The Dark Knight Criticizes: Input from a Critic and a Mega-Batman Fan

The Dark Knight Rises (and parts of buildings fall)

The irony levels are on full blast today.

At the end of The Dark Knight, our noble Batman runs off into the night, allowing himself to be defamed as the murderer of crooked cops, mob bosses and “innocent” District Attorney Harvey Dent. He’s going to face criticism from all sides, and he’s going to spend the next eight years in self-inflicted exile.

And, after those eight years (four in real-life), The Dark Knight Riseswill pick up after that exile ends and the caped crusader returns to save Gotham from (yet) another terrorist.*

*Snarkiness aside, I’m a huge Batman fan. I swear.

Where the irony comes in is that Batman in both 2005’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight opens himself up to criticism from Gotham’s citizens, police force and government officials. Batman wouldn’t be Batman if he gave into the critics and joined the GPD, would he? And so he thrives on that criticism.

Meanwhile, his fans are doing anything but.

Less than 48 hours from the opening of The Dark Knight Rises, Rotten Tomatoes announced that the comments section would be shut down due to the onslaught of negative remarks people were shooting at reviewers who gave the film a “Rotten” rating. (By the way, the movie still has an 84% fresh review).

The Associated Press reported:

Matt Atchity, the site’s editor-in-chief, said Tuesday it was the first time RottenTomatoes.com has suspended user comments, adding postings about “Dark Knight” reviews would likely be restored by the end of the week. The final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy opens Friday.
“The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether,” said Atchity. “It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn’t even seen.”

Now, this morning at breakfast my mom read aloud Chicago Tribune chief movie critic Michael Phillips’ review of the movie, which gave it 2.5 stars. I’ll admit, as a Batman fan I was a little fussy. No one puts Batty in a corner.

But as a critic, I commended him for saying what he thought needed to be said about the film, despite pressures to like it based on the success (and epic awesomeness) of 2008’s The Dark Knight. In this way, Phillips is more like Batman than the superhero’s defenders; he wrote what he felt he needed to write, despite the hate he would receive on the other end.

My readers know me; I post what I think about movies all the time. We as critics serve a purpose much like hard-hitting news writers do; we have the duty of informing the public, and, like journalists, sometimes the public doesn’t like what we have to say. The simple fact of the matter is that the movie has not been released yet. Almost all commentators haven’t even seen it before stamping it as amazing and those who don’t like it as stupid, biased or unworthy of attention.

Again, as a Batman fan, I think this film is going to be great; but I’m very biased, and I wouldn’t even dream of reviewing the movie for a media source because of that partiality. Maybe that’s why I’m falling on the side of Phillips and the Rotten Tomatoes reviewers; I’m all for free speech and comment sections (for the most part — see next paragraph), but in a case where the public cannot possibly be informed enough to give input, it seems right for RottenTomatoes.com to shut down comments and for Phillips to publish a great comeback to those who discredit him simply because he wrote what he believed to be true.

As for comment sections in general, I think the rush to attack reviewers who spoke their mind and didn’t necessarily jump on the bandwagon of “Nolan is Our King” (a wagon I drive, by the way) is another example of how we have all become very comfortable speaking our opinion as long as there’s a keyboard and a screen to protect us. I’d like to sit down with some of these people who were lashing out in very unheroic ways at the critics to find out just how they know this movie is going to be as amazing as the last one.*

*After all, let’s not forget about Spiderman 3, the box-office-record breaker that ended up being one of the worst movies in comic-franchise history. I prefer to think that Nolan filming paint drying would be better than Spiderman 3, but anything can happen.

Who knows if this new Dark Knight will not only “rise” but rise to the expectation we have for it based on the hype it has received from film fanatics like me? It’s a question that will have to be answered only at 3 a.m. on Friday morning, and not a Bat-minute sooner.

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2 Comments

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  1. I am considering seeing this film, it has what appears to be more positive than negative reviews. Critics are useful to me to decide if I am wasting my money going to see what is being reviewed. It is useful to get a mix of reviews for balance. I speak as a consumer.

  2. A guy at work saw the London premier last night, and said that it was pretty good, and lived up to the hype.

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