For more than ten years now, Christopher Nolan has proven time and again just how gifted of a storyteller he is. The varying degrees of excellence he brings with all of his movies reminded me of the consistency that Pixar has shown with their movies until recently. Unfortunately, Nolan’s latest movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” suffers from the same dip in quality that Pixar suffered with “Cars 2,” though, whereas “Cars 2” may have just been not very good, “The Dark Knight Rises” is fucking awful.
I sometimes joke that I did not like “Batman Begins” but I actually do enjoy the movie. I just never liked how you are beaten over the head with the movie’s theme, fear, and the editing was a little choppy for my tastes. Overall I enjoyed the movie, and “The Dark Knight” is about as close to Batman movie perfection as you can get. “The Dark Knight Rises” slowly shows you just how broken it is as it lumbers along until the agonizing ending nearly three hours later.
One of my biggest issues with “The Dark Knight Rises” is that the plot is very muddy and only becomes more so as the movie progresses. Between Bane’s plan, Selina Kyle’s involvement, Bruce Wayne’s self-imposed exile, a strange energy source, and shady characters making shady dealings, I was never completely sure what was going on. The convoluted, confusing story, and a noticeably absent Batman through most of it (I hope you like spending time with Bruce Wayne!), makes “The Dark Knight Rises” a chore to sit through and not very fun. I wouldn’t feel quite as strongly about these issues if the movie was, say, an hour shorter. A movie can be five hours long so long as it is engaging and interesting. “The Dark Knight Rises” never really takes off and all the heavy drama only fueled my rage until the bizarrely uncomfortable and out of character ending. Sadly, this is not where this movie’s problems end.
Any hero is often measured by how good the villain he is pitted against and Bane served only to drag this movie down. His mask served two unintentional functions: steal whatever personality he might have been able to show if we can see his face, and make him difficult to understand. Seriously, there were times during the movie where it sounded like he was talking through a plastic Solo cup with a couple of holes poked in the bottom. He is most certainly the least charismatic villain Batman has gone toe to toe with and has had the most unbelievable scheme to date. I’m sorry, but brute force and a few carefully placed bombs are not going to rip Gotham City down and make people completely abandon society. At least Ra’s Al Ghul was going to use a neurotoxin to make people tear the city apart. The Joker was just trying to prove a point through chaos. Obviously these movies are not documentaries, but they have some grounding in reality. I couldn’t get behind Bane’s plans for this movie simply because it stepped too far outside of the believable framework that Christopher Nolan had set up over the previous two movies.
I can sometimes look past story issues if I simply enjoy the company of a character. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are as solid as ever, and Michael Caine proves once again that he is the best character in this series. New to the series is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, and, though she is never referred to as Catwoman, we all know who she is. She can hold her own in this movie as both a love interest, and as an ass-kicking self preservationist. However, characters like Bane, his cronies, and a few others I don’t care to mention really suck the life out of this movie with heavy dialogue, as they prattle on in a very Metal Gear-esq way. For those not familiar with Metal Gear, it means that a character will be dying, or revealing their master plan for a good forty-five minutes before you get back to the issue at hand.
Even the action is awful in “The Dark Knight Rises.” There are scenes where cops and Bane’s goons face off and it looks like a scene from the cutting room floor of Gangs of New York. Batman and Bane even fight a couple of times and both times are exceptionally boring. Why Batman forgot his training and decided to fight Bane with haymakers is beyond me. Overall the actions is clunky, forced, and, worst of all, boring.
Some might argue that it’s just a superhero movie and I’m overthinking it. I might argue the same thing to Christopher Nolan. He tries to have some deep narrative and ends up sacrificing the humor, action, interesting characters, and the engaging stories that made the previous two movies so good. “The Dark Knight Rises” is exceptionally heavy on story and dialogue. It tries to keep things interesting with a few plot twists, but the movie lacks clarity, and drags on for way too long. I never thought I’d say this about a Christopher Nolan movie, but this movie sucks. Though it’s not nearly as bad as “Batman & Robin,” “The Dark Knight Rises” is exceptionally disappointing and should be avoided.
for how two out of three ain’t bad.
tl;dr – It’s takes a very special combination of things to make me angry when I leave a theater and Christopher Nolan has accomplished that with his latest entry in his Batman saga.