Knight Rises is an enigma: how could this film happen, how could this mistake be allowed to transpire? Lets examine that.
The sinister plot behind everything in The Dark Knight Rises was intentionally made convoluted when it could have been made straight forward: Huckleberry Finn’s break out plan versus him getting the key and unlocking the door for Jim. The master plan in The Dark Knight Rises was to get the fusion device and blow it and Gotham up, right? So why occupy the city and make your presence known to the world? Make the bomb active, kill everyone that knows its active, hide it, and wait for it to go off. Simple, right? Not in The Dark Knight Rises.
Some will say: The League of Shadows did it the convoluted way to make Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) suffer, they wanted him to watch the people of Gotham City suffer. What about the people that paid to see The Dark Knight Rises? They suffered. They suffered by having to watch a mess that could have been a masterpiece, the crème de la crème of superhero films, a finale never to be topped.
The film’s audience languished in torment watching that dream and a straightforward plan supplanted, stuffed, and packed with nonsense and platitudes that went no where or at least no where interesting.
Why not make Bruce Wayne suffer by watching Gotham City explode into nuclear dust, women, children, the sick and infirmed burned alive and irradiated? Here’s why: that would mean that the bad guy would actually win and we can’t have that.
Instead (or should I say, the big, elongated, disposable instead) lets dismantle the societal structure of Gotham City and led all of our men to their doom since there was evidently no evacuation plan for any of The League of Shadows members when the time came for the bomb to be detonated.
Though no evacuation plan was a surprise, since The League’s watchful eye and work must continue, so were the trials in The Dark Knight Rises. Those upper class/lower class trials in the film’s third act were absolutely silly and topped by a crown of crow, scarecrow.
When Dr. Crane (Cillian Murphy) showed up atop a congealed stack of furniture presiding over those mock trials and gargantuan courtroom, The Dark Knight Rises sank from a comic book film adaptation into a Schumacher-grade, live–action cartoon.
Watching those trial snippets, the viewer watched the integrity, world, mood, and greatness of the first two Batman films disintegrate, gavel slam by gavel slam.
Some scene resolutions in The Dark Knight Rises were extremely convenient (too much so) but the same was true of The Dark Knight. An example from The Dark Knight Rises: Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is in Bane’s underground lair. Gordon rolls off a ledge into water that quickly carries him away from The League. The next scene he is found by John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who just happened to go to the right water run-off exit.
A similar leap of faith, one of the most significant plot holes in the film, larger than any other in Nolan’s three Batman films: how does Bruce Wayne get from Bane’s prison land all the way back to an occupied Gotham City with no money or passport? He is penniless and cannot prove he is an American. In Batman Begins, Wayne leaves America with no money or identification but it is much easier to get out of America without ID and cash than to get into it, especially after 9/11.
In Batman Begins, Ra’s al Ghul made sure no one escaped burning Wayne Manor by posting guards outside it yet Bane did not do the same with the pit prison. Even if only one person had ever escaped that prison in its history, wouldn’t that have been prudent until Gotham City was atomized? Bruce Wayne is no ordinary prisoner and because of that fact, prudence was called for.
Speaking of Bane, forging his and Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard)’s two histories into one did not ameliorate either; on the contrary, it degraded them both. Bane and Talia should have been kept separate. Bane was made far less than he was by how his fascinating backstory was manipulated.
Talia should have been far more than she was in The Dark Knight Rises. She was wasted, though her monologue was effective e.g. “the slow knife” but then she and her HEMTT truck were dropped, literally. Cotillard wasn’t given enough time to breathe as Talia and the viewer is left with her scrambled Bane backstory as her most interesting aspect.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway)’s character was never established beyond wanting a fresh start via “Clean Slate” and doing what it took to get it. Here is the problem with that scenario: she never verified that the program actually existed and that it worked before making her deal. A suspicious, thorough, and street-smart person like Catwoman would have.
Catwoman, or any woman for that matter, being placed in a prison with men would have created instant outrage within woman’s groups locally and internationally. There is no way that would ever be allowed to happen, no matter what act was enacted. The fact that it was in The Dark Knight Rises once again shows how comical Nolan’s Batman universe became in this film.
The introduction of The Bat into Nolan’s Batman universe was a plot device barely used until the end of the film and by then the viewer realized exactly why the airborne vehicle was in the film in first place.
The Dark Knight Rises is not a movie of highs and lows. The Dark Knight Rises is a film picked apart scene after scene by itself.