If hundreds of millions must be thrown at summer tentpole films, better an eccentrically stupid wreck like this than streamlined blandness. First comes exasperation, then—as the pricey chases and baffling missteps keep coming in equal measure—amusement at the sprawling excess.
That the film is incoherent—narratively, yes, but also ideologically—makes it unsatisfying, but in a way it’s preferable to something more streamlined and tidy, where any chance of friction is minimized once the edges are sanded away.
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, this year’s blockbuster conclusion to his Batman trilogy, is, in ways both obvious and numerous, a bad movie. It is dramatically inert, visually indecipherable, and deeply malformed on the level of narrative. But it is all these things in a manner that is entirely consistent with the qualities, both good and bad, of Nolan’s other blockbuster productions. And this makes it valuable.