If fan expectation and media hype had anything to do with how a film turned out, The Dark Knight Rises would have been the greatest film ever released, matching what will no doubt still be an eye-wateringly successful box-office return with perfect critiques across the board.
Sadly though that isn’t how Hollywood works and The Dark Knight Rises is a far from flawless movie, with some fundamental technical and story-telling problems that blemished what should have been a monumental achievement in film-making and the finest movie borne out of the comic book universe.
Don’t get me wrong, when the film is good, it absolutely soars, and some sequences are incredibly entertaining, executed to perfection and dripping with that dedication to spectacle that we were all expecting. But with all of the built expectation, and the apparent commitment to creating a “fitting end” – in terms of both finality and grandeur – the problems were all the more noticeable and affecting than they might have been in other projects.
Nolan was hamstrung from the outset by the fact that whatever he achieved with The Dark Knight Rises would have to eclipse everything that came before in his trilogy, and that would be a Herculean endeavour even for as celebrated a film-maker as he. The Dark Knight was a precisely tuned example of tight story-telling, mesmerizing character genesis and artful execution, and it is no accident that it is considered a towering achievement.
Because of the decision to present his arc of the Batman story as a triumverate, Nolan’s final film would also be expected to tie up some loose ends, offering at least some finality to this version of the character – as the director himself always seems to have intended.
But The Dark Knight Rises isn’t as great as we might have hoped – yes it is a good cinematic experience, and it has some of the finest set-pieces and sequences of this or any year, but the good points distract a great deal from an awful lot of problems. Whisper it, but The Dark Knight Rises is a comparatively poor film, led by exceptional acting, some stand-out moments and an established fan-base who will savage anyone who suggests that anything might be wrong with it.
Warning: There are HUGE SPOILERS within. Read on only if you accept that fact.
Take a deep breath and click next to reveal the first mistake, and PLEASE do feel free to call me on all or any of the points made – I have spent more time debating this film than any since Inception, which is far from a bad thing…