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July 18, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Rex Reed of the New York Observer and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune have joined the exclusive clique of critics who have broken ranks with the overwhelming majority who are heaping praise on The Dark Knight Rises. It is the antonym of praise — scorn? ridicule? outrage? — that Reed heaps on the movie. “Trash is trash, but when it costs an estimated $250 million,” he writes, “the charges turn criminal and someone should subject the garbage man to a citizen’s arrest.” Reed goes on to remark that the movie “defies logic and reeks of repulsive, bloated self-importance … and the arrogant conviction that no matter how slick, obtuse, confounding or incompetent it gets, the fanboys will slobber approval.” (Those “fanboys” are roasting Reed in the Observer‘s comments section.) If nothing else, Reed is consistent; he detested the first two Christopher Nolan Batman movies as well. The Trib‘s Phillips, however, gave those films positive notices. “Now comes The Dark Knight Rises, which makes The Dark Knight look like Dora the Explorer and is more of a 164-minute anxiety disorder than a movie,” he writes. What worked in Nolan’s first Batman movie, Phillips continues, “seems overworked and almost ridiculously grim” in the latest one. But it is exactly what Phillips finds objectionable about the movie that other critics find appealing. For example, Lou Lumenick in the New York Post remarks that “Nolan’s apocalyptic, 9/11-inflected vision of Manhattan and its hero are far more viscerally engaging in a real-world way than the fan-pandering, silly fantasy counterparts that Marvel offered up in both The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man.” Manohla Dargis in the New York Times calls the movie “grave and satisfying” while conceding that a scene showing aerial shots of a devastated New York is “unsettling enough that some may find it tough going.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times comments, “This is a dark and heavy film; it tests the weight a superhero movie can bear.” And although he implies that it falls short of The Dark Knight, he concludes that “it’s an honorable finale.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times describes it as “a disturbing experience we live through as much as a film we watch.” Calling it “masterful filmmaking by any standard,” Turan says that as soon as it was over he wanted to see it again “despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that [it] might be the bleakest, most despairing superhero film ever made.” Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News regards it as “a new high-water mark for what superhero movies can and should be” although he expresses some disappointment in the fact that it lacks a performance that is the equal of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Rises, he concludes, is a “near-great movie.” But Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post has no such reservations. Nolan, she remarks, “has made a completely satisfying movie with The Dark Knight Rises, one steeped enough in self-contained mythology to reward hard-core fans while giving less invested viewers a rousing, adroitly executed piece of popcorn entertainment.”

Also see earlier reviews.

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