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15 things that bugged me about “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 25th, 2012 by Rick Marshall · 51 Comments ·

Okay, so I think I’ve waited long enough to run this, since most of the people I know who were excited about “The Dark Knight Rises” have seen it already, and the ban on spoilers seems to be have been reduced from “spoil the movie and die a slow, painful death” to something akin to “make an honest effort not to spoil it for anyone and we’re cool.”

Even so, I want to make it absolutely, positively clear that this post will be FILLED WITH SPOILERS. Furthermore, these spoilers won’t be the painless “Batman has a really tough time with Bane” sort of spoilers. They’re the “this is what happens at the end of the movie” kind of spoilers.

So, one more time… Do not keep reading this post if you are concerned about “The Dark Knight Rises” spoilers.

Okay, are we clear?

Good.

Now that we have that settled, you probably know I wasn’t a big fan of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Not only was it my least favorite comic book movie of the year — ranked behind “The Avengers,” “Chronicle,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” — it was also my least favorite of Nolan’s movies.

As you might expect, this has put me at odds with quite a few people who absolutely adored the film.

So, in the interest of figuring out why I had such a problem with a movie that so many people seemed to love, I’ve put together a list of the things that bugged me the most about “The Dark Knight Rises” — but be warned, it’s a long list, so get comfortable.

Let’s begin with…

1. The Gotham City Police Department’s crack team of investigators

So let me get this straight: Batman is a fugitive who the police and public believe is responsible for the murder of one of the city’s most beloved political figures, and is widely regarded as the most-wanted criminal in all of Gotham. Batman disappears just as the city’s most famous businessman, Bruce Wayne, decides to disappear from the public eye. Eight years later, both Bruce Wayne and Batman suddenly appear in public again, returning to the spotlight within just a few hours of each other.

And no one — not even the GCPD detectives looking for the guy who killed Harvey Dent — suspects there’s any connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

2. Bruce Wayne gives up being Batman because of his girlfriend’s death

Okay, so maybe this one comes from being overly familiar with the Bruce Wayne character from the comics and not being able to reconcile Nolan’s drastically different take on Batman’s alter ego, but HOLD THE HELL UP, PEOPLE. Bruce Wayne DOES NOT just put away the cape and cowl because his girlfriend dies.

We’re talking about a guy who became the Batman when his parents were killed right in front of him. Becoming Batman was his way of making his parents’ dream for a better city come true, and a way to stop other people from experiencing the pain he felt when his father and mother were taken from him.

And he just gives it all up when his girlfriend is killed by exactly the sort of criminal he vowed to remove from Gotham?

It would be one thing if he gave up being Batman because the city didn’t need him anymore, but when he’s confronted by Alfred early in the movie, he says that the reason he stopped being Batman was because of Rachel Dawes’ death.

Which brings me to my next gripe…

3. The part when Alfred takes off and leaves Bruce on his own

Any Batman fan will tell you that Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne’s surrogate father. Even before Thomas and Martha Wayne died, Alfred was guiding Bruce, watching over him. After his parents were killed, Alfred helped to mold him into the man he would become. He’s been Bruce’s constant companion, sticking by him through thick and thin, even when Bruce didn’t seem to want him around. Heck, he pulled him from an inferno when the League of Assassins burned down Wayne Manor, nursed him back to health when Bruce was bruised and battered, and watched over Bruce during his darkest moments.

So it seemed a little — no, A LOT — out of character for Alfred to suddenly tell Bruce (and I’m paraphrasing here, of course), “Well, if this is what you want to do, then I’m out.” Keep in mind that their fight was essentially about Alfred hiding the letter Rachel wrote to Bruce before she died, and you’ll start to understand why this scene seemed so unlike everything we’ve seen from Bruce and Alfred’s relationship thus far.

Oh, and Bruce lets Alfred go? Oh, heck no…

4. Gotham to wherever-that-prison-is must be a direct flight.

Maybe I’m just missing something here, but it didn’t seem like a very long time between Bane beating Batman, dragging him to his former prison (which appears to be located somewhere in Africa or the Middle East), and then returning back to Gotham in time to blow up a football stadium and take over the entire city. Yes, one second they’re in Gotham, the next second they’re deep in the heart of an unknown third-world prison, and a short time later they’re back in Gotham.

How did they… what did they… when did they…

*sigh*

Next!

5. Repairing a broken back with a hard punch to the spine is my new favorite medical procedure

Clearly, anyone who pays millions of dollars to repair a broken or dislocated spine is getting hosed, because some half-blind prison inmate can just punch you in the back and hang you from a rope to achieve the same results. Heck, if you add a training montage to the recovery process (complete with floor push-ups!), you’ll be able to beat up one of the world’s deadliest villains in just a few months.

And on that note…

6. Time is weird in Gotham.

How many months were those cops trapped underground in collapsed subway tunnels? I get a little woozy spending 20 minutes on a subway platform, but apparently the GCPD is made of sterner stuff, because they can spend months stuck underground with minimal food and water, then emerge from the tunnel fit, feisty, and ready to rumble with Bane’s crew.

It’s also somewhat amazing that Gotham seems like a pretty quiet, well-run city after it’s cut off from the rest of the world by Bane’s crew. You’d think that the complete elimination of authority figures and the release of thousands of hardened, probably psychopathic criminals into the streets would result in more chaos than just the few brief scenes of riots we’re shown. By the time winter arrives, the city looks downright serene. That’s a pretty quick transition from complete anarchy to pacified urban society, don’t you think?

Which brings me to my next question…

7. What is Bane’s plan, anyways?

Okay, so first he’s a spokesperson for the Occupy Movement, but then he shifts toward full-on anarchy. And then his stance seems to become “KILL EVERYONE! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” I’m pretty sure that my attempts at comprehending Bane’s plans for Gotham actually gave me whiplash.

Sure, all of this makes sense if Bane was presented as an unpredictable, wild-card character like, say… The Joker. However, we’re led to believe that he’s a brilliant strategist and a match for Batman in more than just a physical sense. After all, he outsmarted Batman before he broke him over his knee.

So where’s the strategy in cutting off Gotham from the world, dismantling the city’s economy, and then just blowing the whole place up? Why not skip straight to the blowing-stuff-up part? At one point, Bane mentions that he had access to the bomb from the very beginning of his campaign, so why go through all the stuff in the middle that could’ve derailed his master plan?

8. Surprise! All you had to do was punch him in the mask!

You’d think that Bane’s ridiculously conspicuous mask would be the first thing Batman punches when they have their inevitable brawl, but you’d be wrong. Batman’s decision to punch Bane in the mask is a revelation when it finally happens late in the film, and — surprise! — it turns the tide in Batman’s battle against Bane.

Apparently, it took a broken back, a third-world prison, and an intense training montage for Batman to realize that punching Bane in that big thing strapped to his face is something he should try to do at some point.

9. The Batpod: It’s like riding a bike.

How did Selina “No one calls me Catwoman” Kyle know how to ride Batman’s Batpod? I can understand if she showed a basic understanding of the vehicle’s steering and such, but she was flying over bad guys and flipping through the streets of Gotham with ease just two minutes after hopping on the bike.

I’ve driven a lot of different road-based vehicles in my life, and I’m fairly certain I would crash the Batpod into a lamppost 4.3 seconds after the wheels began moving.

10. I’m crippled and at your mercy! Wait, no… it’s just a flesh wound.

So Talia al Ghul jams a five-inch blade into Batman’s stomach up to its hilt, and Gotham’s favorite superhero is down for the count, meek and gasping for air as Bane calmly finishes him off. A minute later, he’s sprinting to his jet and flying all over Gotham, redirecting a truck carrying a nuclear bomb all over town with his precision marksmanship. Oh, and then he flies off into the sunset with the bomb, showing no signs of his recent “knife-sized hole through my important organs” injury.

Riddle me this: Why am I the only person puzzled about the knife wound?! Why?!

11. It was a six-mile radius. Six. Miles.

Not only does Batman barely get the bomb out of Gotham in time to save the city from the explosion’s six-mile radius of fiery, radiation-filled disaster, but he has time to eject from the plane and swim to safety before the bomb goes off. I know, time is weird in Gotham, but COME ON, PEOPLE.

Okay, fine. He’s the goddamn Batman.

Case closed.

[UPDATE: I'm 100% aware of that scene near the end of the film when the technician tells Lucius Fox that the autopilot was fixed. And yes, I realize that this is basically telling the audience that Bruce Wayne is still alive. What I don't buy is the idea that at some point between the time when Batman was flying around in his Batwing and shooting up the streets of Gotham and the moment when the bomb exploded safely out of the six-mile destructive radius, Batman managed to set the autopilot and bail out of the plane without anyone noticing.

Remember, we're talking about a guy who's supposed to be bleeding all over from a massive knife wound, whose every action is being watched by an entire city full of people. And yet he somehow managed to exit the plane and hide without anyone seeing him? It's not like it was even nighttime here, folks. It was the middle of the day, and every single person who could see him and the Batwing was watching. Heck, if a superhero guy was flying around your city in a superhero jet while dragging an atomic bomb, wouldn't you be watching?]

12. “Frobbledee gramderbin wampavern Gotham! Fropp gramderbin ashes!”

So I know I’m in the minority here, but I only understood about 80% of what Bane said in the film. Sure, this is an improvement from the 5% of his dialogue we understood in the early trailers for “The Dark Knight Rises,” but the fact that people are saying Bane was one of the best characters in the franchise is making my brain ache. For all I (and anyone else who couldn’t understand him) know, Bane could’ve been telling us about his favorite episodes of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” during several scenes. I JUST DON’T KNOW.

Of course, this wouldn’t even be so bad if the 80% of the dialogue I did understand didn’t sound like someone doing a Patrick Stewart impression through a toy microphone.

Think about it. You know I’m right.

13. It’s like an ’80s action movie, except more ridiculous.

Reigning champion gets a little full of himself, then tangles with someone who had a more difficult life and gets his butt handed to him in a duel. The hero takes a back-to-basics approach with his training and eventually earns himself a rematch. This time, he beats the bad guy with his newfound, street-smart bad-assery, and we all learn a valuable lesson about not getting too full of ourselves. Sound familiar?

Hey, Christopher Nolan, “Rocky III,” “The Karate Kid, Part II,” and about a hundred other ’80s action films called. They want their basic narratives back.

14. We have how much time left? Oh, crap! Time for some tie-ins!

There were a lot of unintentionally funny moments in “The Dark Knight Rises,” but none were quite as jarring and heavy-handed as the scene near the end of the film when a clerk tells John Blake, “You should use your real name… Robin.” The emphasis on the name was so distinct and so forced that it fell just shy of having the actor who plays the clerk suddenly turn and stare at the camera right as she says the name “Robin.”

Sort of like this…

And finally…

15. So the big twist is that Bane’s just a henchman… again.

Remember how everyone complained about Bane being used as a simple henchman in 1997′s “Batman & Robin”? Well, Christopher Nolan punked us all by making the big twist at the end of “The Dark Knight Rises” knock Bane down to a similar second-in-command role.

Yes, just when we thought Tom Hardy’s version of Bane was the biggest bad-ass of them all, we find out that he’s just Talia al Ghul’s muscle, and has been following her orders from the start.

How’s that for a demotion?

And… breathe!

Okay, I think that’s about it for now, though I reserve the right to add to this list as more problems with the movie occur to me.

Tags: movies