But there are still things that work in The Dark Knight Rises; it just makes it a more difficult pill to swallow, given the potential of the film. Anne Hathaway is a standout win in her portrayal of Catwoman, even if she does sometimes struggle to rise above some cheesy writing, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt does the best he can with Blake: the cop with a heart of gold. The problem is that these aren’t main characters, and so they’re often left by the wayside in favour of the Batmans and Banes of this world.
With the returning cast and raised stakes left by The Dark Knight, plus the addition of new characters (played by talented actors) and the promise of a storyline that interconnects all three films, it sounds like an amazing premise. Promise does not equate to execution, though, and the result is a muddled affair that loses momentum in unnecessary sub-plot sequences just as often as it offers cringe-worthy dialogue or illogical main-character actions in an overly long story that could have been greatly benefited by some heavy-handed editing.
The chances are good that you’re going to see The Dark Knight Rises or you’ve already seen it because you have to see it; this is, after all, the conclusion to Nolan’s ground-breaking The Dark Knight trilogy that has forever changed what cinemagoers expect from superhero films. There’s an even better chance that you’ll enjoy the hell out of the film, as my opinion is definitely in the minority. If, however, you go into The Dark Knight Rises expecting Nolan to deliver on his promise of only making a third film if it absolutely had to happen and want some clean ties to the first two films, you may, like me, find yourself not just leaving the theatre disappointed but also aggravated at what could have been.
Oh, you’re still here. Then you must have already seen The Dark Knight Rises and be curious as to the specifics of my beef with the film. If you haven’t seen the film, go away! Go see it and come back. Otherwise, read on. You have been warned.
In the beginning…
The problems start right from the word go. Granted, I will concede that I judge plot holes more harshly than your average person—particularly when the film is being made by the writer/director that gave us the likes of Memento, Inception and The Prestige—but sloppy writing is all over the film.
Take the prologue for example. This is supposed to introduce Bane and showcase his brutality and cement his place as the new head of the League of Shadows. Aiden “Littlefinger” Gillen has a small role here whereby he receives three unexpected guests for his discrete plane trip, and tells one of his CIA buddies to call in the fact that there are three more passengers on board with him. When it comes time for Bane to flip the tables, he tells one of his League of Shadows minions that he has to stay behind on the plane because they’d be expecting one body. One body. Not the three that were called in.
Nitpicky? Sure. But then how about the body that’s lowered into the plane and has some of the blood of the captured scientist pumped into it, assumedly so that the CIA believes the Bane-nabbed scientist died in the plane crash. Cool idea, Nolan, but can’t DNA be taken from skin cells, and aren’t you also relying on the fact that his body would be so hopelessly smashed and unrecognisable that they wouldn’t also check things such as dental records or even his ethnicity, given the fact that the cadaver was Caucasian and the scientist was Indian? Not to mention that the body was a whole lot younger than the scientist it was supposed to be mimicking. Just saying.
But I was willing to let that slide because a prologue is often an ignorable part of, well, anything that has one. It’s not the core story so it’s not entirely necessary. The problem is it doesn’t really pick up from here, and it continues to dig holes in terms of its plot and characters.
I’m… Bruce Wayne
Fast-forward to eight years later, and it’s a different Gotham City. Crime has died off thanks to the Dent Laws and the police are enjoying some soiree at Wayne Manor, despite the fact that Bruce Wayne has apparently become a reclusive and broken man, having abandoned the Bat cape-and-cowl combo after he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s misdeeds.
Commissioner Gordon is preparing to give a truthful speech about what really happened after Harvey Dent became Two Face. He chickens out at the last minute and pockets the speech… apparently, then deciding to carry that speech around with him in the breast pocket of what must be the only jacket he owns, as this becomes a forced plot point later when Bane captures him and discovers the confessional speech on his person. Sloppy.