Welcome to a new series of articles we're running here at WhatCulture, prior to a new section of the site that will be opening up soon - one which will focus entirely on the subject of screenwriting. As a graduate with a degree in screenwriting, several short films under my belt, and years and years of experience writing online professionally, I'm hoping to delve a bit deeper into the screenwriting process with weekly articles. I want to explore the craft, offer advice in articles that aren't preachy or academically-aligned, but are easily digestible, much akin to the rest of the content we offer on the site. To kick things off, I've picked a movie which is always sure to generate a bit of discussion: The Dark Knight Rises.
I've watched The Dark Knight Rises
three times now. With each viewing, I've found that I've become more and more disillusioned with well, what is it, exactly? If I had to relay my position on the movie with a single word, I doubt that it would be entirely possible. And yet - and I think many will agree - there is something not quite right about The Dark Knight Rises
. As a Nolan film, it feels wrong. As a blockbuster, it feels way off base. Those of you who find yourselves constantly having to defend the movie might offer up some advice of your own: If you don't like it, stop watching it. Leave it alone. But that's more difficult than it appears to be: The Dark Knight Rises
has to be one of the most interesting "mis-fires" in the history of Hollywood blockbusters. From a screenwriting/story perspective, anyway, it's a genuine curiosity. Three viewings later, and I still can't quite put my finger on what it is about this particular final chapter that irks me so much. What is true, however, is that The Dark Knight Rises
clings to a strange, near-disastrous screenplay. And that, I think, is the biggest reason as to why I can't embrace the movie as a whole: It's constructed with an almost insulting amount of carelessness. From a director renowed for his Kubrick-esque perfectionism, it's bizarre. It wasn't always this way. My first viewing of the movie was a pleasant one. I came out of the movie feeling satisfied - or, at least, telling myself that I felt satisfied - though I knew, deep down, something wasn't quite right. Later, I realised that I had mistaken the movie's confusing nature for one of intelligent complexity. "Oh, a second watch will let me work out the plot points," I might've said out loud. I couldn't have been more wrong. Plainly put, I didn't understand what was happening because it didn't make any sense. Because the movie hadn't left me with anything to think about. To awe over. To ponder. I wasn't blown away in any respect. The visuals were nice, sure, but there had been a lot going on and how did it all fit together, exactly? I realised once I'd arrived home that The Dark Knight Rises
had disappointed me greatly. Another viewing two days later, and I felt at even more odds with it. Is it a truly bad movie? Probably not. Is it a mess? Absolutely. With this article, I'm not looking to simply point out what Nolan did wrong, though - I want to explore it from a writer's perspective. What did he do wrong from a point of view of the craft, and what cautionary tales can we learn from it all? Best of all, perhaps, what did he do right? These articles are just as much about learning by good examples too - if not more so. Enough talk. Let's dive in and see what we handy screenwriting tips we can learn from The Dark Knight Rises