2012, Movies

The Dark Knight Rises (2012, Christopher Nolan)

Please note that if you are one of the few who haven’t seen this movie, like I was yesterday, this review contains some mild SPOILERS.

It must be tough trying to come up with the follow up to the greatest superhero movie ever made. I can’t really imagine what the pressure is like.

Nolan has established himself as the most intelligent maker of blockbuster films in a long time. His last two were two of the best “blockbusters” I’ve seen I think ever. That isn’t damning with faint praise either as, at least with single viewings, the films come across as ridiculously ambitious but somehow also intelligent and meaningful in a way few other giant Hollywood money machines ever do.

And of all people to take on the expectations and pressures of making the sequel to the greatest superhero movie ever made, I would think he would be the most capable.

But at some point I think pressure gets to all of us. And there’s a temptation to top oneself: to go bigger than ever before.

And that is the fundamental problem with the third of Nolan’s Batman films: it is ginormous. There’s too much plot, too many set pieces, too many montages, too much score (jesus that score never stops), too many flashbacks, too many twists and wrinkles, too much of everything. There’s so much plot in this movie I thought I was watching the abridged version of the most expensive season in HBO history: The Dark Knight: The Final Chapters. Sometimes Nolan trusts us enough to not explain certain things that would get in his way (more on that in a moment) and other times he hammers us over the head with repeated flashbacks.

The whole movie feels like it is in a rush too; as if everyone involved was like: ‘whatever we do, we can’t make a 3 hour superhero movie, so let’s all work hard to get it in at 2:45’. And they did, but that’s what gives this movie it’s unbelievably relentless pace. And so we have scenes where things should happen, people should say things, but they don’t because either

  • Nolan trusts us the fewer to assume those things happened / were said in the story if not on camera or
  • that they had to get the length down.

And we get things from Nolan that I don’t think I’d normally expect from someone so capable:

  • we get Jim Gordon dropping his device onto the bed of a truck to give us 11 in tension instead of 10;
  • we get Batman and Catwoman kissing when there’s like 90 seconds of life left in Gotham (always a pet peeve of mine, whenever a timebomb has been counting down, in any movie with a romantic subplot ever).

This is the stuff of lesser fillmmakers, or so I thought.

But despite the sheer over-the-top, unnecessariness of it all, I’d still rather watch this than, say, Thor.


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