We stared into the untempered schism and all we saw was this dodgy CSO effect

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Will Shaw
    November 20, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

    Actually, I think I agree – for all I think The Dark Knight is a Better Film on paper, if I had the choice, I’d much rather sit down and watch this one again.

    Solid ending to a solid series – I’ve quite enjoyed the Trilogy Trilogy. Good stuff, keep it up.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      November 20, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

      A key thing to realize is that ranking is not “what’s easiest to write an interesting essay about.” (That ranking is Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises)


  2. Matt Moore
    November 20, 2017 @ 7:07 pm

    I would definitely agree with the “hot mess” view – although I didn’t find it especially fun to watch – I just fast forwarded from set piece to set piece.

    There is a reading where this messiness is read as a critique of Batman – and a self-satirizing of Nolan’s own obsessions with control. But that would be reading against directorial intention, I suspect.

    But it is a suitable conclusion to the Bush era – two books about Iraq being titled Fiasco and The Forever War (which is how long I feel TDKR goes on for).


  3. Jarl
    November 21, 2017 @ 7:13 am

    I always feel like when The Dark Knight happened and became the biggest movie of all time ever, nobody was prepared for it, least of all Nolan. So a series which started off as a pulp adventure series filled with sci-fi weapons, ancient ninja orders, and spooky haunted cities now had as its most iconic entry “Heat but with Batman”. So when Rises returned to that first formula the basic aesthetic reversion turned a lot of people off. Probably even at the production level, as it haphazardly tries to retain the crime/technothriller elements The Dark Knight emphasized with mixed effects. See the emotional climax that hinges on when a software patch was issued, marvel at a subplot about construction workers that seems to go on for years and years, despite only taking up about 3 scenes tops, no one will be seated during the CIA prisoner hand-off.

    Funny enough, some years later I was informed that the character Aiden Gillen was playing in that scene actually started out as Deathstroke of all people, being a holdover from an earlier draft featuring him as a secondary antagonist. The only remnant of that is his character’s surname being Wilson (the viral marketing informs us “Slade” is his code name) and his role as a government agent hunting Bane.


    • CJM
      November 21, 2017 @ 7:31 pm

      The film actually structures itself around moving from one type of film to the other. So it opens with that ridiculously silly CIA scene that I love, which is THE DARK KNIGHT version of a globe-trotting adventure, then moves onto a hacking/finance based scheme. So far, the same relation YEAR ONE and THE LONG HALLOWEEN had to their films is found here with KNIGHTFALL and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.

      Then Bane blows up the bridges, gets a nuclear bomb and all of a sudden we’re seeing NO MAN’S LAND play out, where everything takes place in a world different to our own. The film moves from THE DARK KNIGHT to BATMAN BEGINS in a way that suggests that the makers honestly preferred “Grim and gritty James Bond and Indiana Jones” over “Heat with Tom Clancy/Michael Crichton levels of technology” as the preferred Batman movie formula. I can’t say I fundamentally disagree (though I think Heath Ledger’s performance in THE DARK KNIGHT makes that the film of the series worth remembering).


  4. Ciaran M
    November 21, 2017 @ 10:55 am

    I’ve always felt like the central conflict this film is resolving is the engagement of real world politics with super hero narratives. And TDKR makes the firm case that they don’t.

    The problems in the film are caused by the Bush and ‘anti-hero’ tactics of TDK. The Dent Act is decried by Joseph Gordon Levit as a BAD THING, built on a lie. All it did was stratify the classes some more, and create a complacent and overpowered police force.

    The whole plot of Bane co-opting the Occupy movement seems less like and indictment of the Left, but more like creating a backdrop for him and Batman to rise from; to transcend. All of the class struggle is forgotten as an army of cops marches against an army of mercenaries, and they have a big punch fight. None of this stuff matters, because you’re here to watch the strong batty man punch the big strong mask man. It’s like Nolan is throwing his hands up in the air and saying ‘fuck it’ to any kind of meaningful political commentary in the trilogy. Whether this is a rejection or a celebration of superhero narratives is up to you.

    Also Interstellar is a beautiful sci-fi short story collection, fight me.


    • Ciaran M
      November 21, 2017 @ 11:02 am

      I think this film and also Interstellar are victims of what I call ‘nuWave’ film criticism, which is an understanding of films/narratives as a strict set of codified rules as mostly laid out by joseph campbell and red letter media. Everyone continually talks about ‘character development’, ‘plot holes’ and ‘the heroes journey’. People think ‘how does batman get back to gotham’ is an interesting or legitimate point of discussion, despite the fact that the answer is obviously ‘offscreen, because nobody wants to watch a travel montage when there could be punching’.


    • Camestros Felapton
      November 22, 2017 @ 6:03 am

      Well I’ll grant that Interstellar is beautiful


  5. tombo
    November 21, 2017 @ 11:05 am

    I thought the point of him beating Bane was that the first time he had a death wish and was sloppy, but in the second fight, he was careful and holding back, having decided to value his own safety. I thought maybe his lesson in the pit too accept fear was like him finally throwing off Ra’s mindset for the first time.

    I don’t actually enjoy this film that much BTW and haven’t rewatched it since it was new. One thing I didn’t get was, if being Batman is so unhealthy and causes escalation, why I am cheering for Bruce retiring at the same time I’m cheering for Robin John becoming the new Batman? And how can he be Batman when he doesn’t know martial arts?

    I guess also, Bane being all bad made the film seem “too easy” for me, in that it skipped the challenge Batman would have convincing Gotham (and the audience) that his way was right, if Bane was a genuine revolutionary. I felt the same way about Batman V Supe, it never really dealt with the question enough of whether Supe was justified in fighting in Africa, with the Africa thing brushed away as a villain plot.


    • tombo
      November 21, 2017 @ 11:15 am

      also..I thought it was a “realism step to far” that he didn’t let Robin look like Robin, even for one scene. I thought it would have been cool if Batman threw him a key to one of his nearby equipment stashes, so he could have just thrown on a batsuit and some hi tec goggles (that look like a domino mask). Maybe even (for the public’s benefit) spray the graffiti bat symbol on his chest in blue, so he looks a bit like Nightwing.


  6. Przemek
    November 21, 2017 @ 11:34 am

    “When it works, as with The Prestige, the result is a gripping puzzle box. When it doesn’t, as with Inception or Interstellar, you get something more akin to a stupid person’s idea of what a smart movie is like.”

    I won’t disagree, since the ending of “Inception” is rather obvious despite setting up a mystery and the ending of “Interstellar” is just kinda stupid. But I still enjoyed both of these movies way more than any part of the Batman trilogy.

    “But where the Joker offered a useful structural ambiguity, Bane goes down the most common path that overtly leftist villains get stuck on whereby their revolutionary rhetoric is just a front for a banally totalitarian scheme.”

    To be fair, that’s how several of the historical revolutions ended, so…

    “The stated logic – that you have to be afraid to succeed – was dodgy when Steven Moffat nicked it for Listen, and he improved the dialogue considerably.”

    I don’t think that’s what “Listen” says. “You can succeed despite being afraid if you accept that fear and use it as motivation” would be closer to the truth.

    Overall, I feel like “The Dark Knight Rises” was a disappointment and I’m surprised you’ve managed to enjoy the set pieces. For me they mostly got lost under all the chaos and all the lenghty unnecessary scenes. A pity, really.


  7. Jarl
    November 21, 2017 @ 1:17 pm

    So, Phil, what’s part 4 of your trilogy going to be?


    • Sean Dillon
      November 22, 2017 @ 8:47 am

      The Peter Capaldi era, obviously.


  8. Dave
    November 22, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

    Lego ?


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