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The Dark Knight Rises

The 2012 film directed by Christopher Nolan based on the DC Comics character

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Can't a Comic Book Just Be a Comic Book?

  • Jul 21, 2012
Rating:
+3
Star Rating:


Why does Christopher Nolan labor under the delusion that the Batman character should transcend his comic book image, and that the comic book movie needs to be redefined? Does he not realize that, in taking this approach, he has robbed audiences of that which makes them so entertaining? Twice before, and now with The Dark Knight Rises, he has dragged an innately escapist concept kicking and screaming from the shadowy world of make-believe into the blinding light of reality, brutally forcing it to adjust to its new settings. The harsh, cold, brooding, allegorical Gotham City he has created is so lifelike in temperament and appearance that it’s impossible for me to accept the idea of a man dressed in a bat suit fighting crime with high tech gadgets and gizmos. That requires a certain degree of fantasy in order for it to work.
 
What disappoints me is that I seem to be the only one that feels this way. I never fully embraced the critically and commercially successful Batman Begins, and my praise for The Dark Knight, arguably one of the best reviewed films since Citizen Kane, was lukewarm at best. What most audiences and critics accept as narrative genius, I dismiss as weaknesses in plot, structure, character, and tone. It’s easy to appreciate the film for its individual components, including the performances, the action, the special effects, and the subtexts. But when put together, it comes off as an awkward societal melodrama, the gap between cartoon silliness and high drama never quite being bridged. It’s at heart a comic book, and yet Nolan treats it like a deadly serious tragedy and expects the audience to recognize it as such.

                                               
                                                 
It doesn’t help that the plot is needlessly convoluted and that we somehow have to keep track of a slew of new characters, many of whom seem important and yet are featured in precious few scenes. It takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, at which point Bruce Wayne/Batman took the fall for district attorney Harvey Dent/Two Face, preserving the latter’s reputation. Police commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) knows the truth and feels guilty about it, and yet he also knows that, through a law known as the Dent Act, organized crime in Gotham City has been virtually eliminated. Meanwhile, a disillusioned Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse within Wayne Manor and is now unaware that his company is struggling financially. He’s finally lured out of isolation when a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) successfully infiltrates his private safe and steals a pearl necklace that belonged to his mother.
 
She also steals his fingerprints off the safe and attempts to sell them to a member of an anarchist terrorist cell run by a mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy), a hulking brute whose mask mechanically amplifies his voice, making him sound like a cross between Sean Connery and Darth Vader. His goal is simple: To take control of Gotham City. His methods, however, are quite complicated and rather brutal. In what comes off as one fell swoop, he destroys all bridges leading into the island of Gotham (a.k.a. Manhattan, a change from Chicago), traps the entire police force underground, assassinates several high-ranking officials, steals from Wayne’s armory, frees all inmates imprisoned under the Dent Act, and finally hijacks a reactor, which was initially developed by Wayne as part of a clean energy project but was abandoned when it was discovered it could be transformed into a nuclear weapon.

                                               
                                                 
Wayne, as the newly emerged Batman, forms a shaky alliance with Selina, formerly Bane’s associate. She wants her police records wiped clean and the chance to start life over again. As this is being established, we meet several other characters, including: John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a newly promoted detective who deduces Wayne’s alter ego and wants Batman’s name cleared; Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a philanthropist and the new board of directors at Wayne Enterprises; Peter Foley (Matthew Modine), a deputy commissioner convinced of Batman’s guilt; and Holly Robinson (Juno Temple), Selina’s friend and accomplice. Of course, we also are reunited with most of the original supporting cast, including Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane, the latter now judge and jury in a makeshift courtroom formed after Gotham descended into social chaos.
 
When Wayne injures himself, he winds up in the same prison where Bane spent the majority of his life. While there, Wayne learns his mentor-turned-enemy, Ra’s al Ghul, had a child, who remains to this day the only inmate ever to have escaped. The child’s identity is ultimately revealed, although I can’t say I was all that surprised by it. I can say, however, that I would have appreciated it much more if the film had been the escapist comic book adaptation it was clearly intended to be. The Dark Knight Rises has individual qualities worth recommending, but as was the case with the previous two installments, it proves that Christopher Nolan was not the right choice for this material. Unlike Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, which found the right balance between dark psychology and fantastic feats of fun, this new trilogy sulks like a moody teenager.

                                                    

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July 26, 2012
It certainly lacks the ingenious plotting of The Dark Knight but I thought it was pretty good. Our ratings only differ by a single star. I do agree with most of your criticisms; honestly, the ending just lacked a lot of emotional power and resonance for me. Maybe it was the fact that it kinda shot itself in the foot with twist-after-twist-after-twist. But it's a work of true craftsmanship and I admire it.
July 26, 2012
I think I'm the only person in existence who believes this whole trilogy is vastly overrated, The Dark Knight especially. Oh man, did the fur fly when I said that Tim Burton's Batman was better than that film.
 
July 21, 2012
I am with you about its convoluted plot, but truth be told, the BATMAN comic books are even darker and much more intricate than Nolan's creations (save for The Dark Knight). Comic books are not what people remember these days. Bane is even more sadistic in the comic books--so Nolan tried to make the right moves. My problems with this movie is the script, too ambitious in covering too much, but leaving many areas underdeveloped. I was able to connect the dots, but the script here was a little sloppy.
July 21, 2012
I'm not a comic book reader, so I judge the film adaptations on their individual ability to entertain me. My poor response to Nolan's trilogy stems from the belief that, regardless of what he actually went through in the original magazines, the Batman character belongs in a less serious cinematic world. In my mind, Tim Burton's film gets it right; it's dark and psychologically driven, yet it also has a goofier, comical side. It never lost sight of the fact that it was a comic book film.
July 22, 2012
well, I disliked what Tim Burton did with the character. I understood, but it was so far away from the source material. Spider-Man I can see having a goofier side, but Batman has always been a darker character after his revamp--it abandoned the comical side in the 60's. Nolan got the tone right, but it was the writing in this film which I found wanting.
July 22, 2012
I've always viewed film adaptations differently. To me, it makes no difference if they stray from their sources. All I care about is the story as it's being presented to me on the big screen. Nolan's take on Batman may be more faithful, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the most likable. Sometimes, changes like those employed by Burton can actually improve on the material. But then again, that's just me.
 
July 21, 2012
This is a detailed review; however, I'm afraid there's too much violence in today's movies.
July 21, 2012
It depends entirely on context. If the violence is sensationalized, if the purpose is merely to be exploitive and disgusting, then there's no call for it. If, however, it appropriately reflects characters, events, or circumstances, it works. When it comes to a comic book adaptation, the violence tends to be more cartoonish -- over the top, yet without the feeling that someone is actually getting hurt. There are exceptions, Kick-Ass among them.
July 21, 2012
The key to interpreting violence is how it sets off dangerous acts which are harmful to the public like the recent mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Putting out a violent movie is like "spitting in the wind". You don't know where it will land or the consequences.
July 26, 2012
Yeah, and that means they should stop making violent movies, period. Please. It's America's fault for glorifying murderers like this sick bastard. And it's also our fault for making it so easy to acquire guns and so difficult to get ourselves medicated if we are truly as sick as this man. Violence can be entertainment. It can also work as substance in cinema. They will not stop making violent movies and they shouldn't. Some of the best violent movies would not be the same without the violence. It makes way for context, a story, and even a complex character study. And the fact that you think THIS - among all the other films out there - should be considered "violent" is both baffling and strangely hilarious.
 
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie

Wiki

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy,

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

The screenplay is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
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Details

Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: July 20, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures
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