The Dark Knight Rises: So-so Film or Simply Unable to Live up to the Hype?

The Dark Knight Rises (“TDKR”) was good, but it wasn’t very good, and certainly not great. Despite the hype around it, including claims of a possible Oscar nomination for Best Picture, it certainly wasn’t great. To give you some perspective before reading this author’s opinion, you should know a few things:

  1. I’m certainly a geek, but I’ve never been a fan of comic books;
  2. Accordingly, as someone who doesn’t know the stories, I don’t bring backstory into the theater with me, instead requiring the movie (or, as here, trilogy) to stand on its own;
  3. Unlike many comic book fans, I recognize that the substantial differences between the two media (i.e., comics and movies) prevent the movie from staying completely faithful to the original comic;
  4. As far as I can tell, I’ve never allowed hype to affect my enjoyment of movies; and
  5. I give a ton of leeway to films that require me to suspend my disbelief by so much.

I’m going to try to minimize spoilers, but at this point, I’m guessing most people that might find their way to this blog have already seen it. For those that haven’t, if you have any capacity for deductive reasoning, you’re going to be able to deduce what I’m saying, and that’s as good as me just saying it outright. Ergo, you’re being warned:


Damn, for an Action Movie, It Sure Did Drag at Times

I really appreciate that filmmakers are making longer movies. We’re paying increasingly higher rates for movie tickets, so they all should feel burdened to give us our money’s worth. Instead of a 90-minute movie, the entire story should be told by adding 30-60 minutes of movie. I don’t want to fault the film for adding an extra 60 minutes, but filling in those 60 minutes with more setup material (for a subplot) is not what I had in mind. There’s enough setup required for the primary plot. I don’t need another round of it partway through the movie. Some of it is necessary, as subplots themselves are important to a film with any significant depth, and we need to understand what’s going on in the characters’ heads. TDKR took it too far, though. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for things to get interesting again, and eventually they did, but if the extra 60 minutes is boring filler, we’re better off with a 90 minute movie after all. (Note: Not all of the 60 minutes was unimportant, so in this case, I would have cut out about 30 minutes of the movie. That’s just a guess, though. I’d have to see the movie again to be sure, so come back here after the movie hits HBO. I’m not going to see it in the theater again.)

Would you like an example of where we could have used some boring filler that would actually make the story more cohesive? Well, then . . .

The Hidden Enemy

Even with a movie where I must suspend my disbelief to enjoy it, it seems a bit much to expect me to believe that a character would spend his or her entire life becoming one of the rich and powerful in a sinister plot . . . to bring down the rich and powerful. Huh? How do you think people get rich and powerful? The lottery? Usually, no. Inheritance. Yeah, sometimes, but all of the rich were targeted simply because they did the things that are required to become rich and powerful. If you believe those things to be so unfair to the less fortunate that terrorism is justified, you’re not likely to do those things yourselves. Sure, it’s a twist that makes you say, “Oh, I didn’t see that coming,” but if you make the mistake of thinking about it for just a second, you then say, “But how? Why? That makes no sense! It’s a twist for its own sake!” Without a better explanation, you’re left expecting a sequel or prequel to explain it all, and that’s not an option.

For comic book geeks, there’s probably plenty of explanation over the decades of writing, but I (and many other filmgoers) are left hanging, struggling to justify what the movie did. It’s Nolan’s job to write the story, not mine. I don’t mind having to make some logical leaps – in fact, I like that movies require that – but this was central to the story and raises serious logical inconsistencies.

Bill Gates is not in the midst of a secret plot to take down the rich.


I heard a rumor that one of the characters introduced in this movie would be – I can’t say this without a spoiler – Batman’s successor. I went into this movie saying that if this were true, it would ruin the film for me considering the actor that’s playing that character. Well, it turned out to be true, but fortunately I was exaggerating. While the film wasn’t ruined, it certainly hurt. Ultimately, though, it was a good way to end the trilogy, and it made sense that the character was the successor. My issue is with the casting only. I know you all like him as an actor, but he isn’t suited to play that role.

Edit: The Evening Star

One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen was the Evening Star, which was the sequel to Terms of Endearment. (I had a subscription to HBO. I was already paying for it, so I figured I’d watch it. If it makes you feel any better, my life is less valuable because it’s stained with the memory of that movie.) One of many problems with that movie was that it was about tying up loose ends. The movie itself had no meaning outside the scope of its prequel, which is to say the movie itself was worthless. At times, the Dark Knight Rises fell into the same trap. Much of the movie that was dedicated to setup wasn’t even setting up the story but rather wrapping up the prior stories from the first two movies. Yes, it’s a trilogy, but it has to stand on its own. The parts that wrap up the past must do so by representing a step forward so that what’s happening now has actual value. Interestingly enough, the movie did that in one sense — ‘you must fear your own death to reach your full potential’ — but  fell short enough to annoy me. I wanted the current story to be the focus, and it wasn’t.

Most Importantly, the Hype

The hype concerns me the most. I’ve never been one to raise my expectations too high going into a movie. It would seem out of character for me to be unfairly harsh on TDKR simply because people were saying it might get nominated for Best Picture. Still, it’s a possibility I have to accept, and I’m sure something many people will assume. Take all of this with a grain of salt. The bottom line is that it wasn’t a waste of the $5.00 I paid for the movie ticket. (Yeah, you read that right. I paid only $5.00.) The popcorn, however, wasn’t worth half what I paid for it, but that’s my fault.

Again, I reiterate, this was a good action movie. It could have been a great action movie. The Dark Knight was a great action movie. Inception was a great movie. Nolan has it in him. A shame he didn’t end the series on as strong as a note as I came to expect of him.

Or maybe I’m just getting old. Get off my lawn, you brats.

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