In this edition, J. Olson is joined by guest writer (and fellow film fanatic) Tyler Scruggs. They gave the film a ★★ 1/2 and a ★★★★ out of ★★★★★, respectively.
J. Olson has since amended his review to ★★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★★ after two additional viewings.
(J. Olson): It should be noted how worn out I am on Batman at the moment. A 9 hour marathon was a major commitment, and the haziness is just setting in. But I feel pretty strongly that the Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) is the Myspace of Batman movies. Everyone is super excited right now. 5 years from now, it’ll be “what were we thinking?”
(Tyler Scruggs): It somehow seems trendier than The Avengers.
(J): Christopher Nolan’s worst film, bar none. Yeah, I went there.
(T): I think as a fan of the film, I can agree with that.
(J): *I haven’t seen The Following. I was equally underwhelmed by The Avengers, but we’ll keep this about the Bat.
(T): I HAVE seen the Following. It’s creative but boring. Even at like 70 minutes.Very film student-ish. But with Nolan’s clear creativity. Anyway.
(J): Where was the creativity in TDKR? Where were the “Oh my God” moments?
(T): I had a few.
(T): Catwoman’s stilettos.
(J): Is that a joke?
(T): Catwoman’s butt. Actually no. When she stuck her shoe into the wall I thought it was cool as heck.
(J): I’m talking about moments like “Would you like to know which of them were cowards?” Scenes that just nail you to your seat.
(T): Oh, I’m sure Bane has some brilliant lines. But um. I couldn’t understand half of them. Yeah, I’m in that crowd.
(J): I understood 80-90% of his dialogue. The biggest problem with Bane is that was never more intimidating than in his first scene. It was all downhill. And there was no need to give his character any kind of backstory.
(T): I agree. I didn’t need it. Big scary dude wants to blow up a city. Got it.
(J): Miranda Tate, good God. What a waste.
(T): I actually didn’t see that coming.
(J): Everyone knew the turn as Talia was coming, so it’s like they didn’t even try.
(J): She was in the film for 10 minutes, sleeps with Bruce, and then… oh yeah, she’s a villain.
(T): Yeah, the film tries to catch us up and then once we’re caught up, we forget to care. I did not see Talia coming.
(J): Ra’s and Talia are supposed to be immortal, making Neeson’s cameo as a ghost or hallucination incredibly stupid.
(T): Yeahhh I didn’t get that.
(J): But all of those problems are nothing compared to Batman not being in over half of your Batman movie.
(T): I didn’t miss him. Is that weird?
(T): I was interested in other stuff so I was like ‘Ok Batman go learn about yourself.’
(J): The Bruce/Miranda love story was executed about as poorly as I’ve ever seen a love story executed. I liked the first 20-30 minutes of the film. Nolan was doing some nice experimentation with editing and sound, and I thought the score was fantastic.
(T): I noticed that.
(J): But there’s only so much of nothing happening I could take.
(T): I didn’t really like the first scene with Bane.
(T): It didn’t do its job of introducing him and I really wanted to know more about the ceremony.
(J): The back breaking fight should have been the greatest piece in the series but it was… boring.
(T): I agree. It happened, and I was more like ‘OK, so what does this mean?’ Instead of my hand over my mouth in shock.
(J): Logic issues – chase scene turning from day to night. Batman being stabbed through his armor. What?
(T): That’s part of TDK though. Oh my gosh, I’m fanboying.
(J): Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) being the only one in Gotham who can figure out who Bruce is. Because he has super orphan powers!
(T): When he got the new armor in TDK, it made him more impervious to knife wounds.
(J): Selina’s intro was great, but by the finale I was like, “why is she in this movie?”
(T): They definitely should’ve played up their romance. Cause I guess there is one?
(J): And Alfred bailing on Bruce? No.
(T): I didn’t see it as bailing, I saw it as leaving Bruce with a choice.
(J): It’s apples to oranges, but Michelle Pfeiffer has nothing to worry about as far as remaining Catwoman. THE Catwoman.
(J): I’m really starting to miss the arto-deco stylings of Burton’s films and to a lesser degree Batman Begins. TDKR looks even flatter than TDK and I HATED that they ditched Chicago.
(T): Yeah, living in Los Angeles really brings out the ‘Oh, look at all the different cities they used’ in watching films.
(J): Tax breaks? Whatever. You spent two films establishing Gotham as Chicago (even down to the license plates) and you up and leave for Pittsburgh?
(T): The Dark Knight Rises is a big culprit in that.
(J): Why be so meticulous in creating this cinematic universe if you’re not going to bother having the city look the same in each movie?
(T): I don’t know. All I know is that Chris Nolan needs to back away from superhero movies in general.
(J): So much of TDKR comes back to me as a giant blur. Nothing stands out, other than the final few minutes, because they’re so ridiculous.
(T): Were you a fan of Inception?
(J): My stance on Inception… Fantastic the first viewing. Very good the second viewing. By the third or fourth, there’s so much exposition that you don’t need anymore that it’s almost unwatchable.
(T): I feel the same. Although, after a long rest, I did check it out again during a flight and was blown away again. So I don’t know.
(J): You can accuse me of being a Nolan hater, but Memento and The Prestige are among my absolute favorite films. I just think he’s capable of so much more than TDKR.
(T): He is.
(J): And even TDK, which would be average without Ledger’s performance.
(T): However, I feel that he did what he set out to do. And with that, he can drop the mic and move on. As we all should.
(J): If that’s true, then his heart wasn’t really in it. It doesn’t have that Nolan stamp on it.
(T): It doesn’t.
(J): It’s so… bland. I’m not saying Ratner could have directed it, but there are moments where it felt as though Michael Bay could have pulled off something similar.
(J): I have to go back to that interrogation scene in TDK. Watching it again on the big screen yesterday… OH MY GOD. “You have nothing to threaten me with.” That moment is so harrowing. I felt nothing during most of TDKR.
(T): I’ll have to rewatch TDKR now. I DID have chill-scenes. I just don’t remember when. Or what line.
(J): In the new one?
(J): I actually got chills during BB and TDK. Just yesterday. Not even close during TDKR.
(T): I don’t want JGL to do Batman.
(J): I predicted that a year ago.
(T): I think many did.
(T): Well, my prediction was that Bruce would DIE. But, I like their ending better. With Alfred being at peace with himself.
(J): There was a lot more closure after TDK than TDKR, in my opinion. Gary Oldman was wasted this time around. His family moved to Cleveland? What?
(T): Yeah, he was! I think I let out an audible ‘what?’ in the theater.
(J): His monologue at the end of TDK was so great and it was basically ignored.
(T): Is it weird that my favorite part of TDKR was when the bat motorcycle thing does the quick turn thing with the wheels? (I am 5 years old)
(J): That was great in TDK because it was so unexpected. Now? Eh.
(T): It got me.
(J): What about “hunting the Batman, because he can take it?” I wanted more of Batman on the run. People outraged.
(T): I think we only saw like… 5 Gotham citizens. And 10 billion orphans. And 6 billion cops. You’re either a cop, orphan, or dead in Gotham.
(J): I kept waiting for a big moment that never came. I did like Gordon secretly hating Harvey Dent. I wish that had been expanded upon. And any movie that gives screentime to Ben Roethlisberger gets docked a few points in my book. I don’t even remember Bane dying.
(T): He died? I thought he like, cried.
(J): People are telling me he was blown up. Which I don’t remember AT ALL.
(T): I remember him crying. But not blown up. No.
(J): The passage of time was really unclear. Between the cops stuck in the sewer and Bruce in prison…
(T): Yeah, so 3 months was mentioned on film, but I guess it was more like 6? So what have we learned from The Dark Knight Rises?
(J): That Christopher Nolan should do his own thing.
(T): Yes. Yes. Yes.
(J): I want a BATMAN movie, not anymore Chris Nolan movies with Batman in them.
(T): I’m sure you’ll get that. Very soon. Too soon maybe.
(J): Arkham City is the best Batman related thing of the last… decade? I’d like to see a new Batman movie go in that direction.
(T): I haven’t played it.
(J): I wouldn’t rule out Bale and Cavill being a part of the Justice League
(T): I would! Bale is too good an actor to do Batman forever.
(J): Maybe they’ll bring back Clooney. I’m sure that would be received well.