The Dark Knight Rises: Why are critics giving it a thumbs-down?

By Nilayan Das GuptaBatch of 2013

So, after a long, overdue wait of nearly 4 years, the curtains seem to have fallen with certainty. The last remaining act of Batman, to save his beloved Gotham city from the hands of an organized criminal of unparallel magnitude, seems to have gone down well with the lovers and the faithful of the franchisee. But, clearly, it seems to be a different case with the movie critics.

From a leading Indian daily, The Hindu:
“It is gloomy and doomy without even a fresh faced girl with red hair and freckles to liven up the scene.”

Another one, this time coming from the desks of CNN :
“Dark Knight Rises, disappointingly clunky, bombastic”

The Hindustan Times :
“Even so, we are ultimately left with the feeling that The Dark Knight Rises falls short of its potential.”

“Although the film’s multiple storylines do get tangled up at times, and despite some messy plot holes, it’s unfair not to credit Nolan with once again giving us a blockbuster with smarts.”

Just a few from the pile; for a Batman loyalist like me, it’s a whole lot of pain to go through the remaining.
Agreed, the Joker and his histrionics were sorely missed; agreed, that some of the sequences did indeed rush into each other without caring for an explanation; agreed, Nolan wasn’t the Nolan we had oh-so-fondly grown up watching, but in no way does that justify the animadversion being doled out by those who go around calling themselves ‘critics’. Nolan, though how great he might be, can be unquestionably excused for missing the sweet spot once or twice. And not to forget it was him who took the long proclaimed dead Batman franchisee and turned it into what we know of it as today. He redefined the way superheroes should act on the silver screen, he added a whole new dimension to the term ‘villain’ by bringing in the Joker in the form of Heath Ledger – the ever cynical madman, possessing utter disregard for motive or money and living another day to light up the world in flames, and he broadened the scope of cinematic experience with his breathtaking imagination and cool gadgetry; all this after due consideration of only the Batman trilogy and respectfully discounting his other genius creations (Inception, The Prestige and Memento).
So why are the critics complaining?

Well, to get the answer one first needs to put himself in the shoes of one and think along similar lines. And what lines should they be? For me TDKR was a fitting conclusion to a legendary series; the movie promised to be epic and lived up to it. Maybe (it’s just a guess) for a critic, who goes into a theatre looking for more than just a movie (justified, because it’s Nolan) it did fall short on some premises. I am not going to posit any such educated guess on what these premises might be, but what they seem to be missing is that this movie had to be a conclusion, a 2 hour something thriller to tie all lose ends and at the same time satisfy the never ending appetite of geeks and fans for the gutsy, dark, jaw-dropping sequences once and forever; surely you don’t want to leave your audience who pay their hard earned money and well deserved time to sit through more than 2 hours to go back with a bitter taste. Also it was pretty evident that no matter how powerful Bane as a villain be he could never surpass the standards set by the Joker.

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Nolan, if he had been Nolan on one of his many best days, he would have made something completely different, more critically approve-worthy, but immensely less satisfying as the ultimate finale. But, luck or presumably foresight prevailed, and he did something that he has very seldom done: He made a movie just for the fans and less for the critics, and that I guess will very well payoff. The small minority of naysayers can scoff and cry foul over the final act of injustice by a genius movie maker, but as fans know and so do I, Batman, the comic figure would never be the same as it used to be.