My The Dark Knight Rises Review



The Dark Knight Rises was a credible end to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. On the whole it was a great movie and I liked it a lot. Certain elements were incredibly well done and really satisfying. Even the storytelling choices that I didn’t like made sense. I can’t say they were bad choices, just that I wanted something else.

What I liked best:

1. Catwoman. She is a character who speaks to the present rather than operating entirely off her back story. This makes her decisions much fresher. She is a beautiful picture of the battle between the new man and the old man. She seeks transformation on her own terms but struggles with the actual journey. Catwoman’s transformation and story arc are perfectly played.

2. Truth wins. I disliked Wayne and Gordon’s elitist assumption in the Dark Knight that the citizens of Gotham needed to be shielded from the truth about Harvey Dent. Gordon’s lie, though intended for good, neutralizes his power to intervene and influence when it’s most needed.

3. Messages. The lessons of Batman could fit into the book of Proverbs. Social revolution and class warfare illuminate but never solve the problem of justice; power grabs often masquerade as just causes; well intentioned lies are still lies; good ideas can be turned to evil purposes; fear and personal gain are powerful motivators; shaking the habits and attitudes formed by our pasts is a never ending battle.

4. Batman as symbol. I loved the idea that Robin John Blake was there to pick up the Batman torch. It makes so much more sense than Robin simply being a sidekick. Bruce Wayne describes Batman as an “everlasting symbol.” Being Batman may be a little bit like being the Dread Pirate Roberts: the name is the important thing. Now that Batman’s rep has been restored, good luck being Batman, Robin.

What I didn’t like as much:

1. Bane. Bane is Bruce Wayne’s physical challenge. He met his mental match in the Joker and now, as an older, weaker man must overcome the superior muscle of Bane along with the wall challenge. I get that reintroducing League of Shadows brings the three-film story full circle, but Bane’s idealistic vindictiveness seems so ordinarily brutal after The Joker’s gleeful chaos in Dark Knight. To be fair I know lots of people who found Bane terrifying. For me, Bane is scary enough, but I thought Hannibal Lecter wore that mouth better. I also didn’t think it worked for both the hero and the villain to have muffled voices. If Bane had not sounded like a cross between a 90’s wrestler and an Uruk-hai the subtleties of his lies and manipulative half-truths would have been more menacing.  

2. Class war/financial crisis plot line. It was hard for me to make clear connections concerning how Bruce Wayne losing all his money caused Gotham to collapse like Occupy Wall Street’s wet dream. Class war has been brewing since Batman Begins. Greed and power corrupt the rich and the poor alike in Gotham. Much time is spent on back story and ancient rivalries motivating the action. I wanted a more linear chronicle explaining how Bane and his associate orchestrate this event as the tipping point for revolution. I like it when filmmakers assume the audience is intelligent, but I think I could have used a brief tutorial here.

3. The end. Everything in all three films led up to Batman making the ultimate sacrifice for Gotham. While I was happy for Alfred and happy for Batman, I was sad for the story. I think it deserved an ending with a tonal quality consistent with the previous 455 minutes of storytelling in the Dark Knight trilogy.

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