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The Dark Knight Rises: Breakdown Part 1: All things non-Bane

July 30, 2012

This photo was taking during a discussion between Bale and Nolan before filming [not really].  Bale (to Nolan): “Are you sure you’re ready for me to don the uniform one last time?  Or would the writers like a little more time?”

And the marathon of Batman posts continues.  It all started before the film’s release with our MoviesFilmsandFlix Roundtable discussion of the trailer.  From there…

The Hof recently wrote a rather positive review about The Dark Knight Rises (2012).  I am not alone (e.g., Harry’s AICN review) in saying that I profoundly disagree and found the film to be, by and large, a huge disappointment—all be it well-scored and beautifully shot.  Until this film, I was someone who said that Christopher Nolan could do no wrong…sadly, this is my opinion no more.  I will present some elements of the film evidenced by The Hof as “good” and present my case against its merit.  As The Hof got to set the stage, this is the first of my two-part counter-argument in the case of Hof v Leavengood on the battlefield of The Dark Knight Rises.  This first part assesses all things non-Bane (without spoilers), whereas part two will address all things Bane (with spoilers).  Here we go…

The Hof:  “The biggest problem with The Dark Knight Rises was that it had to follow The Dark Knight.”  Also “after the first trailer was released you started to hear grumblings about Bane’s voice being inaudible.  The problem was fixed but it showed that the movie was under a microscope.”
Response:  Not so.  I was looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises, not because of The Dark Knight, but because both Batman Begins AND The Dark Knight were spectacular, even if The Dark Knight was a more notably perfect form of spectacular.  And fanboys will always be fanboys and place such movies under microscopic analysis regardless of the quality of a single prequel.  Maybe it was a little worse here.  But there’s a new Superman reboot coming up.  Do we really think they won’t drum up reasons for super-high or way-pessimistic expectations on their own regardless of the absence of other data on the franchise?  Of course they will.  That’s what they do (or more fairly, what “we” do even if we often try to hide it).  The Bane’s voice thing was frustrating.  But to consider that as evidence of the overall quality of the film is simply word vomitters talking for the sake of talking.


People worried that no villain could escape the shadow cast by Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Nolo contendere:  We seem to agree on Bane’s “Roadhouse” fighting style.  But Batman did it, too.  It was doubly awful seeing this two throwing a marathon of wild haymakers at each other like bar brawlers.  Is that how Batman was taught to fight in The League of Shadows?  I think not.  Even when he’s enraged he shouldn’t be fighting like that.  I found it unreasonable and, possibly, due to Hardy’s difficulty with fight choreography which was made apparent by his shorter fight scenes in Warrior (I have to thank The Hof for that knowledge).


Right here, a moment glimpsed from the trailer, we thought we’d be in for an epic fight…

What we end up getting is a clear mismatch.  You know whose punches are effortlessly “caught” by their opponents?  The folks who never have a chance!

The Hof:  “I was troubled by Batman not being in the film for huge chunks … However, these are small gripes in the big picture.”
Response:  I will not consider my issue a “small gripe” when Batman is absent from sooo much of this movie.  Unforgivable, unacceptable, and boring.  Yes.  I found the movie boring.

The Hof:  “Where the movie succeeds is tying together all three of the Batman stories into a cohesive whole.”
Response:  That’s not a success.  That’s a prerequisite to even standing a chance at success.  To not do this would simply be failure on the part of the writers and, contrarily, to do this does not necessarily imply a victory; only an absence of the specifically negative.  So I won’t call it great that they did it; I’ll just admit that they did their jobs.  At the end of the day, tying the movies together may have been accomplished with 20 sentences on a whiteboard flow chart.

The Hof:  “Christopher Nolan manages to make the new additions three-dimensional and likable.”  And “I was fully expecting to be annoyed by Anne Hathaway … her portrayal of Selina Kyle is a mature, intelligent and flexible… The most important part of the puzzle is the addition of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s cop character.”
Response:  I disagree about many of the new characters (Bane to be discussed in the Part Two post).  The financial bad guys were awkward and unconvincing.  They really just subtracted enjoyment for me.  Speaking on unconvincing characters who spoiled the movie for me, I don’t even think the pre-existing characters were well-served.  Then Alfred uncharacteristically leaves Bruce.  That’s not the Alfred I know!  He would stand by Bruce through ANYTHING while offering his conflicted heartfelt concern.  They addition of one line like “I can’t take it anymore, Master Bruce” is simply not going to cut it for me in terms of character development.  I acknowledge that they tried to build up to it, but I think that swing for the fences didn’t even get them on base.  Then there was Anne Hathaway.  I have nothing good to say about her as Catwoman other than “nice ass.”  I have nothing bad to say about her other than she was utterly forgettable to me and I would prefer that she wasn’t in the movie at all—despite the fact that she was written into the complicated plot like a keystone planted in the arch of a bridge.  My harping is curbed, though, by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.   I was confused about his involvement at first—playing it off as “well, Nolan just likes him.”  Then his role in the ending made me smile.  That was the only part of the movie that truly satisfied me at all.

One of many forgettably bland exchanges between Bruce Wayne and Catwoman.  I didn’t think it was possible to screw up the old “enemies meet on the dance floor” sexy exchange of threats and innuendo.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He plays the only character in the film who wasn’t irresponsibly written–or underwritten.

The Hof:  The Dark Knight Rises is a marvel of IMAX beauty. It is occasionally frustrating, often beautiful and always engaging. Do not put this movie under a microscope. DKR is a thrilling conclusion to an intelligent and ground breaking super hero trilogy.”
Response:  Overall , opposite to the Hof, would call this movie completely unengaging, not a moment thrilling or exciting, and only a good conclusion to the trilogy when present in the form of storyboard notes.  After the first hour I was honestly waiting for this movie to end.  What a horrible thing to say.

 My most MAJOR issues were with Bane and all things Bane.  That will be addressed later—in a more meta-analytical superfan context—and will include spoilers.  But by the time it’s posted, you should all have seen The Dark Knight Rises, right?

I am intentionally sparring with an unbaited sword to incite reader comments.  So, please, post your comments for or against the quality of this film.  The gloves are off!

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