The Dark Knight Rises Closes Out the Most Ambitious Superhero Movie Cycle Ever

Critic's Note: This review was written before the horrendous shooting in Colorado at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Already I’ve read musings on the wisdom of midnight shows, which seems to me a ridiculous issue, and the wisdom of easy access to weapons, an issue that couldn’t be less ridiculous. Some wonder whether the suspect, reportedly dressed in black and wearing a gas mask, was modeling himself on the film’s villain Bane or even Batman. It is irresponsible to tie the act of a sociopath to The Dark Knight Rises. But it would be irresponsible not to say that one of the most disturbing aspects of the prevailing vigilantism and vengeance motifs in modern action cinema is that anyone can style himself a vigilante revenger.

With The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan brings to a close the most ambitious cycle of superhero films ever made. Here, as in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, he explores both the consequences of doing nothing in a lawless world and the consequences of doing the right thing (fighting crime) for the wrong reason (personal revenge). He muses on the mask as a source of power over others — and a source of havoc on one’s own identity. Implicitly, he asks whether justice can be attained in a society that strives to balance the desire for order with the rights of the individual. Whatever else The Dark Knight Rises is or isn’t, it’s big — very big.

It’s also very long, closing in on three hours with not a lot of Batman to show for it but plenty of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne dragging his broken body around and looking sad while people make speeches at him. The Dark Knight rises — for maybe fifteen minutes, then gets knocked on his ass again. Of course, it’s not as if Nolan fans (Nolanoids) have anywhere else to go. They’ll resent having to give up their seats. Read More...


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