Postmortem: The Dark Knight Rises (Spoiler-Free)

"Gotham City, moar liek Gotham Sh*tty amirite? OH!"

To keep this post spoiler-free, I’ve put all the spoilery parts in white text in brackets, like this: [what’s up now peeps]. Just highlight the text if you want to read it.

So. Dark Knight Rises. This is a strange one for me, because it’s hard to separate out the movie I saw from my personal reaction. Of course, nobody can be 100% objective, but I ought to at least give it a try. With that in mind, here goes: Dark Knight Rises is a movie with many good things about it, a movie many people will like, that I personally did not especially enjoy.

That’s not to say I hated it. Certainly there was a lot of cool stuff to watch: epic destruction, complicated chase scenes, fun new costumes. I think the problem for me, though, was that it felt empty. I didn’t connect, emotionally, with any of the three main characters: Batman, Catwoman, or Bane. (And yes, it’s possible to connect with a villain, even if you don’t like him: see Dark Knight‘s Joker.) When they got into danger, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. It was just stuff happening on a screen.

I’m not exactly sure why. It’s hard to quantify the mechanics of emotional attachment. Maybe part of the problem was that they didn’t seem to grow as human beings. Yes, Bruce Wayne does eventually change [letting go of the Batman persona] but that’s all at the end of the movie, after the action has died down. Throughout most of the film’s three hours, he’s just a tough guy in a mask. One sequence in particular [where he climbed out of the prison] was apparently meant to show some kind of personal triumph, but it didn’t come across that way to me. He was the same person before and after. Yes, he demonstrated that he never gives up, and yes, that’s commendable, but it’s not exactly new – either for Batman, or every other superhero story from the dawn of time.

Beyond all that, I never felt like the threads of the story ever tied together into a satisfying climax. Almost all the (spoiler-free) reviews I read in advance said that the ending was spectacular, and deeply satisfying, but I never got that. One part of the story in particular, which had been building for a full two hours, ended in an especially weak and anticlimactic way [Catwoman shooting Bane]. And the giant plot twist [that Miranda Tate was Talia al Ghul] just didn’t matter to me at all. I’m sure it will have more effect on others. As I said, hard to separate my personal reaction from the film itself.

Of course, there are plot holes and logic gaps by the barrel, but those didn’t bother me for the most part. Hell, I enjoyed Star Trek IV, for Pete’s sake. The only one that really got under my skin was the way Batman went about fighting Bane – it just didn’t seem very, well, Batman-like. [You get your spine broken in a fistfight, and when you finally climb your way back to a rematch, your only strategy is…another fistfight? Utility belt broken, or what?] But that wasn’t a huge deal.

Let’s see, what else? Anne Hathaway as Catwoman: pretty good. It was tough to separate her stereotypical “nice girl” image from the Catwoman character, but that wasn’t her fault. Bane as a villain: eh. He got the job done, but it was hard to take his “sweeping out the corruption” schtick seriously, maybe because it was so simplistic. Which, by the way, makes it all the more surprising that Batman never offered any kind of rebuttal, aside from the fist-to-face variety.

As I said, there were things to like about Rises. Aesthetically, for instance, it was very well done. Gotham has a look all its own, majestic in its bleakness, that I liked. And the non-costumed characters – Commissioner Gordon especially, but also police officer John Blake – were very enjoyable.

Plenty of good stuff in this one. But it just didn’t quite do it for me.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think? If not, are you planning to?


9 responses to “Postmortem: The Dark Knight Rises (Spoiler-Free)

  1. Saw it and loved it. I’m an action girl and I never think too deeply when it comes to superhero movies, plot holes and such (maybe afterwards, but I only have the other movies to go by since I don’t read the comics). It’s definitely deeper and grittier than the Avengers, which I liked. I loved Blake, and I loved Bane. I loved his voice. He sounded intelligent, which contrasted his appearance, which I liked. And I actually could connect with the villain’s motives. I felt they decided to tackle the whole 1% percent vs 99% issue, which unnerved me a little, but when a movie can get me excited and unnerved, I call it a good movie.

  2. everything. And I didn’t know much about the movie even before that. So I probably won’t care enough to look up the movie trailers, if this was your reaction.
    Also, hello. it’s good to see you again (or your blog, anyway,) after my two weeks at camp.

    • Oddly enough, I thought the trailers were incredibly well done. They got me very excited beforehand. 🙂

      Welcome back! How was camp?

      • It was pretty amazing. I learned a lot of interesting things about how scientists ignore archeologists and present us with a cleaned up version of history, without all of the anomalies that sort of punch a gaping hole in the theory of technological evolution. I also learned about quantum physics, talked about philosophy, learned how to act on stage, and played a lot of games of Magic the Gathering. Although the downside is that this was my last year as an S.E.P. camper- and I have to figure out how to pay for L.E.P. myself if I want to come back next year. but I’m sure I’ll figure out something!

      • Hm…I think most people would consider archaeologists to be scientists, but perhaps you have something different in mind.

  3. I’m not going to rush out to see it. I wasn’t that impressed with the first two in the series (well, sort of like you, I was impressed at times without being involved or moved). I barely remember the first one, and with the second one mostly I remember the Joker.

    Also, I’m pretty attached to Bane as he was in the (late, lamented) comic book Secret Six. I don’t think I want another version. 🙂

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