Monday, 30 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises is a Truly Fucking Awful Movie

So, I enjoyed The Dark Knight. It wasn’t without flaw, but it was engaging, clever in places, and far more sadistic than a film with a 12-certificate had any right to be. However having just watched the follow-up, I can’t level any such compliment at it; in fact, I can’t level any compliment at all. Not a single one. It was quite literally without redeeming feature. 

Not only are there too many reasons to count why it sucked, but I’d have to watch the movie again to catch them all, and frankly there are other things I’d rather be doing with my time. Like licking the handles of public toilet doors. Or contracting VD. 

So, in this spirit, I’ve narrowed it down to the six things that had me grouching the loudest throughout:

The Thinly-Veiled Fascist Apologism

Look, don’t get me wrong: we all know that if the police force stopped brutalizing regular civilians, the latter would start executing each other at will for no good reason. That’s just common sense, and the film does a good job of showing what would happen if those evil social justice movements ever got their way: the citizenry would round up and execute everyone in possession of so much as a pot to piss in, out of SHEER ENVY AND ANARCHIC ANIMAL BLOODLUST. No one’s arguing that.

Pictured: jealous proles being total a-holes over nothing.

But still, this installment upped the cynical-misanthropy-as-justication-for-oppression ante from the previous film to a completely WTF extent. Granted, The Dark Knight ended on the implication that people can't handle the truth, forcing the establishment to feed us consolatory myths For Our Own Good. But at least there was the part with the two boats that the Joker tried and failed to terrify into blowing one another up. The casual misanthropy of the ending was at least balanced with the implication that people – not major characters, but ordinary, everyday, nameless people – are in fact capable of doing the right thing when the mechanisms of state control are stripped away, and they’re left alone in the dark with only their conscience to guide them. 

This roll of the dice, however, alarmist establishment apologism to the effect of "LOOK WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE POLICE AREN'T AROUND TO STOP CIVILISATION EATING ITSELF" edged out any such faith in normal human beings to not murder the shit out of each other.

Except the police, who are so clearly Good that they manage to spend 3 months underground, emerge in clean, freshly-pressed uniforms that make a visual representation of their moral purity, and jump right back into the fray immediately. No time for PTSD, or even allowing their eyes to adjust to the daylight; they are GOOD, dammit, and angels in human form don’t take days off - not even after emerging from a hole they’ve been trapped in for twelve solid weeks. 

And when they and the People face off, the police stand firm, looking noble, in contrast with the proles, who pull savage faces while eyefucking the cops like they’re about to literally devour them. When the two groups finally rush one another, several police officers fall gutshot before they clash (but no civilians; presumably the police aren’t shooting back, which is totally realistic) - just in case there’s ANY doubt who the bad guys are here.

The Dialogue Makes My Three Year Old Godson Sound Like A Master of the Well-Timed Putdown

BANE: So, you came back to burn along with your city.
BATMAN: No… I came back to stop you.

nope, Batman decides to stick with the schoolyard-level trash talk skills of a particularly grim and earnest seven year old. Fuck you, writing staff. You make Joss Whedon weep.

By the way, that subheading isn’t just for decoration: I genuinely suspected that my godson could draft a better response than the caped crusader managed here, so I decided to ask him what he would’ve said to Bane in Batman’s place. His suggestion was, “NO! I camed back ‘cause you’ve got poopie on your face!!”

Okay, so it’s unlikely that this would’ve had bystanders smirking “OHHHH SICK BURN” until someone started a slow-clap. But you know what? At least the kid grasped that when a baddie says that shit to you, THE ONLY acceptable response is a scathing one-liner. Seriously: Nolan got out-story structure’d AND out-wordsmithed, by a toddler whose arsenal of insults deals exclusively with the recipient’s faecal matter. That’s pretty special.

And before you decide I’m nitpicking, the conspicuous lack of awesome quoted above wasn’t just a blip; there wasn’t a single line that had my inner 12 year old punching the air with glee, and in a superhero film, that’s pretty unforgivable. Philosophical sophistication in these movies is scarcer than integrity in upper government; for the most part, explosions and killer trash-talk are all they have.

Catwoman’s High Heels Were Stupid and Unnecessary, and So Was She

I’m not going to pick on TDKR for casting an actress who looks like a stiff breeze would be her Everest, as a character we’re supposed to believe capable of laying the smackdown on large muscular men.

 Sure you know martial arts, sweetheart. And my right testicle is actually Chuck fucking Norris.”

I mean, sure it’s annoying, but they’re hardly the first; this terror of female characters with a waist you couldn’t span with two hands isn’t specific to these guys. Moviemakers and TV writers have always been terrified of casting ass-kicking women who actually, y’know, look like they could kick your ass. 

But did they really have to put her in five-inch heels?

And, while we’re on the subject, did she actually NEED to be in the movie at all? Was she integral  to the plot in any way? I’d venture not. I mean, what does she actually do? … Oh, that’s right – regurgitate tired, patronizing pseudo-feminist tropes like:

UNNAMED HENCHMAN: [makes derogatory comment implying women can’t defend themselves from his might]

CATWOMAN: [kicks henchman’s ass before replying in ironically demure voice]


BATMAN: I need your help.

CATWOMAN: Really? Even though I betrayed you and nearly caused your death like fifteen minutes ago?

BATMAN: Yeah, but you’re a woman, and you’re hot. I think there’s more to you than knavery.

CATWOMAN: Oh my god, you’re totally right. I think I’m birthing a conscience just ‘cause it’s convenient to the plot. I mean, you totally have to have a woman with you when Alfred sees you in the café in that scene right at the end that absolutely everyone saw coming. Otherwise it’ll be inconceivable that you could actually be happy. It’s not like there’s anything more to life than romantic relationships; replacing your bland love interest who died with a bland love-interest who wears leather and is therefore edgy is crucial to showing the audience that you’ve found true peace.

BATMAN: … With the woman who JUST handed me over to be tortured and murdered?

CATWOMAN: Look, I told you, I’m EDGY, but I have a conscience now. Your faith has changed me as a person.

BATMAN: Huh, weird. I thought the idea that sociopaths could be cured with love was debunked like 30 years ago.

CATWOMAN: Oh YEAH? Then how come you’re not arresting me?

BATMAN: I told you – you’re hot. You must have hidden depths. Besides, it’s totally gritty-yet-cute this way. 

Blake’s First Scene With Wayne is Ridiculous and Makes No Sense

Batman’s identity is SUPER-SECRET. NO ONE knows that shit but Pennyworth and Fox. So when a total stranger rocks up and tells Wayne that he knows who he is and he needs to become the Batman again, we can be forgiven for going “Whoaaaa – just how the hell did he find out?!”

… Er, he didn’t. Blake apparently took one look at Wayne and clocked him - orphan to orphan.

That’s right: ORPHAN-RADAR is how Blake (who had never even met Wayne in person before rolling into his house to drop some orphan-moralising on the retired superhero) figured out the Batman’s true identity. And you thought Princess Leia’s “I guess I knew all along, really (that you were in fact my biological brother when I was enthusiastically tonguing your face a while back)” was some weak-ass storytelling. Move over, Lucas; Nolan’s in the motherfucking house.

Speaking of Which, How the Actual Fuck Hasn’t EVERYONE Realised Wayne is the Batman?

So the caped crusader might have kept his identity a secret, but let’s start with what we know:
  • ·    He uses sweet technology, ergo we can conclude that he is a millionaire at the very least.
… Actually, that’s all the policewould really need to know to start digging; and since the Batman has been wanted for the murder of a beloved public figure for the last eight years, it seems inconceivable that they wouldn’t have gotten this far, at least.

... At which point they would have noticed that Wayne’s disappearances and reappearances from public life coincide with the masked vigilante’s. Oh, and by the way, his parents were murdered by criminals – can you say FITS THE FUCKING PROFILE? Seriously - after all that circumstantial, a simple alibi check would’ve narrowed it down enough to start moving on crime-scene forensics. In fact, the more I think about this bullshit, the more I’m starting to wonder if I got the fascist apologism thing wrong; maybe the movies are in fact a critique of the absolute incompetence of a police department unable to identify THE MOST POORLY-DISGUISED CRIMINAL EVER.

It Is Literally Impossible to Create Menace When Your Baddie Sounds Like Falcor from Neverending Story.


I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.


  1. haha, I loved your review! I gave TDKR a 7/10 for effort in terms of visuals and style, but I think that was generous. The plot was awful - so convoluted and the pace was terrible. Ages setting everything up, then 5 months of Gotham under siege/occupied flashes by in about 40 minutes? We got no real sense of what was going on in the city apart from deserted streets and some angsty looking cops standing around. One of the producers said they were influenced by The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall and No Mans Land - and you can see, all three stories kind of thrown into a box and shaken about to produce a mess. They should have picked one story and made that, either do old Batman coming back, or do Knightfall or whatever, but the result was a mess.

    I also didn't get Talia Ghul or whatever her names was. Why did she wait until the very end of the film to reveal herself, oh I know, DRAMATIC TWIST, but it was ridiculous in terms of the plot. If Batman had not returned would she have just kept her secret identity until the bomb went off?

    And what was with that stupid bomb? Driving it around all day for everyone to see and for all kinds of people to try and disable someway. And what was the baddies plan? Was it to take over Gotham or destroy it? I know Bane said he wanted to give people hope by letting them think they would live, but what kind of hope was he actually giving them, everyone living under the threat of a nuclear bomb blast? So didn't he actually want to cause fear? But what kind of fear was he causing? Wouldn't it have been better to let people know they only had 5 months to live? That could have set up a brilliant scene at the end when everyone is desperate to get out of Gotham and they turn on each other - a nice reversal of the situation at the end of TDK when those people don't blow up the ferry because [batman voice]See Joker, people are good inside[/end batman voice].

    And why did Bane put Wayne in a prison with a chiropractor? I thought the doctor said that this was 'Banes prison', so why did the guy try and fix Waynes' back? Did Bane tell him to? And how the hell did Bruce get back to Gotham with only 3 days to spare, with no money, no passport or anything. And then he finds Selina Kyle and rerererecruits her to help him out, even though as you so rightly pointed out, she betrayed him and almost got him killed!

    Sorry for the rant, but I really wanted to enjoy the final Nolan Batman but it was just the usual overplotted, plotholled Hollywood rubbish. It has as many holes in it as Swiss cheese, or rather Prometheus. Can't Hollywood do any better?

    1. Ha, completely agree about Talia - not only did I have too little investment in her character to care by the time she revealed herself as the uber-villain of the piece, but this revelation also made Bane's motivation much weaker and made the conclusion really unsatisfying. And my partner and I also had the exact same discussion on how the hell Batman made it back to Gotham after escaping the hole!

      I haven't seen Prometheus yet, and everything people have said about it so far has convinced me I'm going to hate it... oh well. At least we also had The Avengers this year!