A Retort – ‘Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises is Big, Ambitious and Disappointing’

Dear Readers, I’m no good with words, I’m inadequate. I wallow in the shadow of the wordsmith that is Beardman. I’m merely Bucky to his Cap, Chewie to his Han (hey I like that one), Robin to his Batman.

Beardman wrote an excellent piece on The Dark Knight Rises, however I feel the complete opposite. I adored this film, I think it delivered on so many levels, I feel it was a triumph.

I saw the film before Beardman and immediately messaged him saying how amazing it was. I then received a message back in the week and was heartbroken, he simply said “I really didn’t like it”. Heartbroken. My Chum, my Brother in Nerd, he who gave me Year One and Long Halloween, my Jim Gordon who turned me into a Batfan, didn’t like it.

So we talked about it, and as mentioned he gave clear, concise points on why he didn’t like the film, and the flaws it contained. All I could do was scream “but it’s awesome!”. So at 2am this morning, whilst watching the film again I decide to write this. Please bear with me, I may ramble, but this is from the heart. I’d like to think you wouldn’t be reading a review of a film you haven’t seen but if you are, please be aware of spoilers.

Rises is all about Batman, and by Batman I include Wayne. The Dark Knight was all about The Joker, Batman was always one step behind, Batman lost control to The Joker. Rises focuses on Batman as a whole, from Wayne’s depression, to his arrogant return, his breaking to his rebuilding. This time he is one step ahead, he picks a goon of his motorbike, he’s ready to save Catwoman on the roof, and apart from the minor blip of having ones back broken, he comes back with a plan.

My sarcastic tongue in dripping with venom and I’m trying to hold it back but… Batman is comic book character. You know he hangs out with a chick who has an invisible plane, and an alien who can fly yeah? It’s a comic book movie. Yes The Dark Knight was a razor-sharp commentary of a world gripped by fear of terrorism, however The Joker is still a man in make up with a grandiose despicable plan born from a comic book. Nolan uses the 1% movement and the financial crisis as a backdrop but they are simply elements of the fulfilment of Ra’s al Ghul master plan of destroying Gotham. Some say that this side of the story is bloated and unnecessary but it all ties in to Bane and Talia trying to destroy Gotham bringing the story full circle. Daggett uses Bane to fulfil his greed in taking of Wayne Enterprises, Bane used Daggett for his ‘Small fortune and infrastructure’; without the financial attack Miranda Tate wouldn’t have got into her position of power, with access to Bruce, and more importantly FULL access to the nuclear generator. Tate got into a position to become “The slow knife”. To me there was no part of this story that wasn’t needed and didn’t cause a chain reaction later on. Nolan draws on real life issues to write a story about BATMAN for a COMIC BOOK movie, these elements are not the main part of the story. Making a Sausage is messy, but boy they are tasty.

This film looks at Batman, both the man and the symbol. Wayne has been a recluse for 8 years, and thinks he can just strap up his knee with a fancy gadget and go and beat the crap out of a man mountain he knows nothing about? Here Wayne is arrogant, egotistical and reliant on gadgets, his little flash bang not even making Bane blink. Batman has lost his connection to his roots and thinks he is more than he is, “I’ll fight harder, I always have” after 8 years away is never going to work but Wayne doesn’t see it this way, to his cost. Some question why we need to see Batman rebuild himself twice? This is because he didn’t rebuild himself correctly the first time, there was no fear, no real threat to Batman himself. Yes this is a selfish view, yes Batman is the Defender of Gotham, but there has always been a threat to himself as well as his beloved city. So when Bane breaks Batman the threat becomes real, and the threat to Gotham becomes more real to Batman because he now see’s his failure in thinking he could just take Bane the way he did the first time. The same can been seen in the previous films; Ra’s al Ghul is trying to Kill Wayne as well as Destroy Gotham, The Joker wants Gothamites to die as well as “kill the Batman” and this drives Batman to success. Nolan’s Batman needs the fear to survive, and we see him rebuilt in fear, a metaphysical resurrection where Batman rises from hell with the drive to succeed the second time around. I loved this section, as it fulfils the whole ethos of The Dark Knight Rises.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was a slice of fried gold! Beautiful, funny and sharp as a razor, move over Michelle Pfeiffer. You know you have an interesting character on your hands when she kicks the cane away from a crippled man! However questions have been raised as to why Batman would go back to Catwoman after she nearly got him killed. Well yes she does sell him out, but this is out of fear of Bane. Catwoman has an element of good, and she has done what she has done to escape her past. We see she has had a hard life, and she has been promised a way out that doesn’t exist. Batman see’s the hidden good, and he has the tool to help Catwoman and get to her on side. Both Batman and Catwoman underestimate Bane, and it’s not until she locks Batman in a cage with a force of nature that she realises what she really has done. Then the ‘storm’ hits and the consequences of her actions are driven home, and her good side comes to the fore, and this is where Wayne is able to get her to help. Again the relationship between Batman and Catwoman was born in comics, they have always had a love/hate relationship. There would be more issues raised if Catwoman was all good, all the time. Let us take the positives here people, Halle Berry who? Also I’ve yet to see anyone mention that roof top fight scene, it was pure Arkham City!

There has been some criticism of both Bane and John Blake knowing the identity of Batman, and I’ll concede that Wayne’s reaction to Blake’s revelation is somewhat conservative. However I feel this could be put down to Wayne’s trust of the good ol’ boys in blue of the GCPD, maybe… But Bane, of course Bane knows Wayne is Batman, he was in the League if Shadows! I’m pretty sure that each member gets a wanted poster of Batman in their mailbox at least once a week! Bane seems to have 2 parts in the film but at the end of it all Bane is working for Talia, and why wouldn’t Talia tell him who Wayne is. That brings me on to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake. JGL is quickly becoming my new favourite actor, and he was a star turn in Rises. Nolan’s interpretation of Robin is based on 3 comic characters – Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake (Robins 1,2 and 3). Grayson’s parents were murdered due a debt, Jason Todd (post Crisis on Infinite Earths) is an orphan. Most importantly Tim Drake worked out Batman’s identity at a young age and has natural investigative skills, as this is mirrored by Blake making Detective. Why not just call JGL’s character one of these existing Robin’s name? Well surely it’s better for the majority of the films fans at the 7.30 showing who may not necessarily be comic aficionados to enjoy the reveal, that the 5 fanboys who would just nod knowingly. Blake fits into the Nolanverse perfectly.

If you are still reading I thank you more that you could know. I’m nearly finished I promise. My esteemed colleague said in his review that “Here the focus is on the Wayne the man, not Batman the symbol”. Believe it or not I have to disagree somewhat. The last third of the film is where Batman becomes more that a man and becomes a symbol. When Batman saves Gordon he sets alight a building size blazing Batlogo. Batman is back and even Bane shows his shock. The members of Bane’s Army who stand guard at the point of exile also get taken out but Batdarts – they don’t even see the man, they see the symbol. We also see a new Batsignal that has been built (not by Commissioner Gordon, look at the surprise in his face when he first sees it). Then there is Blake’s ending, when he enters the cave and the platform begins to lift, we don’t even see his face, but here stands our newest hero rising out of the water and out of the scene, fade to black and BOOM – “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES”. Take from this what you will for the future but the scene is very specific in it symbolism.

The positive reviews have already said more that I could about how awesome this film is and I could go on but I feel i’ve said enough. Tom Hardy as Bane is mesmerizing, and yes the vocal effects can be described as interesting but I wonder how first seeing Darth Vader sounded in 1977. Gary Oldman, Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman are Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, what more can you say. That opening, those explosions, those quiet scenes, the use of light compared to the darkness of The Dark Knight, that final fight scene; I could go on. I contend that the flaws are far outweighed by the successes of the film. To me this film is better that Batman Begins and equal to The Dark Knight. This film was phenomenal.


Posted on July 29, 2012, in Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I wrote my own review (nowhere near as well put as yours) of TDKR, like your friend I was disappointed and vowed I wouldn’t see it again at the cinema……..but your review has MADE me want to see it again.
    Great review.

    • Oh thank you so much or that! I really do think the film is amazing and it does deserve a second go! Open your mind, ignore the bad points and i hope it blows your mind like it did mine!

  1. Pingback: Christian Bale’s Batman Audition – Chris Nolan explains the Batvoice | NerdArena

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