Knee-jerk review: "The Dark Knight Rises"

1. We thought for sure we'd be among the last to see this movie.  But no, there were a few other losers in the theater like us.
2. It was hard to sit through the opening few minutes without thinking of the Aurora, Colorado shooting victims.  Those images were the last those people would ever see.  It's easy to imagine the horrific chaos of gunfire and screams playing out against such a loud, raucous movie.  We also noted a new AMC trailer that talked about what to do in an emergency.  We don't think they're referring to a fire.
3. As for the film itself, it's kind of a mess.
4. We had the same sort of reaction to The Dark Knight, though that was a far superior movie.  The Dark Knight was essentially two movies crammed into one.  You had the Joker's story and then you had Harvey Dent/Two-Face's story.  Had they been integrated better, it might have worked.  Instead, you got 2 hours of the Joker and then suddenly the Two-Face twist crammed into the final rushed half hour.
5. This new movie is even worse, stuffed full full of characters and subplots and backstabs.  This is the kind of film where just about every character has a sad backstory that they reveal in a melodramatic monologue, sometimes with a flashback as well.   It's just too, too much.  
6. Good luck keeping everything straight as to who's working for who and why.  The whole Daggett subplot seems so completely needless.  You really just have to go with it.
7. It's frustrating because Christopher Nolan has such grand ambitions and always infuses his big-budget movies with big themes and compelling subtexts.  But it gets lost in all of the confusion.
8. One friend told us he suspects this is a case of no one at Warner Bros. daring to tell Nolan no given the huge success of The Dark Knight and Inception.  Nolan did this one the way he wanted, right or wrong.  
9. We loved the discussion about how being unafraid of death is a weakness, not a strength.  Those who want to live will fight harder and longer and smarter.  A genius concept that we hadn't ever considered.
10. Bane is no Joker.  And his voice sounds like a dime-store parody of Sean Connery's brogue.  And poor Tom Hardy having to act without using his face.
11. Despite the film being soggy for so long (sorry, auteurs, but no movie should be 2 hours and 45 minutes), the epilogue sequence is a complete knockout.  Very satisfying.
12. Who knew Joseph Gordon-Levitt could be such a bad ass?  Wow.  We cannot wait for Looper.
13. We saw that betrayal coming from a mile away.  And just step back a moment and think about all of the steps that were required to get that nuclear bomb into the bad guys' hands.  How convoluted.
14. The idea of fomenting a 99% revolution against the 1% upper class is a good one, but again, it's just one of many ideas stirred into the movie.  None of them get fully cooked really.
15. Some truly arresting visuals, like the army of cops charging at the army of crooks.  As liberal as one might view the anti-wealthy bent of the movie, there are also some very right-leaning perspectives on the value of law-and-order ruthlessness and the importance of the police.
16. Anne Hathaway.  Sigh.
17. So not only does Bruce Wayne pull on that suit, but he also takes the time to put blackout makeup around his eyes.
18. Gary Oldman, action hero.  Who doesn't love that?
19. Of all the people in Gotham City, just one beat cop has figured out who Batman really is?  Really?
20. Selina Kyle is totally playing the Han Solo role here.
21. Blowing up the stadium is exciting visually, but more and more we find the killing of innocents to lack the sort of raw entertainment appeal it used to have for us.
22. We know they did work to make Bane more intelligible.  But we didn't couldn't understand a lot of what he said.
23. Credit the filmmakers for making a sequel that actually requires knowledge of the previous two films.  This trilogy is indeed one long story.  So bonus points for that.  If you didn't see Batman Begins, you'll likely be lost trying to understand all this fuss about the League of Shadows.
24. Great line from Bane about the stock market.  Some flunky tells him there's no money there to steal.  He says, "No?  Then why are all of you here?"
25. Overall, a missed opportunity.

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