Review: The Dark Knight Rises


Directed by Christopher Nolan. Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan. Released by Warner Bros. Pictures

NOTE: Very often when I really want to see a movie, I will avoid reading reviews beforehand if I don’t want to read spoilers. It’s a policy that I must say has served me very well. Because reviews often have spoilers. Sometimes they openly discuss plot points from all three films with the assumption that readers have seen the films being discussed. I’m just saying.


Christopher Nolan has become the undisputed king of the event movie, but with this entry into the Batman franchise, he somewhat miraculously produces a film that is an incredible action spectacle on its own terms – in my opinion, the very best of its kind ever made – but a film that beautifully closes off his Batman trilogy, providing extra meaning and texture to the first two entries. It’s like the opposite of The Matrix Revolutions; instead of cheapening all that came before it, it makes its two preceding chapters even better, especially Batman Begins.

The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, which I think is a good choice. The ending of The Dark Knight ended very bleakly for Batman, and it marked a turning point in his career. From the end of Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne’s goal has been to make Gotham City into a place that doesn’t need Batman, and the sacrifice he made at the end of The Dark Knight was to try and make that happen by turning the city against him. He made himself the focal point of the city’s anger and vengeance, and we learn early in the new film that the tactic has largely succeeded. Gotham has defeated the scourge of organized crime, and Batman is still viewed with ambivalence at best in the eyes of citizens and law enforcement alike.

Out of the relative peace in Gotham comes Bane, known internationally as a ruthless mercenary, who has now turned his sights on Gotham City. It soon becomes clear that traditional law enforcement is no match for him, and Bruce Wayne – who has spent the previous eight years closed off in the rebuilt Wayne Manor, nursing his wounds and neglecting his social obligations – is brought out of retirement to once again don the cape and cowl.

I should probably say upfront that Bane is in some ways an inferior character to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Ledger worked Joker on multiple levels, making him into performance art not just for the movie’s audience, but for the other characters in the movie. His powers seemed supernatural at times, always two steps ahead of his adversaries. He was purposeless and manic and hyperactive, doing horrible things just for the fun of doing them, for the benefit of himself and no one else. He was a pure manifestation of fear and anarchy and broke new ground in movie villainy.

Bane, however, is in some ways a better match for Batman. Like Batman, he’s been trained by the League of Shadows, and he understands Batman’s methods and mindset much better than the Joker ever could have. The Joker existed only to be pursued by Batman, but The Dark Knight Rises turns those tables, and sends Bane in pursuit of Batman. Bane is just as skilled and driven as his rival, and comes across as a kind of doppelganger, what Batman might have become had he allowed himself to be consumed by hate and anger and cede his humanity to the League of Shadows.

To this end, Tom Hardy plays the character not as an unaffected psychopath, but with his humanity subsumed under layers of pain and fury. It’s a magnificent performance in its own right, but very subtly brilliant with so much of the character communicated by Hardy through his eyes and body language. It’s to the Hardy’s and the film’s vast credit that, when we learn his backstory, it’s actually very affecting.

One of the key aspects of the Nolan Batman films has been their willingness to ask very hard questions about the Batman mythology. While The Dark Knight asked questions about Batman’s role as a vigilante, though, the new film turns these questions more towards the introspection of the first film. What personal toll does Batman’s actions take on Bruce Wayne? For that matter, is there a difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman? Can one exist without the other? Batman Begins was about Bruce becoming aware of these questions, and The Dark Knight was about his pursuit of the Joker giving him a reason to avoid them (until it was too late), but The Dark Knight Rises is about him facing them head-on. It’s a wrenching portrayal of an iconic character, and Bale more than ever seems like the perfect choice for the role, brooding and weary, physically and emotionally battered.

Bane and Batman, however, are just two characters of an expansive ensemble, and a few new characters also figure prominently in the story. Anne Hathaway takes on the role of Selina Kyle (who of course is Catwoman in Batman lore, although she’s never referred to as Catwoman in this film as far as I know), a jewel thief with ambiguous, shifting loyalties. Joseph-Gordon Levitt plays Detective Blake, loyal to Commissioner Gordon and with his own insights into Batman’s psychology. And Marion Cotillard joins the cast as Miranda, helping Wayne defend his company from hostile takeover by Bane’s minions.

All three have very nicely layered storylines, and are fine supporting roles in the true sense of the term; they have their own contributions to make to the Batman character, playing off different aspects of his character. I’d also single out Gary Oldman, reprising his role as Commissioner Gordon, who has been the trilogy’s most indispensable supporting character. He gets one of the most moving moments when he finally learns Batman’s identity, a scene calling back to Batman Begins when Rachel has a similar moment.

Meanwhile, in terms of scope, Nolan manages to up the ante considerably from The Dark Knight, a film that already seemed maxed out in intensity. It’s a good thing this is the final chapter in the trilogy, because it’s hard to imagine how the stakes could possibly be higher next time around. Nolan’s direction this time, though, is considerably more elegant than in the previous entry, and as a result, the second half of the movie is quite possibly the greatest series of action sequences that I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how he holds the tension over such a sustained length of time, even topping the extended, multi-layered dream sequence that takes up the second half of Inception. This is, to this point, the pinnacle of big-budget Hollywood filmmaking in the Franchise Era, and it makes The Avengers (not to mention even lesser movies like The Amazing Spider-Man) look like crude children’s drawings.

And so, I find it actually bittersweet to some degree that the trilogy has ended, because I’m a little sad that there won’t be more to look forward to. The Franchise Era has not been a good one for quality films, but Nolan’s trilogy has separated itself from the pack by several lengths. Nonetheless, this is a powerful ending to the story, and as improbable as it might have seemed, I think it’s the best in the series, and a remarkable achievement.


97 responses »

  1. I feel like Banky Edwards in Chasing Amy after he asked Holden why he thinks he has any shot with her and what’s making him continue to try to be with her and Holden yells that he’s in love with her and Banky turns and leans on the counter and pauses for a moment and gives a barely audible ‘….damn.’

    I am floored by the final paragraph. I was certain that since you had such a strong issue with the ‘ferry scene’ in TDK that you would almost ‘certainly’ see this movie the way I did. But man…we couldn’t be farther apart.

    And my bad for the last comment on the other thread. I haven’t read your response, but accept my apologies. You’re not a pompous ass….maybe a smug one, but still-I kid, I kid.

  2. And PLEASE…just let me add one more ‘severely minor plot point’ that shows Nolan abandoned all his former glory and turned into Len Wiseman.

    So the “Batman’s” number one character witness. Best friend. And father confessor Jim Gordon is put on ‘trial’…dude I can’t even get into that…and sent to ‘exile by death’ and at the very last moment before Jim Gordon and those closest to him are sent to their deaths, the Batman throws a FLARE at his feet, onto this terribly thin ice, where if you swim you die, (jeezus this is worse writing it) and he tells Gordon to throw the flare and what do we see?! We see the BAT SYMBOL on the Brooklyn bridge?!
    So Bat’s lets his BEST FRIEND be sentenced and walk inches from his death so he can set-up a self-congratulatory bat symbol on a bridge?
    How does any of this not set-off YOUR…the most rational-minded filmgoer on this blog…….how does that NOT set-off your bullshit detector? The entire time I was watching this I was counting on that. Oh, well.
    Now I know how you all felt when I fell so completely ass-over-heels for the second one.

  3. And I honestly want to know what you think of the use of three different cities for Gotham, therefore destroying any true sense and feel of ‘place’ that the movie might have.
    Just as you felt it difficult to remove yourself from seeing Chicago in the last installment, it at least gave the feel of a definite place for Gotham, rather than, as someone having been to all three places (Pittsburgh vicariously through my beloved Steelers) and seeing those places in this movie and therefore finding it extremely difficult and very jarring to see that Gotham felt ‘cobbled together’ from all these different cities.

  4. I’m sure I’ve said before, but the movies that allow me to truly forget reality for a few hours are the ones that become my favorites. The Dark Knight Rises is one of those movies. I’ll admit that it had some minor imperfections, but the moment we see Bane through to the end credits, I was in Gotham.

    My immediate reaction was it’s the best of the three films. Perhaps I’ll be a little more nitpicky when I see it the second time. But I loved it. I’m having a hard time being specific about what I loved, except Tom Hardy (of course) and the ending. I cried.

    I’ll have to come back when my thoughts are a little more organized.

  5. filmman, I don’t really know what to say, except that I’m very sorry to have so deeply shaken your faith in me.

    Anyway, on to your complaints:

    Batman throws a FLARE at his feet, onto this terribly thin ice, where if you swim you die, (jeezus this is worse writing it) and he tells Gordon to throw the flare and what do we see?! We see the BAT SYMBOL on the Brooklyn bridge?!
    So Bat’s lets his BEST FRIEND be sentenced and walk inches from his death so he can set-up a self-congratulatory bat symbol on a bridge?

    I don’t really see the problem. Was Gordon even really all that far out on the ice when he threw the flare? He had barely taken a couple of steps. Furthermore, wasn’t that a much better strategic position for Batman? He’s hardly going to fight his way into the court, so he waits until he has a smaller group of adversaries that he can ambush and have a good chance of getting Gordon out unharmed.

    Furthermore – I didn’t see it as “self-congratulatory”, it was a signal to the city and to his enemies that he had returned. The payoff wasn’t even really the bat sign itself, but Bane’s reaction: “Impossible!” It was a great moment in the film, I thought, and ranks among the best moments from all three films.

    And I honestly want to know what you think of the use of three different cities for Gotham

    I had no issue with this, and frankly, I found it less distracting than The Dark Knight, which was undisguised Chicago. In fact, I think it was probably the best representation of Gotham in any of the three films, because it reminded me of cities I know without being cities I know. Picking out so many familiar locations in an ostensibly fictional city can be really strange, as I said in my Dark Knight review. Perhaps someone from Pittsburgh would recognize more than I did – I’ve only spent a weekend there – but I was a little relieved that it seemed a little stranger and more unfamiliar to me. I don’t expect or even really want Gotham to look like a real place, because Gotham is not a real place.

  6. Oh, I wish I was being nitpicky.
    Everything Nolan did in the film was ‘at the last second’.
    In a NOLAN universe, I fully expect Gordon to get to the edge of the ice and Batman zaps all the soldiers with batarangs and drops down in front of the ice, right in front of Gordon and hands him a flare and says ‘throw it’.
    Batman would NEVER wait ’til the last possible second to pull that stunt off and make us go ‘why the hell did you wait so long?’
    And is WAS excellent when Bane did that, but it was ruined by the ridiculous last-second timing. Everything was the *last possible second*.

  7. Everything in this movie was ruined by Nolan falling into every superhero ‘last possible second’ ridiculousness’.
    Talia monologued up until the LAST MOMENT Gordon placed the box. Gordon even DROPPED the box while she was monologuing! Why not place the box, have Talia talk, make it EMOTIONAL with the moment, not the stupid last-second editing. Batman is being held at bay with a knife and fucking rope around the neck! She is in CONTROL. Don’t make ruin it by all the stupid cliche dropping of the box and Gordon struggling at the *last possible second* to place the box when we’re so invested in WHAT TALIA IS DOING.
    Again, this didn’t feel AT ALL like Nolan and everything like Wiseman or Favreau.

  8. Sorry, I’ve been up all night editing a project and this movie made me very sad and angry. Excuse the somewhat manic comments.

  9. I understand how you could like a sense of place that has no real-world sense of place. Got it.

    But really. I can look back at every big set-piece and moment and point out how it was completely ruined by a last-second save to keep the movie moving. The police weren’t just unable to handle Batman, they were so inept, they were like a ‘greek chorus’ that Woody Allen wrote in as a joke.

    100 cops outside an alley a *helicopter* just flew out of: “Well, we missed that one.”
    100 cops surrounding Batman on a highway, and NO ONE thought to park in front of a *car carrier*?! AND they give him enough time to turn and prepare a rocket and SHOOT and THEN take off and jump the carrier?!
    In the Nolan universe, Batman wins by cunning, not Joss Whedon-level fantastical set-pieces.
    1000 cops have no better idea than to RUN DIRECTLY at the men with BOMBS on their Tumblers and at the *last possible second* BATMAN flies a HELICOPTER in and disables the bombs but DOES NOTHING ELSE AND LETS ALL THOSE COPS DIE so he can land and fight BANE??!!!!
    ….COME ON!

  10. The chief of police died, hundreds of good cops died, and for what?! So we could have a really cool fight scene? I wanted to arrest Batman when they showed the chief dead.
    Bring back the helicopter you DICK, Batman.

  11. Batman sacrificing himself with the helicopter to save those police RATHER than the stupid story of flying the BOMB out to the river….WHY DIDN’T BATMAN JUST PICK UP OR DRAG THE TRUCK CARRYING THE BOMB WITH HIS HELICOPTER?! What, he didn’t THINK of that?!

  12. The signal is very self congratulatory when you do it at the *last possible second* instead of saying….”Hm…Jim is pretty far out on that ice. If he swims, they’ll shoot him. Maybe I shouldn’t use so much lighter fluid and just make a smaller signal and maybe go save him.”

  13. Everything in this movie was ruined by Nolan falling into every superhero ‘last possible second’ ridiculousness’.

    This is different than the other movies … how? Batman saves Ra’s from going over the cliff at the last second. Batman gets Rachel back to the cave and gives her the antidote at the last second. Gordon shoots out the monorail tracks at the last second. Gordon saves Batman from the Joker at the last second. Bruce throws his car in front of the one with Reese in it at the last second (after Reese himself had been stopped from blowing Batman’s identity at the last second). Batman constantly stops the cops from shooting the hostages at the last second. Batman stops Joker from blowing up the ferries at the last second. Batman saves Gordon’s boy at the last second.

    I mean, I suppose the movie could have been written differently to avoid these scenarios, but it seems like a very minor complaint to me given that pretty much every action sequence ever put to film has operated under basically the same principle.

  14. …I’m alright.
    I don’t understand how you can forgive Die Hard level police ineptitude here…but not in Die Hard. I assume you believe Nolan is far more capable and adept than McTiernan and has a better grasp and want to create better ‘movie worlds’…(not saying I believe this)…but I don’t get your problem with the ‘ferry scene’ in TDK and your complete and total pass you give so many terrible ‘action movie cliches’ in this movie.
    I’m beating a dead horse. I know. I’m tired. And this movie was an inept mess handled with the aptitude of a ‘studio stable director’ that delivered ‘studio action beats’ like a good employee and not a movie worthy anywhere near the Nolan Batmanverse. That’s all.

  15. So your villain is preparing to remove a ‘nuclear-capable core’ from your mcguffin and what is his plan to remove the core? He’s gonna kill the board of directors of the company you work for. Really? Rich board of directors or the entire population of Gotham? Not really that difficult.
    AND Lucius DENIES. I clapped at that moment. Here we GO…Nolan is back. Killing the board of directors is the dumbest idea EVER. And when Miranda says ‘no’ Lucius just *conveniently* gives in. Again, to keep the movie moving. It felt like the laziest studio hack writing ever.
    Oh, so suddenly, he’s just gonna get the core. He’s basically a MACHINE. With the same serum as Cap. If, as we learn at the end, he was willing to die, why would he *bother* threatening to kill. JUST KILL and do it yourself. If you’re so intent on anarchy. Just get the scientist, get him to open it and that’s it. Kill them, use their hands, I don’t know. But come on. Threatening to kill a character we don’t care about? Not Nolan, to me, anyway.

  16. My bad. I could go on and on with this movie. But I will go back to editing and thank you for allowing me to vent.
    Glad you enjoyed it.
    The great ‘fight scene’ (all else withstanding about it) was pretty freakin’ awesome and exactly what I wanted Hardy to do with Bane.
    And the fleeting moment at the end, when Batman’s fighting him (all else withstanding with that scene) was one of the greatest moments in my geek life, when Hardy as Bane is punching super-fast. That moment still exists in my mind…and man, does it make me smile.

  17. I don’t know what this has to do with Die Hard, and at any rate, I don’t dislike Die Hard anyway and have seen it multiple times. I just don’t like it anywhere near as much as you.

    As for Bane, he explains his motives (and his backstory, I think, is very illuminating in this regard). He doesn’t want to kill, he wants to cause despair. Likewise, his goal isn’t anarchy – it’s to create despair in the souls of Gotham. He’d rather break Fox – surely he knows that Fox is Batman’s confidant and close ally – than just shoot him dead.

    And Fox wouldn’t have given in to Bane, but he does to Miranda, because he trusts her (and her logic is sound anyway, even if her motives are later revealed to be devious). And anyway, Fox isn’t some rigid idealist to begin with, but more of a pragmatist, as he revealed in The Dark Knight when he gave in to Batman’s surveillance program after initially refusing. I don’t think that’s lazy hack writing, I think it shows understanding of the character – he’s probably something of a pushover. I mean, think about it, by the time he’s introduced in the first movie he’d already been buried and ignored in the depths of WayneCorp, and despite his occasional objections he’s more of a yes-man to Bruce than Alfred is.

  18. Gahhhh…I need to finish this.
    But I need to comment that you have a very precise way of ignoring the things you don’t want to address by saying ‘I don’t get it’.
    I’ve explained the reference to Die Hard and how the police in this movie mirror all the worst aspects of agents Johnson and Johnson ( no relation) and Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson.
    However, your rational, well-thought description of Lucius is really, really good, yet really, really generous to this movie. But I accept it. And that is the second instance you’ve been able to explain. But it was still so, so lazy. Why not threaten to kill Miranda? It would have thrown the people who had no idea, who never read a comic book, who couldn’t see that coming a MILE away, and would have made Lucius acquiescing to Bane more reasonable and understandable instead of Lucius not just saying “Shut up, woman. Gotham is at stake”.
    Now, if her life was at stake, fine. That makes sense that Bane would take her out. Why even bother with the directors?! He killed everyone else integral to the project. Why would he care?

  19. And don’t say he would have been afraid to kill her, that their plan wouldn’t work. If Lucius really is a ‘yes man’ and is beholden to Bruce, logically, he would never have let her die, knowing how Bruce feels about her. And if Lucius really did let her die, Bane could just shoot Lucius and use his hand. Just wound him. OR JUST DRAG HIM TO THE FUCKING CONSOLE.
    All the theatrics are ASININE.

  20. I’ve explained the reference to Die Hard and how the police in this movie mirror all the worst aspects of agents Johnson and Johnson ( no relation) and Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson.

    No, no, no – you didn’t explain anything. You just made a reference that went unexplained and, as is typical with you, was incoherent. I can’t read your mind, I don’t know what you mean. You said that I “don’t forgive police ineptitude” in Die Hard – when and where did I ever say that? “Police ineptitude” … what does that mean here? How is the problem similar between the two movies? All you did was presuppose a comparison – that’s not “explaining”.

    And honestly, just to save you the time, I’ll be clear that I really don’t care what the answers to those questions are. I haven’t seen Die Hard in years, and won’t be able to argue specifics even if I wanted to, because I don’t remember them. I don’t recall not “forgiving” anything in Die Hard, it’s just a complete non sequitur on your part. You’ve got some kind of fever on the brain this morning and you’re just not making sense.

    I’m happy to argue about this movie, and I have been in good faith, but I’m not going to be dragged into a Die Hard fight with you, because it’s just not relevant. I don’t have to justify myself by comparing anything to Die Hard even if you weren’t just making shit up about what I think of it.

  21. The police in this movie are as inept as the police in Die Hard. That’s a known fact and one of the issues with Die Hard. I remember you saying it somewhere on a comment here once before, in passing, and it stuck with me.
    I cannot explain any more clearly that the police in TDKR were as inept if not more inept than the police in Die Hard.
    That’s all. Your not understanding that simple sentence does not mean I am not explaining myself.

    Okay, to switch gears? The two best parts of this movie? The closeup of Batman as Bane smashes his mask. I’ve never felt closer or more empathy for a character than I ever have in any movie at that moment.
    And when Bane is crying as Miranda touches his face. Hardy IS the ‘next great actor’ and he showed every bit of it in that last, touching scene. (Too bad it was wrapped in a stupidly edited and thought-out ending).

  22. However…the speech that Bane gives on top of the Tumbler and all the prisoners of Blackgate are simply ‘let out’…really? though? Blackgate is a large green, uh…door? Really?
    But the speech on the Tumbler was the worst acting I’ve ever seen Hardy give. In fact, that entire scene, like, reading Gordon’s notes? And if Blake does see who Batman is and understand the world that Batman resides in? Why would he so quickly bash Gordon for what he wrote? Blake stated he wanted to always be the Batman, so he wouldn’t understand why Gordon had to do that? Oh, right, this was Nolan manufacturing a dramatic moment for ‘Gordon’s RISE’. My bad.

  23. Look, you can start over and delete these comments if you’d like. I just wanted to vent, and you allowed me to do that.
    Batman is the single most important fictional character I grew up with. I am taking this very seriously, but then, whatever, it’s me. This movie let me down severely. I’ll get over it.
    Thank you.
    And if you want to revel in how much you enjoyed it, please do, and delete these comments and start again.
    Thanks, Brian. And sorry again about the comment in the other thread.

  24. I’m not inclined to delete them, it was a conversation that happened. I don’t want to delete my comments, because I think I’ll enjoy re-reading them down the line, but they won’t make any sense without yours.

    If you’re unhappy with them, that’s not really my problem. Think about what you post beforehand next time.

  25. Jesus, man. I’m not unhappy. I don’t want to delete them, I was telling you if you wanted to enjoy the movie and take them down and start again, I vented, I’m cool. Really, man….I take back the apology.

    This Batman sucked. And I have no problem saying it.

  26. You have 20 out of 27 comments in a 2-person discussion (excluding one comment by Jeanine). Calling anyone else a “piece of work” is pretty comical of you.

    I’m no longer asking you to take some time to pull yourself together. I’m sorry you took the movie so personally, but you need to take a few hours, calm down, get some sleep if you need to, whatever.

    But if you keep on like this I’m going to temporarily blacklist you. If you’re interested in discussion, that’s what the blog is here for. If you’re just interested in giving the world a piece of your hurt feelings because the movie was bad, get your own blog.

    This just can’t go on.

  27. To address a previous comment:
    The last minute heroics are different here, because he’s not saving people at the last minute. He’s not doing things at the last minute that make sense to be doing them.
    He’s kissing catwoman with a minute left on an atomic bomb he is ignoring. A bomb he should have taken care of instead of going to Wall Street. A bomb that the Batman of the last two movies would have dealt with.
    He then also talks to Gordon right after this, and there’s still a minute on the bomb.
    The scene in Batman Begins was a racing train that Batman had to stop. The structure fits perfectly. With TDK, it was saving Rachel or Harvey. There could be only one. Of course it was a race to the last second, because that’s the way it was set up. I love that movie even more now.
    As I said, he left his friend to go out on the ice and at the last possible second saves him by throwing a hot flare on the ice right where he’s about to fall…why? To throw up a huge bat signal. Save him before he gets to the ice and maybe do the theatrics later, when you have the help of Gordon. Doing it before is just…kinda dickish. Gordon was fearing for his life while you were spraying the bridge with lighter fluid. Come on, that’s not Batman.

    I have no problem leaving 20 comments for a movie this groan-inducingly bad. I’m expressing (quite hostile, I’ll admit) how I feel about this movie.

    So, to continue the ending: Batman puts it upon himself to overcome death to scale the vertical precipice and he then takes it upon himself to fly his helicopter to Wall Street, where he doesn’t even save the lives of the cops in question. He doesn’t shoot the bad guys with his ‘modern war machine’ (that also comes in black) he simply takes out a Tumbler cannon and flies away without helping them. What was the point of that? If he wasn’t going to save them, why did he fly there? Why didn’t he just go right for the bomb? Why does he care who has the detonator? His detective skills would have told him Gordon found the bomb. So let the police be the diversion and go save the city! He has to be in contact with Gordon, et. al. (I’m assuming) so what was the point of going there? His point was to fly away, land, and come fight Bane on foot, mano-e-mano. He’s a psychotic egomaniac. Now, I’m not saying he’s not, but how can you enjoy the ending of this movie knowing he left all those people to fend for themselves and die, the Gotham he loves so much and wants to save so badly, while ignoring the bomb and exacting his revenge on Bane. If he had gone straight for the bomb, it would make sense that the cops took the attention of the bad guys and sacrificed themselves for the sake of the Bat, but no, the Bat was there, ignoring their lives and sating his ego.
    If that was their point, I don’t like it at all.
    I’m at a loss for the love. I really am.

  28. I haven’t seen DARK KNIGHT RISES yet, but this exchange has made more excited for it than any of the marketing from WB. And that’s even with me skipping past the parts that are clearly plot specifics.

  29. Well, point your WB marketing friends towards the site, then. I’m more than happy to be annoyed by filmman on a professional basis. He’s not the first choice I have for a Siskel to my Ebert, but I’ll make it work.

    By the way, how is it that you haven’t seen it?

  30. “By the way, how is it that you haven’t seen it?”

    My move to AZ caused me to miss my Bay Area screening, the local PR folks were late in getting me added to their invite list and I just haven’t made it to the theater yet on my own. We’re planning to see it sometime in the next few weeks though…

  31. Haven’t seen the movie yet and didn’t read the review yet, but I’ve skimmed the comments. Can’t wait to add my two cents. I’m dying to know whose side I end up on. I’ll probably be right down the middle.

  32. Thinking on it a bit more, James is right. Anne Hathaway is every kind of excellent and the best thing in this and every scene between Batman and Catwoman is fantastic.

    But then…it’s all canceled out by the worst, cheesiest death scene in the entire history of movies. The fact that Nolan directed the death of Talia is laughable and severely, severely depressing.

  33. Christopher Nolan: “Alright, Marion, we’re gonna have you in this truck. Now, in this scene, the bomb is gonna be stuck on 1 minute for like…fifteen movie minutes-it doesn’t matter, trust me, the rabble won’t care. But we can’t hang out in the scene, so we’re gonna have to cut your death short. So when you do your LONG death monologue-again, no one will care-just close your eyes. Thanks! ACTION!”

  34. Filmman – I do actually agree with you that Marion’s death scene was almost laughable. But for me it still didn’t distract from the overall feeling of the film.

  35. I may be inclined to agree with you, if they didn’t cut to a shot of everyone just………standing there…………..listening to her minute-long speech……………..while the bomb that just fell three stories and is still counting down, still on 1 minute, was in the truck. And then they watch her die. While the bomb is on 1 minute. Sorry, I’ll stop.

  36. I’lll agree that Tate’s death scene (and the entire reveal, really) were a little underwhelming.

    The problem with having two love interests for Bruce Wayne in one film is that both relationships end up feeling underdeveloped. Tate’s betrayal doesn’t have much impact because the two have shared so little screen time together and his relationship with Kyle (while fun and superior to any he’s had in prior films) never really approaches “oh, I want to see them live happily ever after!” status. It’s certainly one of the film’s weaknesses, despite the solid work by both actresses.

    It would be interesting to see how it played if Kyle and Tate were merged into a single character.

  37. I’ll describe The Dark Knight Rises with no spoilers, hell, without even mentioning the movie itself.
    The movie Transformers has a line. The Decepticons find the All-Spark and they cut the power to the dam holding it. The leader of Sector 7 gets
    on the horn’ and says “What happened?” and the foreman responds: “They’ve cut the power to the NBE room and the backup generator just won’t cut it!”

    Okay. Step back a moment. The single greatest and most dangerous discovery on earth is guarded with a backup generator ‘that just won’t cut it’.
    That logical inconsistency PALES in comparison to the myriad and varied and oh, so many logical inconsistencies in TDKR. Transformers has fewer logical inconsistencies than TDKR.

    Don’t believe me? Let’s discuss it.

  38. Okay, I’ve read the review and the comments, and I’m with Brian. This was a great film. It has a few demerits–in the fistfights with Bane, why doesn’t Batman think to hit him in the one unprotected area of his body–his throat? I was a little surprised Batman would want Gordon to throw a flare on ice, but it didn’t ruin the film for me. And inept police has been a staple of comic books since the beginning, and even goes back to Sherlock Holmes. It’s because police are inept that heroes are needed.

    As for the last second stuff, Filmman, where have you been? Last-second rescues go back to the dawn of time. I’ll admit, I’m a little tired of action scenes being cut to looking at counting down clocks, but would it be better if the bomb exploded with ten minutes left, rather than a few seconds? I’m reminded of the clock that stopped at 0:07 in Goldfinger.

    The performances are all great. Bane was kind of like a combo of a Bond villain and a professional wrestler. I would have never thought anyone could top Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, but Anne Hathaway at least equaled her (she is called “The Cat” in a newspaper headline). Oldman deserves an Oscar nomination, and Gordon-Levitt is superb.

    But most of all the ending is perfect. I was completely taken surprise by the character switcheroo (I’m not a reader of DC comics–I’m a Marvel guy, so I was unaware that R’as Ghul or however you spell it had a daughter). But the scene in Florence and then Gordon-Levitt going into the bat cave? Brilliance.

    I’ll have my own review on Go-Go-Rama tomorrow.

  39. Oh, and a little bit of personal news to go with it: by my count, this is the 2000th film I’ve seen (in theaters). I started keeping count back in the early ’80s, and had to rely on my memory to count the films I had seen as a kid, so it is undoubtedly off by a few, but according to the official count, it’s number 2000.

  40. and not to open another can of worms, but I did like the film despite Nolan’s seeming Republicanism. The Dark Knight was a defense of the Patriot Act, and this one seems to be a clarion call for oligarchy–Bane’s revolution seems to be saying, “This is what happens when Occupy Wall Street types get their way. We’re better off with the benevolent iron fist of the rich taking care of us.”

  41. …….I need a standard-issue neuralizer.

    I wouldn’t even know how to go about counting how many films I’ve seen. I guess I could go back and look at each year and see which I’ve seen, but the number of countries and whatnot. Maybe make that a side-project, just for shits-and-giggles.

  42. We’re better off with the benevolent iron fist of the rich taking care of us.”

    Agree completely with this assessment. He doesn’t die. Money never dies. Everyone else sacrifices and money goes and retreats to a villa in Florence.

  43. I wouldn’t even know how to go about counting how many films I’ve seen. I guess I could go back and look at each year and see which I’ve seen, but the number of countries and whatnot. Maybe make that a side-project, just for shits-and-giggles.

    I couldn’t do it now. My memory isn’t good enough. I look at films on my list and have forgotten everything about them. You have to start young–in your teens ideally, but I started at about 21.

  44. and not to open another can of worms, but I did like the film despite Nolan’s seeming Republicanism. The Dark Knight was a defense of the Patriot Act, and this one seems to be a clarion call for oligarchy–Bane’s revolution seems to be saying, “This is what happens when Occupy Wall Street types get their way. We’re better off with the benevolent iron fist of the rich taking care of us.”

    It’s a fun can of worms, so I’ll open it.

    I don’t know that this was necessarily Republican, just as I don’t know that The Dark Knight was a defense of the Patriot Act.

    I haven’t seen Nolan discuss his political affiliations in interviews, but I suspect that he’d be pretty suspicious of political types in general, very reluctant to subscribe to set political ideologies, and very quick to point out how easily political rhetoric is distorted.

    The main point of the surveillance machine in TDK, for example, was that it wasn’t open-ended, and it was a response to legitimate existential threats to Gotham. That’s very pointedly not what the disputed parts of the Patriot Act are all about, as the Patriot Act was, whatever one thinks of it, a permanent expansion of police powers that law enforcement interests had been lobbying for for years. The key shot in TDK, along these lines, was when Lucius actually destroyed the machine when the threat had passed.

    Secondly, the key aspect of Bane is that his populist rhetoric was a complete lie. He didn’t have the slightest interest in a class revolt, it was just a sick joke by him before he blew everyone up. Now I wouldn’t be surprised if Nolan was very skeptical of OWS rhetoric, but I don’t think that the movie has much sympathy for the idle rich either. For example, there’s a very trenchant line by Bruce about what a scam their charity fundraisers are, and Bruce at any rate does not run in those social circles except as a ruse (and even that’s gone at the outset of TDKR).

    So, I don’t see it as “a clarion call for oligarchy”. To some extent, it’s a warning that inequality can lead to poor social conditions which upset the political order. Selina’s line to Bruce about the storm coming, I think, is very much designed to get his (and our) attention. And it’s a perceptive warning that, in conditions like that, revolutionary rhetoric can be corrupted.

    But the only “benevolent” iron fist is Batman’s – the fist of the elite class is distinctly not benevolent but rather self-absorbed and apathetic, as is the fist of Bruce Wayne (as distinct from Batman). And as the movie argues, anyone can be the Batman – to emphasize the point, the movie ends as someone without a privileged background gets set to take on the role.

  45. I don’t think either film was overtly political, but did have subtle leanings. Somewhere on this blog I linked to an article that came down on TDK for its right-wing aspects a lot harder than I did, but I can’t find it (it’s not in the Dark Knight review thread or openings).

    Yes, Fox destroyed the machine, but even using it once was a violation of civil liberties. Sort of saying, “well, we hate to do it, but we really have to, sorry,” which sounds a lot like profiling middle-eastern people.

    As for TDKR, yes Bane doesn’t believe a word of what he is saying, but I still found it kind of exploitative to use the 99 percent thing as a cover for villainy. Imagine if Bane had covered his exploits with civil rights for gays or something. It made me queasy.

  46. Yes, Fox destroyed the machine, but even using it once was a violation of civil liberties.

    I don’t know about civil liberties, because Batman is not a government agent, and as far as I can tell the machine existed without the government’s endorsement or even their knowledge. I think it’s dangerous and illegal, but it was presented explicitly as such.

    To me, the machine plays in to questions about vigilantism in general, and not really civil liberties in a larger sense. The other thing is that it wasn’t just destroyed – it’s destroyed as Batman says that “people deserve to have their faith rewarded” over voice-over.

    So I think that the machine really was presented with genuine ambivalence by the filmmakers, and I have a hard time seeing it as evidence of leaning one way or the other. If Nolan wants to make a movie showing racial profiling as dangerous and illegal while also pointing out that it can be useful in extraordinary circumstances, more power to him.

    As for TDKR, yes Bane doesn’t believe a word of what he is saying, but I still found it kind of exploitative to use the 99 percent thing as a cover for villainy. Imagine if Bane had covered his exploits with civil rights for gays or something.

    Hmm … that wouldn’t really make much sense, so my initial reaction would be that having Bane espouse gay rights would be pretty silly and mocked as such. The struggle for gay rights has not, to my knowledge, involved a lot of revolutionary-style rhetoric, but the OWS has. So it’s apples and oranges, IMO.

    I think the basic 99% framework is ingenious and I find it compelling in some ways, but overall I have very little sympathy for the OWS movement. The basic fact is, one doesn’t have to look very far for examples of that kind of populist rhetoric being used for villainy by people who, unlike Bane, are perfectly sincere.

    So I have to say, I think I’m kind of with Nolan on this one. I don’t think there’s anything particularly right-wing about being suspicious of would-be revolutionaries.

  47. but overall I have very little sympathy for the OWS movement.

    That’s where you and I disagree. I think it’s been very useful to point out that the system is rigged in favor of the rich, and has stirred up middle-American protest against things like the repeal of Dodd-Frank and other atrocities perpetrated by the Republican congress.

    And just because Batman is not a government agent doesn’t mean it’s not a violation of civil liberties. Would it be all right if he went around town knocking down doors and searching through houses trying to find the Joker?

  48. I think it’s been very useful to point out that the system is rigged in favor of the rich, and has stirred up middle-American protest against things like the repeal of Dodd-Frank and other atrocities perpetrated by the Republican congress.

    Really? I see no evidence for that. What middle-American protest? Romney is running closer to Obama than McCain was at this point. There’s little chance of the Dems taking the House, and they are fighting to hold on to the Senate, even though the GOP (with some Dem help) has sytematically stood against bank reform.

    I think that the 99% framework (as opposed to the overlapping but distinct “occupy” framework) holds some promise. It’s inclusive by nature, and meant to build bonds across class boundaries. But there’s simply no reason to believe it’s worked as you describe.

    Would it be all right if he went around town knocking down doors and searching through houses trying to find the Joker?

    No, of course it wouldn’t be all right, because it would be dangerous and illegal. But I’m not sure how it’s a violation of civil liberties. If a thief breaks into my apartment, that’s wrong, but it’s not a violation of civil liberties. If a father is looking for his lost kid who was last seen in the building, he can’t force his way into my apartment even if he suspects I’m a kidnapper, but if he does it’d be silly to say that he’s violating my civil liberties by doing so.

    Or we can look at it from the other side – does Batman violate Falcone’s civil liberties by apprehending him through extralegal means in the first film? Or by tracking the fingerprints from the bullet to the apartment (and entering that apartment without a warrant) in the second film? Or any of the other police-like things he does without actually having legal authorization to do it?

  49. From my vantage point, which admittedly is not necessarily the average one, there is more of suspicion of the uber-rich than there was three years ago. I think there is more of distrust of bankers and their ilk, and I think the protests are a part (a small part) but a part.

    On the other hand, I suppose it could be seen that Bane’s revolution has something in common with the Tea Party, so maybe Nolan is a lefty.

  50. On the other hand, I suppose it could be seen that Bane’s revolution has something in common with the Tea Party, so maybe Nolan is a lefty.

    That’s why they named him after Mitt Romney’s company, don’t you know?

  51. I liked it but found it the weakest of the trilogy.

    Liked how they used the passage of time as a factor in the story. Too often in action films everything is over the course of a day or a week or so.

    Bane was a good nemesis, Hardy is excellent with these physical roles. Catwoman and Robin handled nicely.

    But Tate’s death was laughable. My sister called it a “soap opera death” and that about sums it up.

    Looking forward to revisiting it, because I think I might like it more in the context of the other films, but it didn’t have the emotional impact for me that it seems to have had for others.

  52. I’m starting to worry that the film is going to completely collapse on subsequent viewings. I’m reminded of Prometheus in terms of plot holes and stupid character behavior.

  53. I take it all back.
    Holy shit.
    Read an article (I can’t find now!) stating the ‘bat symbol’ in chalk is actually the symbol for Nightwing and that….JGL was…….if Nolan was alluding to Nightwing? All if forgiven forever.

  54. I quite enjoyed the film, but have no idea how I will come to feel about it as I was absolutely bowled over by The Dark Knight when I first saw it and now I border on completely disliking it.

    One thing I will say – I look forward to one day seeing a Batman movie that isn’t a massve, over the top morality play.

  55. Oh, and yeah – there are scores of things that don’t make sense and lazy writing and stuff we’d rip lesser filmmakers a new one for but let Nolan get away with.

  56. Agreed, you could easily compile a list of questions re: the plot holes in TDKR ala Red Letter Media’s Prometheus-centric video.

  57. None of it smacks you in the face like it does in Prometheus, but the list would be equally as long at least.

  58. Nothing in TDKR smacked me in the face like “hey, I’m an expert zoologist and I think I’ll just try to pet this menacing alien vagina snake”.

  59. Okay. We disagree.
    A world-class detective with a war machine that can *blow the top off of a skyscraper so he can fly through* comes to where the police are, does some stupid thing to one PART of the tumbler and then, yes, flies off, leaving all the police there to die ‘noble’ deaths.
    Why didn’t he blow up the tumblers? Why? Why not? He doesn’t want to kill people, but he doesn’t care how many die? THROW A GODDAMN SMOKE BOMB FROM THE COCKPIT! You’re BATMAN.

    And why no one has an issue with where the fuck Bane parked those motorcycles is so far beyond my ken of understanding…

  60. That last comment I would like you to read with Sam Rockwell’s voice from this scene in Galaxy Quest:

  61. Just random off the top of my head:

    1) Bane takes the trouble to fly Bruce halfway around to imprison him. Why didn’t he leave anyone in or above the prison to ensure he didn’t escape?

    2) How did Bruce, with no identification or financial resources, return to the United States after escaping?

    3) How did Bruce get back into the quarantined Gotham City, when it was heavily guarded by the military, with just the clothes on his back?

    4) In a city of millions of people – how did Bruce locate Catwoman immediately upon his return?

    5) How does Bruce get a massive flying tank out of a Wayne Enterprises without anyone noticing?

    6) How does no one notice a massive flying tank under a tarp on top of a building?

    7) Who are the workers that assembled The Bat and The Tumbler? How have they not come forward in the 8 years Batman has been public enemy #1 to say “Hey, you might want to poke around Wayne Enterprises…”

    8) Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 31 years old. He reminisces about Bruce visiting his community center or whatever when he was a boy. Bruce was retired for 8 years and was only active as Batman for, at most, a year or so. Even if we assume character is a few years younger than the actor – wouldn’t he have been in his late teens/early 20s at the time of Batman’s arrival in Gotham?

    9) When did Bruce sustain the injuries that have left his body devastated if he retired shortly after Dent’s death and has been out of action for 8 years? He seems to be moving well in The Dark Knight…

    10) Wouldn’t Gotham City assume that Bane’s army’s use of The Tumblers meant they were in league with Batman?

    11) …and if they knew the Tumblers were stolen from Wayne Enterprises – wouldn’t that raise some major suspicions re: Bruce being Batman?

    12) How does Bruce enter Gordon’s room from the outside? What major metropolitan hospital has windows that open?

    13) Why does Alfred allow random maids to wander restricted areas of Wayne Manor when Bruce/Batman has dozens of enemies?

    14) How does Bruce get all of his affairs in order, including leaving the Bat Cave to someone he’s just met, when Gotham city is under siege and he’s in a hole in the ground on another continent? Even if you were to say “well, he probably did it AFTER folks that he died…” How would that work?

  62. The tarp thing made me chuckle. It didn’t come close to matching the roof. Hilarious.

    Another thing – did Bruce really allow Alfred to think he was dead? If not – is Alfred an Oscar-worthy actor?

  63. Oh – and is Bane in his mid to late 40s if he was at least a good ten years older than Talia in the prison?

  64. You forgot one:
    *Where did Bane park the motorcycles and why did no one in one of the most secure buildings in the world notice motorcycles parked in their lobby and whyt did one of the most secure buildings in the world allow a man to walk in with his motorcycle helmet on!….jeezus, what an inept mess.

    This was Jaws 2, this was Ghostbusters 2, this was every sequel that ever completely went off the rails.
    Know why the Star Wars trilogy sustained MOST of its amazingness until George Lucas sunk his claws into the special editions? Because before Lucas decided to change them, he stepped out of the director’s chair and oversaw the project and let new voices tackle each one. Nolan completely got lost in his own trilogy. And man, did he throw common ‘film’ sense to the dogs.

  65. How did the whole cafe thing happen? Did Bruce and Selina follow Alfred, anticipate his lunch plans, and race into the restaurant so they could be seated before he could?

  66. “Of all the cafes in all the countries in all the world…how did they know when I’d be here and how did they know the cafe and how were they still seated when I sat down?”
    Love it.

  67. Another thing – did Bruce really allow Alfred to think he was dead? If not – is Alfred an Oscar-worthy actor?

    Yeah, why would Bruce even want to put Alfred through that if he eventually planned to reveal himself at the cafe? It’s like the worst prank ever. “I’m going to make you think that the closest thing you have to a son is dead so you completely break down and want to die inside. Got ya! I’m eating a fucking croissant!”

  68. The thing is – Alfred’s reaction wasn’t a big one at the cafe, so I think by that time he knew Bruce was alive. Cause heck – it’s basically his son – if he thought he was dead he’d be shitting his pants with joy upon finding out he’s alive. The question is – when did he find out Bruce was alive? Was it soon after the funeral or did he know all along?

  69. And going back to Batman Begins – “The world is too small for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear.” Unless you hide out in France, I guess.

  70. Addressing filmman’s JAWS 2 / Ghostbusters 2 comment – my thing with this is that I think TDK makes no sense, so this isn’t some big comedown to me. I expected this one to be Swiss cheese. I think Begins is still the best of the bunch.

    As to JAWS 2 – I think it’s actually a good film, it’s just that JAWS is the greatest film ever made and there was no way to match it.

  71. As to JAWS 2 – I think it’s actually a good film, it’s just that JAWS is the greatest film ever made and there was no way to match it.

    Point taken.

  72. Jaws 2 is pretty good. Some of it borders on pseudo-remake territory, but it’s certainly one of the better sequels Hollywood has produced.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Jaws 3-D, but I wouldn’t dream of arguing that it’s a good movie.

  73. 1. Why wouldn’t anyone believe Brody again? Wouldn’t he be viewed as some hometown hero/shark slayer by the community and automatically earn the benefit of the doubt?

    2. Why does Brody give up finding an expert on sharks after a single phone call to an unavailable Matt Hooper?

    3. Where does Murry Hamilton’s character find his insane blazers?

    4. Why would Bruce Wayne trust Selina Kyle to lead him to Bane when she’s already proven herself to be completely untrustworthy?

  74. 4. Why would Bruce Wayne trust Selina Kyle to lead him to Bane when she’s already proven herself to be completely untrustworthy?

    She did lead him to Bane. They fought. Batman lost. Except for the last part, that was pretty much what he wanted, wasn’t it? He was disappointed in her betrayal on a personal level, but it didn’t materially effect his plan as far as I could tell.

  75. Where does Murry Hamilton’s character find his insane blazers?

    Now you’re just being ridiculous. They’re on Martha’s Vineyard. There’s nothing but ridiculous marine clothes and gear and tchochkes on Martha’s Vineyard.

  76. Was just making fun of the ridiculous way Hardy’s ‘lilting voice’ always goes up an octave at the end of his sentence. And then I realized I dislike this movie so much I hope it gets a venereal disease.

  77. As to James’ J2 questions (BTW – how to I quote somebody here?)

    1. Obviously just frustrating film logistics – the film would be 30 minutes long if everyone believed Brody

    2. They cut this part out, but every other shark expert had just died in a blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Years Day.

    3. Mitzy’s Kitschy Coats at the corner of Main Street and First.

    4. You just naturally want to believe a hot piece of ass.

  78. Oh – and some TDKR answers I believe I’ve sorted out.

    1. Bruce got back in the city by pretending to be a worker on one of those food / supplies trucks. He still had his prison beard and wore a hat, so no one recognized him.

    2. The prison wasn’t actually halfway around the world – it was in Delaware and Bruce walked. A little deceiving, yes – but have you been to Delaware? It’s hell on earth.

  79. I’ve been to Delaware once and the few hours I spent there continue to haunt me two decades later.

    Still better than Orlando, though.

  80. Bruce got back in the city by pretending to be a worker on one of those food / supplies trucks. He still had his prison beard and wore a hat, so no one recognized him.

    That’s actually not a bad explanation.

    BTW, you quote things here by adding blockquote tags. I tried to put them in this post but it kept quoting the quotes. Arrgh.

  81. Batman could have gotten back into the city in any number of ways. He’s just one guy, and particularly acrobatic and stealthy at that. It was a bit jarring to see him show up – I figured Nolan would at least spend a minute or at least give us an insert shot with a cursory explanation – but overall I didn’t really see it as an issue because it just didn’t seem that hard of a thing for him to do.

  82. Better question: WAS HE GONNA LET THAT LITTLE BOY GET KILLED?! What if the little boy hadn’t made it to the overpass? What if the guys pushed the kid over the side of the overpass? Why is Batman such a DICK and making everyone fend for themselves so he can make a grand entrance?! What a douchebag….

  83. Why was he standing on the overpass and letting a little kid get mugged and then giving catwoman that STUPID smirk. It was as if HE KNEW the script and so he knew the little shit would be alright.
    Jeezus, I am so far on the other side of dislike, it’s almost to hate.

  84. That much of a lazily-written scene: “Oh, look, she’s so tough, those terrible men are accosting a TWELVE year old and she saves him, oh, look, there’s Batman, who was WATCHING the entire time.”
    This is one step above Batman smirking and then going: “You double-crossed me. LOL. Here’s that thing you wanted, regardless, bitch. JK!”


  86. Saw it again last night. As this is a fictional city, we could assume there’s an underground parking garage beneath the stock exchange and they brought the bikes up in the elevators.

  87. Anyway – I found the biggest plot hole of all. Bane breaks Batman’s back and leaves him defenseless in this prison and we’re supposed to believe his cellmate wasn’t raping him constantly those five long months? He was charged with keeping Batman alive, not protecting him from anal trauma.

  88. Somehow I managed to stay away from this review and thread for a year. I finally saw the movie last night and I’m sort of on the Nick & James side of things. I can’t read the Brian vs. Brian back-and-forth for more than a few comments so I skipped most of this thread.

    Basically I found it to be the worst of the 3 with too many questions/holes/whatever you want to call them. Usually these can be found on subsequent viewings but many were glaring right away (as James pointed out a few). Some were director/editor continuity weirdness, some were story problems and others were logic/physical problems.

    Foremost: Bane’s voice immediately took me out of the movie. Right from the get-go. Perhaps it is the home theater mix, but his lines sounded like disembodied ADR throughout the whole thing with the exception of the microphone at the football stadium. So I couldn’t take him as seriously as a villain of this nature should be taken. And it just went downhill from there…

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