Last Thursday, I went to my first midnight movie screening since “Star Wars: Episode I”. Leaving the theater at 3am after watching “The Dark Knight Rises,” I could not have been more satisfied by what I’d just seen. After six days of reflection, I still believe that what Christopher Nolan, et. al. have created will go down in history as one of the greatest contributions to action films ever. That said, the more I think about it, there are several things about the film that really bother me. The rest of this post summarizes my chief complaints, and is copied from an email I wrote to three of my close friends earlier this morning. As we discuss it, I’ll post interesting points to my Tumblr (it has a neat discussion feature I’ve wanted to try). By the way, the paragraphs below contain major spoilers — don’t even think about reading them if you haven’t seen the film.
First and foremost, I liked The Dark Knight Rises a lot. Like so much these days, the movie was bound to fall victim to impossibly high expectations. That said, I think there are some valid points of criticism that are worth pointing out. The most significant problem I have with the movie is, very ironically, how rushed some aspects of it felt. At two hours and 45 minutes, this is a hefty film; yet to me, much of the heft seemed devoted to fantastically choreographed action scenes. The dialogue and character development – such a critical aspect of the first two films – almost seemed like a burden Nolan knew he needed to resolve as the movie careened towards its epic conclusion. Here are two glaring instances of this rushed feeling:
- The whole character of Miranda Tate. When and how did she surface in the past eight years? Also, how does she so swiftly transition from being an annoyed investor (“You have a practiced apathy, Mr. Wayne” is one of the best lines in the whole trilogy) to a lover and willing conspirator? Her whole narrative arc felt odd to me.
- I really enjoyed Bane, and his voice didn’t annoy me nearly as much as it did others. That said, his death really puzzled me. Again, it felt like Nolan didn’t think it through. In the beginning of the film (or, rather, the end of the first hour and a half), Batman is pummeled by Bane. We see him rebuild his back and regain his former strength in a (Moroccan?) prison, yet he doesn’t seem to learn any lessons or new skills from his first encounter (unlike after his fights with Ras al Ghul and the Joker). Despite that, he returns to Gotham, and immediately kicks Bane’s ass in a matter of minutes. To me, it was completely unclear what made Batman newly enabled to do so.
There isn’t a whole lot else that I found problematic with the film. I loved the ending. Where some directors and writers might have been arrogant enough to bring finality to the Batman canon, Nolan left a lot open for future auteurs to resolve. I think many will appreciate that in the future. Also, for what it’s worth, I absolutely loved Anne Hathaway’s contributions to the film.