Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Superhero Media: The Dark Knight Rises

So this film was pretty disappointing, right? I distinctly remember walking out of the cinema with my then girlfriend and really hating pretty much everything about The Dark Knight Rises, I'd actually considered leaving midway through the film, I was that disappointed. Unlike many, my disappointment with The Dark Knight Rises was not down to it being lackluster follow-on to The Dark Knight, but rather, an unsatisfying mashup of Knightfall, No Man's Land and The Dark Knight Returns, with a few elements of Year One crammed in there for good measure. What a mess. To my surprise, The Dark Knight Rises improved in my estimation after a second viewing; it's still a mess with a shocking number of poor decisions having gone into its making, but there is also a fair bit there to enjoy. Several years after the death of Harvey Dent, draconian laws have been enacted to eliminate organised crime in Gotham and the Batman has disappeared. There is an extended areoplane hijacking sequence to introduce Bane and remind us that Chritopher Nolan is a brilliant cinematographer. 

As I've mentioned in the past, Bane is one of my favorite Batman villains, so I was really excited to see him done well in a film, especially after Batman & Robin. Boy, was I in for a let-down. No, it's not just Tom Hardy's bizarre choice of accent, but the villain could really have been pretty much anyone and made more sense; Hush, Red Hood, Catman, Lady Shiva, the list goes on. But let's face it, it had to be Bane so that we could get the back-breaking scene in to appease the fanboys. Seriously that accent though, did the Seppos making the film (Nolan is English though?) just not realise that an Oxbridge accent sounds goofy on a guy who crawled out of a hole in the desert, especially when Alfred Pennyworth is played by a Geordie? Seems like that should have been caught after the fist table read. Whilst I'm throwing shade, the pacing in this film is way off, the first act covers a few weeks, the second the better part of a year and the third a couple of days; ever wonder why The Dark Knight Rises feels weird to watch? There you go.

What works in The Dark Knight Rises? Batman making human connections with Catwoman and "Robin" helps to erode that terrible "one man alone" mystique that clings to the character. There are some great speeches from Bane and Alfred. This is probably the best realised and least fetishised version of Catwoman on the big screen, even though she still has her underage prostitute friend from Year One, because, apparently, I'm the only person in the world that finds that character creepy and unnecessary. Seriously, guys. This is not a good film, but there is more to enjoy than the first viewing would indicate. I'm hopeful that we can leave this grimdark take on Batman in the past sooner or later and move on to something else, but the Nolan trilogy will remain a high watermark for the character, even with it's flaws. It will be a while before I come back to this version of Gotham, but maybe one day I'll feel the need to watch the street battle in the third act again.


  1. I agree with you that this film is a mess, and like you I considered walking out. We shall see what the post Affleck Batman film will be like.
    I'm a bit confused who the geordie actor is you are referring to? Alfred was played by Michael Caine who is a Londoner by birth and who hasn't lost his accent.

  2. Caine repeatedly refers to himself as a Gerodie in his interviews and autobiographies, and his accent does suit. My grandmother has a London accent and it's quite different from Caine's.