The pressure cooker leading up to The Dark Knight Rises has been unbearable. The expectations, both fiscal and critical, are through the roof, and the question everyone wants answered is can writer/director Christopher Nolan top 2008’s The Dark Knight, a movie many consider to be the best superhero movie ever made. The answer: Kind of. Rises is, in many ways, an escalation from The Dark Knight, building on what’s come before and continuing to improve on an already nearly flawless concept. There is, though, one crucial area in which Rises sort of disappoints—it’s not terribly fun to watch.
Before you start yelling, consider that what makes it more than just your average superhero movie—indeed, I’ve never really thought of Nolan’s Batman series as just superhero movies—is also what puts a damper on the movie. It’s that hyper-realism, the grounding Nolan gives Batman in a world fraught with our own post-millennial fears and traumas that makes the Dark Knight trilogy unique, but it’s also kind of a bummer. The Dark Knight resonated with so many because it struck the perfect balance between the gritty real world problems and the jaw-dropping action of a superhero adventure. It was dark, yes, but even watching The Joker be villainy and evil was fun because of the spirited, almost gleefully abandoned, approach to the conflict. There’s a loss of verve in Rises and I found myself wondering—did Nolan really want to make this movie? Or did he just have to get through a contract? Read more »