Warning! This entire discussion contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises.



Evie Totty | July 20, 2012
Oh my gosh just got in from the midnight showing. I loved Avengers so much I kind of felt like I was cheating you know? But I went into it excited.

My expectations were high.

I've been avoiding the featurettes and whatnot for the past 2-3 weeks or even more. I felt I'd seen enough before the movie and didn't want anything else to be spoiled.

It exceeded my expectations. This is the best movie I've seen so far this year.

I only had one problem with the movie and that was how the Bat was able to stay hidden. You'll know what I mean when you see it (if you read this first).

I also figured out Ms. Tate before it was revealed. Not as soon as I should have though - I'm sure some will figure it out sooner. I did notice the child was female when they first showed her however. I just didn't put the two together. I'm sure had I known more of the Batman mythology I might have figured it out.

For a while I thought it was the JGL show but then they came back to Wayne ... I was happy about that. Unfortunately I was spoiled by Robin the other day. He's on the cover of GQ this week (or month, I don't know how long that runs) and the caption under the image of the cover said something about the Boy Wonder. I was pissed lol. Though I should have known really. It made sense and was easy to figure out early on regardless.

Everything was so over the top that you'd think that it would be unbelievable. But that was not the case. At least not to me. There was so much money involved I feel they pulled it off in that area.

I'll have to sleep on it some more and I am of course seeing it again Sat morning haha.

Scott Hardie | July 22, 2012
Loved it. Great movie.

I was surprised just how well it tied back into the previous two films. I expected another Cillian Murphy cameo and some follow-up on the "Batman killed Harvey Dent" plot twist, but this one really dug deep into the first two films and bound the three together as a complete set, in a very satisfying way.

I should have seen Talia coming, as soon as they mentioned Ra's al Ghul having a child. I'm glad I was surprised, though. Robin was much easier to guess, especially once Joseph Gordon-Levitt started getting a lot of screen time, more than his character seemed to warrant.

I knew Batman had to die; the advertising made that ending inevitable. What I hoped was that Bruce Wayne would live. Kelly wanted him to die a martyr, so you can guess how we felt about the ending in discussing it afterwards. For me, I was disappointed with the ending of The Dark Knight, where Batman is scorned by the city and blamed for everything that went wrong. I grew up reading Spider-Man, and that poor bastard gets spit on by seemingly everybody in his life when they should be thanking him for acts of heroism. Thus, I didn't like the unhappy ending for Batman last time, so I thought Bruce Wayne deserved to exit the series on a happy note.

Missed opportunity: The visiting football team in white should have been from Metropolis.

Didn't Lucius Fox quit Wayne Enterprises at the end of the last picture, objecting to Wayne violating everyone's cell phone privacy to catch the Joker? I expected Morgan Freeman to return, but I would've liked a line of dialogue to explain why he's back. If there was one, I missed it.

Speaking of missed details: How did Wayne get from somewhere in the Caribbean to Gotham City in one day, with no money and the city barricaded? The movie doesn't have to show everything, especially when it's already this long, but this one could have been resolved with a line of dialogue like "I called in a favor to a rich friend, and I parachuted in" or something.

Evie, I didn't read your comments above until just now, but your review hinted at something you found too implausible. You're right about the Bat staying hidden that whole time (the criminals not stumbling upon it I guess I can believe, but Bane not stealing or destroying it when he knows so much about Batman was tough to swallow). However, watching the movie, what I guessed was the "implausibility" that bothered you was Jim Gordon carrying around in his pocket a document explaining the truth about Harvey Dent. WTF? I didn't buy that he would give that speech, let alone write it down and carry it around with him, a man that cautious knowing what the lie meant to the city, after the high price he already paid to create it to begin with. That detail really bugged me.

I was also slightly bothered by the presence of too many interchangeable middle-aged white guys in minor roles. I've always found that to be true of Batman stories, all the way back to the sitcom where I couldn't tell Gordon and O'Hara apart. The Batman stories have a whole lot of minor characters who lack distinguishing characteristics, which tends to muddy the subplots a little, but that's just a nitpick.

It's time for Christopher Nolan to start working with other actors. Half of the Inception cast was invited back to this one, and half of those people came from previous Batman movies in the first place. I half-expected Leonardo Di Caprio and Ellen Page to show up.

Any thoughts on the movie's subtexts about terrorism, class warfare, and fascism? If the events in the film really happened, would civilization decline so rapidly into a despotic police-state?

Samir Mehta | July 23, 2012
A minor point to start - my frustration with the movie might have to do with the (otherwise great) theater I saw it in, The Moolah in St. Louis. I also saw Inception there and I think Christopher Nolan's penchant for over the top sound mixing and muted dialogue along with Moolah's sound design made... half the dialogue inaudible. (Also true on my first viewing of Inception, FYI.)

It wasn't just Bane, though I only comprehended (not gists but words) about 40% of what Bane said. For Batman (in costume) it was slightly better. But my wife and I couldn't even understand Miranda Tate a lot of the time. And yes, we got the "idea", but the dialogue probably mattered a lot. So, I may have to see it again elsewhere.

From what I can tell this time - I was unimpressed. Unimpressed like I was with Brave (the new Pixar movie) - the standards are so colossally high that they were hard to meet. But this movie left, for me, a lot on the table.

From a pure comics standpoint, it was fine. I love Batman and this is still better than all prior non-Nolan versions (except maybe Batman Returns which I adored). And although I saw the Robin/Talia twists coming, they were well earned. (I'm a little sad that my favorite villain, Scarecrow, didn't REALLY come back.)

My problem with the movie? For Nolan and for Batman, and given the context, this felt... lightweight. The dialogue TALKS about philosophical ideas but it's much muddier than what we had from Joker/Ra's Al Ghul/TwoFace in the first two. And the social commentary felt just... dead.

So, I guess we're supposed to see class warfare here. But there wasn't set up or an attitude about it. Do the rich deserve their punishments? Do they not? I can't tell. I can't tell what Nolan, the movie, or any characters thought.

Strangely, I felt like the movie needed to be longer (despite being relatively long as it is) to elaborate on its themes. Bane and Talia have serious axes to grind, but are they well earned?

On a story level, it's confusing because the personal anger of those characters comes from their time in prison... which isn't really tied to Gotham. So, maybe Talia and Bane's goals are more intellectual than emotional. But then I need better dialogue and goals. Again, what were the goals?

I realize it all ties to the League of Shadows and Nolan may not have wanted a repeat of Neeson's dialogue. But... shouldn't we get SOMETHING new? Something modulated? The Joker was a legendary villain, to me, in large part because he actually had some wisdom in him. Does Bane have wisdom? If not, it just ends up feeling like crushing a force that deserved crushing. Which isn't as interesting.

I will watch again and hope to be proven wrong (in theater and here) because I love Nolan's work normally.

Scott Horowitz | July 23, 2012
I liked the movie, however i had 1 major complaint. If you take Batman out of the movie, I felt it could stand on it's own. Batman was a minor character in a Batman movie

Evie Totty | July 23, 2012
I'm too tired to think about the 'deep subjects' right now. But I came across this and thought I would share. I haven't read it all yet though.

http://www.slashfilm.com/15-bothered-the-dark-knight-rises/

Scott Hardie | July 24, 2012
Samir: Sorry to hear about the audio quality. I understood about 90% of Bane and Batman's dialogue, with no problem hearing other characters. I'm glad that Warner Bros. gave in to complaints after early previews and made Bane's dialogue much more intelligible. Remind me not to see movies at the Moolah next time I'm in St. Louis, I guess.

Nolan gave a brief interview with Rolling Stone that says he didn't intend any political messages with the class riots; he was just trying to portray society collapsing for the purposes of his narrative. Honestly, I kind of missed that narrative connection when I saw the movie anyway: After 1500-some prisoners were freed and given assault weapons, I thought they were doing most of the looting and pillaging, not the "99%" who merely joined in a little during the chaos.

I agree that the movie would have been better if it were longer and more detailed. It's a lot of story to cram into 2.5 hours. Some of the nitpicks mentioning in Evie's article could have been resolved if the movie had more time to develop certain elements, like Bruce Wayne and Miranda Tate seeming to jump into bed together with little previous contact.

Scott: True, but the movie was very much about Bruce Wayne behind the mask, and he got a lot of screen time. I long felt like Bruce Wayne was a half-developed, better-off-ignored secret identity in comics, until Batman Begins developed him into a man worth caring about more than the costume he puts on. The Dark Knight Rises continued to develop Wayne into a sympathetic figure whose choices the plot hinge upon, so I thought the proportion of screen time that he got compared to Batman was fine.

Evie: Good article, and I agree with some of their complaints (I mentioned some already), but others I have a different opinion about (I was moved by Alfred's objections), and some just feel like nitpicking. To respond to a few in particular:

- In the comics, Bane is a genius who deduced Batman's secret identity and broke into Wayne Manor to defeat him. To me, one of the points of John Blake deducing Batman's identity early in the film was to set us up for several other characters doing the same over the course of the film, which explains satisfactorily (imo) how Bane figured it out. After that, to make the secondary deduction that there must be a secret weapons lab under Wayne Industries is not that much more of a stretch, although the movie could have clarified this.

- People are going to pick on the detail that Wayne healed his back in five months. The author of this article says it should take a year and a half. Who cares? It's just a number. They could have said that the siege of Gotham lasted 18 months instead of 5 and the movie could have happened the same way, so don't get too fixated on a number. I guess where I'm coming from is, a friend of mine really disliked Minority Report because he didn't believe that the various advanced technologies portrayed would be possible by 2054, too close a date to the present. He liked the movie otherwise, and would have liked it more if it had been something like 2154, so I learned from that experience not to get too hung up on exact numbers. Minority Report could have just said that it takes place sometime in the future without specifying an exact year, and The Dark Knight Rises could have said that the Gotham siege and Wayne's imprisonment lasted for "many months" without getting specific

- I have to say that I agree about Batman lighting up the bridge with a fiery Bat-symbol. Would he really invest the time it must have taken to do that with the deadline so near, and give away his element of surprise when he's already at a tactical disadvantage, just to give the city some hope and Bane some anxiety? Batman generally prepares for every possibility better than the Boy Scouts, so I would normally think that he might have one day long ago painted a flammable compound on the bridge in the shape of a Bat in the hopes that he might someday need to scare a villain, except that that's ridiculous.

- The article says this prison is possible to escape from, but you can't climb out of the prison. That's the point. Only two near-superhumans ever accomplished it. (Yes, I will count the child as such, given what that character grew up into, although I'm bringing in knowledge of the comics.) There are no guards that I saw, nor any need for them: The prisoners police themselves. They are dropped into this hole and forgotten about, save presumably for food drops. It's not a realistic prison that could exist in the real world, but it's believable enough within the heightened reality of the Batman series.

- Yes, the cops really are that dumb. How many superhero movies has this writer seen? The Matthew Modine character is actually one of my least favorite archetypes in this kind of movie, the jerk in a position of authority who exists merely to doubt the hero's claims at every turn and create artificial obstacles through ineptitude. Captain Stacy just pulled the same BS a few weeks ago in The Amazing Spider-Man, but it's an ancient tradition.Years ago, Roger Ebert ripped the makers of Die Hard for their idiotic police chief characters, devoting almost three paragraphs of his review to how awful the character was for that movie. As for the cops in The Dark Knight Rises, which are named both GPD and GCPD at different points, how is it that they didn't need to shave after finally getting freed?

Samir Mehta | July 25, 2012
Scott,

Good points and I generally agree with you. And I didn't need to get political commentary in the movie (although it felt like he was AIMING at something, right?) but I did need at least SOME philosophical commentary. Bane says that Gotham's "reckoning" is coming. Why? Why does it deserve the reckoning? And what do Bruce's actions/words do to negate these ideas? I don't see it at all.

Compared with the Dark Knight where it was all about the Joker's rejection of order, Batman's struggle to handle that, and a vindication of symbolism to rally around a flawed system.

Basically, the first two movies felt like great MOVIES - I'd hold Dark Knight up there with Chinatown or Requiem for a Dream. This one felt like a reasonably good superhero movie (like X-Men or something) without any heft.

Scott Hardie | July 31, 2012
I read somewhere that they made a point of not mentioning the Joker in this movie out of respect for Heath Ledger's inability to participate. It makes you wonder how the movie might have gone differently if Ledger was able and willing to return. Assuming they didn't make this entire movie about the Joker again (doesn't seem like Nolan would do that), I could see him appearing in two scenes as the judge in the mock trials, with Cillian Murphy making his cameo somewhere else instead. The Joker would be great atop that mountain of desks, passing judgment on the rich and laughing.

Erik Bates | July 31, 2012
We just saw the movie on Sunday night. Damn good movie. Pam and I are wanting to see it again, because, like Samir, we saw it at the Moolah, and the sound just wasn't up to par. I think we missed out on a lot of important Bane dialogue.

I was never a huge fan of the comics (or comics, in general), but I greatly appreciated the imagery of Bane breaking Batman's back. That scene from the comics is one that has stuck in my mind, and I appreciate Nolan recreating it on the big screen.

Also, in response to the Inception connection, I thought this was very appropriate.

Scott Hardie | July 31, 2012
Yes, I also liked how the back-breaking scene matched the comics I grew up with. I'm glad the movie didn't try to portray the injury as completely paralyzing, just painful and debilitating for weeks.

If the Joker took the cameo as the mock trial judge, Scarecrow's cameo could have been sending the exiles out onto the ice. It wouldn't have been much dialogue, but I don't recall him having much in The Dark Knight, either.

Something small that bugged me, if I'm remembering the details correctly: Bane sets off simultaneous demolitions around the city, yet there are no dust clouds covering whole blocks. He even makes a speech to a crowded football stadium after destroying the field, and the air all around him is clear. When you blow up something that big, it tends to impair visibility.

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