The Dark Knight Rises Review

The superhero flick has become a bit of a redundant genre in the past ten years. Since the turn of the century, countless iterations of caped crusader films have hit Hollywood, a great number of which were forgettable CGI-based action thrillers.

That is, until director Christopher Nolan (InceptionMemento) got his hands on the Batman franchise. Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) helped redefine the superhero thriller with highly cerebral themes and a clear layer of subtext. Not to mention, Heath Ledger’s Academy Award winning turn as the Joker in the saga’s second installment has been hailed as one of the best supporting performances in film history. The Dark Knight Rises concludes the trilogy in tremendous form, living up to the prequels with a phenomenal cast, excellent writing, and great direction.

The film seems to be more of an ending to the trilogy rather than a stand alone sequel like Dark Knight. The addition of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) brings a fresh element to the series. Rather than focusing on Batman’s “lone wolf” persona, Nolan chooses to make him a part of a much greater effort against the film’s major antagonist, Bane (Tom Hardy). The script, while not the masterpiece that the second film was, is very strong. Catwoman’s character regrettably feels underdeveloped at times, and I found myself occasionally wondering whether she was there only to add variety or whether her character was actually essential to the development of anyone else. The major conflict of the film is pretty standard, featuring a masked maniac intent on destroying Gotham city, and the many cameo appearances by characters from previous films makes for a complex and intelligent plotline. Nolan’s directorial genius shines through, with well choreographed action sequences and cinematography on par with the first two films.

Christian Bale has always seemed like a strange choice for Batman, but he has used his intensive Method style to bring the character of Bruce Wayne full circle. Anne Hathaway brings Catwoman to life more than anyone who has played her previously. The supporting cast features Joseph Gordon Levitt in a little advertised but highly prominent role as a young police detective, and brings back Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine to serve as Bruce Wayne’s faithful associates. Tom Hardy’s Bane is both intimidating and vindictive.

The trilogy’s conclusion ties up loose ends nicely. Most characters reach an emotional climax (though, again, Catwoman’s role as far as plot development is concerned seems questionable.) Audiences will enjoy the nod to the comic books, and the addition of some key batman figures adds depth and variety. Nolan has done it again: a dark Batman thriller that always has substance below the surface.

Rating: 4 out of 5

38 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Rises Review

  1. M.C. James July 23, 2012 / 3:47 am

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m looking forward to checking it out. While I thought “The Dark Knight” was very good, I liked “Batman Begins” more, probably because of Liam Neeson and the fact that it was an origin story. But regardless of my preference, this has been a great trilogy.

    • drewpan July 23, 2012 / 5:07 am

      I agree on that call. Batman Begins is still my favorite of the trilogy, because it’s just got a nicer pace and it is very much centered on Bruce Wayne, and not a superhero in a cape.

      • Jimmy Hall July 23, 2012 / 6:22 am

        I’m surprised so many people backing “Batman Begins” but I can’t say I disagree. I’m partial to origin stories because they tend to have more reasoning for the action. I think the great thing about the trilogy is that they’re written different ways which we can thank the Nolan brothers for.

      • drewpan July 23, 2012 / 6:47 am

        I like BB not because it’s an origin story, but because it was really about Bruce Wayne wearing the mantle of the bat, rather than a Batman story with occasional glimpses of his Bruce Wayne alter-ego.

        They did try to keep the other two grounded with Bruce Wayne, but I don’t think they were as successful.

        For example, in TDKR they could’ve spent more time on why Bruce was holed up like a hermit in his room. Or what was going on in his head then. Was it a sense of failure? Was he lost as to what to do with himself? If the entire concept of TDKR was redemption or to rediscover what his calling is… then you gotta get that sense of “being lost” out there a bit more.

      • Jimmy Hall July 23, 2012 / 6:59 am

        Totally agree but I must say the shot and scene in TDK after Rachel got offed with Bruce Wayne in his penthouse chair with parts of the Batman gear led to where he was sitting showed that at the end of the day he is just a man, but more of that would’ve served the film more. In TDKR we saw more Bruce Wayne than Batman which should say something about the attention to the real heart of the story.

      • drewpan July 23, 2012 / 7:04 am

        Did you feel that TDKR was dangerously close to Spider-Man 3 in terms of trying to pack waaaay too much into one movie?

        I must admit I was so emotionally engaged during the viewing that I never really got out of “the zone”, but now on hindsight, I’m seeing lots of things that I think could’ve been a bit better done.

      • Jimmy Hall July 23, 2012 / 1:54 pm

        Yeah, that’s my one and only gripe about it. I think the plot was too thick that it was pretty difficult to follow at times. That was a good and bad thing. I like intricate plots with a lot of depth but if I can’t follow them I get frustrated and lost.

      • drewpan July 24, 2012 / 12:52 am

        I don’t think it was so much that it was too deep, but too shallow. Even with 165 mins of screen time, there’s only so much you can do. Romances that are meant to be special come across as an obligatory sex scene, and rebirth scenes come across like a Rocky training montage.

      • Jimmy Hall July 24, 2012 / 1:45 am

        That’s true, that romance didn’t make any sense to me. But I was talking about the multiple plot lines; what was happening with Gordon, the sewers, John Blake, Bruce Wayne, Bane… maybe too much. I’m going to have to see it again to fully get my thoughts straight on it.

      • drewpan July 24, 2012 / 1:54 am

        Yeah there was definitely too much. A friend of mine discussed the pros and cons of splitting the movie into a 2-parter (with the breaking of the Bat being the obvious ender for the first part), but yeah we couldn’t really figure if that would’ve been the right thing to do as well.

      • Jimmy Hall July 24, 2012 / 1:56 am

        It is a trend that I do support. I like that it gives more time for a better fleshed out story. And it has to serve the story and not be just for the money (Twilight!)

        As for TDKR, I think 2 hours 44 minutes was enough to tell the ending.

      • drewpan July 24, 2012 / 2:05 am

        But whether TDKR had enough going in it to really justify 2 movies… that’s another matter altogether. And I think Nolan was always set on making only 3 movies hahaha! He might consider it a cop-out to make 4 and say “well, 3 and 4 are really two parts of the same movie…”

        He might have been wiser to just trim some of the fat from TDKR, like the romantic side plot, the spawn of Ra’s al Ghul, and that Dagget guy (though I think he is necessary to represent the evil wealthy people of Gotham – the motivation for Bane to destroy the city).

  2. Nader Nazemi July 23, 2012 / 7:16 am

    So the guy that wrote a negative review about the movie got death threats.
    I did not regard the movie a great movie. But it was certainly entertaining. 🙂

  3. Paul Marino July 23, 2012 / 10:54 am

    Nice review. I agree in large part, but I felt that: (a) Rises *does* stand alone; (b) Pfeiffer was a more substantial Catwoman; (c) The hand-to-hand could have been toned down; (d) Bane was a terrorist w/ a political message, rather than just a man who wanted to instill fear in the public ala The Joker; and the obvious additional of Robin leaves the series open for additional films.

  4. cross(stitch)yourheart July 23, 2012 / 2:11 pm

    Very good review.
    I agree with you about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Her whole character really fell flat, it seemed like she was only there so they could have that nice little scene at the end that wraps everything up in a happy ending. At least that was just one piece of a much greater film so it was easy to overlook her.

  5. shearini July 23, 2012 / 6:19 pm

    I enjoyed the review. I think that Catwoman mostly served as a foil for Bruce Wayne. Wayne didn’t really have anyone he considered himself to be friends with in The Dark Knight (Alfred is more of a father figure than friend), so Catwoman helps emphasize his humanity – yes, he can be normal and have friends.
    As for the lack of character development, I think that’s simply because the Nolan brothers tend to “bite off more than they can chew.” They would need to make a five hour movie to cover all of the significant characters in The Dark Knight Rises.

  6. ergohence July 24, 2012 / 5:42 pm

    I haven’t been excited for TDKR. The trailer and Bane prologue that showed in December with Mission Impossible were not impressive and actually put a damper on my enthusiasm. Then I remembered that Nolan didn’t even want to make a third film and guessed that maybe his heart wasn’t in it. I’ll still see it, but it’s not on my immediate to do list.

    It’s interesting what you say about Catwoman, because there is lots of potential for her as a love interest and potential partner that ultimately becomes a rival. She probably should be closer to the heart of what the story is about than Bane, whom I would have guessed to be more likely viewed as the obligatory villain.

    As for plot, or too many subplots, I don’t think numbers matter if they can be woven in nicely. Batman Begins was burdened with too much plot for the narrative and basically had three endings to tie up each loose end. TDK was brilliant storytelling.

    Spiderman 3 was a mess, but it had nothing to do with fitting too much in. Bad decisions abounded in the creation and direction of the film, including lots of wasted screen time that could have been put to better use, bad character direction (esp. with Sandman), and cloudy judgment about how far to take Peter Parker with the symbiote suit. Several oportunities on that film were wasted just by going the wrong way on just about every decision. They could have included everything they wanted to and done it cleaner and it would have been awesome.

    • Andrew King July 24, 2012 / 6:47 pm

      Actually, I would argue that the third Spider-man suffered from similar plot issues, as it tried to introduce to many characters. As multiple villains is standard for the Nolan films, the third Spider-man essentially had 3 different villains at various points in the film, further adding to the problems with that movie. I think that although TDKR was a little to ambitious with plots and sub plots, in general it pulled it off much more effectively then the third Spider-Man.

  7. Matt Stone July 24, 2012 / 11:23 pm

    ….How did I NOT know that Christopher Nolan did Memento?! Thanks for that enlightenment! I’m disappointed in myself.

    Also- Spider man- saw it last night. Horrible. So god damn horrible. I want to see Batman, even more so after this little review. Great job.

  8. AR July 25, 2012 / 2:40 pm

    I think Catwoman’s role is explained by the film’s obvious sympathy for the Roman Catholic viewpoint. She’s never actually called Catwoman; she starts out spouting socialist jargon that she has to repent of when the revolution comes; she doesn’t find fulfillment in a role that other films have defined as ultra-feminist; she is the one who saves the Savior, through a highly traditional feminine function.

  9. comicsagogo July 28, 2012 / 5:42 am

    Finally going to see it tomorrow in IMAX with some pals. We’re told to expect better than Batman Begins but not up to snuff with The Dark Knight. Hopefully the expectations are met.

  10. benbrigade July 30, 2012 / 10:42 am

    TDKR is a fine movie, but I have one reservation. How could you take so much for yourself and leave so little for the rest of us, Heath Ledger?

    • Paul Marino July 30, 2012 / 10:47 am

      IMO, it’s one of the best films of the year thus far.

  11. ukcomposer August 2, 2012 / 9:31 am

    Agree entirely with your review. Put an intelligent director together with decent actors and an attention to detail and it is possible to put out an entertaining and enthralling blockbuster which treads the fine line between blowing things up and having genuine substance. This trilogy is a wonderful achievement, all the better for taking the comic out of Batman (and Batman out of the comic) and enhancing the darkness in characters such as The Joker – thumbs up to Nolan (again) from me.

  12. cindysuzann August 3, 2012 / 9:39 am

    I enjoyed your review. Just had to say, yes on Catwoman. She didn’t even give us a meow. At least, that I remember. Michelle Pfeiffer was my favorite.

  13. sleepyeyedplumber August 4, 2012 / 1:42 pm

    TBH, I do like these films more as summer flicks and do respect Christopher Nolan in giving a fresh, new take on the Batman universe. But as something to raise the bar in a comic book movie…well…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll give it some time. I just like it better if a film or anime tries to combine both light and dark atmospheres together in one film and different effects to the audience in a very balanced manner (animes like “The Slayers” and “Black Cat” have done just that).

    Anyway, I consider Nolan’s “Inception” to be better than the DK trilogy altogether–in fact, it’s one my favorite movies!

  14. maryamkh97 August 4, 2012 / 3:50 pm

    I love the Dark Knight movies by Christopher Nolan. Very excited for this one. ” Inception” by Christopher Nolan was also good.

  15. Ms Z. August 7, 2012 / 8:26 pm

    Reblogged this on Soul Canvas and commented:
    A Dark Knight Rises movie review by Simply Film. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Especially concerning Cat woman. Great review, hit the nail on the head!

  16. pitterpatter09 August 7, 2012 / 9:19 pm

    I haven’t written my own review for TDKR yet, but I agree with what you’ve said. I had my doubts about Anne Hathaway being a good casting choice for Catwoman, but she surprised me, even though I did feel her character could have been integrated a little better into the overall story. Reading between the lines, it sounds like you preferred Heath Ledger’s Joker to Bane – agreed there as well. Thanks for the “like” on my post!

  17. sirenscalling August 18, 2012 / 10:15 pm

    To me, nothing could ever live up to the brilliance of Heath Ledger. He was fantastic!
    TDKR would only get maybe 3 out of 5 stars from me. Partly, because the voice over they did for Bane was NOT well done. It was twice as loud as everything else going on, and the accent didn’t match up very well. All in all, I didn’t even much like the character.
    As is true of many movies lately, this movie had a fabulous cast. However, I don’t think that all the characters lived up to the potential in the cast. Some characters, like Miranda, were horrendously underdeveloped. She came out of nowhere, with no introduction or anything. However, Christian Bale definitely owns the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. Also, I like Anne Hathaway’s acting generally, and I was excited to see her in this role because it’s so dramatically different from what I’ve seen her in previously, and I was satisfied with her performance.
    Now, I’m only 14. So I was pretty happy with the amount of explosions and such, and that kept me watching. Seriously, who doesn’t like a good explosion? But the story seemed sluggish to me, and not very full. Like, the occasional amazing action scene a midst a whole lot of boring, and for being a solid 2 hour movie, it probably took over an hour for the real action to start.
    I was very disappointed with how this movie turned out, especially since Dark Knight was so fantastic.

  18. Amanda August 24, 2012 / 1:00 am

    Christopher Nolan is the best! Can’t believe I wasn’t aware of him as a director until now. Christian Bale’s Batman is all about the voice. The Batmaniest of Batman voices I ever heard!

    • Andrew King August 27, 2012 / 3:23 pm

      To be clear I was the one who liked your post, not the person who wrote this review. And I did actually like the movie, I just thought you had an interesting perspective on it that I hadn’t really heard anyone else expressing that same opinion about it.

  19. Abu August 28, 2012 / 4:14 am

    Great trilogy, however they should have closed the chapter for good. It seems they will be doing one more of the sequel.

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