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A few spoiler-filled questions about The Dark Knight Rises, with spoilers!

Yes, I’m probably the last comic book fan on the planet to see this movie, but I did yesterday, and I have questions! So, yeah, SPOILERS ahead. I’m totally serious, here, people!

Look, here are some .gifs to pad the space between now and the spoiler-filled questions to come. Beware! Be aware!!!!

SPOILERS below!!!!

I mean it!!!!

You can still turn back!!!!

And hey, we’re equal opportunity around here, so here’s Baby Goose:

It’s going to be too late soon!!!!

Okay, I gave you fair warning. Let’s get to the spoiler-filled questions!

My biggest question is: (1) Did Nolan and Nolan and Goyer not realize that the first rule of pop culture is NEVER TRUST THE WOMAN?!?!? The instant Marion Cotillard showed up, I whispered to my lovely wife, “She’s a bad guy.” I wasn’t thinking Talia, but I kept waiting for her to betray our hero. Krys actually thought maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t follow Rule #1, but the second Bats said “Watch the door,” I knew. I hate that that’s Pop Culture Rule #1, but it is because writers keep going back to that well. It’s ridiculously insulting to women, I guess, because while that Daggett guy betrayed Bruce Wayne, he was an unctuous slimeball in the first place. The woman is almost always someone you think you can trust, until she stabs you in the back. What about Anne Hathaway, you might think? Well, sure, but she falls into a different stereotype: The loner nobody trusts but does the right thing anyway. That she’s a woman is incidental. So that “twist” is annoying, because it’s so obvious that Cotillard will betray Bruce. Why do writers keep doing it when they ought to know that’s Pop Culture Rule #1? Now, if Joseph Gordon-Levitt had betrayed him … that would have been something!

(2) Why did the writers fall into the “James Bond Villain Trap”? This should probably be Pop Culture Rule #2: When you have the good guy at your mercy, shoot him in the head! When Mike Myers and Seth Green have already mocked this in a movie, perhaps you shouldn’t make it one of your central moments in the story. I’m a bit sick of villains claiming they want to make the hero suffer instead of killing him. You know how you make him suffer? Shoot him in the head!

(3) If Talia and Bane want to make the world suffer and show the corruption of society and all that shit, why were they committing suicide, basically, at the end? Shouldn’t they want to make other cities suffer as well? Listen, the League of Shadows’ fixation with Gotham has always been a bit weird, but if you’re going to destroy society, you don’t just destroy one city, die in the conflagration, and trust that the world will fall apart. I don’t get it.

(4) Why didn’t James Gordon change his clothing between the night of the speech and when he got shot in the sewers? It wasn’t on the same night, was it? I didn’t think so (the movie jumps around in time really annoyingly, but early on, it seemed pretty straightforward). So why was he still carrying around that speech that trashes poor Aaron Eckhart?

(5) Why are the police so stupid that they think it’s a good idea to Pickett’s Charge the punks holding the guns? I mean, really. Matthew Modine deserved to get shot down over that tactic.

(6) What happened to Juno Temple, who was playing Selina’s friend? They seemed to have a close relationship, but Selina ditched her to go hang out in Florence with a Christian Bale who looks more like Patrick Bateman than Bruce Wayne. It’s actually kind of creepy.

I thought the movie was a mess, frankly. Nolan tried to cram The Dark Knight Returns AND “Knightfall” [Edit: Shoot, AND "No Man's Land"!] into it, and when the latter stretched over the course of a few years in “real time,” it’s too much to fit into a single movie. Perhaps my biggest disappointment was with how stupid Bruce is. “World’s Greatest Detective” my ass. Now, to be fair, none of the movies have done a really good job with his detecting skills, and he’s much more of a superhero than a detective on-screen, but it’s still vexing. I know people have scars and birthmarks and whatnot, but when Bruce sees the scar on Talia’s back, he should have investigated. Sure, he’s still trying to get back in the game, and she’s all purty and shit, but still. It annoyed me in the comics when Morrison revealed that Jezebel was a bad guy, because that seems like something Bruce should have known, and so is this. Are you telling me he can find out Selina’s identity in a fraction of a second but he doesn’t delve into the past of the woman to whom he entrusts his company? Really, Bruce? Then, when he’s in the prison that seems remarkably easy to get out of if the prisoners banded together (there seems to be only one jailer, and his role is to … help them escape? so why don’t the prisoners just rush him and work together to get out?), some Yoda asshole has to tell him how to get out instead of Bruce figuring it out on his own? Man, what an idiot. He’s not quite as big an idiot as Gordon, who was apparently the only person in the city who didn’t know Bruce was Batman (when Bruce takes off in the weird helicopter at the end and basically tells Gordon, I wanted there to be five or six random Gothamites standing there too, so when Gordon says “Bruce Wayne?” they could all say, “Well, yeah, Commissioner. Of course. Everyone knows that!”), but he’s still pretty dumb.

Batman Begins remains the best of the three, with Ledger masking the weaknesses of the second one and the spectacle of this movie almost overwhelming the flaws. It’s too bad – Nolan isn’t a great filmmaker, but he tries to do some different things and occasionally succeeds, which results in some interesting movies. With this, I think he tried too hard and fell a bit flat on his face. Ambition goes a long way, though, and I’d rather see ambition than mediocrity. That doesn’t make it a great movie, though. Too bad!

119 Comments

Man you are making so many good points – until you said Batman Begins was the best – HA HA HA HA!

PS – one of my favorites was the TV screen put in the prison, so Bruce could watch the demise of Gotham, and be mentally tortured by it. Then, later, Bruce just throws a rock and breaks the screen.

Other questions.

If Batman retired eight years ago, why did he pimp out the Batcave in those intervening years with hydraulic platform for the Batmobile(that no longer existed) and a state of the art computer?

Does the sun really set in Gotham in less than eight minutes?

Is it just me, or is it tactically stupid to send EVERY COP in Gotham into the sewers at the same time? I mean, if the first guy found something, what was the guy who was 186th in line gonna do that the score of cops in front of him couldn’t?

7. Was the anti-populist/’fear-the-poor subtext ironic, serious, intentional, or unintentional?

Um, no, you can’t suffer if you’re shot in the head. You’d most likely be dead. Also, dropping off Bruce Wayne in some hole somewhere (crippled) isn’t the same as leaving the hero alive in the same facility you’re about to launch your evil plans.

@Vichus

Yeah, points 1 and 2 above are kind of weak – but there are about 20 other points that Greg did not even bring up. Such as, Bruce walks out of a prison in the middle east somewhere, then 30 minutes later he is in Gotham, fully dressed as batman, and exactly where he needs to be to rescue Robin. And he did all of this while dressed in prison PJs, and having been stripped of all his worldly wealth

Also there is the laughable scene where Bruce is in the super duper flying Batmobile, and Catwoman is on a motorcycle. They are fighting 4 armored Batmobiles – and the little motorcycle blows 3 of the Batmobiles up, while the super duper flying Batmobile does not even blow one up – it just plays a game of cat-and-mouse with a missile (just so we can have some kewl “flying through Gotham” images), and that missile ends up blowing up the 4th Batmobile

Oh, you’ve unleashed the floodgates NOW.

Really I think the basic flaw that all the others derive from is that they should have picked ONE story and adapted it instead of trying to mash up Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Dark Knight Returns, and larded in added Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia on top of it. It can be done, I suppose, but 99 times out of a hundred when you try something like that, what you get is a MESS. Those stories don’t really work together and some of them don’t really work on their own (I never bought the premise of the federal government allowing isolated Gotham in “No Man’s Land,” and I don’t buy it here either.) I’d much rather have seen just a straight Batman story, which is what they had in Batman Begins and that’s why it’s the strongest.

The actors completely carried this one, because it works for you in the theater– but when you are in the car, all the “hey, wait– if they already established THIS than THAT won’t work” moments come crashing in on you.

The answer to all your questions are because it was terrible and you answered them with your last sentence: That doesn’t make it a great movie, though. Too bad!

Someone else that thinks Begins is the best, yay! I’ve had several arguments with friends about how it’s the only Batman movie of the three (not to say I didn’t like them all, it’s just the only one that you couldn’t swap Batman out for, say, John McClane and still have almost the exact same movie), and easily the least bloated of them all. Still like this better than TDK, even with all the random time jumps, idiotic behavior by several characters, and presence of Robin Blake. Jesus.

Whinge fucking whinge! OK you all hated it, now shut the fuck up and move on! Why waste time like a bunch of pathetic fanboys harping on about it? Every film like this has major flaws, even the Avengers which seems to be permissable to circle jerk over by fanboys. Like Shatner says, “get a life!”

Thank you.

It seems like the Nolan Batman flicks have kind of become The Beatles of superhero movies, in that while they’re arguably among the better examples of the genre, they’ve attracted a rare breed of uber-fan who won’t allow you to say a word against them, much less question the stuff that’s dumb or just plain bad.

Maybe it’s a version of the irrational reacton against the tiny alternative band you like becoming huge, but it irritates me as a Batman fan that so many of my non-comic-book-reading friends seem to regard these movies as the absolute pinnacle of mainstream cinema. I hate the way otherwise-sensible critics gush about how intelligent and adult the last couple of Batman movies were when really, they’re way above average on plot holes and stupid shit. The Avengers movie was slightly patronised for being big dumb fun, but I didn’t spend the day after I saw that thinking about all the plot holes, the way I did with Dark Knight Rises.

The other thing I find interesting is the way that the three movies feed off the classic Batman stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way saying that’s a bad thing, but I find the choice of influences telling: Dark Knight Returns, Year One, The Long Halloween, the Ra’s Al Ghul Saga, Knightfall. It’s like Nolan and Goyer checked Amazon for the top 10 Batman trades and crammed over the course of a weekend. All that’s missing is Death in the Family.

I think that’s what stops me from loving these movies – they’ve done a good job of assembling a setlist of some of the greatest Batman moments, but in the process they’ve neglected to take account of what makes Batman Batman.

Grant Morrison summed it up beautifully in RIP: ‘Batman thinks of everything’. He’s always got a plan, he’s always one step ahead of everyone else, and he always wins. Most importantly, he looks cool while he’s doing it. Bale’s whiny, strangely-tentative cookie monster in a rubber suit just isn’t Batman.

@Gavin

You sort of had me until you started quoting that blowhard Morrison

@cjorb

There are small flaws, and then there are glaring flaws that take the viewer out of the film. This film had way too many of those

Bane becomes a weeping (literally) minion at the end was stupid too – and undermined his character completely

Reading my previous post over again, I feel the need to point out that I did actually enjoy Dark Knight Rises quite a bit. It was a great dumb, bombastic post-apocalyptic sci fi action movie. It just wasn’t a Batman movie.

I appreciate your opinion, but to me Batman Begins becomes an utter mess after the first hour to hour and a half. Everything from Bruce’s birthday party to the conclusion pretty much trashes any of the good from the initial origin. The whole third act looked like it was shot in a warehouse (which it basically was) with lots of attempts at “smart scriptwriting” that’s just groan worthy (“it’s not what I do that defines me…” “you
Never learned to mind your surroundings”). I’ll take any part of TDKR over that anyday.

I agree with you. For me Ty Templeton summed up all that was wrong with this movie when he pointed out that Batman managed to, with great difficultly, escape prison by making the same leap that a malnourished 12-year-old girl made.

Now, if we can talk about something cool for a second, where o where did you get that first Alison Brie GIF from, Greg? :D

John: I just Googled Alison Brie gifs, and that was on one of the first sites that showed up!

I wish you had told us there’d be spoilers here.

1, good point, and when I saw that scar on her back I thought “that is Talia Al Ghul, she’s gonna stab you in the back”. It also made all the story bits later which were meant to be jumbled up and confusing (which I also thought was pretty pointless) really obvious, so kind of spoiled my fun.

I thought 2 made sense. All his friends (if you can call them that) were being tortured in front of him and there was nothing he could do, which seeing as they believed Gotham to be the root of all evil or something, makes sense because he has been defending it and stopped them from destroying it in the first place. The prison is such a good place to keep him because he thinks he can get out but he can’t. That jump is massive, and if anyone but a professional athlete could make that jump in real life I would be impressed.

You can have 3, 4 and 5 because those were just dumb, but in my mind 6 has an answer too. Selina Kyle was just a thief, a really good thief but a thief nonetheless. When she helped save Gotham, she became a hero too and transcended her criminal life. In order to completely escape she ran away same as Bruce did (though why he faked his death and then basically told everyone he’s still alive doesn’t really make sense).

For me, the biggest flaw was the ending. I would’ve been much happier if Bruce had died, but instead he’s suddenly a genius who can fix an advanced auto pilot in a day and he can get out of the country completely unnoticed with someone else even though he’s reported dead and has no money. It would’ve been much better to just have Alfred on holiday, looking up from his table and smiling. It would’ve been open to personal interpretation and not a set in stone everything worked out ok fairytale ending. That part actually disgusts me. Ruins the whole trilogy.

@Kyle

You liked the first Batman film until Batman was actually in it then?

I think the we’re overlooking the most important question, namely just where are those Alison Brie gif’s taken from?

@Greg Hatcher

“The actors completely carried this one, because it works for you in the theater– but when you are in the car, all the “hey, wait– if they already established THIS than THAT won’t work” moments come crashing in on you.”

That’s EXACTLY what I felt. With this AND TDK. I’ll never understand why people continually put up these movies as shining examples of intelligent and adult superhero movies but they actually continually INSULT our intelligence the more you think about them.

I personally am so glad this trilogy is over and done with. I so hope they FINALLY get someone that genuinely likes and gets Batman as a superhero to make the next movie.

Joey Jo Jo Jr. Shabadoo

August 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Regarding point 3, Talia’s goal was not “to make the world suffer and show the corruption of society and all that”, but simply to fulfill her father’s plan to destroy Gotham. Why she wasn’t interested in carrying on the League of Shadows is an unanswered question. But to that end, it seemed her primary goal was one of vengeance rather than carrying on the Al Ghul Legacy.

Nolan did seem to have some trouble conveying the amount of time that passed between scenes. But Bruce Wayne’s journey from the desert prison back to Gotham clearly took more than 30 minutes or whatever. It was also a nice callback to Batman Begins where Bruce makes his way in the world as a pauper and a “criminal”. That is to say, he had done “from Gotham to the middle of nowhere and back” before. He’s got those skills and social connections, aside from whatever Batman-y tricks and Wayne Enterprises stashes he may have had at his disposal.

Sorry @Joey but I can’t give the movie credit for those things that you just imagined in your head

That’s great that you were able to write your own script so that the movie made sense to you – but none of that stuff was on the screen

@Tigris

I’d love to hear your list of plot holes from The Dark Knight. The only one that took me out of that movie was the school bus unnoticed coming out of a hole in a building

I’m not going to argue that this is hugely intelligent film, but I will say it is extremely enjoyable while watching it, just like TDK was, there are huge issues and too much coincidence going on.

But the one thing I will defend, I hate that people have a problem with Bruce Wayne getting back from overseas when he has “no money”.

I think this overlooks a simple idea, do we really believe that Bruce Wayne/Batman wouldn’t have money hidden away. Thinking that he would have all of his finances known by the public is a crazy idea, he’s also Batman, of course he’ll have a secret stash somewhere, his life is built on secrets.

And the girl in the first gif is named…? :)

@Oz

it’s not just that he was able to get back, but it was the timing

Here’s a moviemaking lesson – even though I’m just a hack audience member. There are ways to show some passing of time. Put a couple of scenes in between, show some kind of cutaway that would reflect time passing, heck have Bruce show up to Gotham with significant beard stubble. They didn’t do any of this. It’s either lazy, or just plain careless – by the “master” Chris Nolan no less

Felix: That’s Alison Brie. She’s on Community and also has a semi-regular role on Mad Men. She’s quite an Internet favorite.

Yes, she’s rather attractive. Can we find some excuse to just have an entire post of Alison Brie GIFs? Pretty please?

Gavin, Rises was not post apocalyptic. Also, I don’t think Nolan was going for “dumb fun” Whether it was actually dumb is up to us, but this is definitely not a Transformers movie.

1. I honestly loved it. A real 21st century horror movie, tying in 9/11, the Occupy Movement (and that didn’t happen until the movie was mostly done! Foresight!), even the goddamn Chilean miners. Meanwhile it echoes Knightfall, No Man’s Land, and Dark Knight Returns, while still being it’s own thing. It also acts as a real part three, following up on the themes and world-building of Begins and the plot and tone of Dark Knight.

2. I also was 100% convinced Cotillard was Talia from the day they announced she was in the movie.

3. (Your 3.) I don’t think that was their original plan. Batman caused things to get messy.

4 (Your 4). He kept it in his overcoat for safe keeping?

5. I don’t think there were any jailers. It’s just one of your usual escape-proof prisons, unless you are Batman (or Anti-Batman, which we are led to think is Bane, but nope, it’s Talia.)

6. I have liked all of Nolan’s movies. The Prestige is his weakest. Dark Knight is probably the best of the Batmans. I love Inception and own like four copies of it. Memento is a deserved cult classic. Following is good for an early effort. Insomnia is solid as well. Did I miss any?

BTW, how many of us can honestly claim that we were living in a vacuum and didn’t start gathering theories about Cotiard and Gordon Levitt’s characters once they were announced? Maybe it’s easy to figure out because why you would add two actors in a third movie to give them bit roles? There were a few recognizable actors who were in the film, but none that got as much attention as those two.

Bill, Prestige is one of his best! Watch it again, I beg you!!!! Insomnia is by far the worst with The Dark Knight as a close second.

@VichusSmith – I had a pretty good guess what Levitt would do in the movie (but I was figuring he’d be in the Jean-Paul Valley role of keeping the Bat-suit warm while Bruce recovered) but I had never heard the name “Marion Cotillard” (at least not in a context that caused me to remember it) and had no idea that she was an actress I’d ever seen before until after I saw DKR and saw everyone insisting they knew she was someone important as soon as they saw her (as near as I can tell the only other thing I’ve ever seen her in was Inception and Ellen Page is the only actress from that movie I could have picked out of a lineup before DKR). So while I wasn’t exactly living in a vaccum, I can honestly claim I had no theories about her being Talia. This is one of the reasons I avoid spoilers like the plague.

It does make me wonder, though, for all the people who claim that they “just knew” she was Talia because an actress that big couldn’t just be a pivotal civillian character, she HAD to be a supervillain: did they also assume that Eric Roberts and Anthony Micheal Hall and Nestor Carbonell and Rutger Hauer were going to turn out to be supervillains?

Tom Fitzpatrick

August 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm

@ T.P.: Guess that you’re now the last person who hasn’t see DKR not Mr. Burgas.

@ Bill Reed: For your # 6 question: There was that Nolan indie: Following (Before Memento): where you can see where Memento comes from. It’s Nolan’s first film, and worth a watch.

@ Mr. Burgas: So what you’re really saying is: Never trust a beautiful woman – they’re treacherous, deceitful, deadly, dangerous, but darn good in bed? ;-)

I’ve read a dozen nit-picky articles about this movie and not a one has mentioned the “don’t trust the woman” trope. Well played, Greg.

The nit-pick they mention the most is wondering how Bruce got back to Gotham.

C’mon. He did it with one phone call.

“Hello? Prince Ali? It’s Bruce. Yes, that was a great party, wasn’t it? Listen, I’m in a bit of a bind…”

@Tom: yeah, I haven’t seen the movie. But I was joking with my “should’ve said there were spoilers” comment — it’s in the title of the post! TWICE!!!

I’ve seen part of the first one, and thought it was kinda dull, but then, I recently saw part of the first Burton one again and I hadn’t realized how much that one dragged. Or else I just have no damn attention span…

What were we talking about?

Oh, yeah, Alison Brie. Mmm.

oh well, i liked it. big whoop that you didn’t and had to write an essay about it.

Overall, I give TDKR a thumb’s up just for trying so hard. I appreciate that it had ambition. However, it’s still a mess of a film. And I certainly wasn’t in the car yet before I had serious plot hole questions forming. (Same with Batman Begins— how did that microwave emitter not vaporize every human in the vicinity?) Unfortunately, some writers seem to think that a “comic book movie” must necessarily have ridiculous plot holes in order to reflect the source material. Sigh.

I’m also relieved Nolan’s done with Batman. It’s been an interesting ride (and I even liked Bruce’s happy ending), but I find the films over-written and under-plotted, if that makes sense. And in order to come to terms with certain choices in them (like Bruce only really being Batman actively a total of a year or so before his final retirement), I’ve decided to view them as Elseworlds tales, and wait out a true Batman film.

And can I finally just say, off-topic… that ending on The Prestige? Anyone paying attention should have seen it coming. What a bore. Inception had its moments, but in the end it doesn’t make as much sense as I would have liked. Nolan’s a neat art house filmmaker, but I can’t say I love his work on the whole.

oh well, i liked it. big whoop that you didn’t and had to write an essay about it.

OH. MY. GOD!!!!!

How DARE a person on a blog dedicated to comic opinion essays write…an ESSAY…with an OPINION…on a COMIC BOOK TOPIC. I mean, I can see why you’d make fun of him for that. It would be like if I went on a sports opinion blog to read some posts and then lo and behold…someone on the blog wrote pieces with opinions on sports and ruined the experience for me! I mean, I’m sure when you typed in the blog address in your browser, the LAST thing you expected to see was an essay (this blog never has those) with an opinion (this blog never has those either) on a comic related topic (talk about off-topic).

Seriously though, I wish people like you would just be intellectually honest in your bellyaching comments: You’re a grown person who somehow is so immature and mollycoddled that you actually take personal offense when someone has the audacity to dislike something you like, no matter how well thought out that dissenting opinion is, to the point you intellectually shut down and can’t even engage the arguments, choosing to just dismiss the whole thing out of hand.

Sorry for the snarkiness in the previous comment, but I’m getting so sick of people who go on websites dedicated to expressing opinions, and pout and act snotty because the opinions expressed went against something they liked, as if the author did something horribly wrong and against the mission statement of the website. If you can’t take people disagreeing with you, just avoid any blog or website dedicated to expressing opinions, because sooner or later one of them you will disagree with. It really is just that easy.

T, I liked Matt’s comment. Big whoop that you didn’t and had to write an essay about it.

;)

Yeah, it’s amazing that people take the time to LEAVE A COMMENT on a site when that’s all you have to say. Or just to say “yeah, it has flaws, shut up about it!”.

Man, the reason I like this site is because we can discuss these things like (mostly) reasonable adults and sometimes we get the contrary view from someone else that gets some of us to change our minds about something.

Like I love Morrison’s stuff, but T has made some smart comments before pointing out certain shortcomings in his work, and that makes me think about his work more, reassess it, and forces me to better defend (at least to myself) what I like about his stuff and why. It makes me more smarter, I hopes.

Umm…Bruce did know Jezebel was a bad guy, and according to him even from their first date. He even snuck into her hotel room to steal the note from her father before the Black Glove attacked.

the stupidest part for me was how long Bruce spends being chased by missiles. they don’t carry that much fuel…

Yeah, Bruce realized she was full of shit in her second appearance in Batman #664. This scene…

Batman says as much in Batman #681.

Greg-

I think you have to be a bit careful with your semantics in statements like “Nolan isn’t a great filmmaker,” because he is, and I don’t say that as a matter of opinion. Critical consensus more than suggests that Nolan is probably one of the 5 or 10 greatest contemporary filmmakers, and, as a reviewer yourself, you surely agree there is some value in critical consensus.

And look, I’m a critic, and I don’t always agree with critical consensus (really, who does?), but I also think it’s a slippery slope to simply dismiss it, lest you also dismiss the very nature of what it is you’re doing. If you want to say something like “I don’t find Nolan to be a great filmmaker,” that’s fine. You are the master of your own opinion. But it’s problematic to try to turn a dissenting opinion into fact.

The same thing sometimes happens to me in regards to Grant Morrison, who I often find to be overrated. I love Animal Man, Arkham Asylum, and JLA, but find most of his other stuff (especially New X-Men, All-Star Superman, and all of his Batman stuff) to be severely underwhelming. I think his ideas are often fantastic, but I find his ability to turn those ideas into great sequential storytelling to be frequently suspect. But, having said that, I would never make a statement like “Grant Morrison isn’t a great comics writer,” because that would be ascribing fact to something that the majority of experts in the field would wildly disagree with. But, I will say that I think calling Morrison the “God of All Comics” is a croc of shit and extremely insulting to Alan Moore, who is better in every way except amount of output. It’s no different than all the idiots out there that think Kobe is better than Jordan. And like I said, I like Morrison, I just often find him disappointing.

But back to Nolan, he’s clearly a great filmmaker. Even if you want to ignore his Batman films, he would be considered a great filmmaker based on Memento and Inception alone, which are inarguably two of the most ambitious and inventive films of the last dozen years, and are the type of films which change people’s ideas of what films are even capable of. You also have to consider influence. How many major films have treated chronology differently in the wake of Memento? How many major franchise reboots/origin stories have occurred in the wake of Batman Begins, which was the first of its kind (off the top of my head: Bond, Star Trek, Spider-Man, Bourne, X-Men, Alien)? How many non-dumb summer blockbusters potentially got a green light in the wake of Inception’s success?

There are no perfect artists in any field, and Nolan’s most obvious flaw is clearly that his ambition sometimes gets the better of him. But if that’s the worst thing we can say about him, then I think he’s doing all right.

I actually forgot when re-reading the Morrison run that dinner (or that that was when he “knew”). However, that was one element of RIP that I wasn’t big on, because it seemed to come out of nowhere that he was aware that Jezebel was part of the plot against him. Plus, Bruce “knowing” she was bad when she said “I understand”? Seems a bit…ew, icky girl made me have feelings…of Bruce.

I mean, I thought Jezebel as a character just didn’t work well before that, and to then find out she was in on the plot against Batman was just adding dumb on to stupid, if you will.

Otherwise I’ve dug Morrison’s Bat run immensely.

But, I will say that I think calling Morrison the “God of All Comics” is a croc of shit and extremely insulting to Alan Moore

I am always amazed at how sarcasm does not register online, even obvious stuff like Greg’s usage of the term “God of All Comics” to describe Morrison.

Oh, Third Man posted as I was typing.

Let’s see, major films that treated chronology differently in the wake of Memento…Pulp Fiction? No, wait… ;)

I do agree that, perhaps like you say about Nolan, Morrison tends to let his ideas overwhelm his comics and he sometimes overreaches. When I read his New XMen run, f’r instance, a lot of it confused me, but it’s been a while, so I really should reread it. I’ll get around to it eventually.

But GMozz gets a…pass, I guess, from me, because WE3 is utterly amazing and makes me cry every single time I read it. Yes indeedy.

If GMozz is the God of all Comics, Alan Moore is the Snake God of all Comics!!!

On to other important stuff — who are the ladies in the gifs that aren’t Alison Brie? I know everyone else stopped looking with those, and one can hardly blame them, but who am they?

I actually forgot when re-reading the Morrison run that dinner (or that that was when he “knew”). However, that was one element of RIP that I wasn’t big on, because it seemed to come out of nowhere that he was aware that Jezebel was part of the plot against him.

She is not revealed to be bad until the cliffhanger of #680. He reveals he knows the following issue. How would it possibly work to show that he knew she was bad all along when she had not yet revealed that she was bad?

There were also elements of “The Cult” (Jim Starlin/Bernie Wrightson) in DKR Was I the only one who noticed that ?

Agreed, I probably just didn’t phrase it well. It boils down to “I didn’t like that plot element” :) Probably Greg’s whole “never trust the woman” being a cliche element and all.

But I think more the interactions between them never carried any hint of distrust, and also I thought there was a bit where he’s discussing her with Alfred, after the point he knows, and talks as if he’s gaga in love and it seems that Alfred would have been made aware that she was bad as well. (Especially given that “acting lessons from Alfred” comment on the 681 page you had up a second ago, which I read as more literally in re Jezebel rather than what was probably meant, that Bruce got acting lessons from Alfred so he can mask emotions and stuff.)

Unless Bruce was doing his usual dick move of not telling anyone else anything, which IS entirely in character.

And also the page from 681 you show, Bruce’s explanation didn’t ring true, I guess. “I was attracted to the bad, that’s what. I sure didn’t have none ‘a them icky feelings for a girl. She must be evil for giving me this erection.”

Actually, that totally works for me, because in that issue with the 10 Eyed Man where Jezebel “figures out” Bruce is Batman, there’s a panel that Ryan Benjamin drew Bruce looking a lot like Dave Sim….

So yeah, you’re entirely right that it wouldn’t have worked otherwise, so I suppose it’s more that my dislike of the reveal in and of itself tainted my thoughts on the rest of that plot element.

Or something.

Can I just change my answer to “I didn’t like that plot element. Big whoop that you did and had to show me evidence to challenge my stupid comments.”? ;)

The Crazed Spruce

August 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm

For the record, Dark Knight Rises only opened here this weekend, and I finally saw it earlier tonight, so you’re not the last one to see it.

And I agree, the movie’s loaded with what tvtropes calls “fridge logic” (as in, leaps in logic that you only realize when you’re looking in the fridge for a snack a few hours after watching the movie), but it’s still a pretty entertaining movie. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold up a few years down the road. (Better than the Burton/Schumacher ones, I hope.)

I will be extra nerdy and point out that the fridge logic term that the Crazed Spruce refers to (and that Greg Hatcher also made a bit of a reference to) probably derives from Hitchcock using a similar term. I’m thinking it was probably from the Hitchcock/Truffaut book.

Resume Bat talk.

I think that ‘The Dark Knight’ was a purer Batman story than ‘Batman Begins’

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

August 19, 2012 at 3:15 am

Three things, mostly related to the comments here:

1) No, superhero fans don’t understand sarcasm, online or otherwise. Don’t act surprised.

2) Not liking Grant Morrison and/or Alan Moore does not mean you are smarter than those who do. Quite the opposite.

3) The best of Nolan’s Batman films was The Dark Knight, precisely because that story could have worked even without Batman.

@Third Man

No, Nolan is not a great filmmaker. Go watch some Hitchcock or Kubrick before throwing the word “great” around

Brian: It’s been a while since I’ve read those Batman comics, so I wasn’t sure how much Bruce knew. I could have sworn that he knew already, which would have helped me make my point that this isn’t a very good detective movie because in the comics, he already knew about Jezebel and was stringing her along. I didn’t feel like digging through my back issues, so I relied on the Internet, and I couldn’t find anything. I know, it’s shocking – the Internet let me down! Thanks for the information, because that line about Bruce not knowing about Jezebel bothered me, because I wasn’t sure if it was 100% true.

Third Man: You make many good points, but I do think you realize that what I wrote is still an opinion, even if I couch it like a fact. I just didn’t think I needed to write “I don’t think Nolan is a great filmmaker” when a statement like “Nolan is/isn’t a great filmmaker” is an opinion, no matter how it sounds. Sorry for the confusion. I don’t know if critical consensus is on the side of “great filmmaker” with regard to Nolan – I think the jury is still out. I haven’t seen all his movies, but he’s made one very good one (Memento) and one technically wonderful one (Inception) and a bunch of entertaining ones (everything else). That, to me, doesn’t make him great,

And yes, God of All Comics is sarcastic, even though I love Morrison.

Travis: The first two are Alison Brie, then there’s Heather Morris from Glee, and finally Kate Upton. I aim to please!

3) The best of Nolan’s Batman films was The Dark Knight, precisely because that story could have worked even without Batman.

When you’re telling a Batman story, that counts as a MAJOR flaw in my book.

@ JubJub: I love Nolan and think that “great” is the right word to describe him. I’d use the word “genius” to characterize Hitchcock. After watching The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and Clockwork Orange, I’d use the same word for Kubrick, but then I watched 2001, and “vomit-inducing” is the first expression that comes to mind.

Great post as always, Greg! I actually thought of you and the First Rule of Pop Culture when I watched the movie, Catwoman and Talia are textbook examples of that Rule (even though, to be honest, I really don’t give a shit about that). The only things I don’t agree with you are that I think Dark Knight is by far the best movie of the trilogy, and like I said above, I think Nolan is a great filmmaker. In fact, can I ask why you think that? Memento and Inception made such a huge impression on me, that I can only scratch my head when you say that he’s not very good.

@Gerard…
Yeah, i cant believe more people arent mentioning the cult… raise a army in the sewers, dynamite the bridges, take batman out of commission, hospitalize gordon, have batman secretly visit gordon in hospital, put the cops on trial, have the US gov send in a team of commandos that gets slaughtered. the only thing it didnt have was a helicopter to solve every problem like in the movie…

this article sucked by the way

Pedro: I think Nolan is a good director, and his movies are entertaining, but for some reason, he never quite makes a great movie. Memento is very good, but otherwise, I think his flaws are too obvious (all directors have flaws; some just hide them better!). He’s a really good “idea” man, which is a good thing to be, but I don’t know if his writing skills aren’t on par with his directing skills, but his ideas don’t always translate well to screen. You can see where he’s going with them, but he doesn’t quite get to it. The Joker’s anarchy is an interesting idea that, for the most part, fails, and Bane’s “Occupy” thing is window dressing. Both the second and third movies are deeply conservative movies, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but it does restrict them, a bit, from being great. Also, I’m not sure how good Nolan is with actors. He gets good performances, but I think that’s because he casts actors who are already good. I contrast him with someone like Tarantino – who knew how good Travolta could be, or Diane Kruger, or even Pam Grier (despite her long career, did anyone ever think she was a great actor?)? When Nolan casts an actor who isn’t quite as good as the others – Ellen Page, for instance – he doesn’t make the actor better. A great director, to me, gets performances out of his actors that you would absolutely never expect. I’ve never seen that from Nolan.

I do like his movies, especially when he’s not trying too hard, which I think he was in the last two Batman movies. His movies are never boring and they’re very entertaining, but off the top of my head, I can think of three current directors who are miles ahead of him: Tarantino (despite HIS flaws, which are many), Aronofsky, and the Coen brothers. Given time, I could probably think of more, but Nolan is still someone who gets me to watch his movies, so he can’t be all bad!

Well, I finally saw this for the first time yesterday. Yeah, it’s taken me over a month to see this.

I generally liked it (although I agree that Talia’s plot to get herself killed was just plain dumb). The thing that really, REALLY ruined it for me in the end was revealing that Blake’s real name was “Robin.” That just interjects a cutesy, “wink wink” to the audience. “HEY, LOOK, WE STUCK ROBIN IN THE MOVIE AFTER ALL!” That’s the kind of thing that completely takes you out of the movie and reminds you that you’re watching fiction.

I realize that Nolan is going for a more “realistic” Batman, and the image of a young boy in circus clothes doesn’t fit the world he’s trying to build. I also realize that naming him “Dick Grayson” would have ruined the surprise of the movie’s ending. I wish that they’d at least have named him “Terry McGuinness” so that he’d been a recognizable legacy character, but probably not known to larger audiences.

I can’t argue with that. The fact that he’s not a character director might be his biggest flaw, and I’ve seen Inception so many times, that the plot holes seem obvious to me by now. Still, Inception is the best movie I’ve seen in the past decade.

And like you’ve said many times, I will never fault an artist for being too ambitious. In my opinion, Nolan is always ambitious, I’ve seen all of his movies (even Following), and I was always entertained. I won’t say that he’s on the level of a Scorcese, but he’s never let me down.

Third Man, no one is EVER objectively good. Doesn’t matter if 1 trillion learned critics agree. It’s just opinion.

I think he’s a good filmmaker. I think that even if this last film has soured you on him, go see his previous films.

These are less questions and more statements with question marks at the end.

So why was a mighty leap even needed? Why not simply continue climbing? The walls certainly looked like there were enough hand and footholds available…

Now that Daniel Craig is starting to show his age I look forward to a Bond trilogy written by J. Nolan, directed by C. Nolan, and starring C. Bale. C’mon, the whole Batman trilogy has long stretches that just scream “Bond tryout”.

Willie Everstop

August 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

My biggest problem with the movie is that Batman apparently just gives up after TDK. Was he active as Batman for less than 2 years?

Bruce Wayne loses a loved one to criminal violence and his next move is to spend a few years sitting around the house. That doesn’t seem very Batman to me.

No, jmurrphy. There are no more footholds until after you leap onto that platform. I wish I had screenshots or video of it.

@Willie

Yes. I think that is another byproduct of them trying to crunch 3 or 4 different comics into this one movie (No Man’s Land, Dark Knight Returns, so on). None were effectively fleshed out.

His return from being in hiding was so flat and benign from a storytelling standpoint. There was no “I’m alive again. The night is mine again” moment

@Vichus

You’re starting to come across like those people who defend EVERY single plot point of the prequels – as if there was not ONE single flaw – and you’ll argue each flaw until the sun burns out

JubJub The Star Wars prequels? I didn’t like them all that much, and I’ve barely argued them in conversations. Also, maybe you should check out the comments here that are a mile long in comparison to what I’ve written. I haven’t even given my opinion on Rises. So where am I defending the film?

@Brian
I didn’t realize God of All Comics was Greg’s term, as I thought I had seen it elsewhere, but perhaps not. I guess I always thought Greg was saying it with a grain of salt, but that it was a term other people had already ascribed to Morrison, in a non-sarcastic way. So, when I said that I think it’ a croc of shit, I wasn’t referring specifically to Greg’s use of the term, but to its larger existence in the blogosphere. If that isn’t the case, then my mistake.

@A Horde of Evil Hipsters
Never said I didn’t like Grant Morrison. In fact I like him very much. I just find his internet reputation of being infallible to be very problematic, and I find many of his most acclaimed works to be highly flawed. Having said that, I still like him and certainly think the comic medium is richer for his being in it.

@ JubJub
Considering my name and icon on here are from a 1949 black & white film starring Orson Welles, I think it would be safe for you to assume I’ve seen my share of Hitchcock and Kubrick. I’ve seen every Kubrick film (even the early ones–Killer’s Kiss & The Killing), most of them several times. And while I haven’t seen every Hitchcock film (anyone that says they have is more than likely lying, as Hitch made almost 70 movies, and many of the early ones are difficult to come across–the first few were even during the silent era), I have seen a lot of Hitchcock, including all of his major benchmarks. In fact, if you click on my name, you’ll see my latest blog post, where I talk about what I would have voted for in the Sight & Sound poll, and I include both Vertigo and Dr. Strangelove in my top ten. While I don’t want to read too much into your one sentence comment, it seems like you think that nothing today can be as great as the masters of yesteryear, but that’s a pretty problematic assumption. Christopher Nolan can be “Great” today without demeaning the Greatness of directors from the 50s and 60s. One aspect of greatness is how you transcend your contemporaries.

@VichusSmith
I disagree with the notion that nothing can be objectively great, but then, I’m a professional critic. If I agreed with that, it would effectively be an admission that what I do is of no use. But in all seriousness, I really do think quality can be an objectively discussed thing. Surely you agree that The Beatles (just as a random example) are great as a matter of objective truth?

@Burgas

Well, I still disagree. Specifically on the point of whether Nolan is good at directing actors, I think it’s worth remembering that when Ledger was originally cast as the Joker, people resoundingly thought he was a bad choice. And anyone who had seen Brokeback Mountain already knew Ledger was a good, possibly great actor, but that didn’t change the fact that he still seemed miscast in the eyes of many. And of course I don’t want to take anything away from Ledger’s great performance, but don’t you have to give Nolan at least SOME credit? Nolan was the one who A) saw the potential for that performance within Ledger when few others did, and B) helped draw it out of him every day on set. And look, I agree that Ellen Page was miscast in Inception, but by and large, Nolan’s casting is generally perfect and performs extremely well. Even Anne Hathaway, who many people assumed wouldn’t work well in TDKR ended up stealing the show in the eyes of many reviewers. I think knowing how to use and get the best out of his actors is actually one of Nolan’s best talents.

If you have Netflix (or even a public library card), I strongly encourage you to see Following, which was Nolan’s first film. It’s black & white, extremely low budget, and only 70 minutes long, but it’s a great look at a sort of pure version of Nolan’s directing when it’s not tied up in all of the budget/spectacle/movie stars of his contemporary works.

here’s how I think of Nolan’s “greatness:” He’s made 8 films, none of which were bad. He’s batting 8 for 8, which is a semi-amazing feat in itself. Some of those films are, of course, better than others. I find Insomnia to be good and engaging but ultimately forgettable, and I agree that TDKR is a bit on the bloated side and probably too ambitious for its own good. But I also don’t think it’s remotely fair to call either bad, and I would struggle to even call either disappointing. If anything, TDKR is disappointing in the same way that you might say Fables is disappointing compared to Sandman. Well, sure, it’s not as amazing, but disappointing? I feel like that’s a misuse of the word. Then The Prestige and Following are both very good twisty mind-bender movies. And Memento/Batman Begins/Dark Knight/Inception could all arguably be called masterpieces of one degree or another. That’s a pretty amazing track record.

For me, Nolan is in the top 4 of contemporary filmmakers, along with Tarantino, Fincher, and the Coens. Then the next tier would be Boyle, PT Anderson (potentially moving up if The Master is as great as people hope), Wes Anderson, and Aranofsky. And then there are the guys like Scorsese, Michael Mann, Spielberg, and Eastwood, who are a little past their peak, but still vital and often great.

But anyway, I love a good debate, and I hope no one thinks I’m trolling here. You know I love reading your stuff, Greg.

Third Man, I don’t think what I’m saying affects journalism or criticism at all. The difference between a professional critic and just some person is the difference in the ability to make your point about a work and to say your piece in a well thought out manner.

There are people who think that The Beatles are just not good. There are people who think Seinfeld isn’t funny. I am not one of those people, but they definitely exist, and their opinion is not wrong, no matter how silly we may find it.

Third Man: Well, I know you’re not trolling, and that’s all that matters! I haven’t seen Morrison referred to as the God of All Comics elsewhere. I would LOVE it, though, because I’m an Internet-fame whore!

Nolan is apparently very good at casting! One reason I think Memento is his best movie (I haven’t seen Following) is because Carrie-Ann Moss is pretty good, and even with The Matrix under her belt, I don’t think anyone expected that. I would agree with you that none of the Nolan movies I’ve seen (I guess I’ve seen 7 of the eight) are bad, but Insomnia was kind of forgettable, I agree (and the original was better! – I had to say that just to be a douche) and The Prestige was … well, it wasn’t bad, but it was more entertaining than good. I just think that Nolan has a great movie in him, and he got close with Memento and Inception, but he hasn’t quite gotten there yet. I don’t put him quite as high as you do (I forgot about Fincher, who can even make something as hackneyed as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo compelling), but I certainly wouldn’t call the guy a hack. I keep seeing his movies in the theater, after all, which is more than I can say for most directors (of course, it helps when you’ve made three Batman movies!).

I also don’t think that no art can be objectively great, but I also don’t think it makes reviewing and criticism worthless. I don’t want to get into this right now, but I don’t know if you were reading the blog several years ago (man, probably in 2007) when Joe Rice wrote something about this and the comments just exploded. A fun time was had by all!

The fact that no one has mentioned having a problem with the magic Turkish prison non-invasive back surgery speaks volumes about the typical comic book fan’s suspension of disbelief. I have no medical training beyond high school CPR (20 years ago, I should add), but I could get behind any other plot holes in the movie before I got over that. I mean, it’s marginally better than the source material, but it still made me acknowledge my suspension of disbelief instead of just moving on to the next scene.

What I do have training in is engineering. Recent, extensive training. Professional practice and licensing even. I’m waiting for some of my colleagues to see the movie and weigh in before I totally dump on one set piece that really ramped my reality meter back up. I’m sure there are many such moments in any movie with sci-fi elements in it for any engineer. This one just flew into my wheelhouse, crapped all over the place and moved on, pleased with the distraction. I’ll let you when I find out more.

That said, I enjoyed this movie more than Nolan’s previous two. The soft prejudice of lowered expectations. Especially in the villain department, since, I never completely got over Bale’s bat-voice or his eternal devotion to Rachel. I was annoyed at the departure from the comic book depiction of Ra’s al Ghul, but I recognized the flexibility of Nolan’s interpretation. After comparing Ledger to Nicholson’s Joker, I just don’t see that much difference. But Hathaway was revalatory as a modern Catwoman. She had longer monologues than the much maligned Rose Harris as Aunt May, but I could not stop watching her. Without any memorable unzipping of her suit, she implied so much more than she showed. Bane. Again lowered expectations. I will readily agreed his ending seemed to suffer more from convenience for quick story resolution than anything else, I really wonder what else would have been acceptable. Gmozz’s Batman would have planted personal tasers on all of the bad guys before Bane had a chance to blow up the stadium, but this isn’t Gmozz’s Batman.

Greg I agree with you on 3 and 5. The rest of your enumerated gripes fall under the quasi-rule that if you really wanted to follow real life stuff with real life consequences, you’d watch more reality tv, with its either horrible people or completely disinteresting people. The story has a point and it just so happens these were the things that led to that point instead of things falling the other way. For example, Gordon could have worn another jacket or left the one with the speech at home. Bane still would have blown the bridges, freed the technically wrongly accused and done whatever to “The Man”. It just would have been a different shade of grey.

Too late in my evening to posit more arguments. I’m glad you finally got around to watching the film. I think you do a fantastic job bridging the gap between what I think of captive nerds (as you might see animals behave in a zoo) and pure nerds (nerds in the wild, without regular scheduled feedings). I think you weigh the source material without considering it’s shifting foundations as gospel that is invaluable in bringing the two tribes together.

@Third Man

I hear you. I just named a couple obvious ones – but there are probably 30 or 40 more directors that are “great” – Nolan not being in that group. Even the early Spike Lee movies displayed more unique vision, originality, and a unique directorial voice than any Nolan film. Michael Mann, Scorsese, and more I could name

Memento was his best film – and the strength of that film was the story and the editing. Otherwise Nolan has made many flawed films. I applaud him for reaching beyond the pale, in terms of moviemaking, but he never achieves it.

@Gavin Bell:

I agree with most of your statements, except your implication that something bad can be said about the Beatles by someone who is not an idiot.

Also, The Prestige is arguably Nolan’s second best movie, and Begins is absolutely his best Batman movie.

I agree with most of your statements, except your implication that something bad can be said about the Beatles by someone who is not an idiot.

There are plenty of valid criticisms that can be made of the Beatles, although I know it’s an incredibly hard notion for white baby boomers and their children to fathom.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/books/review/Keepnews-t.html

Is this next thread a breakdown of questions for Moonraker? I think these movies get too much acclaim. And as a result get a disproportionate amount of backlash that, say, Xmen or Avengers dont get.

You guys are arguing at cross-purposes. “Respect for the craft involved” and “Obviously good work” aren’t the same thing. I have tremendous respect for the craft and ambition someone like Christopher Nolan brings to his movies, it’s obvious he has studied and worked very hard and possesses tremendous skill; but my position has always been that he is aiming for completely the wrong target. Peel away the film-school pretension and he’s fighting the same fight zillions of comics fans have had since the Adam West days– he wants to make Batman respectable. It’s like he’s ashamed of the comic-book roots of the character.

Batman is almost infinitely adaptable as costumed superheroes go… but he’s still a costumed superhero. The more ‘realism’ you try to inject into it, the more you get away from the supercharged adventure, pulp-fiction roots of the thing. That’s why I like Batman Begins the best of the three. It was mostly a straight-up superhero action movie, and the arc it described– going from vengeance to justice– is an actual Batman story. The other two are trying too hard, they come across as the earnest college kid doing his senior thesis on Batman’s underlying psychological themes in order to justify his comics reading habit. Ten-year-old me would be appalled to see the adult me put forth this opinion, but it really is possible for Batman to be done TOO seriously.

The best comics-to-film adaptations are the ones that don’t try to rise above the source material, or try to slyly wink at the audience about the source material, but rather just embrace the source material and do the best they can to put it up on the screen.

@Burgas

I haven’t seen that Joe Rice post, as I don’t think I started regularly visiting the blog until 08 or 09. But if you link to it, I’ll read it!

@VichusSmith

This is one of those pop culture/aesthetics arguments that I feel very strongly about, and it appears I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum as you are. I think it’s important to distinguish a few things. There’s taste, and there’s quality. Taste is completely up to the individual. Anyone can like anything they want. If someone says they don’t like the Beatles, or Grant Morrison, or Christopher Nolan, or Jack Kirby, all we can say is okay. We might think their taste is underdeveloped, or their life is sadly lacking from great and wonderful things, or whatever. But you can’t make someone like something. And really, not liking any certain band or writer or filmmaker is no different than someone not liking cilantro or shrimp. If you don’t think something tastes good, then so be it.

But quality is different. If someone says they don’t like the Beatles, I might find that unfortunate, but it is what it is. However, if someone says the Beatles aren’t good, that’s a false statement. And just because something is good doesn’t mean that thing is infallible across the board. T. said there are complaints that can be levied against the Beatles, and I’m sure there are. But that’s a matter of degrees. If you think the Beatles are slightly overrated and Chuck Berry ought to be considered better, then that’s fine. Make your points and submit your argument. Personally, I’ve always believed Led Zeppelin are severely overrated and aren’t remotely on the same level as The Who or The Clash. But that’s different than saying something like “Led Zeppelin isn’t good,” because that’s a false statement and I would have no business making it. And besides which, I think Led Zeppelin are good, just not as good as many others.

Think about food. There are a lot of people out there that think McDonalds is Good Food. Are they right? No, of course not. Would you feel comfortable saying they’re wrong? If yes (and I suspect that’s your answer), then how is that really any different than a similar statement made about a band, or a filmmaker, or a writer? You’re making a definitive qualitative statement about something involving taste. But none of this is to say that people don’t enjoy McDonalds. If someone says they love McDonalds, well, okay, eat what you want. If that person would rather have McDonalds than the food at a Guide Michelin 3 Star restaurant, then whatever. They’re missing out, but so it goes. But if that person says McDonalds is better… Well, no, they’re wrong.

One of the most difficult aspects of being a good critic (and yes, I’d like to believe I’m a good critic, though I hope I still get better/smarter/wiser all the time) is attempting to remove yourself from the equation and think as objectively as possible. If a food critic gave a sushi place a better review than an Indian place simply because that critic loves sushi, well, that person isn’t doing their job.

Okay, that’s my rant, I’m done. Sorry to have taken things in this direction, and hopefully I don’t come off like a complete ass. Preferably just a partial ass.

Third Man: Here’s the link. He kind of talks about what you’re saying, and the comments are a lot of fun. I take a lot of pride in that post, because he basically wrote it because he couldn’t stand my taste in comics. My love of Moon Knight at that time was inexplicable to him!

at least its not as crap as Inception! (from what i gather)
unfortunately that is still not good enough for me to go and actually watch it!

Burton’s Batman still is the comic adaption to beat! (including Nicholson’s joker)

My biggest issue:

Presumably it’s been 8 years since TDK. Presumably, Batman disappeared for 8 years (or something close) after TDK. And likewise, it’s given to us that Bruce is not in the greatest health (see the visit to the doctor). I would presume that training in any real way during this time is minimal if non-existent.

So we’re just putting on the armored suit and going off to fight an army of guys with guns with no issues after 8 years of not doing it and not missing a beat at all?

Forget the fantasy land incredibly implausible back-breaking comeback later in the film; there’s just so much wrong with this premise on so many levels that I can’t believe it got in the film (especially the complete dropping of the “hunted” Batman premise at the end of TDK).

there’s just so much wrong with this premise on so many levels that I can’t believe it got in the film (especially the complete dropping of the “hunted” Batman premise at the end of TDK).

Where Nolan is concerned, I get more shocked when a premise that is logical and not riddled with plot holes and fridge logic makes it into the movie. Like I wonder to myself “Wait, that makes sense and is a logical sequence of events Was it an accident?”

The first Nolan movie people were just so grateful Batman was being taken seriously and Shumacher wasn’t being revisited all the plot holes and fridge logic went unnoticed. The second movie, all the attention around Ledger’s performance and death kept people from noticing and discussing it. But if you rewatch both with a more critical eye you see that what you describe is par for the course.

Forgot to say thanks for the Alison Brie gifs. She’s great on Community and Mad Men, fun to look at in various states of undress, but her movies I’ve rented from Netflix are among the worst I’ve seen. And I sat through all of The Animal, so that’s saying something.

My wife still wants to know how Bruce even got back into Gotham if everyway is blocked to everyone else. He just shows up like he has no problem getting in. You would think whatever way he took to get it, that someone else would have come up with that during the inbetween months.

T.:

That is a pretty cool link, but it is not really a criticism of the Beatles; rather, it criticizes the people who tried to copy the Beatles but just weren’t as good. That said, I apologize for my earlier snark and you are right, intelligent criticism is possible. The scene in Casanova where the masked guy gets shot for criticizing the Beatles is still my favorite from that series, though. (I was kind of going for the hyperbolic-but-in-a-funny-way tone of that scene in my earlier post, but I guess I didn’t quite make it)

I just want to add my voice of support for Third Man. Many many many people tend to conflate taste with quality and rely on the hoary canard of “there is no objective quality” when referring to the arts. For some reason, film and literature tend to get a pass from markers of objective quality when other (not art) disciplines have rigorous standards (architecture, engineering).

The debate and rhetoric (not here, thankfully) tends to devolve into an oft-quoted but unproductive statement of “Well that’s just your opinion, man”.

As for The Dark Knight Rises, I loved it, but I can happily point out the flaws. The film, for me, is more than the sum of its parts. There are many issues, including the fact that the radioactive fallout from the neutron bomb would kill every last soul in Gotham, regardless of a 6 mile blast radius (the neutron bomb is privileged in warfare not for its destructive abilities but for its radioactive properties).

However, I found the actual experience of the last hour and 45 minutes (once Bane goes above ground) to be exhilarating. It was tense and full of action, and Nolan’s ability to film a fight scene improved drastically. Sitting in the theater, I was overcome with joy and elation because that’s what cinema is meant to do: stir the emotions of the viewer. It’s always a joy to see Batman on the big screen, especially with Hans Zimmer’s bombastic score and a stellar cast of actors.

Regarding TVTropes and their categorization of moments in a film as a fridge moments, I can only say that Michel Foucault would absolutely love a website that exhaustively organizes and atomizes specific elements in order to exercise a power of knowledge over film, TV, etc. TVTropes contributes NOTHING of value to an artistic discourse or even a cultural discourse. Its exhaustive and exhausting cataloging actively discourages any positive discourse.

However, I might say that I’ve found the majority of this discussion to be productive and illuminating, so I do not associate this blog (and its plethora of intelligent posters) with TVTropes or their inanity. So keep going, guys, cause I’m really enjoying everybody’s commitment.

Regarding TVTropes and their categorization of moments in a film as a fridge moments, I can only say that Michel Foucault would absolutely love a website that exhaustively organizes and atomizes specific elements in order to exercise a power of knowledge over film, TV, etc. TVTropes contributes NOTHING of value to an artistic discourse or even a cultural discourse. Its exhaustive and exhausting cataloging actively discourages any positive discourse.

“Fridge moments” is a concept coined by Alfred Hitchcock in a book called Hitchcock/Truffaut where they discuss film. I don’t see how discussing things like fridge moments contributesd nothing of value to artistic discourse, especially if a film great coined the term and two film greats found it worthy to talk about in their own discourse on film.

Personally, as someone who hasn’t ever been a regular Batman reader, but who loved DKR in 1986, I thought these three movies were great. My favorite is “Begins”, but I enjoyed all. I didn’t see Talia coming at all (I thought there would be some swerve or other, but didn’t see that one coming). I do think Bane overly falls apart at the end, but that doesn’t kill it IMO.

“Where Nolan is concerned, I get more shocked when a premise that is logical and not riddled with plot holes and fridge logic makes it into the movie. Like I wonder to myself “Wait, that makes sense and is a logical sequence of events Was it an accident?”

@T: if somebody else had written that statement, you would attack it (rightfully so) for being arrogant and dismissive. Like you wrote in a previous comment, I would like for you to be more intellectually coherent in your comments. Almost every time, when you post your opinion in this blog, you support it with facts, and you’re always very thoughtful and coherent. When you write a post about Nolan, you come across as “too cool for the room”. You’re coherent, definitely, but not very thoughtful.

i write this because it pisses me off when people that don’t even know me suddenly tell me why I liked a certain movie. You know why I liked Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? Because I enjoyed them! I actually thought they were great movies.

FWIW I think TDKR is my favorite of the three. I don’t think it’s qualitatively the best (if such a thing can even be objectively determined, as other discussions in this thread suggest), but of the three, I think it’s the one I enjoyed the most (and am most likely to rewatch). Maybe it’s just because it’s shiny and new, but I feel like it had less rough edges than BB and was more fun to watch than the thematically intense TDK. Batman wasn’t much of a detective in this one, but he felt the most like a superhero.

It had fridge logic, sure, but nothing so egregious it ruined the film for me. I never once suspected Marion Cottilard, even though I’d heard all the “She’s Talia” chatter when she was cast, even after the flashback in the prison. I should have suspected her, but I didn’t. Maybe that’s because the film did a good job of sucking me in to the narrative, maybe it’s just because I’m an idiot.

The fridge logic pertaining to Gordon’s letter that had occurred to me was why he even bothered to write down such a damning confession in the first place, if he wasn’t fully prepared to go public with it, let alone continue to carry it around (though I think he just shoved it in his overcoat and forgot about it). That said, it ultimately didn’t lead to much of anything significant, so it’s easy to overlook.

@matthew

the neutron bomb is privileged in warfare not for its destructive abilities but for its radioactive properties

I thought it was a fusion bomb (since that device Bruce built was a fusion reactor) and that fusion bombs have a lower yield of radiation. But maybe I’ve always heard that about fusion bombs wrong…

….and I screwed up that HTML something fierce. Apologies.

To echo what someone said above, many of the plotting flaws didn’t occur to me until after the movie. But many of them jumped out at me and bothered the crap out of me DURING the movie, and that’s not good. My big ones (some because of my finance background, and some that are just screamingly obvious):

1. That’s not how financial markets work. There’s no way that trades made on the same day as a massive criminal assault on the market would be honored. No. Way.

2. That’s not how bankruptcy works. Billionaires don’t go bankrupt overnight, ESPECIALLY from bogus trades made during a CRIME. And BATMAN wouldn’t go bankrupt at all. Because he’s BATMAN, and he’d have secret accounts and bases and stuff all over the world. Because, again, BATMAN.

3. It takes MONTHS of unpaid bills to get the power shut off to a double-wide trailer. That process is incredibly heavily scrutinized, because of potential liability (what happens when you shut of power to Grandma’s respirator?). No way do they cut off power to Wayne Manor overnight. No power company would even consider it without numerous notifications, some which must be hand-delivered (rules may vary in your state of residence, but there are rules).

4. What’s up with the magic leg brace? It wasn’t in the prison, right? And Bruce couldn’t walk without it, right? So what happened there?

5. The Charge of the Light Brigade following Matthew Modine was appallingly stupid. I could almost see it if they were distracting the thugs so that another force could sneak through the sewers and attack (which, hey, would’ve given some dramatic weight to their imprisonment below ground if they’d been exploring during that time). But as presented, it was stupid.

6. Unless the Bat had warp drive, they didn’t leave enough time for it to clear the 6-mile blast radius.

Point 2 is really the issue with me, and that’s my rebuttal to rabid fans who want to defend the movie: Really, do you see Batman letting this happen to him? I kept waiting for him to launch some serious contingency plans, but no, never happened.

@Bryan L:

Really, do you see Batman letting this happen to him?

I really don’t want to argue the point that much, because at the end of the day, to each his own. But for me, I took it less as Batman letting it happen and Batman not caring that it happened. Had things played out differently in his initial fight with Bane, I imagine Bruce would have done something to reverse his “bankruptcy”.

#1 was the thing that stuck out to me the most, but I was able to forgive for the sake of plot expediency.

Third Man, I think that when people are saying that a band like The Beatles aren’t good, it’s usually not that they aren’t capable of singing or playing instruments.

I ABSOLUTELY do not agree that a reviewer has to be objective. You are not there to say “well, if you’re a ____ person, they you may like it.” You are there to say “this is not/is appealing, and this is why. I don’t think you have to inject yourself into the piece (using first person pronouns); you don’t even have to mention yourself at all. Beating around the bush critically is weak to me, and I don’t read people who don’t have a firm stance on what they review.

As much as someone like Armond White bothers me with his goofy opinions (he loved that Adam Sandler twins movie, for instance), at least I know Armond White. His tastes stand out.

What places do you write for, if I may ask? I have written for Geek Syndicate from time to time.

Bryan L, you’re right. The techno leg brace basically put him back into action, but then he didn’t have it, and he was better than ever! Leaping across a pit! He could’ve put it back on when he put on the bat suit again, but yeah, his ENTIRE recuperation was way too magical. At least have him being treated with drugs or something, just anything to show that he’s not cured in an instant.

I just had a problem with Bane’s goofy accent. But I liked a lot of the rest of the movie. So sue me.

@Bryan L

He has 6 miles and a minute a half to do it. Rounding up to two provides an answer of roughly 186 miles an hour. Thus, a military grade helicopter can accomplish this.

@Teebore — That’s a good interpretation. Thanks. I’m not sure I’m completely on board with it, given some of the other events, but it does help explain why he’s not really acting like Batman.

@matthew — I may be misremembering, but I thought he started at a minute and a half, and then wasted some time kissing Catwoman (‘waste” may not be the word I want here, ’cause Anne Hathaway was the best part of the movie). I thought it was down to a few seconds as he was clearing the city. But if I’m wrong, then I’ll cop to that.

However, the scene still pulled me out of the movie, for no real reason. Why not put another minute or two on the clock? It just didn’t seem necessary.

@Bryan L

a better question to ask about this particular bomb is that only one man can disarm it according to the film. But the US government has 5 months to gather every single physicist in the world if they want to and they could collectively learn how to disarm it.

If you had 5 months to do anything, and all you had to do was do this one thing, you could learn how bombs work. If there were millions of lives on the line, you would learn how a bomb works and you would learn how to disarm it.

Again, these are problems that, for me, do not detract from the actual experience of watching the movie.

Law and the Multiverse has a great discussion of bankruptcy and some of the other plot points.

There was a moment during the countdown where I wondered if Nolan was going to literally have Batman turn off the bomb at the 00:01 second mark. It was during the final chase sequence to get to the bomb, when I had that thought.

I kept trying to figure out how the cops that were underground for so long kept so clean. That and how Bruce kept so clean shaven in a dusty old pit.

Just read the piece at Law and the Multiverse (http://tinyurl.com/blhl6lw). It is amazing for all the glaring flaws how much I still enjoy TDKR. I don’t know if It’s getting to the point where you can see much of the plot is just an excuse to introduce characters to each other. I had questions about half of these things myself during the movie, but none of it really lessened my enjoyment. Did Schumacher lower the bar that far, or did Nolan pull off some sort of Jedi mind trick? Or do the flaws not matter?

@joshschr:

Did Schumacher lower the bar that far, or did Nolan pull off some sort of Jedi mind trick? Or do the flaws not matter?

For me, at least, I think it’s that the flaws don’t matter. Most of them I didn’t even notice until well after I’d left the theater, at which point, I’d already seen and enjoyed it enough that my memory of that experience was strong enough that the (now apparent) flaws couldn’t tear down my initial enjoyment. Even watching it a second time, when more of those flaws were obvious, I still enjoyed it.

None of these flaws are as bad as the one my wife found in the first Iron Man movie. After Stane has clearly betrayed Tony, why would Stane still have clearance to enter Tony’s house to ambush him and still the newest generator out of his chest. Tony would have changed the passwords or better yet, told the house to not allow Stane into it at all. No sign at all of force entry or anything. Took her right out of the movie and the rest of the film should not be taking place either as if Stane did not get the device, he could not power the suit.

Maybe you’ve seen it more recently than me, John, but isn’t Stark taken by surprise when Stane shows up? Also, even if he had upped his security, wouldn’t Stane be savvy enough to find a way in anyway? Stark is a genius, but Stane is no dummy. I don’t see that as a mistake.

Stark is taken by surprised but it isn’t even mention how Stane got into the house to begin with. My memory is that Stane literally pops up from behind the couch and puts that paralyizing device on Tony. But it is done so quickly that I did not even think about how Stane got in there. I also figured that Stane would have just found a way in but (and this is really my wife’s fight – I just think it is a great movie) my wife could not get over how Stane got in there, there is not a deleted scene or anything and nothing in the conversation states how it was possible.

If Stark has a security code for the downstairs, you would think that he would have one for the front door as well. Though I never understood why you would have a security code for a door made out of glass anyways. If someone is going to break into your house, a glass door is not going to stop them from finding all of that great stuff in his research room.

Maybe your wife is right, because my memory is not sharp about it. As I remember it, Stane was so ready to take Stark down in that scene, so him getting into his apartment isn’t a big deal. His house isn’t totally secure.

Plus, do you really want to see a scene where Stane is hacking the front door console (if there even is one). She just has this belief that Tony would have made his house Stane-proof once he finds out that Stane just stole his company from him. Or at least, you would think so as a couple days pass by since that reveal at the party scene to the time at Tony’s house.

She did not mention it to me until we watched it together on DVD again and whenever we catch it on FX (usually just the last couple scenes) she mentions it again but now that is all I think about when I see it. So I hear this plothole a bunch. Or oversight as I am not sure if it counts.

Disagree with you on two points:

1. That Catwoman being a woman was secondary to her character arc. It’s ANNE HATHAWAY as CATWOMAN. Her beauty and femininity will always be part of her character. It defines her relationship to not only her craft but to Bruce as well, in both this story and just about every story she’s ever appeared in.

2. I think Nolan IS a great filmmaker, personally. Not flawless, no, but Memento, Dark Knight, Prestige and Inception I would put up there as some of the finest films of the last 10-20 years…

Batman is almost infinitely adaptable as costumed superheroes go… but he’s still a costumed superhero. The more ‘realism’ you try to inject into it, the more you get away from the supercharged adventure, pulp-fiction roots of the thing. That’s why I like Batman Begins the best of the three. It was mostly a straight-up superhero action movie, and the arc it described– going from vengeance to justice– is an actual Batman story. The other two are trying too hard, they come across as the earnest college kid doing his senior thesis on Batman’s underlying psychological themes in order to justify his comics reading habit. Ten-year-old me would be appalled to see the adult me put forth this opinion, but it really is possible for Batman to be done TOO seriously.

The best comics-to-film adaptations are the ones that don’t try to rise above the source material, or try to slyly wink at the audience about the source material, but rather just embrace the source material and do the best they can to put it up on the screen.

This parallels my thinking EXACTLY, Greg.

This wasn’t really Bane in this film; it’s Ubu.

Bane is from South America, wears a wrestling mask, and get hugely pumped up on his Venom chemicals, none of which is in this film. Ubu is a big badass that hangs out a lot with Ras’ Al Ghul and Talia, and that is much more like what we saw in this film, except that he was white, had a European accent and was apparently in charge for a while. And his “breathing mask” thing was just plain stupid, besides making it hard to understand what the hell he was mumbling about, but other than that he just looked like a normal guy.

Hmm. I don’t see most of those problems, to be honest.
Well, for me TDKR is still the best comicbook movie of all time and even in my top 3 fave movies. I loved it.

batman begins is definitely the greatest
dark knight had nothing going for it apart from ledger

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