The commercial and cultural blitzkreig that precedes the opening of a major pop-fantasy film is always intimidating on a certain level, so hats off to those critics who’ve said “no” or “not quite” or “meh” to The Dark Knight Rises. The responses have been otherwise positive if not ecstatic across the board so far (86% on Rotten Tomatoes. 81% on Metacritic) but it’s healthy, I think, to show the corporates they can’t just rumble into town on tanks and just roll over everyone and everything. It’s a Republican fantasy, this film — keep that in mind.

In any event a Hollywood Elsewhere salute is hereby offered to Marshall Fine, AP critic Christy Lemire (“an epic letdown”), Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci, Daily Mail critic Chris Tookey,’s James Rocchi, Urban Cinefile’s Andrew Urban and Louise Keller, Time Out‘s David Fear and to a certain extent TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde.

I learned many years ago that if you speak critically or disparagingly of any major fanboy movie, you will receive a fair amount of hate mail. This happened to me when I trashed The Phantom Menace 13 years ago. I realized then and there that fanboy haters are not only intemperate but on the subliterate side, and so I immediately dismissed any notion of replying or debating. So let’s just ignore the idiots who reportedly threatened (so to speak) Fine and Lemire for their negative reviews.

I love this portion of Devin Faraci’s review:

“Is The Dark Knight Rises any good? The movie entertains. It has a James Bond sensibility where hugely improbable things occur but you shrug them off. The movie is also clunky and structured strangely and — with the exception of Michael Caine‘s Alfred — emotionally empty. The stakes have weirdly never felt lower than they do in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan keeps the movie going from scene to scene, but the momentum is all cinematic, not narrative.

“As the movie wrapped up with five final minutes that play out exactly like Superhero Hype forum fanfic, I wasn’t hating it. I hadn’t been squirming in my seat. I thought a lot of it was dumb, I laughed at things that probably weren’t meant to be laughed at, and I experienced a few moments of deflation when I realized the movie had nothing to actually say. But I had also been caught up in it, even when it didn’t quite work or make much sense. I liked that Nolan went a little broader, even if that broadness occasionally clashed with his efforts to be ‘realistic.’

“I just don’t care either way. After being profoundly disappointed by the way Batman Begins turned out, and after really enjoying most of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises evokes no strong feelings in me. It’s large and busy and convinced of its own profundity, but in the end it’s a big shrug.”