Some films have that special something, and some films seem like they stepped in something. Allow me to help you know the difference, and maybe find you something good to watch.
I loved Batman Begins. I did. It had that perfect ratio of action to drama, and with characters that you cared about. The writing was sharp and mean and funny. And all in the right places.
I enjoyed The Dark Knight too, though not as much as everyone else it seems. It was a great action flick with some terrific performances.
So when the same director of a film and its sequel is also at the helm of the third (and supposedly final) film, I fully expected to enjoy watching Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
The bottom line is: I was not captivated by the story. So when plot holes revealed themselves, I did not forgive the film-maker, and found many more. In fact, I was inundated with relatively small things that continuously took me out of the film the entire time.
Most of it comes down to the writing. Whether it was the painfully expository dialogue that plagued the first half-hour, the adolescent melodrama that adult characters insisted on indulging in, or the crater-sized plot holes in the third act, most of what kept me from loving this was the writing.
Because the look of it was fantastic. The production, sets, costumes, cinematography, it was all very slick. But if you’ve seen any film of Nolan’s (not counting Following, his first film) you know that he’s going to create a good looking movie. It doesn’t surprise anyone that this film looks as good as it does.
What surprises me though, is how many times I found myself saying, “Really?! Yeah, but – Huh?”
Ideally, the emotions and movement in the story should create a momentum that carries the audience along, floats them above their cynicism, and brings them to the end of the story without allowing them the luxury of wondering, “But what happened to that guy?” or “But how did he get there so quickly?”
Ideally, it is all in service of creating those magical movie-moments when nobody cares about logic, causality, or physics. I think that’s why so many people absolutely adore this film. They were swept up in the current, and didn’t care that stuff didn’t make sense in their mind. It made sense with their heart.
I, however, was unable to get caught up in that particular riptide.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a fair amount of great movie-moments, it’s just that those moments were drowning in a murky pool of WTF.
The fans defend these gaping inconsistencies by saying, “It’s a comic-book movie” or It’s a super-hero movie; what did you expect?” But that’s the point! Nolan goes out of his way to craft a dark, grim version of Batman that’s rooted in a reality comparable to ours. No one has super-powers. Magic is just a card-game. People get hurt, and the survivors have to deal it.
And that’s cool. Batman should be a dark tale. But with darkness, comes responsibility. It has to make sense! Or if you’re going to bend the rule, to make an exception, because, say: “He’s Batman.” Then you have to recognize it somewhere along the way.
Any movie about a hero, is really about the villain. And they need to be Evil. And they need to be Memorable. Bain needed to be Hannibal-Lector-Great or Bill-The-Butcher-Great. But Bain was just Mr.-Freeze-Okay.
I will always love Tom Hardy for his brilliant performance in Bronson, but in this film, as Bain, he leaves something to be desired. He looked menacing, but that mask of his was a mistake that is compounded by the bad sound design. Unintelligible, weak/lame character arc, corny accent. He was a paper tiger and he should have been so much more.
Anne Hathaway was a sassy and capable Catwoman. Still not IDEAL as far as her badass potential, but she was certainly enjoyable.
So “Should you watch it?” Absolutely. If just to have a valid opinion on one of the biggest films of the year. Also because audiences are so firmly divided on this. A lot of people really loved this film. And a lot of other people were really just expecting better.
Watch it, but lower your expectations, and turn off your brain. That thing will just get in the way.