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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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  • Jul 20, 2012
Comic book movies have a strange formula about them as of late.  The first film is usually pretty good by conventional standards and then the second one blows everyone out of the water.  This usually leads to a third part that is usually a letdown after seeing the spectacle of the second.  Yet The Dark Knight Rises does not fall to this trend.  In fact, Christopher Nolan's third part spits in the face of this trend.  The movie is phenomenal in almost everywhere.  Weaving a very interesting story and bringing things full circle in Nolan's trilogy.  Make no mistake, this is the final one and it ends on a fantastic note.

I promise that the following review contains no spoilers.

When it comes to the superhero franchises, none stand as tall as what Nolan has done with Batman.  Beginning in 2005 with the release of Batman Begins, the film found it's way to bigger success on DVD (despite a modest box office run).  Finding such a strong audience that the release of 2008's The Dark Knight was enormous.  It quickly went on to become a box office giant.  Earning over one billion dollars worldwide and making over $533 million domestically.  Unprecedented for a comic book movie at the time.  This, as you can imagine, increases the expectations for The Dark Knight Rises by an enormous degree.  Regardless of whether or not it's better than The Dark Knight is irrelevant.  With a movie as big as The Dark Knight became no sequel is going to have an easy time following that.  And I expect several will be disappointed because instead of judging the film on its own it will have to stack up to its predecessor.  You simply can't expect "too much" from The Dark Knight Rises.  Go into the theater expecting a lot and you'll be disappointed.  Go into the theater just expecting a good movie and a good time and you'll be dazzled.  Regardless, however, there are still those who will have their expectations too far through the roof.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the previous film.  The Dent Act has made it incredibly hard for criminals in Gotham to meet parole and it has lead to there being clean streets in Gotham for a long time.  So much so that Batman is not needed anymore.  Bruce Wayne spends his time hold up in Wayne Manor, keeping himself in isolation.  This is until a new villain comes by.  His name is Bane and he refers to himself as Gotham's reckoning.  This is primarily because of all the villains Batman has faced Bane is by far the most brutal.  He outdoes Batman in strength and is a mastermind that has everything coldly calculated.  If The Joker makes his essence that of chaos and unpredictability, Bane makes his about staying one step ahead of our hero while also plotting out a very intricate plot. 

I won't give away what happens in any way, shape or form.  But I will say that this movie does come full circle and that those who really want to get invested in the movie and love it really ought to go back and watch Batman Begins.  You can sit there and watch The Dark Knight if you want to, but it hardly plays as big a role as you might think it should.  Keen observers will see tons of allusions to both films but it is Batman Begins that will ultimately stick out the most.

The good news is that the movie combines the two styles, but that may also be what some of the problem might be for some viewers.  It is nowhere near the nonstop action romp as The Dark Knight was and opts to take its sweet little time telling it's story.  And because of the story it wants to tell, some people are apt to get annoyed by certain things.  Particularly the fact that the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne REALLY comes full circle here.  And I think some are not going to understand that The Dark Knight Rises is more so about Bruce Wayne than it is about Batman.  The title, for those wondering, is going to refer to many different things in the film in and of itself.  But it's also important to understand that all three movies make up one whole conclusive story.

As I said, however, it has to follow The Dark Knight and surely some will find something to nitpick at.  For instance, Wayne dressed as Batman doesn't appear nearly as often here as he did in the previous film.  As I said, the movie is much more about Bruce Wayne (among other things).  The second is that the film quickly introduces us to three new characters.  The first Miranda Tate, a woman who handles all of Bruce's investments.  The second is John Blake, an idealistic young cop.  The last is Selena Kyle, a jewel thief who runs around Gotham stealing from the wealthiest of its citizens.  Selena is the most interesting of the batch.  But what's interesting is how much confidence The Dark Knight Rises puts in its audience.  For instance, the three new characters actually do a thing or two.  The only one who isn't as amusing as the others is Miranda Tate.  Selena provides a lot of nice amount of humor in some moments and charm, while John Blake handles what Gordon can't.  The movie doesn't spend nearly as much time on the other characters--primarily because you know them already.

On the other hand, the film does seem to blend the best with the two movies before it.  Batman Begins was a movie that tried to tell us what being Batman was about.  The Dark Knight Rises is much more about reminding us who Batman is at some point because he's been absent for so long (in the story, that is).  Batman Begins is about establishing the character while The Dark Knight is about testing Batman's morals.  If anything The Dark Knight Rises is about pushing Batman to the limits and diving deeper into what it really means to be Batman and a legend.  Of the three movies it certainly sets the highest stakes, but like many third movies pretty much assumes you know what the pre-established characters are about so it opts not to really build them in many ways.  It's not nearly as action heavy as The Dark Knight, but it is most certainly more coherent.  It's not as plot centric as Batman Begins, but it is certainly more action packed.  The action sequences that are here are a lot of fun to watch, while the story itself is very entertaining.  Including a few incredibly high emotional moments and some twists you simply will not see coming on your first viewing.

Is The Dark Knight Rises as dark as the previous film?  The tone is certainly darker and there are a lot of brutal moments.  Likewise, the tension really heats up in the second act as the characters face one dilemma after another.  It's much darker in tone.  Throughout the entire film there's an enormous sense of hopelessness that is unrelenting. 

Is the movie as good as The Dark Knight?  A hard question to answer, but it's probably not.  Is it right on par, though?  Yes.  It's a lot more emotionally gripping than The Dark Knight, particularly in the second half.  In terms of emotional investment, The Dark Knight Rises is by far the best.  But like many of Nolan's films, there's a lot going on.  The plot is certainly much simpler to follow than The Dark Knight, but is going to have moments that will test your memory of the previous two films.  I would highly suggest watching them before seeing this.  As a whole, the three movies weave a complex story about a complex character

Make no mistake about it, though, this is definitely the end of Nolan's story.  He makes sure of it.  He's not coming back for another one and he knows it.  And he's going to try to make sure no one tries to tell another story.  But it's a good end to the trilogy.  Here, Nolan has defied the odds by making a good threequel.  This movie isn't bad or even just "okay," it's actually really good.  It's got surprises, lots of emotional investment and a lot of good action sequences.  And it tries to balance it all out.  It combines the best of Batman Begins concise storytelling with The Dark Knight's high tense action to give you a thrilling ride.  It's hard to beat The Dark Knight but that doesn't mean you aren't getting a rewarding movie just the same.  All things considered, The Dark Knight Rises is an incredibly good movie considering the act it had to follow.  It's a good movie and a great end to Christopher Nolan's story.

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July 22, 2012
I've decided to read your review after I've posted mine. seems like you enjoyed this a lot more than I did. Nice work though, but I have to say that while this was good as part of the trilogy, it was the weakest one out of the three. The screenplay on this one felt very bloated and missed some details. I did like the action and the way Nolan did the Bats dramatic appearances.
July 23, 2012
As you know, I'm not one to care about Hollywood "getting it right," and I always hold that up to be especially true of comic book movies (I avoid Comic Book fans like the plague whenever a movie based on a comic book comes out--worst internet people EVER!).  But seeing as how lately I've actually been caught up in the thick of the tragedy in Aurora I haven't exactly had much time to talk about it with anyone and I sort of don't really want to as much.  Not because I really liked it, but because I actually thought some of it was much better done than The Dark Knight (some of it... by that I mean there aren't nearly as many, "Wait... huh?" moments.  As good as The Dark Knight is one has to be really invested in it to get over some of the more odd moments).  But it's also because I think it's irrelevant whether or not it's better.  And everyone keeps trying to do that and I'm staying out of the thick of that one.  And I'm also staying out of the thick about the comparisons to The Avengers because all that stuff is just... silly to me, really. 

I've already read a few people who were disappointed only because it wasn't as good as The Dark Knight and that seems silly to me.  I think if people go back and watch Batman Begins instead of The Dark Knight they might better understand why quite a bit of this movie actually works well... but they've GOT to sit down and watch Batman Begins.  I don't care about the comics.  They haven't enhanced or destroyed my love for these movies but I'm so sick of the comic book crowd this year in particular (Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises... I'm burned out). 

I haven't roamed the internets reading reviews of this one because I don't think most people will get The Dark Knight out of their head first.  And granted that's hard to do, but the expectations for this one are through the roof.  Much more unfair than the expectations of any movie I've seen in recent memory.  So to be honest, I was just glad the third act worked and was able to separate itself from The Dark Knight.  But I also just liked the thick of the story more.  The Dark Knight has great action but a very bullet hole ridden plot (that can definitely be overlooked in some respects) where as this one was a bit less so.  A bit more over-the-top, but I've never minded that in any comic book movie. 
July 23, 2012
well, I'd hate to tell those fanboys but Nolan never did get everything right. He just took what was in the comic books and made it his own and did it well.

I saw your post in FB and I am just glad that you did not go to that theater. It is truly tragic when something like that happens. But enough about that. I am just glad you are ok.

I cannot speak for any of those people. My issues with it is not because it wasn't this or that, my issues stem from the way the script went into the 2nd half. For me, I was disappointed because this film grabbed me in the first half, and for some reason, all of the plot issues showed up in the 2nd half, then saved somehow by the final act. All three movies had their share of scripting imperfections (when you deal with something that tries to be intellectual this is almost always the case) I just thought that its shift in tone was a departure from the previous movies and the first half.

It is funny how you said you were tired of the comic book fans. Me, while being a fan myself am getting tired of all these comic book movies. For the most part, I think we agree that this was good as part of a trilogy. And, yes, the hype surrounding it was ridiculous. I mean, it had more hype than when the 2nd film.
July 23, 2012
But that's what I mean when I say I tire of fanboys.  It's the ones that DON'T complain about Nolan getting things right that I actually respect.  They actually realize they're watching a movie.  It's those expecting the comics that I hate and who drive me up the wall, because instead of trying to enjoy themselves they're nitpicking at what was "right" and what wasn't.  They have not yet learned that the two mediums are really THAT different and that expecting the comics is just... stupid.  And they certainly haven't learned that it isn't just about them and that a film has to appeal to those beyond the comic book fandom as well (if it ONLY appealed to the comic book fans the movies would never be made as they'd quickly discover--as Warner Bros. did with Watchmen that major studios would lose money to fund other projects such as... another comic book movie they'd hope to see).

In terms of all the comic book movies coming... they're in the minority.  They just happen to have the biggest marketing muscle right now and the most obnoxious, outpsoken fans (and if people are talking about it, that's the best kind of advertising you can have) so you mix those two together (throw in a little Marvel vs. DC stuff that no one actually should care about but strangely do) and you've got a marketing juggernaut.  And it works this way because movies like Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man made it EASY to market and sell.  So they dominate the marketing despite being a VERY small part of the pie.  And it's because they make lots and lots of money.  So they give those movies a lot more of a push which seems to give people the sense that they're EVERYWHERE.  Mix that with how big things like... whatever the next convention is that comes around and how people have made a big deal of say... that Man of Steel teaser that was released while no one is really talking about The Hobbit and it seems like they're every where.  And it is kind of exhausting.  It really is, I can agree with that. 

But think about the absurd amount of movies that came out that were NOT comic book movies.  Ted, Brave, Safe House, The Hunger Games, Ice Age, Madagascar 3, Snow White, The Lorax, Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, Prometheus, John Carter, Dark Shadows, 21 Jump Street, The Vow, This Means War, Mirror Mirror, Chronicle, The Woman in Black, Magic Mike, Project X, The Lucky One, Red Tails, Rock of Ages, Moonrise Kingdom, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Pirates: Band of Misfits, Wanderlust and several bottom of the barrel movies that got no real advertising and I'd say comic book movies are still a distinct minority.  Yet they're the ones everyone hears about and talks about at the moment and it's mostly because they're outreach is that much higher.  With the exception of The Hunger Games, I don't think I actually heard much about ANY of the movies listed above.  The Avengers had a huge budget, but how much of that budget was spent on advertising?  A large amount.  So I don't think I'm tired of the movies themselves so much as it is that the marketing arm for them is HUGE.
July 23, 2012
It's also pretty obvious it had to have more hype.  When your second movie is huge people expect the third to be BIGGER and BETTER.  Which is why I don't really want to read too many reviews.  Everyone is in a tizzy about whether or not it's going to be as good as The Dark Knight or if it is and I think that's the absolute WORST way to review ever.  Because then suddenly the movie not being "as good" gets mistaken for being "bad."  And I think that's just a terrible way to review.  Because then it means The Dark Knight Rises isn't being reviewed based on its OWN merits as a film but rather based on the merits of ANOTHER film (in this case: The Dark Knight) and that's actually unfair to both movies to do that.  Comparison is fine.  Preferring one over the other is fine, but one film doesn't suddenly have worse quality because it's not as good as the other.  That's just ridiculous.  The Dark Knight Rises can't hope to be as good as The Dark Knight in any way, shape or form because the bar is set too high to jump over and I don't think that movie goers or critics quite understand that concept.  I've never been impressed by movie trailers to any movie and spent quite a bit of time with my head under the sand with this one so I didn't get hit by quite as big a deluge of hype as everyone else. 
July 20, 2012
I agree.
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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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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