Fandom for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy saw its peak right before the release of the third film, which happened on this day four years ago. I still have fairly vivid memories of when they released the first photo of Bane, the first teaser trailer, and when the first reviews for the film hit RottenTomatoes.com.
Interestingly, Rotten Tomatoes made the executive decision to no longer allow comments on specific reviews because of how much trolling took place on every single negative review for the The Dark Knight Rises. I think this is as good of an indicator as any as to how intense the furor was surrounding the release of the film.
The release was preceded by two months by the release of Marvel’s Avengers, which broke almost every record it came up against, dethroning The Dark Knight. There were a lot of eyes on whether The Dark Knight Rises could then take the crown back from Marvel. Alas, much to my angst, Avengers held that record until it was broken by Jurassic World only last year. I hate to say it, but I think the reason it didn’t do as well as expected is because it didn’t have one of the main actors die a few months before the it released, like its predecessor did.
Unfortunately, the film didn’t live up to the hype. I don’t think it deserves its Rotten Tomatoes score of 87%. It is easily the weakest of the trilogy, although it certainly has a lot of good stuff about it too.
The biggest problem with the film is its script. There are a lot of convenient plot twists that were very poorly thought out. It also feels much less grounded in reality than its predecessors, which was pretty much their hook. Honestly, it feels like David Goyer (Man of Steel, Blade) did most of this story and the script, while Nolan focused on directing. It has all the hallmarks of a Goyer script, whilst having all the hallmarks of the amazing direction of Christopher Nolan. It is amazingly directed, which is what makes it so watchable.
The other problem is the sound mix, which is pretty typical of Nolan films. There’s a rumor that has been making the rounds in Hollywood circles that Christopher Nolan has a hearing problem. This film, and Interstellar even more so, seem to support that rumor.
Part of the marketing of this film was to show the first ten minutes on IMAX screens in front of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It was a scene shot on IMAX cameras and was really quite remarkable, showcasing the airplane set piece that starts the film off. The only problem? You couldn’t understand a thing that the character Bane was saying. It was garbled. So, in what I assume was an attempt to fix this, they had Tom Hardy dub all his lines in. Of course the final product resulted in an overcompensation with Bane’s voice being so much louder than anyone else that is speaking that it actually takes you out of the experience of watching a movie. There are other places in the film that are poorly mixed, but none are as glaring as any of the scenes Bane is in.
Where this film really redeems itself is in the action set pieces. Whether it be the opening airplane scene, the chase where The Dark Knight returns, or the climax, this movie really delivers on the action.
It has some interesting themes that are explored, much the same way that Nolan’s previous Batman films had. The ideas are never fully realized, but it is a worthy attempt.
Also, as in all of Nolan’s movies, it is incredibly beautifully shot. The lighting, the lenses, the camera angles and movements, all of it is just gorgeous to behold.
In the end, it’s an enjoyable film with some glaring problems. I will continue to watch this film every few years and be entertained for the duration of its running time. It will live on in the annals of comic book cinema history as a mostly worthy attempt at closing out one of the greatest trilogies of all time.