The Dark Knight Rises Screen 26 articles

The Dark Knight Rises

2012

The Dark Knight Rises Poster
  • To my mind [Nolan's] worst film. Any presence of character, psychology, or of relationships, is only implied in dialogue—it's never actually present. The large cast of characters is handled so poorly, they end up like butter spread over too much bread.

  • A nightmare of incomprehension; I couldn't properly understand the plot in its finer points, nor—since the film relies for its meaning on the interplay of dozens of small narrative elements—on a macro level. I walked out of the theater thinking, "Wow, that's the worst example of movie storytelling I've ever seen."

  • Nolan seems to believe sincerely in the force of his criticisms, and the movie is nothing if not (unintentionally comically) earnest. Like Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” Nolan’s film heaves and strains to maintain an aura of grand seriousness.

  • The material is not without poetic possibilities. It is, after all, a tale of rooftops and catacombs and of the ground that crumbles between them, the netherworld of Fantômas and Mabuse. In the hands of Christopher "Strained Seriousness" Nolan, however, every shred of wit, mystery and humanity is pummeled out, leaving only a bullish mishmash of zeitgeisty anxiety.

  • Somewhere along the line, Nolan seems to have developed a taste for this sort of breathless showmanship—which is a shame, because his talents lie elsewhere. Unlike Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which balanced clumsy action set pieces with sharp character work and a single thought-provoking principle explored in detail, Rises just keeps piling on more and more and more, until it finally resolves into a ponderous, incoherent mega-spectacle.

  • All sound and fury signifying nada. In trying so hard to explicate the movie’s themes, Nolan squashes the poetry that would make the meanings resonate. My favorite image is a too-briefly-held, painterly composition of Cillian Murphy’s Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane holding court in a ruined judiciary like Robespierre. But like much in this inexplicably beloved artist’s filmography, it’s a moment that feels entirely accidental.

  • Trace one end of the Gordian knot that is The Dark Knight Rises to the other and you’ll find two contradictory ideas: that the masses are justified in rising up against oligarchic oppressors, and that those same masses, when freed and left to their own devices, will inevitably fall into bloodthirsty revolutionary tribunals and that it might just be better if kindly billionaires in latex costumes were around to steer civilization towards the light.

  • The history of Batman's burden is increasingly cumbersome, and it's Mr. Bane who finally makes the pertinent point: "Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die."

  • TDKR is, like the Batman films that have preceded it, an ideological muddle, but none has been so completely devoid of intellectual clarity.

  • The thing is, when you’re supposedly selling deep grim truths about humanity and hard-won uplift, every liberty you take with plausibility degrades your product, and the failure to work out logical, satisfying storytelling is really a failure to do the work you were paid a king’s ransom for. And yet I can’t honestly see what sort of comeuppance there might be for its shortcomings.

  • Duplicity is certainly the major theme in Nolan’s work going back to his first film, Following. But my initial impulse was to read The Dark Knight Rises as incoherent and opportunistic rather than engaging in the duplicitous shadow play that characterizes the director’s best work. I say opportunistic, because it was almost as if Nolan went out of his way to give someone from practically any political persuasion some nugget of satisfaction to take away from the film.

  • That the film is incoherent—narratively, yes, but also ideologically—makes it unsatisfying, but in a way it's preferable to something more streamlined and tidy, where any chance of friction is minimized once the edges are sanded away.

  • Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, this year’s blockbuster conclusion to his Batman trilogy, is, in ways both obvious and numerous, a bad movie. It is dramatically inert, visually indecipherable, and deeply malformed on the level of narrative. But it is all these things in a manner that is entirely consistent with the qualities, both good and bad, of Nolan’s other blockbuster productions. And this makes it valuable.

  • [Gordon-Levitt's] character's dogged belief in Batman initially comes off as a pesky distraction, and yet gains in traction thanks to the actor's subtly affecting gravity, culminating in a trilogy-defining portrait of inescapable pain and torment, and the way in which masks conceal, restrain, protect us from, and shield others from suffering the consequences of, that inextinguishable anguish—and in doing so, ultimately provide an imposing symbol of hope for transcendence out of the darkness.

  • It’s believable and preposterous, effective as a closing chapter and somewhat of a letdown if only because Mr. Nolan, who continues to refine his cinematic technique, hasn’t surmounted “The Dark Knight” or coaxed forth another performance as mesmerizingly vital as Heath Ledger’s Joker in that film.

  • The film takes two long acts to come into focus, and only really fulfils the promise of the set-up once Bruce gets out of the hole (the secret is not to use a safety-rope but to rely on strength of character). The extended climax riffs satisfyingly on heroism, self-sacrifice, Greek tragic levels of vengeance-seeking, dead daddy issues, urban destruction and renewal, citizen power, escape and rebirth and a happy-sad ending/beginning.

  • Whereas the previous two Nolan films have taken extensive liberties with Batman's mythos, I was heartened to see that this movie had taken a number of elements from some unsung corners of the Batman myth: specifically, the oft-forgotten / ignored mid-to-late 90s run. For instance, 1996's "Legacy" is about as obscure a crossover as you can find, but the connection between Bane and R'as al Ghul is drawn directly from that, including the relationship between Talia and Bane.

  • Its politics, while certainly not entirely coherent or sophisticated, are also, to my mind, fairly unimpeachable. The way that Nolan uses the terror and viciousness that followed in the immediate wake of the French Revolution as a historical keyhole through which to examine the potential social end-point for the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric is rather potent as popcorn allegories go.

  • One of the things that really undoes the film toward the end is that Nolan does this big reveal that shows that almost everything we, the audience, think we know about Bane's background isn't actually about him at all, but about a totally different character. So Bane, who is supposed to be a mercenary, also becomes a sort of narrative mercenary—he doesn't have any sort of well-developed reason for doing anything in the film.

  • The Dark Knight Rises pushes things even further [than The Dark Knight]: is Bane not Dent brought to extreme, to its self-negation? Dent who draws the conclusion that the system itself is unjust, so that in order to effectively fight injustice one has to turn directly against the system and destroy it?

  • Nolan’s vision has the paranoid contours of a conspiracy thriller. Everything is monitored (Selina craves a program called ‘Clean Slate’, to expunge her name from the State’s various databases), everyone is jaded; making a fresh start is almost impossible. Only sadness is real in this not-so-comic comic book – sadness and regret, and the sense of being battered by life. Biff! Pow!

  • If hundreds of millions must be thrown at summer tentpole films, better an eccentrically stupid wreck like this than streamlined blandness. First comes exasperation, then—as the pricey chases and baffling missteps keep coming in equal measure—amusement at the sprawling excess.

  • I’m tempted to argue that the real story of Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy is the story of its own creation, a dark, personal, auteurist spectacle on a scale never before possible and never before attempted. If the central theme of these movies is the triumph of the will (to coin a phrase), then that triumph is not Batman’s or Bruce Wayne’s but that of solitary and devious superhero/supervillain Chris Nolan, as he imposes his bizarre obsessions on the entire world.

  • I'm not foolhardy enough to compare Nolan to the David Lean of "The Bridge on the River Kwai" or the Francis Ford Coppola of "Apocalypse Now," but it's pretty clear that the cinematic canvas Nolan aspires to fill is pretty much that size.

  • Bruce Wayne is a billionaire industrialist who makes money by speculating on stocks and producing high-tech weaponry—in other words, he is the epitome of the 1%. From this vantage point, it’s easy to read the THE DARK KNIGHT RISES as Mitt Romney’s twisted superhero fantasy, with Bruce Wayne/Batman standing in as his ego ideal: a billionaire investment banker who moonlights as a vanquisher of threats to democracy and is ultimately glorified as a Christ figure.

  • The argument runs that because masked mercenary Bane attacks the Stock Exchange and then sets off French Revolution-style mob violence, it adds up to an alarmist denunciation of Occupy’s sinister potential. But in terms of outright political content, it’s surely Selina Kyle who gives Robin Hood-style voice to Occupy’s ideas about economic equality. The soldier of fortune Bane is more like a Shock Doctrine fundamentalist.

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