Michael C here to challenge the nitpickers. Minor Dark Knight Rises spoilers are alluded to, but then you've seen it already haven't you?
A two and a half hour movie and you can’t find time to explain how Bane eats?”
I admit that quip got a chuckle out of me. I would credit the originator of the quote but as is so often the case these days it seemed to appear simultaneously from countless sources.
This kind of stuff is to be expected since it appears we are now entering the nitpicking phase of the blockbuster hyperbole cycle. If I have my schedule correct we are currently leaving the trumpet sounding, joy fainting stage and this complain-a-thon will soon lead into a full-blown backlash. This will be followed, of course, by the backlash to the backlash, and so on and so on until the IMDB voters decide if it is officially the best movie ever made or if it is only good enough to bump Seven Samurai of out the Top 10.
(Of course, if you are reading The Film Experience you may be in search of the ever-elusive “Reasonable Weighing of Artistic Merits” phase. Godspeed and good luck to you. )
The natural impulse is to respond to any and all gripes with a direct, firm, “Because it’s Batman. That’s why.” If you didn’t bail out with the logic of Joker’s prison break plot in the last flick, it’s too late to start lodging objections now.
On the other hand, is it not a huge cop out to spend three movies praising Nolan’s grounded, realistic approach to the material and then fall back on “It’s just a comic book movie” when things don’t add up? I think it is.
So why then am I unmoved when people point out Bruce Wayne appears to teleport from a Middle Eastern country to Gotham between scenes?
Do plot holes always matter?
First some clarification: Too often I’ve read critiques where someone refers to story points that are implausible, underdeveloped, or mysterious as plot holes. You may not buy that Joseph Gordon-Levitt knows what he knows but that doesn’t make it a hole. Call it a plot convenience, if you like. Call it undercooked. But it’s not a hole.
To me a legitimate plot hole is something like, “Who the hell heard Charles Foster Kane say “Rosebud” since he’s clearly alone in the film’s opening?” or “Why does everyone care about Casablanca’s letters of transit when the Nazis can simply threaten to shoot anybody who lets Victor Laszlo on a plane?”
Yet these points don’t bother me, and neither do any of the points I’ve seen raised so far about Dark Knight Rises. Suspension of disbelief isn’t a magic wand to wave over lazy writing but it is something a film can earn by giving you an idea to hold onto above plot details. The frankly ridiculous letters of transit plot in Casablanca never bothers me because the story isn’t about document protocol during World War II. It’s about Rick putting the greater good above his own desires. Likewise, who cares about the practical details of the pit prison scenes in Dark Knight Rises? If I want a realistic take on spinal cord injuries I’ll watch Murderball. If I want to watch Bruce Wayne face down fear (again) I’ll watch Dark Knight Rises.
Don’t get me wrong; Dark Knight Rises has some doozies. Bane’s master plan raises all kinds of questions, and Bruce Wayne’s physical condition flucutates drastically from scene to scene. One could make a compelling argument that Rises would be a better film if the plot were airtight, but then I’m not operating under the belief that the Dark Knight trilogy risks falling of some pedestal of perfection. I don't think it's an insult to say that Nolan’s realism was never more than a stylistic choice. A layer of believability over the usual ludicrous superhero plot. Still a distant relative of Superman turning back time by spinning the Earth.
Am I letting Nolan off the hook too easy?
Does his focus on grand ideas excuse him fudging some of the finer points?
Let me know in the comments.