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I did not have unreasonable hopes for "The Dark Knight Rises." The film that preceded it is a near masterpiece - a crime drama that spoke to the American psyche in a post 9/11 world. Heath Ledger's legendary performance as The Joker also has to be credited, but so much about that film worked to compliment his work.
I'd only hoped "Rises" would provide a satisfying ending. In my view it did not. Overstuffed with too many new characters and plotting that felt like trudging through a swamp, the film was also often silly and lazy with logic tossed out the window. I also found long stretches of it to be remarkably boring.
But the problems in "The Dark Knight Rises" go far beyond that. Here is a list of the things I found most problematic. They deal with both the film's themes and plot problems.
This assumes you have seen the movie, so if you have not, stop reading now. SPOILERS AHEAD 1. Rich dialogue turns to poor dialogue
The Nolan brothers' writing in "The Dark Knight" and even "Batman Begins" was challenging and fascinating. In "Rises," it's reduced to snark and grandstanding.
The Joker: "When the chips are down, these civilized people... they'll eat each other."
Catwoman: "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
The Joker: "I believe what doesn't kill you makes you... stranger."
Bane: "Gotham, take control... take control of your city. Behold, the instrument of your liberation! Identify yourself to the world!"
That last bit of dialogue leads to another issue: 2. What does Bane actually want?
It was clear in "The Dark Knight" that The Joker was purely interested in spreading fear and chaos. There's a great speech he makes to Harvey Dent in the hospital about how scared people get when there's no plan or reason for anything.
In "Rises," Bane gives a grandiose speech in front of cameras about the people of Gotham taking back their city from the corrupt upper class. But if he's just planning to blow up the city anyway, why would he care what the citizens do? His intentions are never clear, despite all the speechifying.
But therein lies another problem: 3. The ham-fisted politics
In "The Dark Knight" the biggest political conundrum arises when Batman asks Lucius Fox to use unwarranted surveillance to spy on people in order to locate The Joker. That was an obvious shot at the Bush administration's defense of the Patriot Act and its use to monitor potential terrorist plotting/activity.
In "Rises," Bane seems to be the king of the Occupy Wall Street movement, leading his hordes to the stock exchange to cause pandemonium and upset the balance and overthrow the rich.
But again, if his ultimate goal is to blow up the city, what's the point? 4. There's no more hope in humanity
There seems to be a fundamental change in the Nolans' view of the human condition from the second film to the third.
In "The Dark Knight," The Joker gives Gotham citizens a no-win situation where one boat has to blow up the other, or they both get blown up. Neither the boat of criminals nor law-abiding citizens will push the button. There's hope for humanity there. In "Rises," just about everyone is willing to go along with Bane's plan - sentencing each other to death or exile at will without fair trial. What happened? What's changed? 5. The pretty bow
With this third film, the Nolans obviously wanted to tie things back to "Batman Begins," with a pretty red bow, but that resulted in some woefully obvious details. The most readily apparent came with the prison pit that resembled the well Wayne fell down when he was a child. And in case we didn't get the connection, we see the footage of dad coming down the well to help his son. Groan.
The Ra's al Ghul connection seemed forced, too. 6. The police are idiots
Why in the world would the entire police force except for two guys rush into the sewers to get trapped? And why would they participate in keeping kids from trying to escape when the bomb is moments away from detonating? Why blow up the bridge at that point? 7. Joseph Gordon Levitt's Officer Blake is the smartest guy ever
Are we to believe that Blake knew that Bruce Wayne was really Batman just from a brief visit years ago and a look on Wayne's face? And with such flimsy evidence, why would Wayne immediately cop to being Batman? That's some lazy storytelling. 8. Alfred gives up
In "Batman Begins," Bruce repeatedly asks Alfred, "You still haven't given up on me?" Alfred always replies, "Never!"
So it's just not believe-able to me that Alfred would abandon Bruce in his most desperate hour of need. Nor is it acceptable that Bruce would cast him out over a lover's letter. 9. Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow) returns
This was just laughable to me. Why is this guy the judge, jury and executioner? Exile or death?
There's an old joke: a group of three missionaries is captured in Africa by a tribe. They're given the choice of death or "Chichi." The latter is a man who rapes, brutalizes and beats men. The first two missionaries choose "Chichi," but the third chooses death. The tribal leader says, "Very well! Death... by Chichi!"
So when Murphy's character sentences Commissioner Gordon to death... by exile! it made me laugh out loud. 10. When and where are we?
Time is a big problem in this movie. We know that eight years has passed since the events of "The Dark Knight," but once Bane overthrows Gotham we aren't sure where we are or when.
When Bane breaks Batman's back, Wayne wakes up in a prison somewhere
with no explanation of how he got there. He's there for a certain period of time while Gotham sinks into anarchy. To my eyes, facial hair is the only time-telling element we have.
But the whole back-breaking incident leads to another huge annoyance: 11. Super chiropractic!
Are we to believe that a simple jolt from the prison chiropractor, hanging from a sling, and a few push-ups is enough to get Bruce Wayne back into fighting shape?
Plus, when Wayne falls twice trying to escape from the pit, that rope jerking his body would surely re-injure him.
Also, why was Wayne injured at the beginning of the film and getting around on a cane? Selina Kyle trips him and he's rendered helpless? 12. Chris Nolan turns into Michael Bay
The final quarter of the film is pretty goofy like a "Transformers" film. But the most obvious tie to Bay is the way Anne Hathaway is treated. I'm convinced the only reason Catwoman is made to ride Batman's motorcycle is because she has to bend all the way over it to drive it. That allows Nolan to repeatedly set his camera behind her for the shot of her hinder.
To be clear, that is certainly aesthetically pleasing, but it reminds me of how many times Bay has done the same thing. It has never been Nolan's style. 13. Everyone in Gotham will get cancer
Batman doesn't take the nuclear bomb that far away from the city. It detonates, but we know enough about nuclear explosions to know residents in Gotham will still have genetic effects, birth defects, cancer, cataracts and other effects from the radiation.14. Everything goes back to normal?
After the many people killed through phony trials, the criminals set loose, and the general reign of anarchy, are we really to believe everything is okay after Batman simply takes the bomb away? It seems the Nolans bit off way more than they could chew there. 15. Robin
I moaned at this reveal, partly because it was so obvious. The personal history connection between Blake and Wayne was already established, so from the beginning we knew the Gordon-Levitt character could only exist to either replace Bruce Wayne as Batman or become Robin. Thank God the movie ended before we saw Blake suit up.
I walked out of "The Dark Knight" rises with a couple friends who were just as disappointed as I was. How could this have happened, we wondered. Disappointment quickly gave way to agitation and even flat-out anger.
The question now is where does Batman go from here? Where should