Mario-Francisco's Review of The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises(2012)
For a little perspective on my review, let me preface this by stating my opinions of the first 2/3s of this trilogy:
Batman Begins- I thought it was a fantastic movie. I loved just about every moment of it, and I felt Nolan laid down an amazing blueprint for a gritty, realistic crime saga starring Batman.
The Dark Knight- I thought it was a good film, but the foundations began showing outward signs of cracking. Suddenly, after setting the tone for realism in the first film, Nolan began bending his own rules. Batman and Rachel can fall down the length of skyscraper, with minimal chuting of his cape, crash onto a car and be perfectly fine? Batman would choose to put Dent in his safe room prior to the Joker's arrival to the gala, and not bring Rachel in there, too? The love of his LIFE?!? I'll avoid delving further into plot holes and inconsistencies, I'll just leave you with one question regarding TDK: How much less interesting would the movie be if not for Heath Ledger's bravura performance? Would the movie stand on its own, in terms of scripting, pacing, and direction...if the Joker had been played by someone more average?
The Dark Knight Rises- Ah. Where to begin. What a mess. If the foundations cracked during TDK, then in TDKR the building itself tumbled completely. I've watched the movie twice during its opening weekend. The second time was to fulfill a promise, and so I used it to give the movie a second chance and/or attempt to list all of the issues I had with it. I hate to say it, but halfway through the movie I had lost count. So here's a random assortment of grievances and reasons why I felt Nolan failed us.
1. COINCIDENCES. Generally speaking, when scenes revolve around coincidences, it's a sign of lazy writing. It can be forgiven for Catwoman's introduction, where she back-flips out of the window and walks directly into the car of the random Congressman that had hit on her earlier in the night. It's completely far fetched, and what on earth are the chances that he would be in that exact spot with his car as she made her escape? I say it can be excused because that scene acted as a neat introduction for the character. But then, what of the fact that her kidnapping him became crucial in the scene where she's selling Wayne's fingerprints? So now something that happened completely by CHANCE is part an essential part of her plot.
Speaking of that scene, how could she have possibly known how unrealistically fast the police would arrive at the bar after the villain used the Congressman's cell phone? I don't know about you, but I live in NYC- a major metropolitan city like the one in Gotham. I don't care WHAT kind of emergency call goes out, there would not be a SWAT team in riot gear, and 3 squad cars at the bar within 30 seconds of him placing that call. And that's what it was. Something like 30-45 seconds. But they HAD to come that quickly because otherwise the scene would fall flat, and he'd probably kill her and still escape before the police arrived. That makes it a poorly constructed scene hinging on Selina needing something to happen that she had no way of orchestrating.
When she tackles Dagget through that random window, they fall on the random window-cleaning cart, and roll onto the random sub-roof of his building...how do Bane and his minions show up 25 seconds later? They couldn't have known prior to 25 seconds ago that this lady was going to attack their business associate and end up in this random section of his building. Better yet, why was Batman there? He had just escaped every cop in the GCPD, had no tracking device on Catwoman, or any motive to race to Dagget's house that night. Why was he randomly there? Because Nolan wanted to stage a cool scene where the two of them fight side by side and Bane gets his first glimpse of Batman in action. When that's your only reason for staging a scene, it's a bad scene.
Speaking of Batman's fortuitous escape from the GCPD. As he stood there, all stoically, watching the police swarm around him with cars and helicopters...what are the CHANCES that there'd be a conveniently placed truck with a ramp on it there, just waiting for him to go all "Gone In 60 Seconds." Was it a cool looking sequence? Sure. Was it believable? Nope.
Also, Chief Foley has the entire GCPD hunting Batman down. They chase him to a hilariously darkened alley, and then what do they do? They stop driving! They don't drive in after him, or shine their headlights to make sure he doesn't escape through the sewer or into a building?!? Nope. They stand there like a bunch of idiots, staring at the black hole of darkness. Why? So that Nolan can do the big Bat Flying Vehicle escape. Unbelievably weak move, to make everyone in the movie that's not a starring character appear to be a complete moron.
Bruce Wayne told Selina Kyle that his "powerful friend" wants to meet her tonight. He didn't give a TIME or a PLACE. And yet...they magically met at the right spot, at the right time, that night.
Batman is the only guy that knows how to walk on icy water, despite being weighed down by armor and gadgets.
Towards the end, how did Talia just happen to know that the brawl between Batman and Bane would lead them into that particular place? They began brawling in the street. And as a total spontaneous act, they fought up the steps and Batman decided to tackle Bane through that door on a whim. How did she HAPPEN to be there, ready with a new costume to change into, to reveal her treacherous turn?
There were plenty more examples of the overuse of COINCIDENCES and characters making convenient decisions to move the plot forward, so I'll leave it at that for now.
2. PLOT HOLES- There were glaring, stunningly abundant plot holes everywhere. And that saddens me. The creative team that had done so well in the first two movies has shown that they wrote this story with an air of cynism of laziness all throughout, basically assuming that we're too dumb to notice or that we're going to love it no matter WHAT they throw at us.
Gotham city is taken hostage. The entire city. And all the US government does is send in TWO undercover special agents? You mean to tell me that if NY was taken over tomorrow, all the President would do is say, "Well, they've got a nuke. There's nothing we can do. Oh well."
Bruce Wayne, who trusts no one, goes from having his first real conversation with Miranda Tate one night...to trusting her with a nuclear weapon, passionately making love to her in his home, and entrusting her with his family's legacy 36 hours later? Enough said.
The city is locked down. But Bruce Wayne, with NO money, NO resources, and NONE of his Bat-Tech is able to get in after breaking out of that prison hole? You're killing me, guys.
Oh, and how was he able to track down Selina Kyle in that massive city with- again- no resources? He just happened to be there, on that exact street, at the exact moment she saved the boy with the apple? Please.
Bruce Wayne had a vertebrae dislodged in his SPINE and, within a matter of 5 months is able to A) Walk fine, B) Train like a prize fighter, C) Attempt to climb that wall TWICE and fall down with a rope around his waist causing an injury that would certainly undo all the rehab on his back?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Why would Batman, upon saving Gordon on the icy river, ask him where Miranda Tate is...when, in the prior scene, he SPOKE to Tate and Fox at City Hall and clearly knew that she was captive there. He even said, "I can't get you out of here yet. I'm sorry." Why would he ask Gordon, then, where she was?!?! Well, because Bane delivered the line, "He'll come for her," and Nolan decided to follow that up with Batman's stupid question.
Why would Batman tell Catwoman that there's no auto-pilot in the Bat craft, if he secretly fixed it prior to that? No one else was around, and we know he intended to have her join him for their mutual "fresh start." He said it to throw us, the audience, off, for the swerve ending. But in a real life, logical conversation, why would he tell HER about the lack of auto-pilot? Makes no sense. That whole interaction didn't even have to happen to begin with. It was put in place merely to throw the audience off, and that's weak.
GCPD deployed every SINGLE cop into the tunnels at that precise moment? And Bane KNEW this would happen? A) That's not a realistic response by any law enforcement agency and B) How could Bane have known that it would be happening, and at exactly the timeline he'd hoped, so that he could trap them all at once? Imagine if he'd been wrong! What if only 5-10 elite crews of SWAT members had been dispatched, leaving behind 2,900 well-armed police offers against his vastly outnumbered terrorist group?
And the final HUGE plot hole? Even with auto-pilot, they clearly said that this nuclear bomb had a blast radius of SIX MILES. And they showed Batman's face, from inside the Bat vehicle, within 10 seconds of the explosion. So...how did he get six miles away from that explosion, within 10 seconds?
3. INCONSISTENCIES- This film was filled with inconsistencies. Things that didn't add up based on prior knowledge we were given.
Gotham City now contains the iconic NY landmarks the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and the emerging Freedom Tower? Since when? We've seen dozens of aerial shots of Gotham throughout the first two films. Where were those buildings then? For that matter, why doesn't the city look ANYTHING like it did in the first two movies? Logistically, because they didn't film it in Chicago or London this time. But within the film world Nolan created? No explanation.
Bane went to such EXTREME lengths to keep Bruce Wayne alive, to kill him at a pivotal moment later on, going so far as to fly him away from Gotham and place him in a prison where people would feed him and put on the TV for him. He was hell bent on making him suffer. Then, all of a sudden, after Talia reveals herself, he says, "You know I have to kill you now, right?" Despite the fact that this woman I supposedly love told me she wants me let you live the next 11 minutes to suffer with the millions of people you failed, "You'll just have to imagine the fire." WHAT? This dude who took so much pleasure in drawing out Batman's pain, and fighting honorably, hand to hand, was about to settle for a quick, cowardly, neck break kill? Did this make sense, character wise? No. Did it allow for Catwoman to have her Han Solo moment? Yes. And that's the only reason Bane suddenly completely changed. LAZY WRITING!!!!!
Gordon is the top cop in Gotham. He worked diligently, side by side, with Batman for a very long time...and he never figured out his identity. But this Blake dude, who's only ever just SEEN Bruce Wayne in person without ever speaking to him...is able to deduce that he's Batman? Because he has special Orphan Batman Radar? Spare me.
"Sorry, boys. But Bane wants this one to himself," says Catwoman to Bane's minions. And, even though she is NOT part of their team, they LISTEN to her?!?!?!? How would CATWOMAN know Bane's orders before THEY do? They just instantly assumed that she's an evil member of the League because she's dressed in black leather and put on her sassy voice? Ridiculous.
4. SPOON-FEEDING- This script, more than the others, had the least amount of faith in its audience. They felt the need to spoon-feed us everything because they didn't think we could figure things out otherwise. "Hmm...the truth is weighing heavily on Gordon's mind. Instead of letting Gary Oldman's excellent acting plus the well-known PLOT of the trilogy tell the story, let's have him say out loud, near a microphone, 'The truth, the truth. I should tell you the truth about Harvey Dent. But maybe now is not the time.'" Why would he SAY that? Wouldn't the crowd in attendance wonder? Wouldn't the papers be speculating, "Has Gordon been lying to us all these years? He eluded to us not knowing the TRUTH about Harvey Dent!"
This happened several times in the first half hour, where characters regularly spoke their subtext out loud. They stated things that didn't need to be said because any person with a brain could deduce them on their own.
And speaking of lines that lack nuance or tact: "Did you come here to watch Gotham be destroyed?" "No! I came here to stop you!"
You just epically escaped a prison hell, travelled across the world, and are ready to go after the man that broke your back before he nukes your city...and the best you've got is, "I came here to stop you"? DUH!
Maybe the writers were on auto-pilot.
What a train wreck. I was so disappointed. The creative team really let me down, and Nolan's lack of tact, coupled with the cynism evident in his choices were simply insulting.
It's his own fault, too. He painted himself into a corner with the first movie. By laying out the unspoken rules that this franchise would be realistic, set in the real world, with believable characters and outcomes, conveying to viewers that this was a "Thinking man's comic book movie,"...he shined a spotlight on himself, and put limitations on what he could do. And instead of staying within those confines, he chose to devolve more and more into a "dark popcorn flick saga."
The last thing I'll say here is that all of these things I stated above I might've overlooked in a different franchise. In the Marvel Film Universe movies, for example. The stuff with coincidences wouldn't bother me at all. Those movies are abundantly larger than life, colorful, over-the-top movies that wear their Comic Book Roots proudly on their sleeves. They're not meant to be taken seriously. They're meant to be joy rides, loaded with Gods, aliens, super soliders, and flying billionaires. So they have wiggle room built in, if they want to have far-fetched scenarios. But not these movies. No. Nolan stripped away every conceivable comic book quality from the first movie. He made it very serious. Very logical. Very thoughtful. He made boldly UN-comic book choices to differentiate this from the Spider-Mans, the X-Men, and the Supermans of the world.
Christopher Nolan drew a line in the sand that, ultimately, he wasn't able to stay behind. He buckled under the weight of his own creation and couldn't figure out a way to finish what he started in the WAY that he started it.