The Dark Knight Rises
Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan
Produced by Escape Artists and Mandate Pictures
Directed by David Frankel
Written by Vanessa Taylor
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Christopher Nolan doesn’t do things by halves. His third Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, pulls out all the stops. It’s overproduced, overwrought, bombastic, and unswervingly serious—all symptoms of a grave irony deficiency.
Other superhero movies are forever winking at us to acknowledge they aspire to be nothing more than meaningless Barnum-like spectacles. Not these: Nolan insists on meaning, and plenty of it. In The Dark Knight (2008), his villain was the Joker, a man enamored of chaos for its own sake. His signature question for Batman, “Why so serious?” was the one Nolan evidently was asking himself. He answered with Batman’s manifest sense of urgency. In the aftermath of his parents’ murders, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) begins to fashion himself into the Batman, a dark knight determined to take on a Stygian world. His cause is more than revenge. He wants to wipe the...