Overlong and utterly pretentious, The Dark Knight Rises is a story that seemingly could exist almost entirely in Bruce Wayne’s head.

When we meet up with Wayne, he’s ensconced at Wayne Manor, limping about alone for the last eight years with only his faithful servant Alfred as a companion. Poor Alfred, stuck with a dour, self-absorbed billionaire!

He’s lured out of retirement because of the alluring cat burglar who steals his mother’s pearls. She’s working with the bad guys — they are out to get Wayne’s business until the really bad guys turn on them and we realize they are out to destroy Gotham, Wayne’s beloved city.

You see, everything exists to revolve around Bruce Wayne. Alfred, as any good British servant, has no personal life beyond his love of Bruce Wayne. Lucius Fox, head honcho at Wayne Enterprises, exists solely to create clever war toys for Batman. Selina Kyle? Her entire story revolves around the idea that she wants a clean slate–from what beyond her life of crime we have no idea. But she’s really just a mirror for what Batman himself wants.

And the villain? I don’t want to give it away but that, too, revolves around Batman and his actions.

For a large chunk of the movie, Bruce Wayne is imprisoned and must find the strength–both physical and psychological–to escape. It’s a metaphor the film trumpets endlessly. And I found myself wishing that, in the end, the entire final quarter was simply the fantasies of a dying Bruce Wayne. It would have made more thematic sense to me.

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