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Reasons for writing this review
Let’s start with the obvious question, why write a review for this film at all?
At this point just about everyone who had an opinion has either written a review or posted a comment somewhere, not only is another review unnecessary at this point, it’s just annoying, so I know most people are just not interested in reading this.
Well first of all believe it or not there are some fans of my writing on this site who keep asking when I’m going to write something new. But the main reason for writing this is that so far I’ve seen a LOT of reviews for this film online and on TV and almost all of them seem to kiss up to the director.
Now I have more important things to do with my time than write movie reviews, but I’m currently stuck on a plane and I have to do something to take my mind of a screaming baby! Also there are several things I want to say about this movie and get them off my back, so this article or blog or whatever you want to call it isn’t as much for everyone else as it is a form of anger management for me.
So please let’s not waste any time with the “witty” remarks about how boring it is to see yet another review for The Dark Knight Rises, if you feel your time is being wasted please leave. Also please be warned, I have a lot to say!
Adaptations and Reinterpretations
Before we start I feel I need to clarify a few terms, Chris Nolan’s Batman films aren’t adaptations as much as they’re reinventions of these characters.
The Watchmen and 300 movies are straight up adaptations of existing stories, Chris Nolan’s movies not only feature new stories, the characters have been reworked, sometimes merely in physical appearance sometimes in motive, behaviour, intelligence and other aspects.
In my opinion the best adaptation of the Batman so far has been Batman The Animated Series by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, which was itself based on a reinvention of the character from the sixties. Nolan’s Batman is a third generation Batman, he’s a mix of various elements of the characters taken from a variety of stories that were themselves reinventions of the original character who was itself… not all that good (sorry)!
The Batman is more or less a twentieth century urban Zorro. The aspects of the Batman that we enjoy such as the Batcave and the psychological aspects have been slowly added one at a time by talented writers such as Bill Finger and Denis O’Neal.
Understanding Modern Batman
The Batman started out as a dark and brooding masked detective but quickly went through a series of changes; the character became a colourful happy go lucky father figure. By the time the sixties had arrived the character had become little more than a joke so Batman publishers hired novelist Dennis O’Neal to reinvent the character.
O’Neal focused on the psychological aspects of the Batman, this version of the Batman is the version most people are most familiar with, the dark night detective Batman, Frank Miller later completed the job with his work establishing the dark knight Batman.
There’s a difference between a hero and a vigilante, a hero inspires others and wins trust and respect, a vigilante doesn’t care as much about the trust and respect of others as they do neutralising their opponents, the Batman is the latter.
The Batman doesn’t really see his team mates or fellow crime fighters as friends or even colleagues, he sees them as assets and sometimes liabilities, the character doesn’t really even have any friends. In the Batman comics the Batman withholds vital information from Robin and other allies so he can control them, the Batman also keeps files on how to neutralise his own allies like Superman and the Justice League in case they go rogue.
The Batman is basically a bully, he uses a form of psychological warfare, using his disguise and some simple tricks to convince his enemies he’s more than a man, he uses fear and intimidation tactics to make his enemies change their patterns of behaviour, what terrorists do to society the Batman does to the world of crime.
The writers were aware that if they were to make so many changes the character would end up being the villain in his own book, much like Marvel’s Punisher, so they decided to keep one element of the character intact, Batman’s rule that he will never take another person’s life.
The point is the Batman is not a nice guy.
After the failure of Joel Schumacher’s second Batman film the Batman franchise was left to fallow for a while, years later Chris Nolan was selected by Warner Brothers to re-launch the franchise, starting with Batman Begins and it’s sequel The Dark Knight. Both films were very well received and Nolan got many aspects of the character right.
First and foremost, not only does Nolan’s Batman not kill, but that decision becomes a problem for him when his enemies pick up on it and exploit it. Unlike previous versions of the Batman, Nolan’s Batman performs surveillance, keeps records and has a crime lab like a real detective would. But unlike the comic book version of the character, who seems to have no limits on his intellect, Nolan’s Batman only knows so much and has a similar limit on the level of martial arts he trained in, the comic book Batman has mastered every form of fighting in the world.
Nolan has made similar changes with the other characters in his interpretation of the Batman, in the comics the original Joker was little more than a bank robber with a clown motif, in fact all of Batman’s enemies were gang bosses with motifs; the Penguin only stole bird themed valuables and even Catwoman had a gang of cat-garbed thugs at her beck and call.
Nolan’s version of the Joker was different, he reinvented the Joker as a completely different character. Nolan’s Joker is a man who sees himself as an agent of chaos, Nolan reinvented the Joker as a terrorist which allowed him to voice his opinions about how easily Americans scare at the threat of terror but also how they rally together to show a sense of solidarity in a post 9/11 world. Even in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman the Joker was up to his usual tricks riding around on a giant birthday cake, but in Nolan’s film all the comic book elements of the Joker were dropped, if you take Nolan’s Joker, dress him in regular clothes and give him a ski mask he has nothing in common with the comic book Joker anymore!
Generally Nolan’s Batman is a faithful adaptation but it differs from the comic book in enough ways for me to call it a reinvention of the character, Nolan’s objective seems to have been to create a version of the Batman who could exist in the real world.
One more important thing, as I mentioned the Batman is basically a terrorist who fights criminals… well, have you noticed how Nolan’s Batman, kidnaps the Chinese accountant from Hong Kong, how he beats the Joker while he was in custody and how he violates everyone’s privacy by tapping into every cellular/mobile phone in Gotham? Hmm… it kind of sounds a lot like what George W Bush and Dick Cheney wrote this Batman! Now when a friend (who hates The Dark Knight, you know who you are) first pointed this out to me it took me all of eight seconds to realise he was absolutely right, except I actually like that, it suits the intimidating nature of the Batman!
Like I said, he’s not a nice guy!
The Plot of the New Film
Now I’m going to assume that you are already familiar with the plot of the new film, if not please be aware there are MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film opens with a thrilling action scene where a gang of baddies break a criminal named Bane out of CIA custody. As Bane and his merry crew escape a crashing plane he calls a member of his gang brother and tells him to stay behind as the authorities must find a body within the wreckage and the gang member obeys! Obviously Bane’s men aren’t simple guns for hire they’re terrorists willing to die for their cause… whatever the hell that cause is!
We cut to Gotham where eight years have passed since the apparent heroic death of former district attorney Harvey Dent which has allowed the passing of a law which gives the police special powers necessary to fight the mob, as a result Gotham City is virtually a crime free paradise. But Dent became the villain Two-Face, went bananas and kicked the bucket, Batman took the blame for his crimes and Commissioner Gordon lied about it. Consequently Gordon feels guilt over what has happened and wants to reveal the truth to the world in a speech which he conveniently writes down and keeps in his pocket! Wayne himself, now a cripple, has become a recluse.
Meanwhile a mysterious Cat burglar named Selina Kyle steals Bruce Wayne’s mother’s pearls, but the theft was a ruse, what she was actually after were Wayne’s fingerprints which she fences. The criminal Bane arrives in Gotham where he captures Gordon just long enough to get Gordon’s speech, then Gordon escapes, if only he hadn’t written that speech down or destroyed it instead (this guy is the commissioner of police and is familiar with the handling of evidence)! Gordon is hospitalised and appoints policeman John Blake to be his eyes and ears on the force, because the police force in a now paradisiacal Gotham can’t be trusted!
Bane raids the armoury at Wayne Enterprises where Batman’s friend and master of arms Lucius Fox has conveniently stored all of Batman’s arsenal within the heavily populated city limits!
Bane attacks the Gotham City stock exchange to enter a program into the computer systems at the behest of Wayne’s business rival John Dagget. Gotham’s Dark Knight intervenes and Bane and his men still manage to escape, but the Batman manages to come across the mysterious Cat burglar and has a chance to fly around the city in his new toy the Bat… helicopter without blades thing… that makes a lot of noise! (I’d just like to point out that in the last film the Joke’s men took down a helicopter and Batman is meant to be a master of stealth!)
We find out that Dagget used the fingerprints he got from the mysterious Cat burglar and the computer program Bane entered into the Gotham Stock exchange system to falsify a transfer of funds that give him control of Wayne Enterprises. Wayne now destitute is forced out of Wayne Enterprises and leaves control of his company with Miranda Tate, a business woman who proposed the creation of a new nuclear fusion device that Wayne had thus far financed designed to give poor people free energy, finally something that sounds like what Bruce Wayne would do!
Bane confronts the Batman and the two look like they’re playing Patti cake, but it turns out that this is what passes for the beat down of the century in the Nolanverse! (By the way the best superhero beat down was the climax of Superman II and let no-one tell you different!) Bane cripples the Batman then takes him to the pit prison where he grew up. Bane uses Dagget’s construction company to transport explosives underground where he sets a trap, then lures all of Gotham’s police force underground, where they proceed not really thinking it must be a good idea to leave some cops on the streets! Bane traps the police underground using the explosives. Bane’s men also destroy the bridges that connect Gotham to the mainland isolating the city and tell the US Army that if they try to liberate the city he will detonate the nuclear fusion device he has successfully managed to turn into a bomb.
Bane takes Bruce to the pit prison where he grew up. In prison Bruce hears the story of a mercenary who fathered a child with the daughter of a warlord, the warlord wanted to punish the mercenary but he was nowhere to be found so he punished his own daughter by sending her to the pit, where her child was born and grew up then escaped. (For those who don’t know this is more or less the origin of Bane from the comics.)
During his healing process Wayne hallucinates seeing Henri Ducard, aka Ras Al Ghul, who tells him that he was the mercenary who fathered the child, even though this was only a hallucination in Wayne’s mind so he effectively gave himself the story info! Brucy retains himself Rocky style sans montage to get back into shape and then climbs the ledge to escape the prison, a feat no man aside from the child has ever managed to accomplish, even though anyone with a plank of wood or a rope ladder could have done so!
Several months later the Batman has now returned to the isolated Gotham by means we are never made aware of and teams up with the mysterious Cat burglar and liberates Gotham’s police who must be severely malnourished and in poor health but they still fight Bane’s men and wackiness ensues! Batman and the mysterious Cat burglar take on Bane and of course Batman never kills anyone so anticlimactically the mysterious Cat burglar has to be the one who kills him! But the truck with the nuclear weapon is commandeered by Miranda Tate who reveals herself to be Talia, the daughter of Ras Al Ghul and it was she an not Bane who escaped the pit prison as a child.
The bomb is activated and no-one can stop it but the Batman volunteers to fly the bomb out to sea with his Bat-flying-thing. (I’d like to point out that in the last two films the Batman vehicles were designed and built in a way such that the prop vehicle worked in real life conforming to Nolan’s plan of a reality based Batman world, two out of three ain’t bad!) The Batman has to pilot the craft himself as it has no autopilot; the bomb detonates apparently killing him.
The estate of Bruce Wayne is divided up to benefit the citizens of Gotham but John Blake is given the Batcave even though there’s not much there as both Batman costumes and all his vehicles have been destroyed!
Lucius later discovers that the Wayne did create an autopilot for the Bat-flying-thing and he’s told this by revealing the Bat flying thing to the lab technicians even though he knows that the last time an employee of Wayne Enterprises saw that the plans for the Tumbler he worked out the Batman’s secret identity. The Batman is honoured with a statue in Gotham City Hall, a story idea that would make sense only in the Adam West Batman show!
Alfred sees or possibly imagines a couple who look like Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle living happily ever after in Italy and we realise that we went two hours and forty minutes without hearing the name Catwoman!
Before I go any further it’s necessary for me to explain about character revelations and plot twists.
There are many kinds of plot twists, some are a result of a flashback or a flash forward, some demonstrate events unfolding not as the audience knew they would and some work because they reveal information that adds a new dimension to the story.
But there is a particular type of plot twist that has become very popular in recent years, I’m not sure if there’s a name for it but the plot twist I’m thinking of involves introducing a character, developing him and finally revealing an important facet of their backstory. A few examples of this would be Darth Vader, revealed to be Luke Skywalker’s father and the Joker from the 1989 Batman film revealed to be the killer of Batman’s parents. This plot twist seems to have become very common following The Sixth Sense written and directed by M. Knight Shyamalan who has used this plot device extensively.
What makes this plot twist work is when it is not necessary, for example if Darth Vader had never been revealed to be Luke Skywalker’s father he would have still been a fearsome villain and the same is true if the Joker had never been revealed as the man who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents.
The times this plot twist absolutely does not work is when a character stands around for the overwhelming majority of the story not really doing anything at all and then suddenly reveals their true identity.
Chris Nolan used this plot twist device effectively in Batman Begins revealing that Henri Ducard was in fact the true Ras Al Ghul all along. Why am I pointing this out? Read on!
Blake and Tate
Police officer John Blake is a character played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, his function in the story is to act as the eyes and ears of Jim Gordon once Gordon is incapacitated, he also helps work out the plan of the bad guys. But Gordon does not need to be injured during the story, he gets better and gets back to work and Gordon could himself have been the man who worked out the bad guys’ plan. So what function does Blake have in the story? He’s meant to be the voice of Gordon’s conscience, Gordon never believes that he’s done anything wrong so an external person is needed to tell him what he did was wrong.
The problem is that Blake reveals his name is actually Robin and he inherits the Batcave. If that one scene is omitted from the story we find that Blake is now an unnecessary supporting cast character. Having him there to pick up the Batman costume doesn’t make him a good or necessary character. Nolan said this is his last Batman film, why have someone there to pass the torch to!
Miranda Tate, who later reveals herself to be Talia the daughter of Ras Al Ghul the main villain from the first film, is a character played by actress Marion Cottlillard. Tate has the same problem as Blake, her function in the story is to stand around delivering story information and convince Wayne that he should rejoin society but Lucius Fox or Alfred could have done that. She then sleeps with Bruce Wayne who will later end up with Selina Kyle, so their “love” is not necessary. At the end of the story she reveals herself to be Talia and it was she and not Bane who escaped the pit prison as a child. Once again if that revelation is removed the character no longer has any value.
So when we look at it both Tate and Blake each have the same function, they’re meant to mislead the audience into thinking they’re one person then reveal themselves to be another, this is a very good idea and it was a surprise because no-one saw it coming… oh yeah that’s right, EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET TOTALLY SAW IT COMING! I’m not joking about this in fact Warner Brothers had to openly deny it! There’s nothing lamer than a surprise twist everyone guessed months before hearing or seeing it!
The biggest let down in the story is Bane. In the comics Bane was introduced as the son of a Latin American revolutionary born and raised in prison where he would spend his entire life for his father’s crimes. Bane volunteered for an experiment where he was given a device attached to the primary vein in his left arm and the base of his skull via a special mask that could inject a super steroid named Venom into his body that would increase his strength and stamina. In the comics the Venom did not alter his size visibly but in the cartoons it did. When the first images of Bane circulated the internet it appeared as though the traditional full face mask of Bane had been redesigned to be a partial mask revealing some of the actors features allowing for his performance to better come across and also functioning as the Venom delivery system.
Surprise! In the film there is no Venom, Bane wears the mask because he was scarred when helping Tate escape the pit prison, although I’m not sure what type of scar affects one’s ability to breathe! Also when Tate reveals she was the one who escaped the prison and not Bane, it severs any connection the live action Bane had to the comics, in layman’s terms Nolan changed Bane so much he’s now Bane in name only! Oh and remember how Bane called his man brother, before ordering him to die simply so the authorities would have a body?
It seemed as though Bane’s men were true believers but it turns out that they don’t have any cause other than to destroy Gotham. But why does Bane want to destroy Gotham so badly? Because Bane was once a member of the League of Shadows the organization of a certain Ras Al Ghul, but Al Ghul himself rejected Bane from the League, so why continue the work of a man who hated him! Also Al Ghul’s plan was to destroy Gotham as long as it was the centre of corruption in the Western World, but in the opening scene of this film we find that Gotham is now an almost crime free city so why is Bane trying to blow it up, Batman or Bruce Wayne has proven that he was right all along, he saved Gotham without having to destroy it. So what the heck is Bane doing, in fact what is the League of Shadows doing, they’ve been proven wrong!
Also what’s the deal with Bane’s voice, everyone focuses on his muffled sound but the truth is the man is speaking with a British accent, after he grew up in a hole in the ground somewhere in the Middle or Far East!
Heath Ledger’s Joker had a hunched over look with a Midwestern accent, not at all what audiences were expecting from the Joker and yet somehow it worked, Hardy’s Bane just does not work.
Selina Kyle is a mysterious Cat burglar played by Anne Hathaway. Now in the Batman comics Catwoman started out as an airline stewardess and the character was eventually became a whore in a brothel. Why an airline stewardess? Because that’s what a man of the 1940’s would have wanted a woman to be. Why a prostitute? Because that’s what Frank Miller wanted a woman to be!
The character has never been done right. Catwoman shouldn’t be an airline stewardess or a prostitute, she should be a person with a knowledge of vaults and jewels, maybe an ex-cop herself, who is the victim of police corruption, someone who decides that in a city so corrupt, where there is no difference between the police and the mob, the only way she can survive is to steal and to do it better than anyone else. That way she becomes a product of the corruption the Batman is trying to free the city from and a perpetrator of that corruption herself.
Nolan’s intention was to create a story that would allow him to comment on the current financial situation just as the previous films allowed him to comment on terrorism in modern America via the Joker and the nature of fear via the Scarecrow. So logical thing to do would have been to make Catwoman a Robin Hood style character who would steal from the rich to give to the poor, instead Catwoman is portrayed as a Cat burglar with an axe to grind against the rich (so far so good) and she target’s Bruce Wayne, the one man in Gotham City who has done more for the poor than anyone else (swing and a miss)!
Also the character’s objective is a little computer program that can erase the identity of a person… why is that necessary? In the real world people have plastic surgery or just dye their hair. If Kyle is meant to be a master criminal than why not wear the full head mask like she does in the comics, she’s making it extremely easy to be identified as Kyle! If it’s obvious who’s behind the mask why bother wearing it, Bryan Singer understood that for Wolverine in the live action X-Men films.
A great aspect of Catwoman’s character that has been well used in the comics was that Selina Kyle was attracted to Bruce Wayne because she is a natural gold digger, something that’s never used in the film. In the comics Catwoman is the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone, who was in Batman Begins, another aspect of the character than could have been played on.
A quick side note, Hathaway is an amazing actress I love the way she mimicked the hand gestures of Glinda from the Wizard of Oz for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and here too she's the best thing in the movie mimicking Julie Newmar.
Alfred, Gordon and Fox
These are the only characters who have been well handled. In the last two films Alfred is the only person to point out how reckless and selfish Wayne’s behaviour is but as soon as the character does anything useful, he disappears! He could have shown up again when Wayne climbed out of the pit prison. The problem is the writer didn’t know what to do with this character who is arguably the second most important character in the series. Gordon and Fox are well handled, Gordon has to answer for the lie and conspiracy and Fox helps the Batman as usual.
Holy character misrepresentation Batman! Where do I start? At the end of the last film it was established that the Batman is a hero, not the kind of hero who stands before the crowd, but the kind of hero behind the scenes, one who will not take credit. This film starts eight years after the last and we find that the last time we saw the Batman at the ending of the last film was the last confirmed sighting of the character in public and no-one has seen him since. What this means is that it was the Gotham City Police Department and NOT the Batman who was responsible for the decrease in crime. The Batman was a vigilante who threw the first punch and inspired the rise of the costumed villains the Scarecrow and Joker, but once the Batman disappeared the city became safe and there were no other costumed bad guys! So thank you Mr Nolan for making the Batman useless in his own world!
Why did the Batman abandon the city? Was he afraid of the police or the mob? Was it because Rachel had died? In the comic Robin was killed and the bad guys and cops have been after the Batman since day one and he never abandoned his quest to save the city.
In the TV show Batman The Animated Series certain characters were reinvented most notably Mr Freeze. The comic book Freeze was a baddie of the week with yet another gimmick but the reinvention in the show was as a man turned into a monster no longer capable of feeling motion because of his condition, the frozen man is a suitable metaphor for the cold blooded revenge obsessed villain. A character reinvention is always a good idea if the new version is superior to the original. But here all the characters the Batman, Talia, Bane, Catwoman and Robin (if you want to call him that) are significantly inferior to their comic book counterparts.
Another major problem is that Nolan uses too many damn characters! An easy way to spot a redundant character is to ask what a character’s story function is and to ask if this function was necessary at all or could have been fulfilled by another character. I suspect that Nolan likes certain actors and would like an excuse to work with them so he writes redundant parts into his scripts, but that’s conjecture not analysis.
The simpler the idea the better it usually works, but the simpler the idea the less it usually impresses people.
Batman Begins was about a man confronting his own fear, then proceeding to use fear on those who rely on it themselves and he wasn’t the only one, the film was a grudge match between the Scarecrow and the Batman the two masters of fear manipulation. The story was also a coming of age story for a pupil who turned his back on his wicked master.
The Dark Knight was even better, a story of what a city so corrupt it depends on a vigilante does when the ultimate terrorist comes to town, the man wasn’t even a fanatic who believed in a cause, he just wanted to see the world burn! As others have pointed out the Batman is portrayed as a Samurai with Gotham as his master and every time he does something for himself he’s punished.
The Dark Knight Rises was the ultimate opportunity, to show how the one percent have manipulated and changed the laws to their own selfish needs and put the world in a predicament. The Batman has fought the leader of a league who believes that destroying the city will restore the world to righteousness and he fought the agent of chaos. Bane could have been a thug hired by corrupt city bosses, a personification of their harm they inflict on the common man. Whereas Nolan’s second Batman film was good social commentary on post 9/11 America his third is a would be attack on the one percent… except his hero is the one percent!
Also another thing worth mentioning is the meta nature of the ending of the second film. It ends with the Batman defeating the Joker who tells him that they, the Batman and the Joker could do this, forever! In that one moment they stopped being the Batman and the Joker and became the actors Christian Bale and Heath Ledger as the Batman and the Joker commenting on the timelessness of these characters. It was a clever move that one upped Nolan’s own nod to the rise of the super villains at the end of the first film. It was also reminiscent of the opening of Superman The Movie where we hear Marlon Brando telling the audience that this is no fantasy only to find it is the character Jor-El speaking to the Council of Krypton! There’s not really any moment like that here unfortunately.
In the past we’ve seen Nolan choose the best elements of the comics the same way a cook would choose the best cuts for the feast. Batman Begins uses many elements from Batman Year One as well as Batman The Long Halloween and also the Batmobile from The Dark Knight Returns.
There’s a difference between what you can prove and what your intuition tells you, but I feel that Nolan wanted to do a take on The Dark Knight Returns, so he created a situation where the Batman gives up and is forced to return. He kind of succeeded in a strange way, the Batman had no real reason to come out of retirement in The Dark Knight Returns and he had no reason to go into retirement in The Dark Knight Rises!
The film borrows heavily from a great Batman story called No Man’s Land, the concept was that Gotham City was wrecked by and earthquake and the government cut it off from the United States. This was actually a very good idea because it presents Gotham with a problem other than the villain of the week and it shows us how far the Batman will go for his city and if Gotham was a dangerous town before just wait until it has no water, power or police force. But whereas the comic book presented Gotham as a looking like war torn Bosnia, this movie shows that even after being abandoned by the authorities for five months Gotham looks like the business part of town on a Sunday afternoon, complete with trash pickup!
In No Man’s Land Batman took up his old costume from Batman Year One as a symbol he had renewed his commitment to save the city. In this film the Batman returns to Gotham after his one custom made costume was destroyed, this was the perfect opportunity to bookend the story by showing the Batman don his Batman Begins costume symbolically to show his renewed commitment to the city and also because it would be the only costume not destroyed.
Also many critics have praised this film because it’s modelled on A Tale Of Two Cities, now I’m aware that many of you haven’t read the book but that’s what Wikipedia is for! The only similarities this film has with that book is that some of the main characters did time behind bars and there’s an unnecessary character revelation. A few lines from the end of the book are quoted at the end of the film, but quoting a work of great art doesn’t make your work a work of great art, also quoting something really only works when the words fit the situation, here they really don’t.
What I Would Have Done Differently
Rewriting the plot of the film is fantasy not criticism… but this is the only place where I can actually do that besides… this is my review!
I would have had the film start eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, where we learn that the city still has serious crime and yet the situation would have gotten much worse if the Batman hadn’t been there. We also learn that between the time that the last film ended and this film happened the Joker has escaped from Arkham Asylum where he had been imprisoned for several years and other villains like the Riddler and the Penguin have been thwarted by the Batman. Drop Miranda Tate from the story and as the Batman is healing in the pit prison which should be named as the Lazarus Pit, Blake finds the broken Batman costume which he repairs and dons with a hooded cloak so he can walk around at street level without attracting too much attention and a homemade face mask as Batman’s full head mask was shattered. When the Batman shows up he comes across his successor and asks who he’s meant to be, Blake tells him he’s a modern day Robin Hood, you can see where this is going. The Batman saves the city as before and escapes with Selina Kyle who should be named the Catwoman and Blake takes up the Batman mantle. Also I would have called Blake’s character Jean Paul Valley, because he’s the successor to the Batman but he’s not any of the Robins (kudos to anyone who understands why I chose that name)!
Like I said, the last paragraph is not reviewing, it’s fantasizing, I’ve done enough.
In Nolan We Trust
Before this film was made we saw The Dark Knight, a good film despite a small flaw or two but people started saying things like “In Nolan We Trust” now obviously that means they trust Nolan, but from the obvious way it’s phrased, like the phrase “In God We Trust” it sounds like people saw Christopher Nolan not a man but as some sort of god.
Now what do you think goes on in the mind of a celebrity when all they hear from every source is that they’re the most amazing thing since sliced bread? They get overconfident. They start to think that the normal rules don’t apply to them, they stop trying because they know in the eyes of their fans they can do no wrong. This happened before with George Lucas, Alan Moore and others.
The flipside to this problem is that when we, the fans, continuously tell each other that a celebrity can do no wrong we create a collective delusion, we effectively tell a lie and repeat it to each other with such emotion we convince ourselves it’s the truth. Then the celebrity turns out to be a fallible human being and we can’t understand what went wrong! We need to constantly give ourselves a reality check, telling ourselves that our favourite celebrity is great, but still a fallible human being and we shouldn’t be too surprised if they make a mistake.
What’s the definition of a bad sequel? It makes you like the original less!
A lot of people were disappointed with The Matrix sequels and Star Wars prequels, it made them dislike the original or originals. Before watching this film I considered The Dark Knight the strongest superhero film I’d ever seen, after watching The Dark Knight Rises all the issues with the previous instalment now stand out. Did Mr Lau need to be in the previous film? Did Mr Reese? Did we need to see the Batman go to Hong Kong? What happened when the Batman jumped out of the window after Rachel leaving the Joker with all the party guests? Dent and Dawes knew the risks of taking on the mob and yet as soon as Dawes is killed Dent snapped too easily!
If I’m completely honest, my gut tells me that the script was unfinished at the time of production. There are many plot inconsistencies that a second screenwriter or producer could have spotted, but Nolan did have these people, the same ones in fact that he had used on the previous instalment which was much better, so why isn’t this film as good? Most likely Warner Brothers set a deadline and Nolan and people needed to meet it, if only they’d set the project back by a year they could have addressed these issues.
Another thing that bothers me is how the story has been engineered so that the Batman is only the Batman when he’s onscreen in Nolan’s movies once Nolan got more creative control… yes I know I just lost you, let me explain. You see back in 2005 when Nolan made Batman Begins the idea was to reboot the franchise and as these things go the studio has a lot of input, notice how in Batman Begins we had shots of the Narrows of Gotham and the mountain sanctuary of Ras Al Ghul, some pretty fictional looking places in Nolan’s realistic Batman universe.
Also notice how at the end the Batman’s adventures continued off-screen. Now when the sequel was warranted Nolan was not confirmed to return but once he did he was given almost full creative control and all the fantastic elements that counterbalanced the reality of the previous film was gone, Gotham didn’t even look like Gotham anymore it looked like Chicago (probably because it was almost entirely shot on location in Chicago)!
The second film ends with Batman driving off into the night and in the third we learn that the Batman hasn’t been active since the last frame of the last film. Now when other directors have made superhero films they’ve left the characters off-screen so that the franchise can be active in other media, for example Ghostbusters and Men in Black and yet Nolan didn’t allow that with Batman at the cost of character consistency and logic. Once again there’s a difference between what you can prove and what your instincts tell you but I can’t help but feel that Nolan wanted his Batman to be HIS Batman…
Is this a good film? Not really! Is this a bad film? Not really! How does it fare against the others? Well put it this way the worst Nolan Batman film is still ten times better than the best Burton one and a hundred times better than the best Schumacher ones (although I don’t like using the word “worst” to describe a Nolan Batman film or the word “best” to describe a Schumacher or Burton Batman film)! This film is still ten times better than The “Amazing” Spider-Man and it’s not nearly as entertaining or as much as an accomplishment as The Avengers but it has a lot more in terms of story, although the question is would you rather have a good but simple story or a complex but bad one?
OK, I’m done! I managed to get that out of my system and it only took me fifteen A4 pages and I’m about to land! Thanks for reading this very loooooooooooong review (rant) and I know that many people can’t stop reading once they start, so I’d like to thank you all once again for your patience and sorry for any discomfort you had getting through this! See you in the funny pages!
DISCLAIMER: Presented here are a series of opinions which are mine and mine alone, you may or may not agree with some or all of them, it’s your choice. Opinions are subjective and neither right nor wrong they simply reflect the state of mind and beliefs of the writer. Opinions are derived from facts which are always right and objective and to that end I proofread my articles extensively, you may derive an entirely different set of opinions from the same facts. Also this is not a discussion or forum that is open for everyone to have their say, it’s an article I’ve posted as an online blog to voice my opinions and you can do the same. Please be aware I moderate this blog.