Like most of you, I saw The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. Fair warning, this blog post will contain a few spoilers, so if you don't want them blown for you, back out now. Now I'm going to babble for a bit before getting to the point so you won't accidentally see any spoilers immediately below.
As a Batman fan, I came away very satisfied. I'm not sure I can give enough praise to Christopher Nolan and the entire creative team (including writers Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer) for what they accomplished here. This is the first time that any superhero film series managed to get three solid entries, let alone with the same filmmaker at the helm. The Christopher Reeve Superman films have a 50-50 batting average, with most fans agreeing that the previous Batman series was about equally successful. The X-Men films peaked with X2, though First Class was rather good. Iron Man stumbled with its second entry, so even if Iron Man III is as good as the first, it still won't equal what Nolan achieved here.
The closes that any superhero series has come to this was when Sam Raimi directed three Spider-Man movies - but the consensus is that the third movie is best forgotten.
This might be the first time that a particular comic book adaptation was allowed to end on its own terms, rather than being
brought to an end because of either shortcomings at the box office or
an inability to get a project together in time to satisfy the deadline
on an option on the rights. I really liked how Nolan's films all form one large story and aren't just a largely episodic series (like James Bond, for instance.)
One of TDKR's strengths is how it pulls together threads from the previous films and weaves them into something that really feels like a conclusion. Nolan truly tells a complete story here, and in a weird way that actually makes it easier to view this as a finished interpretation and welcome the inevitable rebooting of the Batman series. Considering the wide range of interpretation that the Batman mythos have gone through over 70+ years, it probably would be smart for the next creative team to go in an entirely different direction.
So when I get into the issues that bugged me, it's important to remember that these are very small in the overal picture, so without any further ado...
What exactly did the Dent Act do? As I understand it, the Dent Act is credited with allowing Gotham to clean up the streets, presumably by somehow giving the authorities the ability to lock up members of organized crime indefinitely. The script is pretty vague on what the Dent Act is, but we do understand that it was ratified legally, presumably by the voters. Martyring Dent was a big motivator, which is why no one is eager for the truth to come out that Dent went nuts and killed several people in the earlier film.
There's a lot with this that doesn't make sense. First, the public was told that Batman was responsible for killing Harvey Dent - so I don't quite know how that translates to the voters drawing a straight line from Harvey's murder to tougher measures against organized crime. Whatever those vague measures may be.
Second, from some dialogue at the beginning of the picture, we understand that the Dent Act is hugely popular. People are thrilled that it's kept the streets safe. If the truth about Harvey Dent were to come out now, it's not like the Dent Act immediately disappears. Sure, people might be pissed at the deception, but since the law's on the books and has had a positive effect, I don't think Gotham City voters would decide, "Well, guess that's the end of that. Better dump this law just to remain morally consistent."
I could probably dig into this further, but the point has probably been made. Bottom line: The Dent Act feels like a lot of hand-waving and half-explanations.
How does John Blake figure out Bruce is Batman? So Blake recounts how he met Bruce Wayne years ago when Wayne made a visit to his orphanage. He intuited that Bruce was hiding a big secret. Blake says he'd learned to put on a false face to hid his own pain and he recognized that same mask on Bruce. And THAT is how he knew Bruce was Batman.
I don't see how Blake makes that leap. At best, he should be able to figure out that Bruce hides a lot of pain at being an orphan, but he already knew Bruce was an orphan. How does spotting someone else putting on a lot of bravado lead to "Ah-HA! This guy likes to put on body armor and beat criminals to a pulp!"
Blake figures out the truth only because the movie NEEDS him to know the truth, logic be damned.
Bane's origin misdirection - I'll be brief because this is one detail that I need to watch closely on a second viewing. For a time, we're led to believe that Bane's movie origin correlates to his comic book one - that he was born in prison and never saw the sun until he escaped. Late in the film, we learn that's not true. There was a child born and raised in prison, but that's actually a different character. Bane was merely the "protector" for that child.
So if Bane was just another prisoner, why does he claim "I was born in darkness." Why does he seem to imply he didn't see light until he was an adult? Yes, it's possible he's speaking metaphorically, but that feels like it bit too much of a writing cheat.
There are a couple other little moments, but to me, those were the most glaring. As I said, I enjoyed the film, but it annoys me when there are these pieces that don't fit.