Sun
Jul 22 2012 2:30pm

Finally, a Batman Movie Actually About Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

At this point, it’s an understatement to say that Christopher Nolan completely changed the level of credibility of not only Batman, but comic book movies in general. Paradoxically—for me anyway—I’ve always found myself more critical of these movies because of this heightened status of legitimacy. And though Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight are both awesome movies, I was always bothered with how little I cared about Batman himself, the person the movies are supposedly about.

 The Dark Knight Rises carries a good deal of the brooding pretension of its predecessors. However, it is, refreshingly, a story about Bruce Wayne specifically. And not necessarily how he’s going to enact justice or vengeance, but really, more about a search for personal happiness.

FULL SPOILERS:

So what happened in The Dark Knight Rises? Quite a bit. In fact, this might be one of the most convoluted plots in an action movie, ever. Here’s the spoiler heavy recap:

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is retired from Batman work and a recluse following the events from The Dark Knight. Organized crime is non-existent in Gotham City and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is wracked with guilt over the lie he created about Harvey Dent’s faux-heroism. Alfred (Michael Caine) is upset that Bruce has refused to rejoin the world, and has seemingly neither moved on from the death of Rachel nor tried to make a new life for himself. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is trying to run Wayne Enterprises the best he can, despite Bruce’s lack of involvement or enthusiasm.

Enter into all of this a bunch of new characters: Bane (Tom Hardy), Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Miranda Tate (Marion Coltillard) and a Gotham cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Bane is a mercenary (don’t ask too many questions about that) who is plotting something which involves screwing over Gotham. Miranda Tate is a billionaire philanthropist. Selina Kyle is a talented, fast-talking thief who is way in over her head with Bane’s crowd. And John Blake is just a good cop who still believes in the Batman. Despite being a really long movie, these characters are introduced fairly quickly and you accept their involvement in the plot with no problem.

Bane’s goons put Commissioner Gordon into the hospital, which immediately turns the rest of the Gotham Police Department into a bunch of idiots, with the exception of Blake. Blake randomly can just tell that Bruce Wayne is Batman and serves as the official Batman cheerleader for the whole movie. (How this Blake guy figured it out and Gordon didn’t is well...whatever.) He encourages Bruce to come back as Batman, which eventually does happen when Bane attacks the Gotham City Stock Exchange.

Bane and his goons want Bruce to go broke because A.) They know he’s Batman (this is later revealed to be because they’re like The League of Shadows: Reloaded) B.) They want access to all of the weapons from Wayne Enterprises, including a bunch of tank-cars that are exactly like the Batmobile. They also want access to a giant fusion generator, which Bane forces a scientist guy to convert into a bomb. How does making Bruce Wayne broke accomplish this?

Up to this point, nice billionaire Miranda Tate has been trying to “help” Wayne Enterprises out with their green energy projects. Lucius advises Bruce that in order to recover from the money disaster, they have to give her access to the company and all of their stuff, including the big generator. 

Batman gives pursuit but the cops follow Batman instead of Bane. Bane and his goons get what they need, which ends up being Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints. Why do they need Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints? They want to make him broke, by using his phony prints to make some bad investments. (Hence the attack at the Stock Exchange.) If you’re paying close attention, this is the lynch pin of the whole movie and everything else that happens comes from it.

The reason the League of Shadows get Bruce’s fingerprints in the first place is because Selina Kyle heists Martha Wayne’s pearls from Bruce’s safe in the beginning of the film. Selina intrigues Bruce and he deigns to appear in public so he can keep track of the swath she cuts through Gotham’s high society. Selina’s intentions are made clear after this. She sees how the rich in Gotham, in the world really, hoard their wealth and she is determined to take that power away from them. But this isn’t all that she’s after.

Bane has little use for Catwoman after she delivers the fingerprints and although she makes a daring escape from their first attempt to kill her, she can’t resist going back in to take more from those who wronged her. This gets her in real trouble, the kind only a rooftop fight with Batman at her back can solve.

Batman and Catwoman form an uneasy trust from this and he offers Selina the one thing she truly wants: a computer program that will wipe Selina’s record clean and allow her to start a new life. All she has to do is find Bane for him.

It doesn’t go well. Batman tries to meet up with Bane but is sold out by Selina Kyle. As Alfred predicted earlier, Bane beats the crap out of Batman. It’s not even a close fight. Bane then sends Bruce Wayne to The Pit, a prison somewhere in India and not-coincidentally the creepy one he came from in the first place.

After this, shit goes crazy as Bane’s army takes over the city with a series of bombs that separate the island of Manhattan Gotham City from everything else. Bane’s guys are in charge now and if any one from “the outside world” tries to screw with them, he’ll detonate the fusion reactor, which has now become a bomb. He claims he is giving the city back to the people, primarily through trapping all the police underground and freeing prisoners that were wrongly incarcerated by Harvey Dent. During this exchange, Bane reveals to Gotham just what Harvey Dent became in his final days and how Commissioner Gordon was complicit in lying to the city about it.

What follows is mostly a movie about Gordon, John Blake, Lucius Fox, and Miranda Tate trying to keep order in the cut-off city. They know that the reactor core in the bomb will degrade after 90 or so days. It doesn’t matter if Bane sets it off, it will go off anyway. Lucius can fix it but first they have to find it. The bomb is carried around in three identical trucks, one real, two decoy, all day and all night.

Bruce does eventually get out of the prison in India by climbing out of the pit and coming to terms with his attitudes about life and death, somewhat in thanks to the spectre of R’as al Ghul. Upon his return he convinces Selina Kyle to help him. (Or at least, help him a little bit before she takes his bike and escapes from the city.) He reveals himself to Gordon and Blake just as they’ve been captured and are about to be executed, and soon these combined forces are able to free the police, locate the bomb, and take the fight to Bane.

Batman can barely stand Bane’s blows during the final fight, but now knows that Bane’s mask is the key. He rips it open but isn’t able to take Bane down until Catwoman makes a surprise appearance, shooting a weakened Bane.

Bane’s alive, but he doesn’t have the trigger for the bomb. Miranda Tate does. Or rather, Talia al Ghul does.

She stabs Batman and makes off with what remains of the League of Shadows. They manage to hijack the truck with the bomb, now only minutes away from detonation, until Batman, Catwoman, and Gordon force them to crash the truck.

There’s now no time to defuse the bomb, so Batman hooks it to the Bat-plane he’s been using and flies away from Gotham. The bomb detonates over the bay.

In the wake of this, the city loves and mourns Batman while Alfred returns to mourn Bruce Wayne. Things seem like they will eventually return to normal. It’s revealed that John Blake’s real name is “Robin” and he goes on to discover the Bat-cave, suggesting he will take up the work Batman began.

In the final scene, Alfred is having a drink somewhere in Florence, Italy and sees a very alive Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle happily having a drink. They exchange knowing looks.

Phew! Now let’s talk about what it all means.

One complaint I imagine many will be making about this movie is the lack of complexity a villain like Bane has in contrast with The Joker or Harvey Dent. And they would be right, because Bane is a one-note character, whereas in The Dark Knight, the Joker and Two-Face work thematically and logistically with the plot instead of against it. What I mean is this: bad guys with big master plans in movies like this are inherently problematic. Why do they have so many henchmen? What is the endgame? Is the League of Shadows for real? The Nolans brilliantly dispensed of this problem with Heath Ledger’s Joker by having him say, “do I look like the kind of guy with a plan?” This, very uniquely unburdened the movie from the usual pitfalls of big bad guy plots.

Bane isn’t like that. Bane is more like a bad guy from a James Bond movie combined with, well, the character Bane from the Batman comic books. He’s just a really, really big asshole. In a somewhat surprising move, I was a little shocked that the initial backstory for Bane’s origin was thematically quite similar to Tom Hardy’s OTHER big villain character, Shinzon from Star Trek: Nemesis. He grows up in a prison, a terrible pit, which molds him into a terrible evil person who is really good at being evil.

In a big ending twist, however, Shinzon Bane’s origin turns out to actually be Talia al Ghul’s origin. She was the first person to escape from the Pit and Bane was her protector. This was almost exactly like the end of the Bond film The World is Not Enough in which Elektra King is revealed to be the eleventh hour bad guy, instead of the bald thug Renard. Am I saying these aspects of the movie were formulaic and derivative? Yes, but not to the point of making the film crumble. Mostly, the formulas made things predictable.

The introduction of Miranda Tate immediately put me on guard because I know the formula of this kind of movie: you can’t have two love interests for your main character. So, while I was happy to be proven right when Miranda Tate/Talia turns on Gordon and Batman, I wasn’t surprised. If Catwoman (Is she really Catwoman? Nobody calls her that!) hadn’t been in the movie, we might have liked and trusted Miranda right along with Bruce for longer, but the simple presence of the other character sort of ruins that reveal.

Also, Bane’s motivations get dubious when his true origins come out, as he doesn’t seem to be a League of Shadows devotee, but instead sort of a guy in love with someone else who is just using him. This doesn’t make the character uncool or anything, but it does make the themes a bit more muddled.

Luckily, the muddled nature of all these other characters isn’t a big deal, because for once, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s arc is very clear. The film opens with him crippled, depressed and broken. When he jumps back into the game because Catwoman gets him excited and because Bane is genuinely a new threat, he is hugely foolhardy and he pays for it.

Wrapped up in all of this is Alfred continually urging Bruce to move on and get a life. In a speech to Bruce at the beginning of the film, Alfred tells Bruce of a day he has always longed for: He’ll sit down in his favorite cafe in Florence, order a drink, and spot Bruce there living a happy, anonymous life free of Batman. They’ll exchange glances and never speak of the fact that everyone has moved on from the horror of Gotham. It’s an odd speech to process at first, but it’s incredibly touching because Michael Caine is the best person alive and delivers it beautifully. Christian Bale, for his part, is also playing a Bruce Wayne who actually feels really, really damaged.

In the previous Nolan movies we’re told over and over again how insane Bruce Wayne is and what a tough life he’s had. But his romance with Rachel (both the Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal versions) seems sort of creepy and unrelatable. It’s a childhood crush. A rich-person betrothal. They never really seem to have chemistry. But this time, Bruce Wayne’s human tendencies are totally on display. He is attracted to Selina Kyle right away and he’s instantly drawn toward Miranda Tate’s confidence, in comparison to how shiftless he feels. When they sleep together, it’s an act that’s full of need.

Finally! Christian Bale’s Batman is a person! He has sex! He has desires! He wants to be happy! All of this is punctuated with Alfred’s insistence and anger with him over being reckless with his own life. Carrying over with continuity from the previous film, when Alfred reveals he burned the letter from Rachel, the one that said she had chosen Harvey Dent, the emotional catharsis for Bruce Wayne gets real. He is broken by his feud with Alfred and the revelation that Rachel was not waiting for him before she was killed.

This is developed further after Bruce is exiled to the Pit. He’s angry and motivated, but he’s still being held back by the fact that he doesn’t fear death like he should. One of Batman’s defining qualities is suddenly turned from a morbid brooding intensity into something that needs to change and be dealt with. How can Batman fight for his life, for the things he believes in, if he doesn’t value his own life? What’s the point of making Gotham safe for others if you can’t be happy? The Dark Knight Rises answers this question. In this film, Bruce Wayne transforms from being a self-righteous martyr and into a true and real hero.

I predicted a lot of the plot points and twists in this movie. But I did not assume that gloomy Christopher Nolan would show me a smiling, and alive Bruce Wayne sitting in the sun with Selina Kyle at the end of the movie.

And that was the biggest twist of all in The Dark Knight Rises: It ended in the light.

 


Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com and didn’t even get a chance to talk about the Scarecrow’s amazing kangaroo court, that’s how complex this movie was.

42 comments
Damien G. Walter
1. Damien G. Walter
It's a terrible movie. There isn't anything more to say.
Damien G. Walter
3. Marina Rios
Great synopsis of a movie that does give us more depth to Batman and Bruce Wayne as a person. I saw The Tate/Talia reveal early on too. Still not sure how Bane eats through that mask... Michael Cane delivers such moving speeches I almost cried! And finally, I loved the end, but wished Nolan would have just cut it off at Alfred giving a nod to a familiar face in Florence, then never really showing Bruce but letting it live in our minds as a sense of knowing. Good article Ryan.
Sean Fagan
4. sef
I'm mostly with Damien -- this was not a good movie. As a "Batman movie," it was terrible.

I can see calling it "a movie actually about Batman," since if he had acted like Batman, then Gotham would never have been infilitrated so thoroughly. But that's it -- he wasn't acting like Batman.

More, they had two horrible (to me) failings with regards to the character of Batman. The first was that he was "merely human" -- he broke, withdrew, stopped paying attention. Where was the focused -- to the point of insanity -- drive that has been with Batman the past couple of decades?

The second was that this was an almost-entirely physical Batman. No wit, no Great Detective. No solving problems by being several steps ahead of everyone else.

No, I did not care for this movie. There were some good parts -- some even involving Bruce Wayne and/or Batman -- but it was too long, and too fail.
nicole rich
5. nrich

I'm not going to say that I didn't like this movie, because I actually did. Still there were quite a few things that didn't sit well with me.

First, Things I liked:

Admittedly, I skipped the first Batman movie when it came out due to my general dislike of all things Bale and my love for Michael Keaton. That being said, I have cumulatively enjoyed the last two installments of the trilogy. I appreciated the non-campy take on The Batman. These really were superhero movies made specifically for a mature audience and anything that gets people excited about men in latex and spandex costumes is alright by me.

I really appreciated Nolan’s decision to NOT shoot in 3D. Unlike The Dark Knight, much of this movie actually takes place in well lit areas or daylight, so 3D wouldn’t have been so bad, but since this movie really wasn’t that action-y, it just didn’t need the 3D treatment.

Saying that the movie wasn’t really action-y, doesn’t mean that it needed MORE action. I don’t need there to be explosions and grand brawls every 10 minutes to enjoy a superhero flick. It still felt like there was something missing, though.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale): I liked the scenes with Wayne in them far more than any scenes with The Batman, not that there were many scenes of the Bat with which to compare.

Bane (Tom Hardy): I’ve always liked Bane as a villain. For all his brawn and bravado, he is a really smart guy. I admit that I kind of missed the luchador mask and the whole storyline about using venom to grow ridiculously large muscles, but I understand that those things wouldn’t fit practically in this more realistic and gritty reboot. I loved the emotion and love that he showed at the end, as well as the pained sounds he made when his face mask was damaged. I found his tendency to rest his hands on the collar or neckline of every single shirt that he wore pretty amusing. Tom Hardy brought the gravitas and mercilessness that I would expect Bane to exhibit in real life, although I don’t know how convinced I was of his fanaticism.

Miranda/Talia (Marion Cotillard): Unfortunately, this plot point had been spoiled for me much earlier this year due to poorly planned press releases, so I wasn’t surprised when she ultimately became The Big Bad, however, had I not already known what was about to go down, I think I would have been pleasantly surprised with the twist. It was handled pretty well. Too bad she died at the end. It would have been interesting to see her pregnant with Bruce Wayne’s spawn.

The plane jacking: I do love a huge midair brawl. Too bad the really cute terrorist had to die in the crash. He was purty.

Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt): Who let that hothead in here?!

Foley (Matthew Modine): Has no patience for hotheads.

Gordon (Gary Oldman): His hands may be dirty, but he is still the sexiest old guy with a ridiculous mustache around.

The Mayor of Gotham (Nestor Carbonell): I actually smirked when he got blown up. Fuck that guy with the really dark and thick lower eyelashes that make him look like he is wearing eyeliner all the time. He was a total douche.

Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway): We all knew that Catwoman was going to turn around.

Things I didn’t like so much:

The Bechdel test: I would argue that this movie does not quite pass. The rules of the Beschdel test are that there must be two women with names in the movie who actually talk to each other about something other than men. While Selina and Talia never talk to each other, Selina does have a roommate, named Jen (had to look it up because I’m not sure it’s actually said in the movie) with whom she speaks to on a couple occasions. I actually cannot remember whether they actually talk about anything other than Bruce Wayne or any of their “marks.”

Batman: Still couldn’t understand half of what he said. He didn’t show up for the first half hour. His cape looked like black velour? Also, he apparently is not that good at keeping his disguise a secret.

Bane: After the release of the first trailer for TDKR, a lot of people complained that Bane’s voice was unintelligible because of the face mask. In later trailers, it seemed that the film makers edited the sound so that his words were clearer. I think that they also went back and edited the movie as well and unfortunately made the mistake of overcompensating. There were some instances, for example on the plane, when his voice was almost too loud as if they added a voiceover over the sounds of gunfire, screaming men, and jet engines. Everybody else on the plane is yelling to be heard, but Bane’s, strange mechanical voice is projected over everything almost narrator style. The same thing goes for the scene at the stock exchange and the huge fight scene between the thugs and cops. He never yells or raises his voice throughout the entire movie. It would have been nice if they could find a happy median between the two extremes. I also found his face mask problematic when they explained that it was a device that somehow blocked pain? How the fuck does that work out?

The flashback at the prison: Yeah, the first time they showed the kid climbing the wall, I immediately recognized that it was a girl. Then they showed the same flashback again and again and again. Way to really drive the point across guys.

Utilization of time: One of the things that I really, really loved about the second Dark Night movie was how time was used to terrorize. Every action had a sense of immediacy to it. Everything had a timetable. All the bombs were ticking time bombs; even the one inside a prisoner’s stomach. Good men had to make hard decisions about who they were going to save in the little time they had left. This movie had bombs too, but when they are not going to go off for a whole 5 months, that kind of cuts out the urgency and danger of the situation. This entire movie was really about waiting. Waiting for The Batman to show up, waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, waiting for the people to take action on their own. Blah, blah, blah. Boring!

There was also the cliché “show up at the last minute” to save the day thing. The Batman conveniently shows up the very day that the bomb is supposed to detonate, despite the fact that no one has actually told him that the bomb is supposed to detonate on that day.

Injuries: This one really rankled me. At the start of the movie, Bruce Wayne is a frail man who, according to his doctor, has no cartilage in either of his knees or one of his shoulders. He has bags under his eyes and his is underweight (once again Christian Bale goes through extensive lengths to become his character and really pulls off looking like shit). After a few scenes, we see him use some sort of mechanical device to help support one of his his bum legs and he is off and running (literally) for the rest of the movie. I’m not a doctor, but I do have a grandma and I can tell you for a fact that once your cartilage is gone, it is gone for good and then the bones of your knees are just grinding against each other. Cartilage doesn’t grow back and you do not just start walking around like a normal person, or raising your arm over your head, just because you wear a fancy knee brace. Now, if they had cut to a clip of him having extensive knee surgery right before he went to go dance with Selena Kyle, I might be a little more convinced of his recovery.

Speaking of recovery; who knew that all you need to realign and heal a broken/dislocated(?) spine was to be hung from a rope and then punched in the back? Also, it takes exactly five months to heal completely, as well as put on considerable muscle mass despite having little access to either food or water in a damp prison with no sunlight.
Selina Kyle: She’s like triple jointed or something. She uses her feet (hooker heels) as an extra hand.

Blake: His legal name is Robin? So when he becomes Batman’s sidekick he’s basically going to choose the least inventive superhero name ever.

The Ending: Hah! Turns out there was autopilot after all! Hah! Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are hanging out in Paris together. They are probably having sex and stuff. Hah! There are boys living in the Wayne Mansion now. Let’s hope that they don’t find that secret passage that leads down to the Bat Cave. Hah! JGL already found it!
James Goetsch
6. Jedikalos
What an awful mishmash of a movie. I disagree that it was finally a movie about Batman--as you point out, for vast stretches of it there is no Batman. And the Batman we get is just some outclassed physical fighter (I agree with sef above on that: where is the Great Detective, etc.?). And Batman finally makes it back for the final confrontation and we have to have Selina take down the badguy? Would have been a perfect spot for Batman to use his BRAINS and outstmart Bane. I actually prefer the Val Kilmer Batman movie to this one as far as giving me Batman (can't believe I would ever say that). As a "Batman movie" this is a fail.
Damien G. Walter
7. Dax
I must say that I was thoroughly disappointed with this film, and mostly because it was actually not about Batman. John "Robin" Blake was practically the main character, and we got to see even less of Batman -- or Bruce Wayne, as the alternate persona of Batman -- than in the previous films. Just Wayne being an idiotic recluse, not even showing any thinking skills (so, not even really being Bruce Wayne). The plot was terrible, wrapper around an extinction event hole, with no characters to care about.

The part I liked best, happens to be the thing most people complain about: Bane! Hardy was great, including the somewhat ridiculous voice, which actually helped to solidify him as a real character.

Oh, and the whole flying away with the enormously plot-convenient bomb/fusion core (what a precision in the measurements of when that core would go critical) just reminded me of the 60s Batman film in which Adam West is running around with a cartoon bomb held up over his head.
Damien G. Walter
8. Sharat B.
And because of all the things you said, I enjoyed this film the most. Though the Joker dynamic of The Dark Knight will always be compelling for its own reasons.
marian moore
9. mariesdaughter
Unlike most of the guys above, I loved this movie. It was a great character piece and blows Avengers out of the water.

I loved that Catwoman/Selina is returned to being "merely" a cat burglar. I never liked her as a major villain. Not because she's a woman, but because there are far too many major villains.

I was waiting to hear how Blake would become the new Batman after the pronouncement "anyone can be the Batman". It reminded me of how the Robin character in the BBC version passed the role on to the next guy. Blake didn't have to be Robin, but ok--I can accept that nod to canon.

I was amused to see how many people knew who Batman actually was.

Glad in a way to read about this convention about two female leads in a movie. When Miranda character was introduced, I immediately wondered what connection she had with the "bad guys". I worried that I was succumbing to the bias that American movies have again people with accents; they are almost always the villain. Now I tell myself that I was subconsciously aware of a typical movie pattern. (yeah, right).

I loved the nod to historical precedence. We got the trials of the French revolution on a small scale. There's an entire other movie possible there, exploring how people lived through the months after Bane gave the city back to the people and what happened after "America" came back in and reestablished the elite to their place.

This version was occasionally preachy, but there was actual substance here. This summer has been something of a desert, but I am glad that this movie lived up to my wait.
Damien G. Walter
10. jmurphy
acceptation of Blake.=exception
will Selina’s record clean and =missing verb
he’ll denote the fusion reactor, =detonate
Gordon was implicit in lying to =complicit
knows that that Bane’s =repeated word
instantly allured by Miranda =word choice?
Damien G. Walter
11. L Lambert Lawson
I absolutely loved this movie for a lot of reasons but especially for the last 30 minutes. Too much to comment on.

One thing I didn't like is that it didn't pass the Bechdel Test...not really. It really did not pass the Bechdel Test when you tack on the new condition: two women talking about something other than a man FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE. The scene with Kyle and her roommate was too fleeting to count.

Otherwise...a pitch perfect Batman movie and trilogy ender.
Mike Conley
12. NomadUK
(Repost from a different Batman thread, just because.)

Well, that was fun. Dark fun, but fun.

I thought it was excellent. So, a few minor weaknesses here and there, but nothing I care about. It offered exactly what it said on the tin, and then some. (Though I will say that I thought the second film was even better, thanks to Heath Ledger's inimitable Joker.)

And all the whingers who thought Anne Hathaway wasn't going to be able to do Catwoman -- well, all I can say is, Julie Newmar finally has competition.

And it would be nice to think that some billionaires and bankers might see it and think a little bit about how the world they're creating might just wind them up in front of exactly that kind of court.
Damien G. Walter
13. images10dream
It seems that several (but not all) comments directed above are along the lines of "this movie did X and X isn't batman." This line of reasoning is absurd. If you didn't like the direction the character was taken in, then that is fine. However, that is not a critique of the film itself. Nolan can pretty much do what he wants with the character as long as Bruce Wayne dresses up as a bat and fights crime.

I think that a lot of people are going to be dissapointed with the film because they have already written the end of the story in there heads in a vague manner, and when the expectations clash with Nolan's vision, they are dissapointed.

I went into this movie consciously trying to not let my expectations interfere with the experience and I found it amazing. It was the perfect end to the trilogy, focusing on the themes that began in Batman Begins. This may not be Batman for everyone, but saying that it was a bad film is crazy. There were so many well executed scenes, my favorite being the use of silence during Batman's first encounter with Bane. It emphasized Batman's weakness; there was no heroic music cheering us on to victory. You were almost jerked out of the narrative to witness the beloved hero be crushed by a combination of his own hubris and Bane's fists.

Not only was it a good film, but it makes the trilogy a worthy achievement in its own right.
Bill Stusser
14. billiam
I was so disapointed by this movie. There was so much that was good but also too much that was really, really bad.

I thought both Catwoman and Bane were good. Anne Hathaway was everything that Catwoman should be and I didn't mind at all that she got to take down Bane. Tom Hardy was great as Bane.

But what I just can't get past is the end, and by the end I mean the whole third act. First off is the absurd way that Bruce recovers from having his back being broken and shows up exactly on the day the bomb is going to explode. The next thing that really bothered me is that you have a nuclear bomb with a six mile radius that is going to explode in like two minutes and you just stand there and listen to the villian monologue until she dies? I wanted to shout forget about her and do something with the bomb you idiots.

And let's talk about what they do with the bomb. Its a good thing that the Bat can fly at a speed of about 500 MPH, because thats how fast it would have had to be to get the bomb at least six miles away from the city and out over the bay in less than a minute. And let's forget about any kind of blast wave from the bomb, or any kind of tidal wave caused by the blast, or the nuclear fallout that should have hit the city.

And one last thing, Blake's first name was Robin? Really? It would have been better if his name had been Dick Grayson, or even Jason Todd or Tim Drake. You could argue that that would have given his becoming Batman at the end away, but I figured out he was going to be the next Batman before I even saw the movie.
John Smith
15. TheHardTruth
@10 jmurphy - omg. PLEASE tell me your entire post was a joke.

PLEASE.

If not...Jesus.
Damien G. Walter
16. John Gordon
Arghh. You got the final fight sequence wrong. Batman beats Bane to a broken state. He kicks him across the floor at the end!

I think maybe you fell asleep during that part :-).

Batmen is interrogating a fearful and broken Bane when Talia stabs him.

Sheesh.
Damien G. Walter
17. Petar Belic
I loved the movie. It was a like the end of a big satisfying meal that began with Batman Begins.

There were a LOT of problems, but ultimately, for me, these were overshadowed by the triumphs.

I would have liked to spend more time with Gotham in anarchy during the 5 months. I don't think we really got to see enough of that. The sense of time passing wasn't really given.

Unlike some others I took it for granted that Selina was in a relationship with her 'room mate' and was quite surprised when she kissed Batman at the end.

I also did not see the final shot coming, I was quite sure that Bruce Wayne had to pay the ultimate price for his love of his city. In this way, Nolan subverted my expectations!
Damien G. Walter
18. John C. Bunnell
I've said much of this elsewhere, but I think it's worth reprising here:

I don't think it's just that Nolan fundamenetally mis-perceives the Batman character. My problem is that in this picture, the supposed protagonist makes so many stupid choices that I can't sympathize with him irrespective of whether the characterization is Bat-faithful or not.

The Bruce Wayne of this film has let his corporate empire fall into ruin, reducing his ability to do good with the profits. This is out of character for most versions of Bruce/Batman, and inconsistent with the first film (which also begins with Wayne Enterprises having been Bruce-free for a similar time period). But even on its own, it makes Bruce unsympathetic.

Bruce reacts to Selina's theft(s) by resuscitating his detective skills and running a background check, which is good. But he fails to follow through -- he doesn't recover the thumbprints in time, and he takes no measures to otherwise protect his personal and corporate assets. The former is un-Batlike; the latter is just plain dumb.

Bruce falls hard for "Miranda Tate's" various pitches -- but evidently he does not run up an intelligence report on her as he did with Selina. And not only does he sleep with her, he freely hands her the keys to the fusion reactor. The sex actually doesn't bother me as such -- like James Bond, (the real) Batman should be perfectly capable of using seduction as a weapon -- but Bruce's complete failure to realize Talia's real identity and agenda is indefensible. I saw that one coming without having been spoiled in advance, and my immediate reaction was that if I could peg "Miranda" as the true Evil Mastermind, Bruce should have been equally able to do so. But he doesn't, and that's the third strike.

After that, the problems with fast/slow time, Batman's physical health (or lack thereof) and the chase-the-bomb sequence are merely overkill; the plot has already lost all possible credibility. And I'm with Dax; the resonance with the '60s Batfilm's "some days you just can't get rid of a bomb" sequence is much too easy to draw.

So it's not just that I dislike the movie for "not being about Batman" (although I'd argue that it isn't about any Batman with any reasonable claim to the costume). It's that the movie fails, for me, to create a character I can root for. I wanted Bruce to die at the end...to me, he deserved that fate for having screwed up so thoroughly and so often as to get himself into that fix. Rarely has "Too Stupid To Live" been so clearly defined onscreen as it was here.
Damien G. Walter
19. alex james98
This movie was a "bad Batman" movie. First of all , Gotham City was never disguised to be a city in and of itself, but made to be "NEW YORK CITY" Manhattan, which just does not work. It doesn't make you believe the story line at all, since it is so "MANHATTAN" AND NOT GOTHAM, after all is said and done ; with all the familiar landmarks, i.e. The Willamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, New York Stock Exchange, etc. Batman was first and formost from the comic book era, and the best Batman is still the First, with Michael Keaton. That was the most convincing Batman because it was directed by an Animator, Tim Burton. That original Batman had the "REAL" feel that was true to the comic book stories, but aparantly most people did not even read the comic books so the studios abandoned the style of the Burton Batman. The people I spoke to after I saw the movie , out front of the theater, generally conveyed the feeling that they did not really care much about the characters in The Nolan version. Talking to people originally few years back I got the sense that people who actually read the comic book Batmans loved the characters who were in the original Burton film. I suspect that all had something to do with all the "COLOR" you were seeing up on the screen and the brilliant cinematography of the original Burton Batman. The key here is that every single person I spoke to after I just saw THE DARK KNIGHT RISES , was basically just laughing about the whole movie in general and all the characters, and how stupid the plot is. In the original Burton movie there was such a "PASSION" in the descriptions I remember of viewers comments.
Damien G. Walter
20. TheSeventhChandrian
All right, first: I LOVED THE MOVIE. But it does have flaws.

The *nuclear* bomb exploting without a fallout is one, like really?
The Bruce's recovery, I mean I suspected he'd got his spine broken since I saw the trailers and the broken mask poster, but I expected more of a real recovery, not just hanging and being hit.
Bane's not as epic as Ra's or The Joker and Two Faces. And Talia dying killing the possibility of a Damian Wayne reduces the excitement of Talia being around.

It was a movie about Batman, but now about Bruce Wayne.
Batman is a symbol; a legend, not a man. And that's what Nolan's vision is (or at least I perceived it like that). So in escence there are three Batmans: Bruce (although I admit I do miss the detective side) Gotham's people (by taking action, although I agree it was a cliché-ish and stupid to take action in the last moment) and Blake (the new Batman or so we are led to believe).

Since the beginning I knew Blake would be the next Batman, and it was the perfect ending. Maybe he looking at the cowl... unless he doesn't turn into Batman at all but only takes the equipment and turns to be Nightwing instead. Must admit it's an interesting possibility, but if he does take the cowl, then I feel the way Nolan turned a Robin into batman was more satisfactory than the way it was done int he comics (And Bruce's not dead so he may come back... as in the comics).

And maybe havong Brice dead, or something similar to what Marina said, a scene of Alfred looking to Selina and a man in fornt of him would've been better like in the flashback he had earlier, would have been better.

However even with an alive Bruce (I though Nolan dared to do what Whedon couldn't with killing Iron Man) I believe the last 20 minutes of the film were the best of the saga, it delivers what we were waiting for: a conclusion.
If you didn't like it, well I'm fine with it, it depends of the point of view you have, so don't go spreading the movie is bad, when what really happened is that you didn't like it.
Damien G. Walter
22. TK1123
TDKR was not as potent a movie as TDK. But coming in second in this particular race is certainly not a demerit in the slightest. I cheered, I grinned, I shuddered, I may have misted up for a second. Nolan's reputation as a guy who knows how to make old-fashioned, engaging, sweeping, puzzlebox movies is undiminished.

Part of why this version of Batman has been so successfully grounded is the very clear perception, both by the writers, and by the characters themselves, of what Batman is good at. Batman is not a person in any conventional sense, or worse yet, a "superhero"- he's an instrument constructed to fight organized crime in the midst of corruption. There's no other context when Batman makes sense- he can't do a better job on the corner than the more numerous beat cops, if he's the "world's greatest detective," then he should be teaching classes, and he has no cause to wear a mask and work alone if he's fending off some global existential crisis. However, if a great deal of suffering stemmed from a small group of people, and those people had managed to capture the system that ought to challenge them, it's easy to imagine that a instrument of violence from outside the system might be of some use. The Reign of Terror by way of nuclear blackmail was ingenious simply because it was a sensible way for Batman to be relevant in a scheme that could kill millions.

Batman's other function is to heal Bruce Wayne. He's a reason for Bruce to get up in the morning (or late afternoon.) He's an outlet for Bruce's keen mind, and empty hours, and bottomless rage, and his empathy. He's also an extraordinarily risky therapist that runs pretty good odds of killing Bruce.

All of this implies that A) Batman need not be infalliable or undefeatable and B) he need not be a permanent presence in the life of Bruce Wayne or Gotham- and indeed probably shouldn't be. He must merely occasionally do something that no one else can- and he does- and in the meantime, every nod that can be made in the direction of the incredible physical and psychological toll of Bruce's crusade, and the failings that result, isn't a subversion of his Bat-ness, but much needed verisimilitude.

Bruce is a depressed wreck, nearly scuttling his company thanks to his paranoid abandonment of a world-saving energy project, because he had to give Batman up too soon, and he loses to Bane because he had to take up the cowl again having forgotten that Batman was a symbol needing cultivation and not an invincible being. In the Pit, Bruce remembers how to be Batman- that his "superpower" is, just like al-Ghoul said, is the will to act. And in the end, the moment for Batman passes- Bruce no longer needs the cowl to sooth the pain, or save the city, and he offers him up to Gotham- both as a redeemed hero who made the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf, and to Blake, who might need Batman himself, and can always roll him out if Gotham ever finds itself in need of a singular hero to supplant the daily heroism of its citizens. Batman is a tool for broken men and corrupt days, and in the healing of both, he supplants himself.

I had a few moments where I thought that having Bruce live was a cop-out, but I realized it was really a very elegant move. Batman died so Bruce could live- but of course, Batman isn't a man, he's something else entirely... a legend.
lake sidey
23. lakesidey
I liked it. Won't bother with long explanations of why; I just did (despite all the flaws) - if you didn't like it, fine by me, just don't insist on my disliking it too.

I do agree that tDK was better (but I would say the same about almost any action/superhero movie I have ever seen - none of them could measure up to that). After all, a wild card like the Joker comes once in the lifetime of a movie series.

And yes, I will probably see it again.

~lakesidey
William Carter
24. wcarter
Honestly the best thing I can say about this movie was that it was just OK.
Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway did great jobs and Christian Bale did his part. But the writing fell flat.
As other commenters have pointed out, there were just too many plot contrivences that broke my suspension of disbelief.
If Nolan wanted a more realistic Batman, I'm all for that. But someone apparently forgot to tell him that cartliage doesn't grow back or that he can't simply have someone slap Bruce on the back to miraculously heal a damaged spine.
Simply put, the style lacked consistency. That and the greatest part of Batman was always his mind and his drive. He was brilliant and, more importantly, he was obsessed.
A more realistic batman still needs that obsession, even if he turns over most of the brilliance to Lucious Fox. Otherwise, why the hell did he ever put the suit on in the first place?
Damien G. Walter
25. Rashkae
After all the pre-release hype, I was starting to feel like an outsider for my complete disapointment in this movie; the first Nolan helmed film I would say that of. It's gratifying to see I'm not entirely left field in that.
Damien G. Walter
26. thehiso
The movie wasn't bad, but it was the worst of the three for sure.
Damien G. Walter
27. SF
I thought it was great film, best in the trilogy.
Brent Longstaff
28. Brentus
This film was fantastic and a great conclusion to the trilogy. It's the best movie I've seen since Inception. It is better than TDK would be if you disregard Heath Ledger's performance (since it alone raises TDK a few levels of greatness). With Ledger factored in, I am not sure which movie is better overall.
Damien G. Walter
29. F@zzy F
@ 22. tk1123
I completely agree with you about this film. Most others that have commented have stated that it is not the batman that they envisioned which is why they don't like the plot. Those that are picking holes in the plot, well we can always do that with any film if we decide to do so. Do I accept that there are some holes? Yes but the film was solid enough for it not to become a hinderence.
Well done to Christopher Nolan for sticking to his vision of the character. It may not be for everybody but that's fine by me.
Damien G. Walter
30. Molybdenum
First off, I liked the movie but didn’t love it.

I think those of you who say that Batman wasn’t Batman-y enough kind of missed the point of Bruce Wayne’s character arc in this movie. He simply did not care anymore. The whole point of the Batman we know, as has been pointed out, is his determination and drive to stop the evil that is overtaking the city. This version of Batman simply didn’t care. This is why he didn’t try to get to the bottom of the fingerprint theft, or really care all that much when all his assets were taken away. That is why he stupidly confronted Bane when nothing good would come of it, because, if he succeeded, great. If not, who cares? That is why the prison scene worked (despite the whole injuries go bye-bye thing). It shows that in order for Batman to be at his best and really make a difference, he has to care. Both about himself and his city.

@18: Stating that Batman should have seen Miranda as the evil mastermind because you did is majorly unfair. I’m pretty sure the main reason Miranda was suspicious to everyone was because of the structure of the movie, not anything she did or said. Batman doesn’t know he’s in a movie, so it would be difficult for him to deduce anything using the same methods the audience could.
Summary: Batman characterization – really good, action set pieces – good, pacing –surprisingly very good considering the length of the movie. I was never bored or felt like things were coming too fast.
So what was the problem? If the movie didn’t try so hard to make you think, I could dismiss the silly plot contrivances. But since the movie causes you to use your head to determine both plot and character motivations, I simply cannot ignore these things:

Why did Gordon even write the truth about Dent in a speech? There is no way that speech would do anything but harm to the city, and there was no need to make Batman a hero again because there was no crime for Batman to fight. The speech just existed so that Gordon could have it in his coat pocket when he was kidnapped, and Bane could read it and expose Harvey Dent as a fraud.

What was Bane going on about with hope and despair? I’m not going to go into the logic of the speech itself, but rather how Bane tried to make Gotham feel it. He wanted to give a glimmer of hope to make the true despair set in. While it’s hard to understand how most of the population would see the people’s rebellion as an improvement to give them hope, I’m willing to dismiss that. However, I cannot dismiss that there is no way they would have time to feel despair because they are being busy being blown to bits. The whole people’s rebellion only existed so Batman would have time to heal, escape the prison, and put a stop to it. There is absolutely no in-story reason why Bane couldn’t have torched the place immediately except to help the plot out, which is the very definition of a plot contrivance.

Why did Talia Al-Ghul want to destroy Gotham? To fulfill the destiny of her father, obviously. Never mind that her father wanted to destroy it so he could build a better Gotham, something that didn’t seem to be on Talia’s to do list considering she’d be dead with everyone else. Really TDKR, you couldn’t give your mastermind better, more nuanced motivation than that? It sold having an interesting villain for a twist ending that really shouldn’t have been all that surprising. This is disappointing, because TDK had the most interesting and nuanced villains ever in a superhero movie.
Damien G. Walter
31. John C. Bunnell
@30 Molybdenum: Let me see if I have this right -- it's OK for Batman not to figure out Talia's identity/agenda because he doesn't know he's in a movie -- but wait, the real problem is that Talia doesn't have a plausible agenda in the first place? I am...confused.

Well, actually, I'm kind of fascinated, because it looks to me as if you and I in fact have much the same problem with the movie -- or at least that we see its protagonist in much the same way. You observe that Bruce in the movie doesn't initially care about anything; I observed that the movie makes it difficult-to-impossible for us as viewers to care about Bruce. These are two sides of the same coin.

The question of Batman discerning Talia's identity and motives (such as they are) is likewise two-faced. From outside the movie, Bats' failure to unmask Talia ahead of time makes it hard for us to root for him; from inside the movie, the problem is that he trusts Miranda/Talia when he has no good reason to do so -- and when a solid intelligence workup on her, like the one he does on Selina, ought to have sent up warning flares.

Which brings us around to the larger point you identify (and with which I also happen to agree): namely, that the movie is trying to be both an action-spectacle, with a lot of sound and fury and largely context-free mayhem, and a thoughtful character-driven story. It does pretty well at the spectacle and violence -- but it does really, really badly at the character-driven storytelling.
Damien G. Walter
32. Molybdenum
Here we go.

Actually, I think the fact that Talia’s agenda has suspect motivation is the exact reason why it makes it difficult for Batman to figure it out. Batman has the excuse of not understanding why anyone would want to just destroy Gotham, so automatically he’s not going to suspect people of being a candidate to destroy Gotham unless otherwise prompted. We have the advantage of knowing someone is trying to destroy Gotham because we are watching a movie.

That said, the argument that Batman should have run a background check on Talia before handing over control of the bomb is absolutely correct. On the other hand, there’s nothing that said he didn’t and everything checked out. Of course, assuming he didn’t the reason is that Batman is in “don’t care” mode. And this is where you and I disagree.

The state of Bruce Wayne indicates he is a heavily damaged individual, even if we hadn’t seen the previous movies to see exactly what it was that caused that. And if the fact that the things that have happened to him to render him so much lesser than he was don’t cause you to sympathize with him, then I’m not going to be able to convince you of anything other than what you already believe. If you only root for brilliant, strong people with complete control of their lives that is your prerogative. I, like Tyrion Lannister, have a special place in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.

And I do agree with your last paragraph, subbing in somewhat badly at character driven stuff rather than very,very badly.
Damien G. Walter
33. PatHurley
This is a decent review. I would make one change to your synopsis, as it is slightly incorrect:

"Batman can barely stand Bane’s blows during the final fight, but now knows that that Bane’s mask is the key. He rips it open but isn’t able to take Bane down until Catwoman makes a surprise appearance, shooting a weakened Bane."

This is incorrect. Bruce IS able to take Bane down. He definitely wins their second fight by breaking open his mask. At the end of the bout, he's standing triumphant over a crippled Bane and serves the villians own words right back to him, "Once you've told me where the bomb is, then YOU have my permission to die."

And that's when Talia/Miranda stabs him. Its an important point, because just when you think that Batman has triumphed, the League of Shadows reveals the ace up its sleeve.

Other than that quibble, this was a thoughtful examination of the film.
Damien G. Walter
34. batmanzed
I thought this was a great movie, and a great ending to Christopher Nolan's "movie" take on Batman. No movie adaptation of any comic, or indeed book, will ever stick to canon. You have to go into these things with the expection that they are being produced for a mass market. You have to accept that what you will be getting is an "Elseworlds" take. I thoroughly enjoyed all three movies and thought this was the best of them. I hope any further Batman projects don't interfere with this trilogy.
Jan Vaněk jr.
35. JVjr
jmurphy @10: You left out a lot of minor things like "Bane is more like a bad buy from a James Bond movie", "brooding pretention", "Lucius advices Bruce", not to mention punctuation and plainly confused, agrammatical, poor writing ("might be one of the more convoluted plots in an action movie ever"; and how does one "work thematically and logistically with the plot"?).

While I can imagine reasons why Tor might find it useful to employ a "staff writer" who badly needs a proofreader, if not a copyeditor, there is simply no excuse for not providing him with one.
R O T
36. rogerothornhill
Coming late to the game, but thank you for being someone else who saw the World Is Not Enough parallel (right down to the man who feels no pain).

Oh, at the end of the day, I'm more a Superman guy than a Batman guy, so all this is theoretical to me. I admire this movie, but I love Avengers.
Paul Andinach
37. anobium
How this Blake guy figured it out and Gordon didn’t is well...whatever.

Shared life experience, is the message I got. Blake was violently orphaned, felt the need to do something about it, and became a cop. He recognised in Wayne somebody else who had been violently orphaned and felt the need to do something about it - and since he hadn't become a cop, he must have become something else. Gordon didn't have that starting point, because he didn't have the life experience that let him see below Wayne's outer shell.

But I did not assume that gloomy Christopher Nolan would show me a smiling, and alive Bruce Wayne sitting in the sun with Selina Kyle at the end of the movie.

Really? I did, from the moment Nolan showed us the imaginary version during Alfred's little speech. There didn't seem to be any reason to show us what it would look like, except so that we would recognise it when it happened again at the end of the movie.
Paul Andinach
38. anobium
billiam @ #14: And one last thing, Blake's first name was Robin? Really? It would have been better if his name had been Dick Grayson, or even Jason Todd or Tim Drake.

No, it wouldn't have. Because he isn't Dick Grayson, or Jason Todd, or Tim Drake. There are echoes of all of them in him, but he's a new character, at the centre of a new story. Naming him after somebody he wasn't would have just caused people to make inappropriate assumptions about how his story goes, and then get upset when they turned out to be wrong.

(Look at it from the other end: If he had been called "Dick Grayson", how many people would have been complaining that he was nothing like Dick Grayson and why didn't Nolan call him something different?)
Anthony Pero
39. anthonypero
@JohnCBunnell:

From reading the comments, it appears that you think Miranda Tate sprung out of thin air and should have been vetted... My recollection was that she had been a Wayne Enterprises investor for years, and was known to both Bruce and Lucious Fox for at least four years prior to the beginning of the movie. What reason did Bruce have to check up on her at this point? She'd been around for years already.
Damien G. Walter
40. John C. Bunnell
@anthonypero:

Um, if anything, doesn't that make Bruce and Lucius look even more incompetent? Surely a management/ownership team as gifted and as justifiably paranoid as Bruce and Lucius should have done that full background workup on "Miranda Tate" when she came aboard as a major investor...and when both men were less distracted by Bat-fallout. It simply isn't logical or consistent for Bruce to probe Selina's background so thoroughly and "Miranda's" not at all.
Damien G. Walter
41. samnursey
I think bane bankrupts bruce so he has to turn to miranda/talia to activate the energy reactor
Damien G. Walter
44. DarkKnightRisesISgreat
The best thing about this 3rd Batman movie is that it spoils your desires on how you want the movie should be but still came up great.
Damien G. Walter
45. wizkid22
Ok I liked the movie until the end. Robin was not batman!! he was Robin Batman's side kick till he wanted more and when goes on to become Nightwing. Now if they wanted to take Bruce out then they should have gone the way of Batman Beyond. That way you got a rounded story, Alfred Said the city needed Wayne as Bruce Wayne not as batman, This way you got wayne's face out there but still with his finger on the pulse of the city..IDK I feel like I just need a new Batman series to comeout so that I feel better about the batman movie.. I loved the first one's with Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer's was a little goofy and George Clooney's had just gone so far away what it should have been that the only good part was that they had put in batgirl and finshed useing most of the super villans.. so when Batman begins came out it was great to have a real batman again.. now they killed it off in the last movie..In close I'll Say this.. "If you need to find scripts for batman movies, go to the comic books. There are hunreds out there and after reading bout 6-7 of them you should have a great start on a screen play, just don't try to put it all in one movie"

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