Flickcharter’s Group Review: The Dark Knight Rises
In lieu of just one of us writing a review, here’s a cross-section of several Flickchart bloggers’ thoughts on the latest and final chapter of Nolan’s Batman saga.
Coming off of the weakest movie in the series – The Dark Knight – I was a little concerned going into The Dark Knight Rises. Was it going to have the messy and incoherent 2nd act of its predecessor? Was it going to be bogged down by incoherent editing and feature the equivalent of the ultra-boring truck chase down in the underbelly of Gotham? Worse, were we going to be subjected to another Rachel Dawes, who in the previous film was nothing more than a reason to introduce Wayne to Dent? At least she DID stuff in Batman Begins.
Thankfully, the film I got wasn’t any of those things and was actually an enjoyable experience. Catwoman had some character definition and didn’t just bat eyes at…well…The Bat. I sense that the writers learned between the two films that women can do stuff too and put it to use here. Wasn’t perfect, but I appreciate the attempt. Bane was a great villain and played very convincingly by Tom Hardy. The playfulness in his voice was a nice touch. Sure, the first act suffers some of the Dark Knight problems and can’t quite figure out what to do, but from Act Two onward it was quite entertaining. Christopher Nolan and Company ended their arc with gravitas and I hope this paves the way for more challenging and darker stories involving The Bat.
Ranked 485 out of 1379 on my Flickchart.
Just falling short of my already lowered expectations, The Dark Knight Rises is the weakest installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Bane with his silly, poorly mixed voice and his overly complicated scheme feels like he’s more suited as a James Bond antagonist than as the lead villain of a Batman feature. He lacks the sheer chaotic and unpredictable personality that Heath Ledger’s malevolent Joker had in the previous film. Bane’s few interesting scenes are almost ruined by Nolan’s incompetence at directing action sequences. In fact, the main problems with the film is Nolan’s sense of direction and the way he aggressively intellectualized the plot. This leaves the film emotionless and not as fun as it should have been.
Ranked 1978 out of 3529 on my Flickchart.
After seeing The Dark Knight Rises, I felt like I had seen a spectacular finale to one of the finest trilogies of all time. Sure, it’s not as good as either Moonrise Kingdom or Safety Not Guaranteed in terms of the films of this year, but boy this is the next best thing after that. The action for the most part was outstanding and the performances were truly engaging. My biggest issue was a simple one: because I knew where Christopher Nolan was shooting the majority of the film it was almost always too obvious to point out which city was being used for Gotham. What was great about the previous two movies was the fact that Nolan was able to make Gotham look like its own city. Here they have shot in too many places, and it didn’t feel like Gotham as a result. Beyond that though, the film really was spectacular (and going back to the performances for a minute, I must single out Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and even Matthew Modine for their terrific supporting turns). Still this is not a flawless film by any means. I do think it’s much better and stronger than The Avengers, but the reasons for that can be saved for another time.
Ranked 233 out of 3303 movies on my Flickchart.
When the end credits began to roll, I said to my friends, “That was the laziest, most obvious sequel I’ve seen in a long time.” It’s worth noting that I’ve been hitting my HuluPlus account hard lately and gorging on Ingmar Bergman films so maybe I came into this one too accustomed to storytelling rich with characters, themes and nuanced symbolism. Every action scene ends in such a specific, clever way that it becomes so cute it feels contrived. Everything is so exacting that it suggests each character had foreknowledge of exactly what, how, when, and where everyone else would do whatever they did. The choreography is so improbable that the action scenes are devoid of weight.
The character content fared even less well. The entire first hour consists of scenes that are merely perfunctory, telling rather than showing. The best microcosm is the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Their finest scene is a masquerade ball dance which operates as a shorthand for by evoking the similar scene in previous Bat-movies, asking us to imbue these incarnations of the characters with the richness of their cinematic predecessors so that this film doesn’t have to actually develop anything for itself. Somehow, TDKR manages to fall short of trying to do too much while simultaneously not being ambitious enough.
Ranked 339 out of 1381 on my Flickchart; a bit high due to my pro-Batman bias.
A movie that feels both incomplete and overlong. The Dark Knight Rises has little regard for spatial order or a coherent timeline and I found myself constantly asking, “How did Batman know this person was at this random spot?” or “How did he get from point a to point b so fast?” Tom Hardy and Michael Caine were the only stand-outs acting wise while Anne Hathaway played a weak Catwoman. To be fair to her the character was written poorly and didn’t feel true to the world Christopher Nolan had created. Minus a spectacular opening scene even the action felt uninspired. Because the first two movies were so good I sense myself trying to find reasons why I liked it even though I mostly didn’t. I think I need to watch it again but the thought of doing so sounds very unappealing.
Ranked 915 out of 1910 on my Flickchart.