On Friday the long anticipated final piece to the latest Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, finally came out. Though you probably knew that. While I did enjoy this movie, I must say I agree with more or less everyone I have spoken to about it, and that’s quite simply to say, “It ain’t no Dark Knight.”
The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years after it’s predecessor. Luckily, everyone in Gotham has really great plastic surgeons so they don’t really look any older. In this time, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has retired as both Batman and a human, becoming a sexy hermit. He also is crippled because of injuries he sustained fighting crimes (I guess?) which he ends up curing by attaching a robotic… thing… to one of his knees. Just one. And then even though he apparently has a terrible degenerative condition it gets fixed halfway through the movie and he never needs assistance again, but hey, that makes sense!
The story is sort of convoluted. It takes about an hour to really set up what is going on, as Bane (Tom Hardy) starts in an Eastern European country and not America, and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Batman have some fun times being mildly hostile to each other while still managing to have sexual tension. There is also another new character, Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt), who is basically just a really angry, sort-of-average cop who gets a lot of screen time for no apparent reason. Also, enter Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a very persistent and sexy entrepreneur who invested in Wayne enterprises years ago (I think?) to help build an atom bomb that could also be a renewable energy source if it doesn’t blow up (wow, I wonder what happens with that!). As you can tell, there’s a lot going on, and not all of it necessarily makes sense..
There’s also a marked increase in cheesy, predictable one-liners and their set ups, like one from the trailer:
Catwoman: You don’t owe these people anymore! You’ve given them everything!
Batman: Not everything. Not yet.
Overall, the intense melodramatic dialogue and the somewhat cheesy, ridiculous plot come together to spell out the major flaw in The Dark Knight Rises: it’s a comic book movie.
Now, at reading that you might say, “Well, DUH GREG.” But, the thing is, while I do like comic book movies, I loved The Dark Knight because it was the first and only movie in this increasingly popular genre I have ever seen that managed to break these supposed-staples of a comic book movie. It managed to deal with incredibly salient, moral issues in a way that was simultaneously beyond the scope of everyday life yet required a minimum of suspension of disbelief. The characters and action were hard to swallow in their intensity, but not completely unbelievable. The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t manage to walk this fine line, and instead falls back down on the side of the archetypal comic book movie, even if it does so with a finesse that few comic book movies manage.
In short, my opinions on this are mixed. On one hand, I need to say this is a very good comic book movie, but the problem is it is purely a comic book movie. The second part of this trilogy proved Christopher Nolan was capable of taking a genre and reshaping it in a way that made it more rewarding; the third and final piece showed that even though he could do this, he didn’t necessarily want to always redefine the genre — or, maybe, he just isn’t capable of doing so all the time.