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What Worked & What Didn't In 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 23, 2012 at 3:20PM

Over an unexpected and sad weekend, "The Dark Knight Rises," a film anticipated by millions for several years at this point, finally came to theaters. And judging by the film's opening weekend, thought to be around $160 million and the biggest ever for a 2D film, most of you caught it this weekend, unbowed by the sad events of early Friday morning in Colorado.
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Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon Levitt, TDKR
The romance with Miranda Tate is disappointingly thin.
If there’s one key characterization that falters in “The Dark Knight Rises” it’s probably Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate. Yes, when she and Bruce Wayne have their tryst together, Bruce and Alfred have essentially broken up, he’s lost his fortune, he’s been reminded of the death of Rachel Dawes and he’s essentially in a very raw and vulnerable place. Hence sleeping with Tate, who seems like she wants to take care of him. But what could have made this much more believable? How about some inkling that there was a spark between Tate and Wayne sometime along the lines of the eight years he’s been gone, rather than meeting for the first time a couple of days before. What if they had some history together that makes their hook-up slightly more believable? Even one more scene that shows some sort of spark or affections between them may have helped. Otherwise, as it is, Bruce kind of goes from 0 to 60 with Tate and it feels a little rushed and forced. Also, since we are to believe that the League of Shadows have been infiltrating Gotham for the last eight years or so with a nefarious longtail game, shouldn’t Miranda (who is actually Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia) just have killed Bruce Wayne while they were making love when his guard was truly down? Sure, her plan hadn’t gone into full effect yet, but with Batman gone, she probably still could have gotten her hands on the energy thingy that eventually becomes a nuclear bomb. Perhaps Nolan keeps Tate’s character in the shadows so as not to tip his hand at her true identity. One missed opportunity (though it would have run in contrast to the Batman/Catwoman burgeoning romance): an actual, genuine love story that would have made her move at the end a gigantic emotional betrayal and much more powerful. Though that does change the story in a Jenga-like way that would be hard to reconcile with the rest of the picture, but overall, her arc from ally to foe isn’t quite as realized as we hoped.

Dark Knight Rises Catwoman
Bane's death is disappointing.
Bane’s death isn’t so bad in itself -- it had to happen at some point, obviously -- other than the fact it happens right before possibly the longest expository-reveal-while-there’s-a-knife-in-your-side sequence in the history of cinema. The biggest issue is his death is a deus ex machina, a rather cheap device that Nolan feels above. Batman is essentially doomed, the League of Shadows have got the man in their devious and well-planned trap. One stroke and he’s dead, the bomb goes off and the League wins. But as chatty villains are wont to excessively chat right before a hero’s death, she and Bane go on long enough that Selina Kyle arrives in the one-woman cavalry Bat-cycle and fires a few rockets right into Bane before he kills Batman. Yes, it’s a necessary part of her arc, her redemption -- one of the great things about Catwoman and Batman is that they are both so alike and both morally grey -- we just wish it it was structured a bit better. And for such a memorable bad guy, we'd perfer a grander finale than simply being shot up without final words. And goddammit, we wanted to see him with the mask off...

This article is related to: The Dark Knight Rises, Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Hans Zimmer, Features, Christopher Nolan


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