On Monday our own Robert Fure presented you with his list of 11 Things That Didn’t Work in The Dark Knight Rises. And our beloved commenters demanded balance. How could we possibly deliver such bias? Little did you all know that the following day would bring my own assessment of 11 Things That Did Work in The Dark Knight Rises, citing all the things that Christopher Nolan did right in his quest to close down his Batman trilogy. But now that all doesn’t seem like enough. A two-hour and forty five minute film can’t just be an assembly of parts either great or terrible. It’s not a coin to be flipped from one side to the other. There’s nuance in there. Details that exist in the gray. There are at least 11 Things That Were Just Okay in The Dark Knight Rises. And once we’ve listed those things, we’ll have covered it with true balance.
Obligatory Warning: The following points are meant to be discussed following a viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. Nothing will be held back for the sake of spoilers. You’ve been warned.
The emotional core of this entire trilogy gets dumped about half-way through the movie because he cops to burning the truth about Rachel. But he does make good with his minimal screen time. And while his tiff with Master Bruce feels awfully timed and forced, his moment at the grave in the final montage is heart-breaking. As per usual, it’s the strength of Michael Caine that brings it all together.
The Jonathan Crane Cameo
It’s really fun that Dr. Crane keeps popping up in all of Nolan’s Bat-films. It’s clear that the working relationship between the director and Cillian Murphy is strong. That said, how is the Crane all of the sudden the judge, jury and executioner of Gotham’s war on the aristocracy? And why is he wearing that tattered jacket? The mind reels…
Here’s an actor who can play evil. Anyone who saw the 2010 indie thriller Animal Kingdom will tell you that Mendelsohn can deliver a devious performance when he wants to. So it’s confusing as to why the character of Daggett falls so flat. He’s got a mean-spirited plan, but he’s kind of whiney. And gets tossed around by Selena Kyle. It just doesn’t feel like he could be the power behind a major corporation, let alone a guy who can handle Bane.
John Blake’s Partner
Somewhere buried inside The Dark Knight Rises is a great short film called The Life and Death of John Blake’s Partner. Here’s a character we don’t really realize exists until late in the movie, when he becomes important all of the sudden and then dies very unheroically. Were we ever told that his name was Ross? I don’t think so. Journeyman actor Reggie Lee deserves better.
The Sound Design
Part of this goes with the Bane’s voice issue from the “what didn’t work” article. At times, the big villain’s voice was so far forward in the mix that it sounded as if it was coming from off-screen. Other times, the design and mix were perfect (see the introduction of The Bat onto the streets of Gotham). It was really a mixed bag, all around.
Lets be real, kid actors are rarely very compelling as it is. “Do you think he’s coming back?” Sorry little underfunded orphan guy, but you’re only here to introduce us to the chalk Batman symbols that will come into play (sort of) later in the movie when Gordon and Blake are tracking the atom bomb.
The design is cool. The idea behind it is cool. But the entire situation around the auto-pilot is terribly constructed, from a narrative standpoint. And it’s not as cool as the Bat-Pod.
Bruce Wayne’s plan for sustainable clean energy
What is it about billionaire superheroes and their need to fill the world with clean energy? And why aren’t real rich people working on this in the real world? Are billionaires in superhero movies the only billionaires who are also interested in the good of all mankind? Okay fine, don’t answer that.
The Wall Street Heist Plan
Your plan is to steal all of Bruce Wayne’s money by making a series of risky investments? What if the investments actually paid off by some random bit of chance? That would have thrown a wrench in Bane’s plan. It was fun to watch him beat up on the douchey Wall Street guy, but the political stuff (“There’s no money here to steal.” “Well then, why are you here?”) could have been left out. Why can’t Bane just be trying to destroy Bruce Wayne? That seems like a reasonable goal.
The Seduction of Bruce Wayne
There is a rule that we all know: when Marion Cotillard makes a move on you, you do not resist. That said, Bruce Wayne does very quickly and easily get cozy with Miranda Tate. They’ve only just met and they’re doing some business together, but why is she showing up at his house in the rain? It was right about then that I knew she was up to no good.