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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release

Release Date: July 20th, 2012

Rated PG for violence and frightening scenes

Running time: 164 minutes

Christopher Nolan (dir.)

Jonathan Nolan (screenplay)

Christopher Nolan (screenplay and story)

David S. Goyer (story)

Hans Zimmer (music)

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne

Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon

Tom Hardy as Bane

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

Marion Cotillard as Miranda

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox

Michael Caine as Alfred

Matthew Modine as Foley

Ben Mendelsohn as Daggett

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in The Dark Knight Rises.

Our reviews below:


The Dark Knight Rises Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Director Christopher Nolan closes out his legendary Batman saga in style with The Dark Knight Rises, crafting a thrilling finale to what is destined to be remembered as one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time.  Following the excellent origin story Batman Begins back in 2005 and the modern masterpiece The Dark Knight in 2008, this is a blockbuster that delivers on multiple levels.

Eight years after taking the fall for the death of district attorney Harvey Dent, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is now a recluse, and his Batman persona has gone with him.  But he is forced to come out of hiding when Gotham is threatened by masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who is convinced that the city is beyond saving and must be destroyed before it can return to form.  With the help of Police Chief Gordon (Gary Oldman) and bright young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), they have to stop the criminal mastermind before a nuclear weapon is unleashed upon the city.  There is also a seductive cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), who is stealing from the rich to support those less privileged.

The performances are all excellent, with Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt being particularly welcome additions to the cast.  The film clocks in at 164 minutes long, but you won’t even feel the epic running time.  The last hour of the film is filled with unstoppable tension and suspense, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats, right through to the final few scenes that perfectly bring the whole series full circle.  The screenplay by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan is filled with crackling philosophical dialogue about the financial crisis and what could push someone over the edge, which provokes a lot of thought.  The resemblances to the Occupy Wall Street movement and real world violence are often deeply disturbing, adding multiple layers to the film.

The shocking news of the tragic and deeply unsettling theatre shooting that happened during a midnight screening in Colorado has marred today with negativity.  But the film should not be blamed for this act of pure hatred.  Batman is supposed to be a symbol of finding hope amidst darkness, and those who try to destroy that for audiences “just want to watch the world burn.”  What the people of Gotham City need is a hero that they can look up to despite the evil that the world can bring.  Because without that, there would be no hope.  As bleak as The Dark Knight Rises might sometimes be, it is made all the more powerful by the fact that Christopher Nolan allows a glimmer of light to shine through the darkness.

Some people might understandably have a hard time going into The Dark Knight Rises in the wake of this unspeakable tragedy, but we should still view the character of Batman as our own symbol of hope amidst the darkness of the real world.  With a fascinating multilayered screenplay, a pounding score by Hans Zimmer and thrilling tension permeating every second of the running time, The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best movies of the summer.


The Dark Knight Rises Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

The third in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years after the end of The Dark Knight.  The Dent Crime Act (courtesy of the late Harvey Dent) has kept the streets of Gotham City clean for the time between the films, and Batman’s self-imposed exile remains.  Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become reclusive, speaking to no one but his faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine), as he struggles with meaning to a life beyond the suit.  When a new threat arises in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy), a criminal who declares it time for Gotham’s ‘reckoning,’ he realizes it may be time to come out of hiding.  Meanwhile, more new faces are popping up in Gotham City, including the agile catburgler Selina Kyle, played extremely well by Anne Hathaway, and Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who becomes another in the police force that, like Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) – who’s also back – will stand behind Batman no matter what.

In many ways, The Dark Knight Rises harkens back to many plot elements of the first in the series, Batman Begins, (I haven’t said much, but you’ll know why when you see this film) and you certainly should have seen that film before hand.  Seeing the second (The Dark Knight) is worthwhile too.  Both are also excellent films that leave us with much to talk about and take away from.

Christopher Nolan respects his audience’s intelligence in the amount he gives to think about.  Every scene, every line, every interaction means something.  Time and time again, he puts his characters in a position where they have to solve internal struggles in order to become what they need to be to stop what is at hand.  And he takes us along for an incredible moral ride as well, one that leaves us gripped to the edge of our seat and then thinking about what we were presented with long after we leave the theatre.

His trilogy of films is not so much about a masked vigilante, but rather about a symbol of hope.  Things don’t come easily or clearly here, and there are times we aren’t sure where they will turn.  Every character has a reason for what they do – including Bane and his group, and the fact that we are given this understanding makes it all the more disturbing.  We are watching a very human cast for a comic book film, who struggle to become who they need to be – and it is riveting.

The film is only a PG, pretty much due to the fact that there is no blood seen on screen.  But this is not a kids film and those under 11 or 12 should almost certainly be left at home.  The first hour or so is mostly talk and may not hold their interest, and the last hour is some of the most tense stuff put on screen as a city full of lives are held in the balance.  There is no point buying a kid a ticket for a film that then will either won’t be appreciated, or will terrify them.

But that aside, for the rest of us, it is amazing.  Technically, the whole production is flawless, with visual effects (and art direction, cinematography, costume design) teams, script, and all of the actors giving it their all.  Hans Zimmer’s score brings back old themes (his Batman theme comes in just when you want to hear it), as well as new ones and they all fit in very well – in fact, the more I hear the score on its own, I love it.  One of the most haunting uses of music though over a scene here, is the placement of The Star Spangled Banner.  It evokes such an eerie quality as it sets up the first of many instances of Bane’s destruction.  Technically, and cinematically, this film will (and should) almost certainly be commended come awards time.

The Dark Knight Rises is dark, at times disturbing, but with the right glimmer of hope.  The audience I saw it with gave spontaneous applause as the screen faded to black and the credits began to role.  There was no one there to hear the applause but the other members of the audience, yet it was a show of a shared experience and the recognition of the powerful film that had just ended.  For teens and adults, this is a film that deserves to be seen this summer. It is one of the best films of the year so far.

Footnote: The dark themes of good and evil are timely as I stated, although I must note that I saw the film and wrote the above review before knowing of the tragic incidence of senseless violence at a theatre in the states.  As a filmmaker and filmgoer, I am appalled at what happened.  In light of that, I want to add that for those who do see this film – and I think it should be seen – I think what needs to be taken away from this film is how against this kind of violent act it is.  This is a film about rising above violence and the senselessness of the darker aspects of human nature.  It is appalling that someone would try to destroy the message of hope that The Dark Knight Rises so clearly carries with it.  And I think it is an important film that needs to remind us all how wrong a violent act like this is.


The Dark Knight Rises Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Picking up where Christopher Nolan’s previous Batman films left off, The Dark Knight Rises provides a fascinating look at the devastating effects of poverty.  Eight years after Batman (Christian Bale) has been falsely accused in the death of public attorney Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne has been hiding in his manor.  But when a new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) decides the best way to solve Gotham’s crime problems is to blow it up with a nuclear bomb, Batman must return.

I won’t say much more, but I will mention that many characters have returned, including Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).  New characters are here too, including Selina Kyle or Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), both heroes who help Batman in his fight against Bane.  Selina Kyle steals every scene she is in, as does Officer Blake, who plays a big role in the film.

The Dark Knight Rises is brilliant on many levels.  The acting is amazing, with in-depth and complex performances from everyone.  The plot is just as complex, with many unexpected twists and turns.  I also really liked the film’s study of poverty and its effect on crime.  Due to the recent case of tragic gun violence, the film could not be more relevant with its message of hope.

Christopher Nolan, along with his brother Jonathan, have created a dark and thought provoking social commentary that is worth every minute of its nearly three hour running time.


The Dark Knight Rises Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight Rises is a brilliantly written, superbly acted and directed achievement in moviemaking.  There isn’t a wasted moment in the nearly three hour running time with suspense, action, intelligent dialogue and character development keeping viewers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.  The several twists and turns in the timely plot line are simply brilliant.

Taking place eight years after The Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared from Gotham City’s public eye, his alter ego billionaire Bruce Wayne has become a recluse allowing his corporation Wayne Enterprises to flounder, and his trusty butler and friend Alfred (Michael Caine) to become increasingly concerned.  It’s only when Gotham’s financial district is taken under siege by a powerful villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) that Bruce Wayne/Batman feels compelled to come out of hiding.

The action-packed sequences between Batman and Bane are powerful to watch.  The fight to keep Gotham City safe from nuclear destruction is aided by some unlikely allies, including cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).  Her performance as the agile “Catwoman” is one of the highlights of the movie.  Also giving a strong performance is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie cop Officer John Blake who, working closely with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), is one of the unexpected heroes.

The acting in The Dark Knight Rises is excellent all around.  Christian Bale gives his strongest performance yet as the brooding Batman/Bruce Wayne.  Michael Caine has some particularly moving scenes as Alfred, with the man he raised from boyhood.  It’s also nice to see Morgan Freeman back as Wayne Enterprise’s leader Lucius Fox.

The film has a story that plays out on so many levels.  The special effects and the cinematography are amazing, but it’s the strong storyline that makes this an awards worthy movie.  Everything comes together brilliantly with the strong Hans Zimmer score enhancing the visuals and action.  All in all, this is a brilliant movie that deserves serious awards attention for the hard work put in by all involved.

Here’s hoping that the overall message of hope overcoming fear and the good guys triumphing in the end is remembered as the basis of what Batman stands for.  The Dark Knight Rises is a movie worth seeing.


The Dark Knight Rises Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

The Dark Knight Rises is the final instalment in the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan with Christian Bale in the title role. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman return as the butler Alfred, inventor Fox and police commissioner Gordon respectively. Out of respect for the memory of Heath Ledger, the Joker (from the second film The Dark Knight) is not mentioned here. The villain Bain (Tom Hardy) is from the League of Shadows (from the first film Batman Begins) bent on the destruction of Gotham City. New characters include Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an honest cop, Selina (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar of dubious allegiance (Catwoman of the comics), and Miranda (Marion Cotillard), a philanthropist. Roles reprised from the previous films and some interesting new characters round out the excellent cast.

Bruce Wayne in mourning for Rachel Dawes has remained a recluse in the eight years since the previous film where Batman took the blame for the death of Harvey Dent and disappeared. With the new threat posed by Bane, Batman is urged by Gordon to come out of retirement. It is not really possible to give any more away without spoiling the film.

Though at 165 minutes, even longer then the previous films, there is never a dull moment, particularly given the relentless musical score from Hans Zimmer. However it is not recommended for young kids, not only due to the length but also its mature script and disturbing (though bloodless) content. The only frustration I shared with many viewers was with the intelligibility of Bane’s lines spoken through the mask.

If you enjoyed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, you will find in The Dark Knight Rises a brilliant end to the trilogy.


Consensus: The final film in director Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises is a fascinating film carried by excellent performances and a multilayered screenplay that manages to offer a glimmer of hope amidst the darkness.  **** (Out of 4)

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