The Dark Knight Rises: Did it rise above?

The Dark Knight Rises is one crazy, action-packed film. In comparison to The Dark Knight, where the film was full of weighty ideas, The Dark Knight Rises definitely topped it by a landslide. Director Christopher Nolan, whose has in multiple films, portrayed the darkness of human nature, was not all-in with creating a light and fun summer action film. But what he did was, he decided to pack his trilogy-concluding film with full of ideas, plot points, characters, emotional arcs, and set pieces that even with a 2 hour 45 minute run time, none of it has any room to breathe.

But I can’t say that the man didn’t know how to bring it, Nolan definitely knew how to bring out the goods. With his visual ambition and scope, and about an hour’s worth of IMAX footage backed by a massive budget, he has an impressive canvas to paint his picture. There are multiple sequences in this film that have a mind-boggling scale rarely attempted before. The result is a astonishing spectacle that manages to wow, despite its deep flaws.

I’m not going to try to recap the story, as you’ve likely either read about the basics elsewhere or you’re trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible. What I will say is that from a storytelling perspective, The Dark Knight Rises takes Nolan’s best and worst impulses and magnifies them. With the massive success of The Dark Knight and Inception, it feels as though all restraint is gone from this film. Nolan’s task here was basically impossible: he wanted to bring Batman’s story to a satisfying conclusion, bring to life two iconic Batman-universe characters (Bane and Catwoman), introduce new, minor characters with crucial roles in the plot, dive into a dark exploration of Bruce Wayne’s psyche, all while delivering on the mind-blowing action that we’ve come to expect from his films. Now, mind you, that was the spoiler-free part.

As a result, the storytelling ends up suffering. Moments when characters frequently appear out of nowhere, state their motivations explicitly, only to play out an inescapable action scene or just disappear. Throughout the film, a massive amount of plot developments are thrown onto the screen with reckless abandonment. The dialogue is contrived and trends towards function over form, furthermore, moving the plot along versus revealing interesting installments about the character in a reasonable way. I couldn’t grasp the raw menace characteristics of Bane, and while I think Hathaway brings a much-needed energy to the film, the Selina Kyle angle didn’t fit the way I think the Nolans and David Goyer had pictured it to be. It seems as if the action is intercut with more action scenes being intercut to the point where it’s quite difficult to get excited about what’s happening. The film’s tone deviates wildly from scene to scene and there’s rarely any build up to the payoffs, even though those payoffs admittedly are huge, and perhaps, all we need. There’s essentially enough plot packed into this film for two separate features, and the final result feels like it’s bursting at the seams.

So how did you all feel about The Dark Knight Rises? Was it a fitting conclusion for Batman, or is its ambitious nature ultimately a handicap? When you look at the three Nolan films as a whole character arc for Bruce Wayne/Batman, does that help put the events of this film in perspective? Let us know through your comments.

I’d appreciate it, if you all talk about the film rather than the murders in Aurora, Col. There are many places to discuss that terrible tragedy, so let’s stick to the movie stuff here.


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