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The Dark Knight Rises

The 2012 film directed by Christopher Nolan based on the DC Comics character

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The Dark Knight Returns

  • Jul 20, 2012
With the glowing reviews “The Dark Knight Rises” have gotten in this site and others, I am not sure what a minor movie reviewer such as myself can add into the mix? After all, the vast majority is the one singular, collective opinion that really matters right? Not to worry, my friends, I really liked “Batman Begins” and loved “The Dark Knight”. I actually thought that the second film is the epitome of comic book adaptations and may be the measuring stick as to how other adaptations would be judged. Nolan reached a peak in the franchise and comic book adaptations with the first sequel and we all know what happens when something reaches a peak. Christopher Nolan’s third entry in the “Batman” mythos may well be the most anticipated movie of the year and it would almost be blasphemy to say that “Rises” is anything but perfect. It is almost as if fans of the franchise would be heartbroken, if this movie is anything but.

                      Tom Hardy as Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises."

The film takes off several years after the events of “The Dark Knight”. Gotham city’s organized crime groups have been dismantled and crime has been sent running to the hills. All because of the seeming sacrifice of Harvey Dent who had been believed to have been slain by the Batman have inspired many people to stand up to Gotham’s crime element. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), nursing his injuries have retired as the masked vigilante and together with his closest confidant, Alfred (Michael Caine) is keeping a low profile as a recluse. But it seems like recent things have put into motion of a new plan to take down the infrastructure of Gotham. A mysterious woman who is also a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) appears to be in the middle of it, and her actions may be the sign of things to come, and the rise of the man called Bane (Tom Hardy, Warrior), that only the return of the Dark Knight may be able to fight off.

                      Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."

                     Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises."

There are several things that Nolan had done right with his “Dark Knight” trilogy, that despite their deviations from the source material, he has managed to make the character his own and had treated and placed the Batman character into a genre where he rightfully belongs, and this is within the confines of a crime-psychological action drama. “Rises” is the kind of film that should not be judged solely on its own, since it is a direct sequel to the first two movies. Its storyline is greatly affected by the first two movies and it is indeed the final chapter to a trilogy. As such, many elements and devices have been made to put things together and to wrap up the “Dark Knight” movie mythos.

While Nolan does indeed make the story his own, the story by Nolan and David Goyer with a screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan does pay tribute to the source material Capturing references to “Knightfall”, “Vengeance of Bane“, and “The Daughter of Ras Al Ghul”, there is enough here to satisfy the comic book fan. The film takes strong inspiration to Frank Miller’s critically acclaimed “The Dark Knight Returns” and even has a scene with very similar dialogue with a veteran and a rookie cop “Boy, you are in for a show…”. However, Nolan does not dwell too much with some points of nostalgia, there is a plot here that connects with the first two movies.

                       Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon in "The Dark Knight Rises."  Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."

                      Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox in "The Dark Knight Rises."

There is a lot of things that goes on with “Rises” and some viewers may find them difficult to follow. There are a copious amount of new characters that get introduced, and they are all in the purpose of adding some good twists and turns to its script. Gary Oldman is excellent as usual as Gordon and Michael Cane adds some subtle humor in the film’s mood. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets introduced as a do-gooder orphaned cop who somewhat represents the moral stances in the core development of its script. Character dynamics are well incorporated into the script, but I did see some uneven workings with the development of the Catwoman character. It was almost as if the screenplay wanted to do much more and have fun with the character, but they had held back. Despite my misgivings with the development of the Selena Kyle, I found Anne Hathaway to be capable as a sexy cat burglar. Miranda Tate is played by Marion Cotillard, a character that seemingly seeks to be mysterious, and yet, I saw it coming a mile away because of the way she was introduced in the script.  There is also a new love interest in the film, (but not the way you think) to satisfy mainstream fans. The introduction of this new 'love' had some transitional issues and its introduction into the screenplay feels a little forced.

Nolan does try to get some “gotcha’ moments, but those used to the comic books will see them coming from far away. I mean, the film is filled with twists and plot pockets that there were times that I felt that the movie was overstuffed. I felt that the movie had been slowed down a little in its momentum. This has less hero building, and more on the dimensions of the newer characters, the villain’s motivations and of Bruce Wayne (Bale once more does a fantastic Bruce Wayne). Much as Nolan had some points for surprises, I was not at all taken by unawares, this is a testament to the way he laid out the groundwork, and despite the foreshadowing, the keen eye can easily put things together. I do not mind Nolan’s moves for development, but I do have to say that some plot points proved a little too convenient and the film felt a little too rushed in the middle parts of the film. I understood the ambition in the screenplay, but the editing and pace felt a little sloppy and convoluted in several areas. The film also carries a political subtext, but had so little room to develop on it, that it merely scratched its surface.

                           A scene from "The Dark Knight Rises."

                           Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in "The Dark Knight Rises."

                          Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Yes, while I thought the film had the dangerous potential to become overcooked, and it did dawdle a tad, the film wasn’t dry at all. The action sequences were good, from the killer opening to the first encounter with Bane up to the final act, the direction was able to keep me on my toes in anticipation for the resolution. While it did not have the same sense of suspense I experienced with “The Dark Knight” (I need to write a new review for) and admittedly, some areas felt that it lacked pure emotional content because of the intended ‘cold’ exterior to the film’s tempo. The first fight with Bane was brutal and quite intense, and this is a different Bane--not one hooked in the ‘venom’ drug, yet it does not make him any less creepy. I have said it before and I will say it again, Nolan can command a scene and create dramatic flair better than most directors; accompanied by Hans Zimmer's powerful track, the film can draw you in. Sure, I wasn’t very impressed with the way the ground fighting scenes were shot, and some movements felt a little robotic, but Nolan still knew how to grab his viewer. Despite any shortcomings in the film’s script, the man knew how to time, execute and bring the trilogy to its climactic finale.

                      Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."

                      Michael Caine as Alfred in "The Dark Knight Rises."  

Well, “The Dark Knight Rises” isn’t perfect, but it is good…quite good in fact if you see it as part of the trilogy, albeit it may be the weakest movie in the franchise. One needs to allow oneself to simply lean back and enjoy the spectacle Nolan had created. If one analyzes its details, one will surely uncover a ton of plot missteps and if one resists investing in the film, then it will feel like nothing more than a heavy action flick. The one major flaw I can really say about this film is that Nolan may have improperly managed his ambition, as this movie had some real issues about its expectations. I have to say, and I know several people would hate me for this, but the screenplay just had too much going on, it felt rushed and convoluted in several plot points and there were several things that felt unnecessary. It tried to do a little too much for its window of a 2 hour 45 minute runtime. The Selena Kyle (no mention of the name "Catwoman") character really had little use in its script, and the film could have done just as well without her. The film should have focused more on the Batman-Bane rivalry and developed more things in its plot. It was a good finish, and even gave a nod of things to come (“Prodigal” anyone?) but it was far from the greatness that was expected.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience." Poster art for "The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience."

Poster art for "The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience." Poster art for "The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience."
The Dark Knight Returns to Fall and Rise Once Again The Dark Knight Returns to Fall and Rise Once Again

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April 30, 2013
I tend to agree with the rating. The Dark Knight is one of my all time favorite movies, and my favorite comic book adaption with maybe the exception of V for Vendetta, but Rises could not have possibly lived up to that. It makes the same mistake many sequels of its kind make, it tries to do too much, to be too big, and too ambitious, and ends up being a mess. It was okay, IMO, but nowhere near the greatness of the second film.
May 03, 2013
I agree. Nolan was over-ambitious with this one, and with a script that over-reaches, he lost a lot of his footing in its narrative. Not a bad movie, but clearly just could not deliver to its expectations . It was a little too unfocused.
July 24, 2012
William I disagree with your first statement. You are not a "minor" reviewer as I trust your reviews more than the people who get paid. Also, your review has a lot of great insights that I have not seen from some of the "pros" who get paid to watch movies. I really want to see it but the event in Colorado seems to have sapped some of my enthusiasm so I will probably wait. I see that you thought this was the weakest of the trilogy. I felt that the first was the best as the Harvey Dent story ruined a second movie that might have been perfect otherwise.
August 19, 2012
Thanks, Michael. Comments like yours help me stay motivated to write. I understand, the events in Colorado was draining, and it had even caused another movie to delay its release until next year. I do think that this was even one of Nolan's weakest movies. Yes, I understood how the Dent storyline in TDK ruined it for some. I still think that Nolan is a better director than he is a storytelller myself. He knows how to make a spectacle, but the execution of his stories can be a little lacking.
July 23, 2012
Excellent review, I can't wait to see this.
July 23, 2012
It is good. Nolan got me in the first half until several scripting issues in the 2nd half began to bother me. Just see it as part of the trilogy and you may enjoy it. I wanted to love it, but in the end, it ended up only as good or "ok".
July 21, 2012
Great pictures as always!
July 22, 2012
thank you once again!
July 22, 2012
You are very welcome, Bill.
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A fitting end to an amazing Series.
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Yes, he rises, but how high?
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About this movie


Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy,

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

The screenplay is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
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Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: July 20, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures
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