Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Matthew Modine, and Morgan Freeman


First, let me just say that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are two of my favorite movies and Batman is one of my favorite characters on screen and in print. The Dark Knight occasionally is my favorite movie (I can’t have just one absolute favorite movie). I have been waiting for this film with a monumental amount of anticipation ever since watching The Caped Crusader ride the Batpod into the distance at the end of The Dark Knight all the way back in 2008. I fervently waited for the announcement of the casting choices, I thoroughly examined every set photo, I participated in the viral marketing, I watched every trailer dozens of times, I purchased three posters and two T-Shirts, and read every interview with every cast/crew member that could be found online. And still, even though I was so extremely excited for this movie, more excited than I’ve been for any other movie (besides Peter Jackson’s  upcoming Hobbit films), I knew how keep my expectations grounded. I consider myself to be objectively minded enough to judge a movie on its merits and make up my mind after the film, not already have my mind made up like many viewers seem to. All I had was hope that Christopher Nolan would give me a film that lived up to the standard set by his previous films, not faith in him as many claim to have, just hope. In the end, this movie ended up being satisfying as well as a solid end to a great film trilogy, but still being disappointing on several levels.

Writing a review in essay format would take up too much space and time because this is such a passion filled review, so I decided to write this in list format that is broken up into two sections to make it easier for you to read and for me to write.

***Spoilers are abound in this review and anyone who hasn’t seen the film should stay away.***

What I loved/liked:

  • Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway were the two standouts among an amazing cast, one of the best ensembles put to screen in the last five years.
  • The first fight scene between Bats and Bane was simply outstanding. It had all the brutality I wanted out of a fight scene and more. The “I will break you” shot was straight from the classic Batman graphic novel “Knightfall”  and literally had my mouth agape and about to drool.  Bane’s mocking tone and Batman’s determination to fight till he could no longer stand was terrifying as well as heartbreaking.

  • The emotional scenes between Alfred and Bruce were fantastic, specifically when Alfred is telling Bruce about his fantasy.
  • The visuals were absolutely breathtaking. The shot of Batman on the bridge overlooking Gotham almost made me tear up and I sat there thinking “that is so Batman”(Yes, Batman can be an adjective). The footage shot in IMAX is a beauty to behold and every shot looks grand and massive. The last 45 minutes of the film is chock full of shots that should fill cinematographers with either admiration or envy.
  • The hand to hand action is much better this time with the fights being shot much more clearly. The aforementioned fight scene was choreographed and shot extraordinarily well and every punch looks powerful and destructive. The second fight scene with Bane at the climax is entertaining, but ends much too abruptly and predictably. The other fight scenes in the film are decent but nothing outstanding while still being better than the fight scenes in the previous two films.
  • Vehicular action seems to be Nolan’s forte when it comes to his Batman films and while nothing in this film is as awesome as the Truck-flip Batpod sequence in The Dark Knight or the Batmobile chase in Batman Begins, it is still is undeniably impressive, especially in glorious IMAX.

  • The film is always moving fast, with the intensity constantly rising (no pun intended). This is certainly a film that is never boring even if it is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.
  • The villains’ plot is certainly interesting to watch unfold even if certain aspects of the plan either don’t make much logical sense or rely on way too much coincidence.
  • During the last 10 minutes I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face. Batman’s faked death, the statue in Gotham City Hall, John Blake discovering the Batcave, and Alfred’s fantasy finally coming true (Bruce ends up with Selina!) made me want to cheer.
  • Catwoman/Selina Kyle is a great character and Hathaways portrayal, along with the way she is written, is extremely loyal to the character from the comics. She has many of the best lines in the film and also some of the most moving scenes. Being sexy and badass doesn’t hurt the character too much either.

  • John Blake is a relatively interesting new character and his development into Bruce Wayne’s successor is very satisfying.
  • Bane is a force to be reckoned with and exudes pure malice with Tom Hardy looking like an absolute monster. He has some great lines and for the first half of the film he seemed like he was going to become a spectacular and iconic film villain but developments later in the movie prove otherwise. The character was still entertaining but nowhere near what he could have been.
  • The Batman voice/growl was toned down a little for this movie and sounds better than ever before.
  • Nolan’s reliance on practical effects over CGI certainly pays off and the special effects are amazing with The Bat being a particularly cool piece of work.
  • Christian Bale gives his best Batman performance yet (which is saying a hell of a lot) and carries the enormity of the film on his ever capable shoulders.
  • Batman’s “…Then you will have my permission to die” one-liner was so freaking awesome!

What disappointed me:

  • The Talia al Ghul twist was by far the most disappointing aspect of the movie for me. Bruce didn’t seem all that attached to Miranda at all so you don’t feel any pain after the betrayal. There was almost no build-up for it and it took a lot away from the awesomeness that is Bane. It turned him into some lovesick, brutish pawn–something that Bane should never be. You can’t take one of Batman’s greatest rogues and make him someone’s follower. Also, anyone who knows anything about Bane’s history in the comics knows that they took his origin story and just transferred it over to Talia just for the sake of a twist; a twist that brought nothing to the movie and seemed tacked on just for kicks. And when Bane is explaining how he grew up in the dark in his awesome, evil monologue, it makes the fact that Talia al Ghul grew up in the same way just seem stupidly redundant. Also, the whole “protector” title was just cheesy even though I did end up feeling a little bit sympathetic for Bane (but I’m not supposed to feel sympathy for him, he’s supposed to be a highly intelligent, master plan inventing, havoc wreaking tank that craps on Batman, not some huge dude with a cool mask who is doing a bunch of stuff just because he is in love with some girl who is way too young for him.) During this part of the movie I seriously sat there thinking “Why the hell did Nolan let M. Night. Shyamalan direct part of his movie”. Yeah, it was that bad.  The whole Miranda Tate /Talia/League of Shadows plot line/character should have been discarded completely (Marion Cotillard is extremely attractive so that almost makes up for this ridiculousness, but not really.)

  • The film moves almost too fast and is almost too epic for its own good. The film just has too much going on during its first half and it leaves the viewer sitting there reeling trying to realize what just happened. The many themes and new characters are just too much for one movie to cover, even with its long run-time.
  • Bane’s plan could have been just as big, and not have had the whole Stock Market thing which doesn’t make any sense anyways (everyone knows that the place was held hostage so the whole world would know that it was all fraud and Bruce Wayne wouldn’t be put into bankruptcy and so on) It just seemed like another tacked on and unnecessary part to Bane’s plan.
  • Another big problem I have is that for a Batman movie, Batman isn’t really in it all that much. He doesn’t show up for the first 30 minutes. Then he’s missing almost the whole middle section of the movie and doesn’t really show up till the last 30 minutes again. I’d venture to guess that The Dark Knight only gets around 40 minutes of actual screen time which is odd for a movie with his name in the title. It might sound childish, but I just wanted more Batman.
  • I also wanted more Alfred. Michael Caine is just so brilliant in this role and it was sad to see him so little, but it does make sense in the movie. I’m just being whiny.

  • Even though the film takes place over a span of months, it never really feels like its been all that long.  Gotham doesn’t look too bad for being held hostage by a group of merciless mercenaries for several months. All of the cops underground look like they’ve only been down there for days (Also who sends all 3,000 cops underground?Dumbasses, that’s who) and the streets just look deserted. There should have been some more rubble and lawlessness.
  • Nolan still seems to have a problem choreographing fights with multiple people involved and they always seem somewhat unnatural and staged. It’s not just Nolan though, many directors don’t seem to know how to direct a good hand to hand fight scene.
  • There is way too much expository dialogue is spoken Some of the characters just flat out say exactly what is going on for no other reason then to explain it to the audience. This shouldn’t bee necessary.
  • This movie just seemed to lazy for a Nolan movie. Usually his movies come together really well and while there can be the occasional plot hole or inconsistency they still are generally great in almost every aspect of film making.

Ok, so I dwell on the negatives a bit in this review but people need to know that this is not some absolute masterpiece that will go down as one of the greatest films of all-time (The Dark Knight will though); It is just massively entertaining epic that happens to also have some massive flaws. Now, was it a solid end to one of the greatest film trilogies ever? Yes, absolutely, but it still could have been so much better in my opinion. I still love this trilogy to death (It’s second in line behind Lord of the Rings as far as movie trilogies go in my book)  and I enjoyed the hell out of most of this movie, but there were some parts that just pissed me off.


B +

In the end it’s a satisfying, yet in some ways disappointing, final film in a magnificent trilogy.


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