July 19, 2012, - 4:22 pm

“The Dark Knight Rises”: Good, Not Great Superhero Flick; Way Tooo Loooong

By Debbie Schlussel

I have mixed feelings about “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest installment in the Batman movies, which debuts in theaters at Midnight, tonight. Overall, I liked it. I especially loved the ending (and there are sort of two endings). But why did I have to sit in my seat for nearly three hours of repetition and sullenness to get there? The movie clocks in at 164 minutes (2hours and 44 minutes), and it feels like it. At the critics’ screening I attended, a bulb burnt out and we had a brief bathroom break intermission, which this movie badly needs, though not as badly as editing and cutting. Plus, at times, I needed a translator to understand some of the muffled English peppered with a British accent. And that’s not to mention the muddled Occupy Wall Street message, which is at once vilified, but also glorified. (My fellow Detroit movie critic Tom Long calls it, “Occupy Batman.”)

Christian Bale and Gary Oldman are two of my favorite actors, and that makes the movie likeable, as with every movie they grace. And there are other likeable aspects, such as the new addition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a smart beat cop who was raised at a Gotham City orphanage and knows something big and bad is going on when others don’t notice or, worse, dismiss his worries. Also, as much as I usually don’t like her, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (who is never called that in the movie, but wears her leather get-up) is good in this role. Still, the movie was far too long, had too much going on, and was at times very confusing. An hour could have been cut from it, the script tightened, and it would have been much better. And they could have cut out a few characters. There were repetitive scenes: of how sad, brooding, and hermit-like Bruce Wayne had become, of how brutal it became in an underground prison pit where he ends up, and the like. There is also poor attention to detail. Most of Gotham’s cops are trapped in tunnels under the city for more than three months. And yet when they come out there is barely a day’s stubble on their faces. Doesn’t make sense, nor do other plot details.

The story takes place eight years after the last movie (which debuted four years ago). Bruce Wayne (Bale) is now a wounded misanthrope, who lives like a Hermit in the top floor of his mansion. His company is almost broke because it doesn’t make anything anymore, since he’s not there to attend to it. The only thing in which he’s involved is an attempt at clean energy mechanisms, in which a wealthy woman (9/11 Truther Marion Cotillard) has invested. Also, Batman is seen as a bad guy around Gotham and thought of as the murderer of Harvey Dent, because the world doesn’t know the real story of what became of Dent. The demogogic Gotham mayor takes full advantage of this and denounces Batman. But Gotham is calm and doing well because new laws have created law and order.

But, soon, an evil villain, Bane, escapes from custody and, through his strength and power, grows an army of bad guys in the Gotham sewers and tunnels. They take over the stock market and assume control of assets, ultimately obtaining a nuclear bomb from inside Wayne industries, which they use to blackmail all of Gotham into fear. Bane is Occupy Wall Street on steroids and exemplary of the type of terrorist ethos and tactics practiced by the real Occupy crowd. There are some spectacular terrorist explosions he and his men perpetrate in order to instill fear in Gotham. And since Gotham is superhero speak for New York City (and looks exactly like it), it’s kind of scary because it reminds us of the 9/11 attacks and gives pointers on more things the terrorists might do the next time they try. Islamic terrorists would have been more realistic enemies in this movie for that and other reasons. It’s never explained why Bane uses Occupy speak–decrying the wealth being held by a few while the masses go without, and yet, he keeps the power and never gives the wealth to anybody else. What is his motive? Why must Gotham be destroyed in his view? It’s kinda, sorta explained when we learn with whom he is working. But not really. And it seems silly. We’re never really sure why he wants to destroy New York, er . . . Gotham, and its inhabitants, even with the measly “explanation.” Also, Bane (played by Tom Hardy), has his face in a spider-like mask that covers his mouth and nose, but it’s barely explained why. Given his English accent, muffled by the mask, at times, it’s nearly impossible to decipher what he’s saying. English subtitles, please.

Bane draws Bruce Wayne back to the real world and gives him a reason to be Batman again and fight evil. But his strength is puny compared with Bane. How he ultimately overcomes the brutal villain seems hard to be believed as does the way he saves the day toward the end. No, that’s not a spoiler–Batman always saves the day, doesn’t he?

Selina Kyle (Hathaway) is the cat burglar who is supposed to be Catwoman (but again, that name isn’t mentioned in the movie). She steals from the rich because they deserve it and can afford it. There’s your “Occupy” BS again. She comes to the attention of Bruce Wayne because she breaks into his safe, steals his mother’s pearls and also takes his fingerprints for some sort of identity theft scheme, which is ultimately part of Bane’s plot to ruin Batman and Wayne and take over Gotham. She has some female friend, who is never really explained, and appears to be some sort of partner-in-crime galpal/pseudo-lesbian. Or something. And there are a lot of “or somethings” throughout the many confusing plots and subplots. And not in an intriguing way.

Still, Hathaway’s and Gordon-Levitt’s supporting roles are interesting and their acting is good. As is Bale’s and Oldman’s. And that of the old stand-bys, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, as Bruce Wayne’s respective butler and gadget guy. (Cotillard was awful.)

It’s a workmanlike superhero movie and it’s good. But if they’d shortened, tightened, and clarified the movie, it would have been great. The great actors make it good, and the ending is very charming. The special effects are the usual greatness you expect from blockbuster superhero movies. And I liked it much better than “The Avengers” (read my review) and the new “The Amazing Spider-Man” (read my review).

Just make sure to take a bathroom break before the movie. You’ll be sitting there a long time. And, again, I loved the ending. Both of them. The old and the new . . . . Hint, hint.


Watch the trailer . . .

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39 Responses

Thanks for this review.

To bring in the Occupy crap is disgusting whetehr it is vilified or glorified.

I so enjoyed Tom Hardy in “Warrior”. For me it is seeing actors I admire as much as the plot, special effects, etc.

Panhandle on July 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Whatever happened to patriotic actors like Errol Flynn? Oh wait, never mind.

John on July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I really enjoyed your review. And like you I also am a fan of Christian Bale AND Gary Oldman. Great taste and good-looking gents!

It sounds good. Something I would like to see and I almost never see American films.

The Boston Glob reviewer also said Hathaway was an added plus to the film. I can’t stand her and I think she ruined “Alice & Wonderland”. Gosh, she gives me the irrits. Just like the miscast and crappy actress fraud Maggie Gyllanhaal in the last Batman film (which I loved but for HER part). But I will just have to see it for myself.

It sounds so doom and gloom…RIGHT up my dark alley. I do love it if it’s done proper, darkly.

Thank goodness for Christian Bale. The only other Batman film I saw before Nolan’s was the Tim Burton one with Michelle PFeiffer as “CatWoman”. I enjoyed that but that was 20 years ago! I always end up liking Burton’s fabulous aesthetic more than his films. A feast for the eyes.

I also loved Nolan’s “Memento” with fantastic Aussie Guy Pearce!

Skunky on July 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Skunky, I hear you on the hate for that bugaboo Maggie Gyllanhaal. That unattractive wretch looks like someone hit her in the face with a metal snow shovel. She must have some dirt on the casting directors in Hollyweird. And trust me Micheal Keaton made a better Batman than that sap George Clooney.

    Ken b on July 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Skunky, I’m not sure you want to hear this, but one of Pierce’s eariest movies was … Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He was amazing.

    Skzion on July 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Skzion, the first movie I saw him in WAS “Priscilla:Queen of the Desert”! It’s one of my all-time favourites. I am a big fan of Aussie movies AND Drag Queens. Always have and always will be! I even love, love, LOVE “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar”!


      Skunky on July 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Poorly edited movies that go on for over 2 hours have been the “bane” of my existence.

Repeat on July 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Man, I wish Debbie had been around for Jarhead and Howard the duck.

John on July 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Occupy Batman? Probably will check it out on cable. I love Batman and all the idealistic stuff he represents. Damn Hollywood.

samurai on July 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Debbie I have tentative plans to see Batman in a movie theater, which I rarely do. Given the length of the movie I’m not sure how to deal with my Diet Coke needs. If I indulge I either suffer through the finale dying of bladder distension or I go to the toliet and miss key parts of the movie or I abstain and sit there all day without a drink. What do you advise Debbie?

A1: That’s a tough one. I was fortunate that we critics had a bathroom break at just the right time in the middle b/c a bulb burnt out. Otherwise, I’d have been suffering in the second half. DS

A1 on July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Think I will wait for the DVD…thanks

Rectum J. McSmelly on July 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the great review Debbie. I’ve liked Batman ever since the Superfriends. Christian Bale and Gary Oldman have been very good in the respective portrayals as has Michael Caine. In the trailer Tom Hardy looks like a “back breaker” as Bane. Not like the “I lift things up and put them down” version in that crapfest Batman and Robin starring that clown George Clooney. Sadly retards Morgan Freeman and Anne Hathaway are in this one. I can’t stand those two bozos. One loves the dirt bags of OWS and the other one thinks that the TEA Party is racist and wants to “get this black man outta here”. I just wish that these nitwits would just shut up and act. Still I will go and see it because it is the last one of the trilogy. I have a fun question. Who would win in a fight Batman or Spiderman?

Ken b on July 19, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Ken…..on a similar note: my grandson today asked me who would win in a fight…Jesus or Santa Claus.I am stumped

Rectum J. McSmelly on July 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Hey Rectum, A better question that you could ask your grandson would be…What would win in a fight a rectum or the foot going in it?

    Ken b on July 20, 2012 at 7:14 am

No thanks. I’ll wait until it it comes out like most of the movies I watch… pirated. I’ll let the rest of you finance Hollyweird.

James D. from the Republic of Texas on July 20, 2012 at 2:52 am

    This movie has potential. And I agree with James D: this one is worth a trip to the Bay.

    The Reverend Jacques on July 20, 2012 at 3:37 am

JULIE NEWMAR will always be Catwoman to me.

Miranda Rose Smith on July 20, 2012 at 2:59 am


    Ken b on July 20, 2012 at 7:31 am

How often can do this movie? I am so over.

pat on July 20, 2012 at 3:05 am

Having just caught the midnight screening myself, I have to say it was utterly superb. It is a bit long: take Debbie’s advice to use the can. But the movie is great. There are a few plot holes, but as a comic book geek, I loved it–as just someone who loves action movies, I loved it!

One thing I disagree with Debbie on, and it’s minor. This movie is a sorely needed lesson on what would happen if the OWSers got their way. Riots, rapes–Gotham is basically sacked. Kangaroo courts are set up. Bane’s speech in front of Blackgate Prison is right out of Robespierre’s handbook, and ends in much the same fashion. People who want a revolution should be reminded that, if they win, they become the status quo, and anarchy is not a way to govern. DKR is the most anti-OWS movie I’ve seen.

One spoiler I will give away: no reason to stay after the credits. It’s not a Marvel movie. However, there’s plenty in the movie to sate your “Oh, I can’t believe they did THAT!” desires.

Sentinel on July 20, 2012 at 6:22 am

there will be a swing to the right – this violence draws a regret from the leftist islamist obama this morning.

these occupy thugs, islamist thugs, leftist thugs, black muslim feces though this murderer is said to be white but so was algerian swede in europe – obama must be flushed and violent crime handled the way it should be.

bob on July 20, 2012 at 7:39 am

    bob, the Jerusalem Post reported that he actually threw tear gas, was armed with knives, was wearing a bullet proof vest and his apartment was full of explosives. They evacuated the building but he’s in custody.
    Don’t let complexion fool you. Talibans (Pashtun) are not Arabs and many are fair complected and have light eyes and hair. They have probably been grooming Caucasian types for years as sleepers. I have a Persian Jewish friend who’s been saying this for years. She mentioned Chechnyians as well and most of them are big, blond and very “aryan” looking. Since they use fake i.d.’s don’t be looking for an Arabic name despite what happened in Bulgaria.

    Italkit on July 20, 2012 at 8:15 am


    Right is always Wrong on July 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I’ll definitely see this after the crowds have died down a bit. I hate crowded theatres.

If Christopher Nolan is attached to a movie I’ll be there. I’ll always be grateful to Debbie for her review turning me onto “The Prestige.”

Having not seen this, I agree anything over 2 hours is way too long.

I’ve never seen Hathaway in a movie, but for some reason fan boys think she’s this major babe. She’s just decent to me.

I’ll still see this, though.

Jeff_W on July 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

@Chrobry: Please stop trolling. You are not helping our case. Spreading more hate is counter-productive.
Also if you are creating a silly hate site on facebook, you could at least try not to make any typos while naming it.

@Chrobry: Przesta? trollowa?. To wcale nam nie pomaga. Propagowanie nienawi?ci w taki sposób nie jest produktywne.
Poza tym je?li tworzy antystron?, to móg?by? chocia? nie robi? literówek przy nadawaniu jej nazwy.

Bart on July 20, 2012 at 9:59 am

Christopher Nolan, a Brit, has been a favorite of mine since “Memento” (2001) and “Insomnia” (2002); the former, in fact, was nominated for Best Picture of 2001. Along with Scorsese, Spielberg, Soderbergh, Burton, Eastwood, and a few others, he is a director at the absolute top of his game, making films that are deeply emotional and entertaining. When the crowds thin off (I hate sitting in noisy, crowded theaters, especially with lots of blacks), I’ll see the new “Batman.”

Seek on July 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Hey Seek, What’s wrong with blacks in movie theaters? Other than the fact that we’re loud, talk to the screen, chat on our cell phones, don’t turn said phones on vibrate or off, come in late with flashlights,sneak in food and laser point the screen. Other than that my fellow blacks are just wonderful to be around to watch movies. Especially during matinee times and after 10pm. LOL!

    Ken b on July 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Really sad to hear what happened in Colorado.

John on July 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

What’s this about Colorado and mass shootings? Columbine? Batman? What’s next, Applebees?

The Reverend Jacques on July 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I agree with Miranda. Julie Newmar will ALWAYS be Catwoman for me also. Her figure in that costume made me realize at an early age how much I like girls…

PDMac60 on July 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    She was so graceful. She was the first person, actress or otherwise, whose POSTURE I noticed.

    Miranda Rose Smith on July 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

A new app for extra long movies: peerun
advises viewers of best point in movie to make a pee run.

Smudge on July 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Debbie Bane in the comic is Castro Cuban. That’s why he is all OWS.

ceannrua on July 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

For those of you who grew up, as I did, on the old “Batman” television show, with Cesar Romero as The Joker, if you think you might find it an interesting change to see Cesar Romero in a sympathetic role, rent the DVD of the 1939 Shirley Temple picture THE LITTLE PRINCESS.

Miranda Rose Smith on July 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

I finally found time in my scary busy schedule to take this movie in yesterday afternoon. I absolutely LOVED it! I want to go see it again, and it didn’t seem like a 164 minute movie in the least.

trewsdetroit on July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Just watched this yesterday and… As a stand alone movie it sucks. Too many things going on. Also, Batman’s my favorite comic character ever, but that does not blind me to admit that this final take on the characters is not what I was hoping for.

I won’t spoil it and won’t really explain the many plot holes and sometimes poorly written dialogue and reasons because Nolan fanboys will want my head.

Mathias on July 27, 2012 at 4:29 am


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