The Dark Knight Rises
“Why do science fiction films betray themselves in their third movie?” author David Brin once asked. He noted that there is a common pattern.
I’m sure you can think of your own favourite example. But it does seem like in so many cases, the second film of three is the best. And Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are following the pattern to the letter. I was uninspired by Batman Begins, but loved The Dark Knight so much I saw it in the theatres twice.
A few weeks before the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, I started to wonder. Will the trilogy curse strike again? I wouldn’t put it past Nolan to aim for something dark and challenging, but ending up with downbeat and depressing.
For me, The Dark Knight Rises is not as good as its predecessor. It’s on par, maybe, with Batman Begins.
There are just too many moments in this film that do not make sense to me. I am normally one who is willing to suspend my disbelief. I am not sensitive to continuity errors. But man, there are moments in this film where I was left wondering, “Wait… But… What… How did that happen?” It doesn’t help that the biggest one is the scene that gives the film its title. In short: how does a bankrupt Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham City?
The Dark Knight Rises very consciously tries to make a trilogy from two previously self-contained stories. There are constant callbacks to the previous two films, and it weakens this one. It telegraphs some of the important plot twists.
I was excited to see Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, and she does not disappoint. Comic artist Adam Hughes, who has drawn Catwoman many times, said he sees her as being a bit like a young Audrey Hepburn, and Hathaway has some of the vibe. She was my favorite thing in this movie by far. The script perfectly captures her contrary nature, sometimes helping, sometimes callous. And Hathaway shows her acting talents in abundance. Watch her in a scene where she has to pretend to be a terrified bystander. She turns totally believable hysteria on and off like a switch.
Bane, on the other hand… I’ve never really understood or liked Bane as a villain, and this version fares no better. While much has been written about the problems of hearing Bane’s dialogue, my bigger problem was how much it interfered with the performance. There is no facial expression left; much of the time you can’t even tell if Tom Hardy is even saying the words out loud. He has no expression in his eyes, and Tom Hardy’s performance seems mostly to consist of standing and holding his lapels.
I did like the bigness of the bad guys’ plans here. There is a feeling of great scale, but again, there is some issues with it’s believability. And it takes for-flippin’-EVER to get going. This is a long film, with surprisingly little pace. Nolan sems to alternate between the exceptional and the ponderous, and this one is the latter. It’s a frustrating conclusion to the trilogy, even though it contains what may well be some definitive Batman moments. But moments don’t make a movie.