I’m starting to suspect there’s some mass cultural delusion effect at work here, and in a few decades time people will come to realise that it is, in fact, just about as bad as a film can be and is easily the weakest of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Let’s explore why.
1. Why is Marion Cotillard in this film? This is the wrong role for her. Her death sequence was a masterclass in bad acting. And if you didn’t see the obvious twist that she was Talia after a whole movie of hanging around conspicuously it’s time for a sight test.
2. That blonde Selina was hanging around with really heavily implied Catwoman was a lesbian, or bisexual if you count her shoehorned-in fleeting kisses with Bruce. Why?
3. The movie is filled with pointless characters. “Here’s a new major or minor character, we’ll stop the plot dead in it’s tracks while they give dull exposition about their past and their motivations”. This happened at least half a dozen times. In the case of Bane it would have been justified… if they had told his backstory all at once, not tediously dragged it out.
4. Why did a nuclear reactor core contain a red countdown clock? Did Lucius Fox know that it would be hijacked, and made life easier for the hijackers by letting them know when it would explode? More irritating is how characters in the film keep mentioning there’s a bomb and saying how many days/hours remain, like they have forgotten.
5. There is no tangible sense of time, of scale, or of anything at stake. I was waiting for the movie to establish a sense of what really mattered. Would it create a real feeling of being in Gotham? It never did: it became more convoluted and confusing instead. I never got the feeling there were millions of lives at stake or that there was anything worth caring about.
6. The movie takes itself too seriously. It was a gloomy dirge of self-pity and heavy-handed, lazy commentary about current affairs, with that stupid pounding music score pulsing along underneath ratcheting up the tension because the writing couldn’t.
7. Robin was written in so he could take on the mantle of Gotham’s leading superhero at the end. The other things he did were things Jim Gordon could have done if the movie hadn’t put him in a hospital bed. Getting rid of Robin would have also dispensed with the pointless subplot where he is trying to save a busload of orphans. I rolled my eyes at that one.
8. In other versions of Batman, Bane is huge because he’s on a supersteroid called Venom. In Rises it is never really explained, despite the fact he was a tiny child when he escaped the well prison. His death sequence was also terrible; the film spends so much time building him up as some kind of badass Batman can’t beat, then he dies with relative ease.
9. The sound mixing was terrible. Even characters that didn’t have a stupid mask with batteries taped on the front (Bane) were, at times, very hard to hear. Considering how many millions were spent it really should have had reference quality surround sound audio.
10. Chris Nolan is not good at directing this type of picture. In all of the Nolan Batman films (including Batman Begins, which I like despite this problem) he doesn’t seem to know how to direct scenes, whether they are action, quiet drama or a mix of both. Camera placement is all wrong. The “Bane and Batman slug it out on a rusty walkway” scene feels claustrophobic despite the fact it’s supposed to be some kind of huge fighting pit. It might as well be taking place inside a vacuum.
11. Jim Gordon in his infinite wisdom stops what he thinks is the bomb truck with… a regular passenger coach, which would have broken apart under the weight.
12. Gary Oldman cannot hold his American accent for even one scene.
13. Batman is a plot device, not a character. It used to be something special when the cape and cowl were on. But the way Nolan has shot Batman here never made me feel he was the last bastion of justice in a corrupt city, powerful enough to keep criminals at bay with both his mind and his fists. He’s one-dimensional and boring.
14. Despite the fact Alfred mentions how underprepared Bruce his, despite the fact Bruce’s doctor tells him he has no knees, all he does is strap a bionic movement device to one of his legs and is suddenly sprightly enough to be Batman again.
15. Plenty of other problems the internet already covered.
There’s no weight or levity to The Dark Knight Rises because characters and objects jump to where the poorly-constructed plot requires them to be, as if they were beamed there by a Star Trek transporter. The balance of the real and the exaggerated was just right in Batman Begins but in this one it bounces from set piece to boring drama scene and back again with no sense of cohesion, logic or grace. It’s a complete mess.
On the other hand, maybe it is a great movie and I just can’t see it. Or maybe when the cultural zeitgeist changes direction everyone not so close to it and not hyped up to breaking point will see it’s not all that. Time will tell.
1. It’s everything that was bad about The Dark Knight ramped right up.
2. It’s everything that was good about Batman Begins removed or neutered.
3. It wastes good actors and a pretty large budget.
4. It is joyless and illogical.
5. It is one of the worst films I have ever seen.
But it’s not all bad: at least it wasn’t available in 3D!