But don’t you have that nagging doubt that, actually, even though you clapped at the end like everyone else, you didn’t really understand why? You want to fit in, sure, but deep down you know you didn’t enjoy it as much as you wanted to. You know you’ve been let down, you just can’t figure out how.
Scratch around that sorry head of yours no more…
Caution: spoilers incoming.
1. Plot, plot, plot, plot and plot
There’s just so much of it. Too much. The Dark Knight Rises is vacuum-packed with incident after incident, event after event. It has no choice but to relentlessly march through to its signposted finale, running over any hope for characters and adventure like a transit van over a flowerbed. To recap: there’s the Dent Act, Gordon’s guilt, Alfred’s sorrow, Wayne the recluse, Wayne the broken man, the stolen necklace, Catwoman the love interest, Miranda Tate the love interest, the discovery of Bane’s sewer base, Bane’s war on Gotham, the government ditching Gotham, the captive police force, the nuclear power source (that becomes the nuclear bomb), the Wayne Enterprises takeover, the hijacking of applied sciences, Wayne stuck in the Lazarus Pit, the back story to the Lazarus Pit, the twist and a lot of scenes with orphans. There’s probably more but if we listed all the plot points, the internet might run out of ink.
2. You can predict the future…
…of every scene in the movie. Having so many plot points is one thing, but having so many that end so predictably is entirely another. There is one real surprise in the entire movie – everything else happens as you would expect, when you expect. It’s sad to say, but there were genuinely more unexpected twists and turns in Batman Begins – an origin movie. The Dark Knight Rises is not made by the Nolan that brought us Memento.
3. The damn score
If a sure sign of a movie lacking in confidence is overuse of a score, The Dark Knight Rises is as insecure as a teenager in braces. As if some of the dialogue wasn’t inaudible enough, Hans Zimmer and his orchestra are an ever-present LOUDLY TELLING YOU THAT THE SCENES YOU ARE WATCHING ARE REALLY DRAMATIC. I point you towards the Inception episode of South Park for further explanation:
4. Bane of the film
He was a poor villain in the comics and a poor villain here. The only difference is that he now has a voice that sounds like Darth Vader doing a bad Yoda impression. The Joker is a terrific foil for Batman the detective: anarchic, unpredictable and dangerously charismatic. Two-Face enables a good tussle with morality for the caped crusader. Bane is someone to punch.
5. The guy from 3rd Rock From The Sun
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a good actor and he plays his role well. But even now I can’t think of anything his character actually did in the movie. Sincerely, what was the point of him? That’s not a rhetorical question. Please let me know. Leave a comment or something.
6. Themes aren’t as good as a theme song
It’s no bad thing for a comic-book movie to want to say something. In fact, we encourage it. The Dark Knight, as a case in point, had a lot of socially relevant questions to ask and let those drive the story along. Good stuff. Its sequel, however, doesn’t know what it wants to say about anything, so it winks towards the rich-poor divide and hopes that’s enough to have a baby. We get it: rich people who take advantage of poor folk aren’t liked by the poor folk they take advantage of. We also get the thematic nods to Dickens. Now tell us why we’re supposed to care.
7. Two-Face: The Movie
The Dark Knight Rises‘ dictatorial score, lusciously grim photography, scary villains and attempts at poignancy may try to convince you that it’s a serious movie, but it simply isn’t one. No amount of frowning and explosions can disguise the fact that this is a movie with a flying Batmobile, kangaroo courts, a bloke with a mask made of painkillers, two secret underground lairs, comic-book leaps in logic (just how did Wayne get from the pits to Gotham anyway?) and, I think, a reference to Killer Croc. It’s not that comic book movies shouldn’t be silly – more often than not, they absolutely should – it’s just that when they are, they shouldn’t try so hard to pretend otherwise. In truth, Bane becomes an apt symbol for The Dark Knight Rises: an immensely threatening thing to look at, but he sounds like a character out of Sesame Street.