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The Dark Knight Rises – It was terrible!

The Dark Knight Rises - Theater Review
Release Date: 7/20/2012 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 2 Clacks

Like Tim Burton's 'Batman Returns,' 'The Dark Knight Rises' shows that smart people can make bad movies. 'The Dark Knight Rises' lacked the strong writing, sharp dialogue, and well-developed plot of the previous Nolan Batman flicks.

The Nolan brothers’ Dark Knight Rises (2012) committed the same mistakes as Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), showing that brilliant people CAN make mistakes in writing, directing and producing. It seemed more interested in high concepts that didn’t play out, body counts (with shock value killings making no sense) and beautiful visual scenes. Maybe it wasn’t awful (save in my mind), but the convoluted storyline and characters took away from what could’ve been an awesome film.

Too many concepts
The multiple plot lines were weak. The last two films (Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008)) contained clear thesis sentences from point A to point B. We knew who the villains were, we understood their backstories and we knew what they wanted to do. We also understood Batman’s trajectory. However, here, who was the villain? What were their motivations? And, what did the film want to talk against: the top 1% or the Occupy protestors? Is this about corporate financial manipulation or eternal costumed evil? Is it about 21st century sustainability or 1970s issues? The film threw out too many concepts to make it seem ‘larger’ than it is, but instead it just seemed smaller.

Too many characters
The problem with the second and fourth 1990s Batman films (Batman Returns (1992), Batman & Robin (1997)) surrounded too many characters and not enough depth. The strength of the past two Dark Knight Nolan films surrounded the Nolans’ ability to focus on one villain and show depth of character as well as both sides of good and evil. Last time, I wanted to cheer for the Joker. And, I utterly understood where the Scarecrow came from in the first film. However, in The Dark Knight Rises, we had villains upon villains, and each becoming seemingly inconsequential once the new one appeared.

Plus, towards the middle of the film, they shunted the canonical characters to the side, forgetting about Batman, Alfred and the Commissioner. And, outside of the two new lead characters, I didn’t care about the sub-characters they created. And, don’t get me started on the multiple focal points for Bruce Wayne’s love life.

I loved the idea of Bane as The Dark Knight Rises‘ villain because he’s the man who broke the Bat. While the 1993 comic storyline which lead to Batman’s crazy replacement became convoluted, I loved Mitch Brian‘s writing of Bane in Batman: The Animated Series. It was clean, clear and concise, while portraying both Bane’s intelligence and physical prowess. I wanted to see a similar rendering in the film. Unfortunately, the vast amount of characters and over-the-top concepts canceled it out.

Lack of development
The initial two Nolan family films did a great job of developing Bruce Wayne and showing that Batman remained at his core. But, here, we don’t see that. Wayne has issues to overcome but he does it through people telling him what to do than through his own internal struggles. While I always loved the Bruce-Alfred paternal connection, here it seemed phoned in. Finally, there’s a running joke in Spider-Man that never applied to Batman which the writers somehow enveloped into The Dark Knight Rises with a more serious tint, which still made no sense. Don’t get me started on the ending. If you ever read the comics or watched the cartoons, you already know the plotlines of two of the characters, the minute they appear.

The New Characters
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Officer John Blake, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda all rocked. However, I must specifically call out Hathaway and Gordon-Levitt.

I was afraid we might have half an hour of a cringing Selina Kyle, before getting the Catwoman we all know and love. But, we hit the real Selina almost immediately. Once again, I laud the Nolan brothers for casting smart women in their films. This is the Selina Kyle Matt Hollingsworth and Darwyn Cooke wrote in Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score. This is a woman who uses her wits, brilliance, and knowing naughtiness to acheive her goals. Luckily, her costume made sense concerning her profession. I loved watching her character play off the Bat. Unfortunately, like the second Tim Burton Batman film, we get an awesome character, but a thinly formed plot. Dear future Batman producers, can we get a film that introduces Catwoman AND maintains a strong script? Let’s not forget Joseph Gordon-Levitt who stepped to the plate as the uber-built, yet uber-sincere cop. Although we could’ve had less of his character, JGL you have my external kudos.

Maintaining Continuity
I hated that the 1990s Batman lacked continuity in switching the two Dents. And, I hate when films absolutely ignore the after effects of the previous film. Luckily, that doesn’t happen here. But, I wonder if the acknowledgement of the previous film’s effects slowed the pace.

The Special Effects
It goes without saying the visual sequences and cinematography were visually stunning and amazingly gorgeous. The reason I defended the second Batman flick, despite the poor plot, surrounded the beautiful scenery. This time around, I wanted a strong plot to accompany the strong visuals.

Warning: If you watch it in an IMAX theatre, you might experience 360 degrees of motion sickness. But, just shut your eyes, and it’ll go away. Or take some Dramamine, ginger tea, and bring a barf bag. The upside down scenes looked amazing via IMAX. But, once again, prepare yourself.

Overall, the film was a mixed bag. The woman cackling next to me called it “Awesome,” but the fanboys outside the theatre called it “Awful.” At first, I felt as if I wasted three hours of my life. Like Jeremy said, it wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t the worst, but it could’ve been better. Much better.

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

13 Responses to “The Dark Knight Rises – It was terrible!”

July 21, 2012 at 2:33 PM

You need to watch it twice to get into the pace and to review it. The iconic fight scenes between Bane and Batman are nightmarish and well worth the viewing. This film deserves at least three viewing experiences before a solid opinion can be formed.

July 21, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Bulls***. why do I have to see a movie twice/thrice to ‘get it’. that’s down right laughable. I love Hitchcocks North by Northwest, Marnie and Rear Wondow. i did not have to watch these movies multiple times to get and understand them. Sounds like you are making excuses because you really wanted the movie to be great. I did too…but the fact is the movie is unbelievably AWFUL.

July 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Sounds to me like you think yours is the only opinion that matters.

July 21, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Not sure what to make of your review, although you did point out good and bad points. However your title says it’s terrible, yet your final summation “it wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t the worst,” seems to contradict the title. Maybe “mediocre” would’ve been a better word to describe it instead of terrible.

I did notice the movie seemed disjointed from the start, scenes cut from one to the next rather quickly. Also, at times, Bane’s dialogue was tough to understand. For those people who didn’t see the first two films (not sure why they wouldn’t), the story may have been tough to follow with characters just appearing. Overall though, it’s the visual effects, scenery, fights and yes, even trying to figure out the story (for those who don’t read all the comics) that really makes this worth paying to go see. Most people go to the movies to be entertained and this will do it!

July 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM

The Movie was awesome first and foremost because a complex plotline is what batman deals with! SO to watch a Batman film you must think like BAtman. He is solving a crime throughout the film. Who is Bane? What does he Want? Then towards the end he finds out What and WHo Bane is! The alfred-bruce thing was missing but that was the point! to break someone remove those that elevate him! So this part was necessary. All the characters is what makes BATMAN! he is a hero who faces multiple enemies at once! take THe Graphic Novel “Hush” For example. He faces every single villain! why!? Because that is how batman works! He faces impossible odds just like in the comic when he faces off with Bane. DEVELOPMENT? the characters are already developed! Bane,s story is through out the movie. Selina is as well. Bruce goes through a transformation, blake does as well, and all other characters develop as well. The ending is based off of this story line not those in the comics! this is the end of batman as told by the NOLANS. they Started the Batman differently and ended differently! This ending was VERY FITTING.

July 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Ummm this movie was friggin awesome. Hands down box office smash. I saw it friday and i knew it was good, but I didn’t know how good until i saw it again on saturday. I love all 3 of the Nolan Batmans.

July 21, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Add that this film has very little actual Batman screen time. You spend most of it, watching a bad cop flick.

No cool gadgets besides a bat copter. The Bane vs Batman fight, was like watching a old 1920’s boxing match where they just hit each other over and over again.

We have 11 minutes before the bomb explodes! Really??? Really??? The surprise save from cat women! Seriously?

I have no problem being in the 1% who knows this film is boring and cliche

July 21, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Just saw the movie and if you had any idea what you were talking about, you’d have given it a good review. It was an amazing movie. No it didn’t have blood or gore but it had depth and surprises and action and as an intelligent person and critical thinker, I have to say that it is awesome. To say Batman is boring and cliche is in itself stupid because of course everyone knows the story… it’s not cliche, it’s classic. I wish morons weren’t allowed to speak their opinions and irritate those of us who have brains.

July 22, 2012 at 1:24 AM

Really? A rushed, sloppy first act that’s a disjointed collection of individual scenes with actual hard inconsistencies between them; mediocre acting and one of the worst action scenes ever in a Batman film is amazing?

July 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM

Oh come on now. Have you seen The Green Lantern? Save the t-word for movies like that. ;-) I enjoyed TDKR and thought it bookended the trilogy nicely.

July 22, 2012 at 2:24 AM

Ha, my eyes rolled into my head when cat women road the bike in the building just in time to shoot bane. They should have played music when Bruce Wayne was getting back into shape.

July 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM

. . . . .

An: I read this review (as well as Jeremy’s) before heading to see the film Saturday night. While fearing some taint from the both of you, I knew I would be able to put that aside, look at it from a 3rd party perspective and make my own decision.

This was a terrific film. It was intricate, kept me on my toes and was filled with a lot of things I wasn’t expecting. By the same token, it was filled with quite a few plot lines and “surprises” I was expecting, as well.

Granted: Following in the path of The Dark Knight is a daunting, impossible effort to live up to. But regardless of some of the cheeseball moments (Kyle’s appearance at the end just in time to take care of Bane, for example) it lived up to it in its own fashion. The multiple story lines with villains and situations didn’t muddy the waters, they simply added to the intrigue. Of course not everyone, let alone the fanboys, is into the corporate corruption plainly evident in this chapter. But it made for interesting situations which moved the story along in a logical sequence. Too many characters with not enough depth? Naaaaaah … point of view, in my opinion. Did I have Bane figured out? Yes. Kyle was surprising in many ways to me, not the least of which was how likeable she actually was. That was a big surprise. I saw all the ending elements in various encarnations, but I didn’t foresee Alfred removing himself from Wayne in the manner he did. Too little screen time for The Batman is a major complaint from the geekdorknerds out there; bollocks, I say. That worked for me. The ending was a bit typical, but it didn’t leave me groaning, it didn’t leave me with complete satisfaction. It was just fine.

Overall, this was a terrific film to follow up the classic TDK with everything that that one gave us. They can’t all be gems, but this one shown just fine for me and I’m not left wanting in the least.

Kudos to Matthew Modine for being an ass.

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