Movie Reviews

Mega Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotilard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller

Best aerial heist ever

The Dark Knight Rises is an exciting and highly entertaining movie that packs a punch right at the onset of the film by treating you to a phenomenal aerial heist and kidnapping that grips you by the throat and refuses to relent as it introduces you to the primary antagonist of the movie. The thrill and excitement found within this scene  accomplishes two goals with the ensuing spectacle both captivating your attention as well as  establishing Bane as a unique and intimidating threat. It’s also at this time that the soundtrack of the film quickly asserts and assumes itself as the guiding force for the remainder of the movie as a melodic narration, of sorts, with Bane’s unique theme assaulting eardrums with spectacular thunder. The eerie tune and chant credibly reflect the onscreen ferocity within Bane giving a voice to the burning fire. As a viewer you find yourself easily immersed in the sound and unconsciously submit to its direction thanks to thrilling action shots and well performed dialogue. The volume of the sound is a bit louder than a few films I’d seen in recent memory but not painfully loud. In fact the intensity of the audio further enhances the immersion allowing you to forget your surroundings and help you indulge in the film itself.


The Dark Knight Rises is a long movie. Nearly Three hours in length you’ll find that there’s a lot to see within the film but the length is justified by a number of important factors including the amount of new characters introduced. We’re introduced to a mysterious yet seductive Selina Kyle portrayed by Anne Hathaway. Hathaway delivers incredibly well with her performance and manages to present to us a Selina Kyle that both introduces new aspects of the character, amidst her lengthy history on screen, and also pays tribute by honoring the source and history of the character. She’s sultry and seductive with a moral compass all her own that places her in the ‘grey’ with regard to her allegiances .  I found Hathaway perfect for what she was tasked to do as the character and leaves one grasping for negative criticisms for her portrayal in the role. Hathaway is joined by Christopher Nolan alum Marion Cotilard as the two leading women in this film, and Cotilard also provides a remarkable performance as business woman Miranda Tate. She’s dedicated and portrays a determined business woman vying for Bruce Wayne’s attention to her projects. There’s a different flavor of sultry that Cotilard is able to emote that’s different from Hathaway. A stand out aspect of Cotilard for me is in her voice and how she’s able to emote a great deal of underlying pain in her dialogue. I don’t know where she finds the emotion to tap to provide this sort of performance but kudos are due for her ability as you feel her passion for her goals. Cotilard is both seductive and intriguing and manages to fit extremely well in Nolan’s films while complimenting her castmates


Gotham’s Finest

Another newcomer to the franchise is police officer John Blake who’s portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His character is also a bit mysterious, at first, and Levitt plays to mysterious characters with unnerving ease. He plays a police officer who is new to the streets of Gotham’s but masks his personality and intelligence beneath the layers and isn’t easily measured. He’s the hopelessly altruistic character in the film that wears his ideals on his sleeve but impresses many with the fact that there’s more to what meets the eye for the character. He’s candid but is able to surprise and that’s equally a credit to the writing as much as it is to Levitt for reflecting this properly. He plays a key role throughout the film and is on screen often enough to allow for recognition as an outstanding supporting character. In a lot of ways he adopts the position previously used by Jim Gordon in prior films as Batman’s eyes and ears on the street and is one of the useful catalysts for progression within the film. He is given a fun role and provides an equally fun performance to pivot on when needed. He very much is quite the detective.



Returning cast and characters also deliver appreciable performances with Gary Oldman’s portrayal of police commissioner James Gordon once again maintaining a balance of patient but passionate but he’s also  a different James Gordon in this film. 8 years have passed and during that time James Gordon has suffered a great deal of pain and regret dealing with events at the closing of The Dark Knight. James Gordon isn’t a character that’s very outwardly emotive so reflecting these feelings requires a subtle technique that Oldman delivers in masterful fashion. Morgan Freeman assumes a slightly expanded role in this film with his character more involved in the activities throughout the film. Morgan Freeman has mastered his portrayal of a wise older character and has no trouble with reprising and presenting these attributes of Lucious Fox. He’s exactly what you expect with is commendable at the very least.



I think it’s best to reflect on Bane while also reflecting on the actual story of the film. Tom Hardy presents what is possibly his most visceral character ever portrayed on film. Both his character, Bane, and the story of the actual film are a realized as a bit complicated in reflection of The Dark Knight Rises.It’s also arguable that both Bane and the story are a lot simpler than the storylines within some of director Christopher Nolan’s recent films. He’s not a mystery to unravel. He’s not a secret to expose. Bane is a force best described as “a storm” that threatens Gotham City in ways unlike any villain we’d previously seen. He’s come to destroy Gotham and dominates any obstacle that dare’s into his path. His transparency isn’t a detriment to the film in any way, and also clears the air for Nolan to showcase his mastery with camera work, editing, and provides us with his most ambitious take with the Dark Knight that we’ve ever seen from this franchise. The Dark Knight Rises is larger in scale, action, intensity, ferocity than prior films and can leave one anxious at the end of some key scenes. Bane hits all the key marks with what we want to see from the character based on his characterization from the comics. He’s smart, cunning, and a credible threat to Batman which is everything you should expect from the character and more. He’s incredible, daunting, and most of all intimidating and scary. He’s the physical embodiment of ‘threat’ and ‘pain’ stitched together and given form. He’s the boogeyman come to life and he will break things. The story of the film mirrors this in it’s approach and goal of presenting a credible threat as well as closing the trilogy for Christopher Nolan.


The only way to travel

Despite the complexity of the story seeming reduced compared to the prior two films you will find that there are still plenty of surprises and an overwhelming amount of exhilaration to be found within this film. With each new film Batman adopts a new vehicle as his primary mode of transportation and in the past we saw Batman’s car “the Tumbler”, his bike “the Batpod”, and now we have Batman’s new aerial transport referred to as “The Bat”. It’s not quite a plane and actually is more of a helicopter on steroids than a plane and impresses just as much as the aforementioned vehicles adopted by Batman. We still have appearances from the Tumbler and Batpod within this film but the centerpiece is surely the aerial acrobatics showcased when piloting The Bat.


I’d like to take a moment to tip my hat to the comic references throughout the film. Christopher Nolan maintained his inspiration for characters from the Frank Miller series Year One and borrows a lot of the characterization for his Selina Kyle from Frank Miller’s. Our Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises isn’t so much a prostitute as she is a thief but she does maintain a relationship from a young woman named Holly Robinson, played by Juno Temple, and Selina also has an unconventional attraction to the Dark Knight. The character of Bane maintains his origin of being a byproduct of a South American prison and is as ferocious and threatening as in the comics. This is a bit of a spoiler but there is no continuation of the Carmine Falcone family or references to that aspect of Year One. No Holiday Killer, No Calendar Man, nothing of the sort. I theorized that we would see more of Falcone but he’s not in the film. The cherry picking of ideas expands further than this and each one is an appreciable easter egg for both fans of the series and books.



The story within the Dark Knight Rises attempts to give resolution to the questions raised in the two prior films, and this is a film with a lot of finality and closure when the end credits appear.The Dark Knight Rises  attempts to exploit as much as possible with the given 2 hour and 45 minute running time. The film pivots a lot of the story around the death of Harvey Dent and the effects of the closing moments of The Dark Knight with all characters involved, namely Commissioner Gordon and Batman. A lot of good has come when they used Harvey’s death to create a martyr but there are also unforeseen developments and issues stemmping from that action that have haunted both characters for quite a long time. It’s an intriguing story and my only real complaint is that occasionally there are some moments of poor, and borderline cheesy, dialogue that add minor chinks and scuff to the bat armor.


The Dark Knight Rises offers a lot to absorb with a film of such grand scale that’s attempting to conclude an overarching story developed over the last two films, and it’s reasonable if you find that it’s actually a bit too much with some parts. The film begs a re-watching or research to fully comprehend all of the underlying story. There are facets introduced at such a rapid pace and then quickly interwoven into the story that the audience would not be at fault for missing how it was even introduced. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m still not clear as to the specific cause of Bruce Wayne’s limp in the early parts of the film and it’s a major character development yet somehow escaped my eagle eyes. It’s not a deal breaker for the film as you can manage to remain immersed as the story progresses with or without your comprehension. In addition to that aspect I also felt a little disappointed that Batman was a bit “dumbed down” for the conclusion. Bruce Wayne does occasionally showcase his intelligence and deduction skills within the film but he’s not as much the “Master detective” as he is the “brave hero”. He doesn’t track down leads, or really shakedown any criminals to gather intel, and occasionally makes some painfully obvious mistakes that are unexpected for someone referred to as “The worlds greatest detective”. The film manages to work regardless of how much planning and preparation Batman does, or doesn’t do, but it is noticeable that Batman isn’t so much relying on his noggin to save Gotham in this film.


This is a different Christopher Nolan film. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t a film about a specific idea or concept that’s manipulated and repurposed into a film. This is a Christopher Nolan film in which he’s approaching the idea of closing a trilogy without restraint. Nolan aim’s to deliver his biggest and most ambitious batman film yet and shows us that he’s quite capable of creating an incredibly entertaining film that’s more traditional in the “superhero” genre. Expectations may mire some outlook on the film for folks but it’d be a crime not to acknowledge the incredible quality found in almost every frame and scene throughout the film. Fans of the comics and series alike can find a lot to like about this film. Newcomers who haven’t seen the 2 films prior may struggle with understanding the anticipation and hype surrounding the film but will likely have a good time while watching this movie. The film is actually quite intense and packs a lot of action into the package considering the amount story that’s also prevalent. It’s well paced and quite exhilarating contributing to the accessibility of the film and when it’s all said and done the movie will probably beg for your discussion, which at the end of the day is a testament to the film.


I give the Dark Knight Rises a 9 out of 10


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