The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 4.5/5

Dark, choppy, but relatively well crafted finale of a series I was never a huge fan of but nonetheless enjoyed outside the hype rabid idiot fanboys continue to heap on anything Christopher Nolan. Just shut up. Morons. He’s good, but he’s not that good, nor is his filmmaking style all that original or particularly noteworthy. He’s above average, sure, but he’s hardly great. Appreciate his films for what they are, moderately intelligent pop art, and stop giving him and his work more credit than it deserves. And, again, shut up.

Luckily, for whatever reason, the idiot masses have been rather split on this film, thus reducing the persistent over-hyped squawking long enough for me to watch and enjoy the thing on its own merits. Sure, it has some significant narrative problems: the story is convoluted and overly reliant on coincidence, a Nolan staple, with the first half being far better than the second, the editing is once again choppy and poorly paced at times, though not nearly as badly as it was in The Dark Knight, and some of the characters are kind of pointless or not as fleshed out as they could have been. But it doesn’t matter, cause the thing is still pretty damn good.

The film is well made, well acted, and, despite being almost three hours long, never boring. Some of the action scenes are great, especially the one at the beginning which almost gave me a heart attack, Christ. I wonder how much of that they actually shot and how much of it they did in post. Very cool. And the whole build up to **SPOILERS** Bane’s brutal fight with Batman in the middle of the film **END SPOILERS** was one of the darkest things I’ve ever seen in a mainstream superhero film. And so well crafted, though, again, totally ridiculous and overly reliant on coincidence. But man, that was some bleak, heavy stuff.

Unfortunately, that bleak moment is when things started to falter a bit. The stadium scene with Bane **SPOILERS** where he makes everything explode because he and his team of merry men somehow convinced hundreds of construction workers and such to mix explosives into concrete (huh?) with no one suspecting a thing until literally 10 seconds before it all went off **END SPOILERS** felt wrong somehow, like all the energy the film had so painstakingly been collecting in the last hour and a half  for this one moment just vanished into nothingness. All that build up, only for the film to hit a brick wall and fall over, dead. And the crappy CGI didn’t help matters much either.

Bane’s whole speech where he explains his motivations didn’t make much sense either. He **SPOILERS** did it to free Gotham? So why keep them imprisoned in an anarchistic hell hole? And why keep the bomb active and set to go off in a few months regardless of what anyone does? Why the death wish? **END SPOILERS** Maybe there’s s a good explanation for everything he does, something to do with the first film and the Shadow Order or whatever the hell, but it just didn’t make sense to me here.

The film does pick up again in the last hour with a series of crazy action scenes that are somewhat implausible but, again, who cares? They’re cool. And the whole **SPOILERS** Bruce Wayne in the underground prison segment **END SPOILERS** was choppy and silly at first, but became kind of interesting by the end. I thought the film had really gone off the rails at that point, but hats off to Nolan and co. for pulling the thing back on its feet and really hitting it out of the park. I even liked the ending, though it is a touch over the top.

Overall, though it may be hard to tell, I enjoyed the heck of this film, flaws and all. It’s deep and dark and well written/directed, and much better than it has any right to be given the silly subject matter. Sure, it does take itself too seriously at times, which is a similar issue I had with The Dark Knight, though this one embraces its comic book roots a lot more with its over reliance on coincidence and implausible or otherwise ridiculous scenarios. And the acting is pretty good, especially from Anne Hathaway who is great here despite not being all that necessary.

Tom Hardy is okay too, having the arguably hardest role in the film given his having to wear a mask throughout and not really being able to express much emotion as a result. He did sound a touch like Sean Connery at times, too, which was an odd choice. And I loved the cameo **SPOILERS** Cillian Murphy has in this. Perfect. I wonder if he was supposed to be the Scarecrow here too? **END SPOILERS** Who knows.

So, yeah, a really enjoyable film, and a solid ending to a dark and demented and somewhat overrated trilogy by a filmmaker whose talent I appreciate but don’t consider to be as amazingly and brilliantly great as that of many other filmmakers. But, for a film whose basic premise is that of a man who dresses up as a bat and goes around fighting crime, it’s well worth watching. One of the better films I’ve seen this year.

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