In a few more words: devoid of logic, plodding, pretentious. The Dark Knight took itself seriously, and it worked; but Heath Ledger’s Joker wasn’t a cartoon character, he was a psychopath. TDKR lost that sense of realism while still clinging to delusions of deep philosophical relevance. Granted, Christian Bale’s mouth-breathing “Batman voice” has always been ridiculous, but now add Bane’s nigh-unintelligible British Darth Vader and it tips right over into silly. The cardboard characters and paper-thin plotline did nothing to flesh the movie out into anything of substance.
And speaking of silly, what is wrong with the police in Gotham?? My thought process upon seeing their descent into the sewers: “Wow, that’s a lotta cops. Like, probably all of them. It would be super easy to just set off a fire bomb down there and wipe them all out.” And… nobody else had that thought? That maybe you should send in one contingent to search and leave the rest above ground to do their jobs? Oh, and what is this, 1917, that you think running down the street en masse with no protective cover, hoping a few of you reach the other side before you’re all mowed down, is a valid battle plan?
On a more substantive note, I think the whole Occupy Gotham theme flopped. They open by telling us that Gotham is relatively crime-free; they say nothing of soaring unemployment rates, poverty, or social unrest. The “sewer army” is strongly implied to be comprised in large part of boys who have aged-out of the orphanage. We don’t see any bitterness towards the rich, so when Selina Kyle suggests that there will be a revolution against the 1%, it doesn’t really ring true.
As for Bane’s master plan… he really wasn’t too ambitious about it, was he? You’ve got the man’s fingerprints; frame him for something, for Pete’s sake! Instead, he stole Bruce Wayne’s money. Okay, so what? If he wanted to turn the people of Gotham against the elite, he should have done something to suggest insider-trading, winning him even more money, perhaps from the pension funds of Joe Gotham. THAT would have sparked a few riots.
But in The Dark Knight, we saw that the people of Gotham – most importantly, the inmates of Gotham’s prison, the so-called worst of the worst – are fundamentally good. They are moral people, not mindless goons, and by and large they don’t want to hurt innocent people. So why, eight years later, when the war against organized crime is over, do average citizens suddenly become looters and murderers, dragging their former employers out into the streets to be tried in a kangaroo court?
And another area where the over-reaching plot falls short–by boiling its (supposedly) socially relevant theme down to a standard Rocky riff. Batman is over the hill, a little frail; and then he gets a little training montage (which miraculously heals his eight-year ailments?), comes back and fights the bad guy. Alfred was onto something when he suggested Bane should be fought by Bruce Wayne rather than Batman. If the people are truly rebelling against the excesses of the ruling class, perhaps one of their number should fight – figuratively speaking – to redeem them in the eyes of the public. Nolan just couldn’t decide between making the movie a social discourse or a typical (if dour and humorless) superhero movie.
I’m going to finish with some rapid-fire rhetorical questions: Where did Wayne get the thing he gave Selina? He was hiding it in a bodily orifice all this time? How did he even get back to Gotham? And how was he still so fit and muscular after eight years of relative inactivity? How did his cartilage suddenly grow back? Why does his plane look like an alien spaceship from The Avengers? Why did Bane bother with the five-month countdown? Why would the men’s prison be more secure than women’s? Why did Blake only try to save 20 kids out of 12 million people? Why is his name WRONG? How did no one notice construction crews digging up and repaving the football stadium? Why did they bring it into the real world (Gotham is the U.S.’s “greatest city?!”) What’s the POINT??
As Val Kilmer would say, “Your work raises too many questions!”