BY PETER MCLOUGHLIN
The Dark Knight Rises is a typical disaster film in many ways: the screen-play is clichéd and bland; the plot is a bizarre pit of thrown together ideas (reference intended), and melodrama is heaped on in great graceless loads. Also, like a typical disaster film, it looks great – at times perfectly stunning – and sounds fantastic. But that is merely the sheen on an otherwise disappointing film.
I would love to say The Dark Knight Rises is a well-made film. Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are well written, carefully characterised films, with structured pacing and (mostly) logical action. They were well-made films. The Dark Knight in particular is outstanding. The Dark Knight Rises is an expensively-made film, but it falls far short of the quality of its predecessors.
The actors do a commendable job considering some of the unnatural dialogue and the banal one-liners they are forced to contend with. One or two bum notes in any film are fine, but there were so many moments of contrived emotionalism throughout the film, they completely jarred the ‘edgy’ atmosphere the film attempted to create.
The plot was lazy – it valued melodrama over substance or coherent structure. It is epic, disaster film drama, and it is entertaining as a result, but it also makes little to no sense. A bomb with a ‘6-mile blast radius’ exploding half a mile from the shore surrounding a city, without even affecting a breeze was one such moment that created – in complete contrast to the effect of the two previous films – a frustrated incredulity.
There are uncharacteristically forced back story scenes too: in one such scene, quite incredibly, Batman is stabbed by a woman, who then proceeds to rant on about her past, and Batman listens for a good 5 minutes, without interrupting, knife all the while embedded in his side. Back story in this manner is a simple formula to drive empathy and understanding with otherwise poorly written and uninspired characters; particularly villains. The Joker didn’t have a true past, that we are made aware of, in The Dark Knight, and he was a wonderful villain – it was largely the strength of his dialogue that made him relatable and believable. Why The Dark Knight Rises tacks on one back story after another in such a forced manner is beyond me. Yes, the trilogy as a whole is wrapped up well by the links the plot of The Dark Knight Rises draw between the first two films and it, but it could have been wrapped up without the odd double-bluff back story and it would have seemed less ham-fisted as a result.
The emotional trick of an ending is somewhat cheap too – although I will at least hold back from disclosing that. This film will give you bang for your buck, and in itself it is not a total disaster, but it is the weakest film of the trilogy by some margin. It is a decent superhero film, and unfortunately that is all.