Josh Byers


Writing about books, culture, ministry, design and my family

Five Ways The Dark Knight Rises Stumbled


While movie trilogies are fairly common its rare that all three movies are epic hits. In fact some might argue that there have only been 2 epic trilogies - the original Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. More common is when either the first or the first two movies are epic and the third falls flat. In my life there have been three movie trilogies that I was really excited to see the end to. And when I say "excited" I mean stand in line for hours, pre-buy tickets excited.

  • The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings Return of the King (2003)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I absolutely hated the Matrix Revolutions and was severely disappointed - mainly because I wasn't smart enough to get the trilogy while Return of the King exceeded my expectations and is the gold standard when it comes to ending out a trilogy in my opinon.

As of now I feel like The Dark Knight Rises falls somewhere in the middle. All said I did really like the movie and it was very entertaining but it doesn't come close to being better than its predecessor The Dark Knight.

This could change as I've only seen it once and these are only my initial thoughts but here are five things that I think The Dark Knight Rises swung and missed on.

1. The pacing in the first act was glacial.

We're treated to a Bond like sequence out of the gate that blows away any action sequence in the previous two Batman movies but are left after that to suffer through was seemed like five or six Michael Caine monologues (and I really like Michael Caine monologues - it was one of the best moments in The Dark Knight).

2. I never connected emotionally with the city under siege.

We weren't really invested in the plight of the cops and we're never really shown how terrible the conditions must have been for ordinary folks. The resistance can for the most part walk around the street and observe the bomb truck unmolested. Really the only horror of the siege that was show was when the rich dude (who probably deserved to die anyway) was exiled onto the ice. And even that wasn't built up very much. And come on did nobody tell these guys how you walk on thin ice? You crawl and spread out your weight...

I guess if you really think about how much of a effect it would have on the world in general to have a city the size of New York under a nuclear siege - to try and convey exactly what that would mean is almost too big an undertaking. I thought this area of the plot fell flat.

3. I didn't understand why the regular people of the city were so fed up with the elite.

This is never explained and we were never able to emotionally invest in the plight (if there was one) of the common person being held under the boot of the elite. Selina Kyle has this great line that says "you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." When did this happen?

4. The death of Bane was cliched and really weak.

What do you do when your hero is about to die, you've already had an epic fight scene and you need a reason to get Catwomen back into the city? You have her come bursting in at the last movement guns a blazing and save the day by killing Bane just as he's about to kill our hero.

I really liked Bane as a bad guy. Tom Hardy brought so much presence even without seeing his mouth that he was believable as a terrorist. I even came around on his voice by the end of the movie. But a great villain deserves a great death and being shot by a gun by Selina Kyle just doesn't cut it.

5. The fake death of Batman.

If Batman dies my opinion of this movie skyrockets and moves this trilogy very close to the Lord of Rings. If Batman dies I don't write a mostly negative review. If Batman dies I don't care about nitpicks one through four. But he doesn't.

For all of Christopher Nolans talk about doing things different, and making this a darker grittier version of the Batman genre, and closing out the trilogy I really expected Batman to die.

One of the greatest lines in the movie is when Batman exclaims in his funny gruff voice that he hasn't given Gotham everything yet... implying his life. At the very least I wish Nolan would have let the movie goer decide and debate about whether or not he was dead.

You could have left in the part about the auto-pilot being fixed and you could have even had Alfred lifting up his head after he takes a drink in that little cafe but roll the credits there. Don't show Bruce Wayne's face. Let us debate. Keep it dark.

It also would have seemed to fit better with Christian Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne throughout the movie. He was tortured and upset that Batman had to take the fall for Two-Face and he seemed like he had so little to live for anyway. His redemption was the giving of his life - the ultimate sacrifice that would be remembered. It seemed cheap and too easy to give us a "happy" ending.

All that said I still really liked the movie. It was very entertaining, had great action, some really good lines, a good villain and for the most part a good story. Could it have been better? Yes. Will I buy it? No.

I give it four out of five stars.