Nolan In-Review: The Dark Knight Rises

It was 2012 when I sat watching a live-stream of The Dark Knight Rises red carpet premiere in my cosy lodge on a family holiday in Aviemore. Since being blown away by The Dark Knight, I was ecstatic at the thought of finally seeing this film – which was the first true “last in franchise” experience I had had at cinemas. I was an avid trailer watcher and obsessed over every bit of marketing material I could get my hands on. I was well and truly aboard the hype train.

In a few days, I would be heading to my local cinema with friends to watch The Dark Knight Rises. That was until I saw there was a small cinema near the holiday resort. My parents and brother were promptly dragged to a screening, as there was no way I was waiting another second to see this movie.

My views on The Dark Knight Rises are likely the most conflicted out of Nolan’s entire filmography. As I left that small Aviemore cinema after watching it for the first time, I felt near euphoric, still perplexed over how a trilogy could end so epically. Jump forward eight years, and I have watched Rises for the umpteenth time, and those raw emotions I had when I was sixteen, are still there. I still get chills when Batman hightails it through Gotham with a hundred cop cars flashing red and blue behind him. I still get anxious when he is tricked onto the walkway to fight Bane for the first time. I tear up as Alfred leaves Bruce Wayne. You get it. However, as someone who has watched a movie or two since 2012, Rises is riddled with small narrative blips. And while many may argue that they aren’t important – and to an extent I agree with them – they aren’t present in a majority of Nolan’s other films.

I like to theorise that the reasoning behind Rises being one of Nolan’s most flawed films is due to the insurmountable pressure that comes with concluding a billion-dollar franchise. You are introducing new world elements, delivering a fulfilling conclusion to Batman and Bruce Wayne’s story, linking it to the rest of the trilogy to round it out, and telling an entertaining story. Due to the over-stuffing of Rises, it lacks the narrative focus and fumbles its ending when it starts to reveal “surprise” villains, is bore down by a lot of contrived plot point, and even features some dialogue that is near cringe-inducing.

Yet all the same, it remains above a few others of Nolan’s work because that teenage spirit in me still lights up during certain scenes. Despite its obvious flaws, I still have a good time when I watch The Dark Knight Rises. Sometimes, I just like to see the good guys win.

Published by Aaron Bayne

I’m a film and video games journalist based in Scotland. I write stuff about them on my website, talk about them on my podcasts and film videos about them for BBC The Social.

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