Friday, July 20, 2012

Jofo @ The Movies: The Dark Knight Rises

More like "The Dark Knight Falls"

Like other popular comic book heroes, Batman has been the subject of many movies in the past few decades meaning that he has also been subject to many interpretations from many directors. Christopher Nolan's Batman series is arguably the greatest to date with his knack for complex stories, impressive visuals, and realistic approach to the Dark Knight's rogue gallery. However, every director, no matter how talented they are is going to have at least one bad movie...and I'm sad to say that the Dark Knight Rises is Nolan's.

General Plot Summary

Eight years have passed since that fateful night when Gotham's fallen idol Harvey Dent tried to kill Commisioner Gordon's family and died in the resulting struggle with Batman, and our heroes deciding to pass it off as Batman's fault for the greater good by further immortalizing Dent as a hero to unite the citizens of Gotham against the many crime lords ruling the city. We now see that Gotham has become a peaceful, and practically crime-free city under the creation of the Dent Act (we are never told what exactly it means) and no longer needs Batman thus Bruce Wayne has become a crippled recluse (apparantly his legs were injured in the fall that killed Dent) refusing to see anyone or even keep track of his family's company. However he is forced back into the cowl and cape when a mysterious thief named Selena Kyle infilitrates his manor and steals both his fingerprints, and his mother's pearl necklace from a safe.

Unknown to Bruce and the citizens of Gotham, a new threat is advancing on the city in the form of the mercenary Bane whom is hired by one of Bruce's business rivals to ruin Wayne Industries, but little does he know that Bane has plans of his own for the city and a war is about to break out in Gotham that will determine both the future and survival of both Batman and the city itself.

(Warning: Spoilers below)


As a fan of the Batman comic books first and any other Batman media second its only natural that I'd have some issues completly irrelevant to the movie's credibility.

1. Bane's motivation
Bane's motivation is completely antithetical to the Batman story arc Knightfall in which this movie's events are heavily based on. Bane is nothing more than a glorified toady to Talia al Ghul in this movie, blindly following her orders out of "love" for her (creepy considering their vast age difference) and has no personal stake in these events at all. In the comics Bane wanted nothing more than to be "the man who broke the bat" and believed that him and Batman were destined to clash for control of Gotham. In my opinion this is a result Christopher Nolan completely misunderstanding the significance of Bane's character to fans of the comics and makes him seem like he would have been nothing without Talia or the League of Shadows ("cough Assassains "cough)

2. Why does the League of Shadows want to destroy Gotham?
Since they usually target the center of civilization, and since this takes place in the DC Universe wouldn't they target Metropolis instead of Gotham?

3. Why does Cilian Murphy keep making pointless cameos as Dr. Crane AKA Scarecrow
Does Nolan really just like this guy so much that he keeps teasing us fans of the first movie with the possiblity of Scarecrow being somehow still important? Personally I think Scarecrow returning as a major villain would have been a good twist considering how well Nolan wrote him in the first movie.

Plot Analysis

This plot is disgustingly weak, especially when compared with the plot of the previous two Batman films. In short it is nothing more than a rehash of the events of Batman Begins in which the League of Shadows has decided that Gotham is an irredeemable cesspool of a city and must be purged for the good of mankind, however with the very, VERY late inclusion of Talia Al Ghul it becomes a petty revenge plot for the death of her father at the end of Batman Begins. What makes it even harder to follow though is the irritating amount of sub-plots thrust on the audience that are either inadequately resolved, or sometimes not resolved at all. In fact several of these sub-plots begin off screen with little more than a line or two providing a horrible explanation.

1. Selena Kyle's search for "The Blank Slate
Supposedly this will clear her record and allow her to retire in peace. Despite its wherabouts being unknown and it possibly not even existing Bruce Wayne just happens to obtain it with no explanation.

2. The crumbling of Wayne Industries and Bruce's financial difficulties
You'd think that Bruce would at least want to keep one of the last remaining monuments to his parents running and alive if not just to sustain his miserable existance as a hermit.

3. The love triangle with Bruce, Selena, and Miranda Tate.
Bruce barely spends any time with these women and yet he ends up having a romantic moment with each of them.

4. The nuclear reactor's construction
Uhh yeah we here at Wayne industries have just been building this in our spare time... WHY!??

And if the numerous sub-plots didn't already make this movie difficult to process why don't we throw in a few nasty plot holes that completely ruin the viewer's suspension of disbelief

1. How did Bruce get back to Gotham with no money, and being close to dead?
This is also made incredibly difficult by the fact that Bane destroyed all entrances to Gotham, and I'm quite positive that there are no planes or ships entering or exiting Gotham. Bad writing? Looks like it!

2. Why did Bane and Talia need to drag out their operation instead of quickly and efficiently destroying Gotham while still yielding the same toll on Bruce?
Christopher Nolan goes from writing very realistic psychos to turning these two into saturday morning cartoon villains who monologue about how evil they are long enough for the hero's allies to rescue him.

This is typically one of the main morals that Batman follows in both comics and movies. Although some may bring up Tim Burton's Batman in which Batman sent the Joker plummeting to his death at the end. However this moral was not established in that movie and wasn't a big part of Burton's interpretation of Bruce Wayne. Anyway it comes off a bit hypocritical especially considering the events with the Joker in the previous movies.

4. Christopher Nolan's horrible knowledge of anatomy and medicine.
Because apparantly all that you need for shattered kneecaps and a snapped spine is a leg brace, a good chiropractor, and plenty of excercise and you'll be ready to fight against legions of armed thugs and their incredibly strong and well-trained boss who easily broke your back.

5. How did Detective Blake discover Bruce's identity?
Cause all other orphans just have a sixth sense about each other...this is seriously bad writing at its absolute WORST!!!

6. The Lazarus Pit prison is really, REALLY STUPID AND POINTLESS!!
This once again goes back to the whole saturday morning cartoon villain thing. WHY WOULD YOU PUT YOUR GREATEST ENEMY IN A PLACE WITH NO GUARDS AND GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO ESCAPE......MULTIPLE TIMES.......IN A PLACE THAT A CHILD ESCAPED FROM!!!!!! NEED I SAY MORE!!!????

(Warning: Spoilers above)


For the most part the acting is good, Anne Hathaway turns in a surprisingly decent performance as Selena Kyle (at least the snarky side of her, she isn't exactly menacing or imposing in any way) and Tom Hardy's voice work as Bane is pretty menacing (although his physical acting is restricted to one pose) but once again Christian Bale's Batman just begs to laughed at due to its comical over-the-top gruffness, and a few of the other main characters have some rather spotty acting moments.

Art Direction

Nolan certainly has a knack for artistic direction and flair in his films and The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. The sets all look great, and realistic, the fight scenes are well choreographed, and character's costumes are nicely updated to look realistic while retaining some semblance of their comic book ludicrousness. However the music is incredibly flat and almost indistinguishable from the other Batman soundtracks.


This movie is absolutely painful! While the previous entries were excellent; if a touch flawed realistic portrayals of the Caped Crusader, this one is just mediocre at best, which is inexcusable considering the levels of greatness the previous entry reached. While the acting is okay as a whole, and the film is visually impressive, the bad writing just kills this movie and the presence of which is even more disturbing considering the excellent writing of the previous films. It truly pains me to see an excellent franchise ended in such a lackluster way as I was really hoping that this would be one of the few franchises in which each film outclasses its predacessor.


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