Watched Jul 20, 2012
Marcin Wichary’s review:
The first movie was a really great first date ending with a mind-blowing kiss and so much promise. The second – a crazy impromptu Hawaii vacation one month later, when the two of you ended up never leaving the hotel suite. But then, a year since, you try to do the same thing again and suddenly realize the best you can summon as a description is just “it’s okay, I guess.” Whenever you want to talk you realize you’re just not that good at talking; the sex is still good, but it was never ever as great as that crazy week in Maui; the dog who neither of you really like was just diagnosed with cancer, and even the two of you painting the ceiling you’re now looking at, unable to sleep in the middle of the night, wasn’t really as great an experience as you used to remember it. It was a really fun ride into what became a dead-end street, and now you both want to quit, but you don’t really know when and you don’t really know how.
(The dog in that metaphor is the soundtrack. I’ll let you figure out the rest.)
The Dark Knight rises exposes Christopher Nolan as a pedigree of the school of movie making that treats the film as the natural extension of the trailer – a collection of set pieces, explosive and attractive in their own right, but clumsily held together with too much duct tape and too little WD-40. We had an inkling of that in both The Dark Knight and Inception, but those movies were still somewhat coherent and anyway, the ingredients were so great that the quality of the entire dish barely mattered. Not here, though.
Naïvely, before seeing this movie, I anticipated it being just bigger, and better, and faster, and more grandiose than the second one. I realize now that this was simply not possible. Instead, the trilogy finale is essentially just scraps and discarded ideas from the first two movies mixed together (heretofore unknown facets of the original’s mythology, a third-rate and poorly explained MacGuffin, and a villain bland enough that he needed to be offset by what seems like fifty-eight new characters all played by actors from Inception), some transparent one-upmanship, condescending exposition, a really cheap plot twist, and tons of liberal copy/pasting from other movies.
Gone is a lot of the drama, much of the tension, and the tightness of the pacing. There are so many elements here that are desperately trying to be impressive and epic, miss by a large margin, and arrive at weird. Bane has yet another speech impediment and nonsensical mannerisms. After a great car and an awesome bike, Batman’s plane looks like Tron bumped literal uglies with a garbage truck, and is used in some of the most cockamamie scenes you can imagine. And then, the stone well, so overflowing with suspension of disbelief that it could serve the population of all the five boroughs of Gotham.
And speaking of which, after the joyful use of Chicago in the first two movies, we are now inexplicably left with Gotham City portrayed by… Pittsburgh. It’s not only confusing, but also filmed to look far from a beautiful metropolis you’re expecting – altogether a distant cry from the first movie in which the city was as much a protagonist as Batman himself.
The Dark Knight rises is not a completely lost cause. There are some fun moments in the movie and some vestigial hints of the refreshing originality of its predecessor. But overall, it seems like the second sequel simply wasn’t necessary. Desperately trying to climb to the top of the well is not always the correct answer. Sometimes, you dig a tunnel.