I’m going to just rip the band-aid off quickly before it becomes too excruciating. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t very good. There, I said it. Before I devour all the faults of the film, I want to make it very clear that it’s not awful. It’s an okay movie, and had it been the first film in the series (even if that would have made absolutely no sense) I would have been a little less harsh on it. But the simple fact of the matter is that I couldn’t walk into this movie with an objective point of view because I’ve seen the first two Batman movies and I love them to bits. It is humanly impossible for me to detach those two movies from my mind while viewing this one, and I don’t see any reason why I should. A precedent was set, and said precedent was not lived up to. I would also like to clarify that precedent is different to hype. I actually wasn’t very excited for The Dark Knight Rises. I tried very hard not to think about it and let it creep up on me. I remember talking with a friend of mine and saying “when we see The Dark Knight Rises” and subsequently realising we were going to see it the following week! I was more hyped for The Dark Knight than for The Dark Knight Rises, and I was far more satisfied with it than I was with this. Here is why.
One of the major problems I had was with the pacing. God, it was all over the place! The first act lasted all of about 5 seconds (that may be a slight understatement), jumping from scene to scene introducing characters and plot points far too quickly for them to feel anything but artificial. Right after that, we were treated to a horribly stretched-out second act where nothing of much significance happened for the first half at all. The third act was a little better, but still not nearly as tight as what we’d ordinarily expect from a Christopher Nolan movie. The epilogue could also have gone on for far longer than it did. This is the end of an epic trilogy! It’s fine if they spend some time finishing everything up (also, real quick, the ending was half good).
As well as the bad pacing, there were some plot points that I really wasn’t very happy with. There’s one really big thing that I found completely ridiculous (you’ll know it when you see it) which brought down the movie by a large portion in my eyes. Additionally, the film opens with an eight year timeskip that feels totally unnatural. Batman has disappeared, Bruce Wayne is a hermit, and none of the actors look like they’ve aged a day. The film then proceeds to spend the entire first act telling us how Batman and Bruce Wayne coming back (or rising, I suppose) is a big deal and everyone’s been wondering where they’ve been, but it doesn’t work at all because we don’t feel the same way about any of it as the characters in the film do because we never experienced the absence of Batman or Bruce Wayne.
On a more positive note, the acting wasn’t too bad. But that’s about it, really. Some of the returning characters felt a little underwhelming, but that was mainly due to a lower quality in writing than anything else (Batman’s badass retort to Bane: “No, I came to stop you”). Tom Hardy did a great job as Bane, especially with his severe limitations. The distortions on his voice are by no means intimidating, which I really appreciated. I was dreading hearing his voice because I thought they would make him sound like a Transformer just because he’s supposed to be so huge and overpowering. I was mega wrong, and I love everyone involved in that decision because it’s one of the best things about the movie. On top of the voice, we don’t ever see his facial expressions, so his performance essentially relies entirely on body language, which must be incomprehensively difficult. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was nothing special. She did a good job, but there was nothing special about her. That’s sort of the case with the entire cast, really. Except Bane.
There was also absolutely no reason for Catwoman to be in this movie other than for fan-service. Were she to be taken out of it, it would have made almost no different to the plot at all. She really only does two or three things in the entire film, and none of them are character-specific in any way. Batman also blindly trusts her for no reason at all. There was no point where she proved herself to be anything other than a villain, yet Batman doesn’t even seem to consider this.
One thing I admired about The Dark Knight is how little CG it used. This is primarily the case here too, but there are a few noticeable uses of it. And I mean NOTICEABLE. You’d think that with a $250000000 budget they could get some good CG. Seriously.
I know that I’m dwelling on the negatives here, but none of the positives are all that remarkable, to be quite honest. The movie was okay, but it was plagued by countless problems that neither Batman Begins or The Dark Knight suffered from. There were a few sections that feel like they were changed at the last minute, and the whole package just didn’t feel nearly as refined and perfected as The Dark Knight or Batman Begins.
Well, now that we have this generation’s Star Wars trilogy, bring on the reboots!
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