Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

by | Jul 24th, 2012 | 11:00AM | Filed under: Movies, Theatrical Reviews

One of the most anticipated films of the year lives up to the hype and provides a surprisingly emotional ending to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Who’s in it?
Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Officer Blake), Michael Caine (Alfred), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox)

What’s it about? Eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight, and Gotham City appears to be thriving. But the good times are all based on a lie. Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes and he—and Bruce Wayne—have been out of the public eye ever since. But after cat-burglar Selina Kyle piques Wayne’s curiosity and the beast-of-a-terrorist Bane unveils his plan to destroy Gotham, Wayne thinks he might be ready to suit up once more. Encouraged by his old friend Commissioner Gordon and fiery police officer John Blake, Wayne shakes off the warnings and ignores the pleas of his father-figure Alfred and prepares to take on Bane and save Gotham.

What’s good? Almost everything. I assure you that I was extremely cynical going into this film, figuring there was no possible way The Dark Knight Rises could live up to the hype that’s been building for over a year. While I thought Nolan’s previous two Batman installments were excellent and he’s one of my favorite directors overall, I by no means consider myself a fangirl of this franchise. But from literally the first moments of the first scene of TDKR, I was hooked, and felt like I was holding my breath for the remaining 164 minutes. Whether it was a quiet, tear-jerking scene between Alfred and Bruce, a sequence of Bane and his thugs wreaking havoc, or a thrilling chase involving one of Batman’s new (astonishingly cool) vehicular toys, I was captivated.

I was also shocked by how much I loved Anne Hathaway in this film, because as longtime Redblog readers know, she usually bugs the bejeezus out of me. But her Selina Kyle was sarcastic, witty, impressively agile and believable. Less surprising was yet another compelling performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the earnest, impatient Officer Blake, whose character unknowingly personified the “anyone can be a hero” theme. When I step back and think about all of the other superhero franchises, I have to believe that the reason Nolan’s trilogy is ultimately superior is because you care about and feel like you personally know ALL of “the good guys.” Gordon, Alfred, Lucius, and now Blake—I was just as concerned, if not more concerned, about the fate of these characters as I was about how the story would end for Bruce and his alter-ego.

One more thing I have to call attention to is the film’s use of sound. Alfred’s desperate pleas echoing down an empty hall. A lone, angelic voice singing the national anthem at a packed stadium. Abrupt flips between eerie silence as Gotham comes under attack and bursts of police-radio transmissions. These moments gave me chills.

What could’ve been better? While you have to hand it to Hardy for physically transforming himself into a man-gorilla for his role, Bane still fell far short of the brilliance of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Bane was just kind of like this pissed-off pro-wrestler-looking dude strutting around in a Hannibal Lecter-like mask and wool-lined trench, causing destruction for no apparent reason. This led the direct face-offs between Bane and Batman to be not s0 exciting (and it didn’t help that those face-offs were mostly hand-to-hand combat sequences where it looked awkward for these two big guys to be dancing around each other).

The bottom line: While the final chapter of Nolan’s Batman films didn’t see its superhero battling an especially memorable villain, absolutely everything else about the movie outweighed that small disappointment. With standout performances from the entire cast, haunting cinematography and use of sound and a nail-biter of a final sequence, The Dark Knight Rises closes out the trilogy on a high, emotionally satisfying note.


Redbox movies featuring the team from The Dark Knight Rises:

7 Responses to “Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises”

  1. Stephanie P.
    Posted on July 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    It was a great movie – I guessed the ending!

  2. Guy Manningham
    Posted on July 31, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I thought it was good, although the first two with Christian Bale were better in my opinion. Being from Pittsburgh, it was cool seeing the bits of the city and stadium throughout the movie, even though it was a pain in the butt driving through Pittsburgh while they were filming.

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Joe Louison
    Posted on July 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I believe this was the better of the three, although its hard to beat The Dark Knight. There is more turmoil, pain and I feel it was even darker that TDK. Catwoman, Alfred (ESP) and Talia make the movie. Hardy did very well showing emotion with he body language and facial expressions. The turmoil was no longer about his love for a girl, but instead his city. I felt this made it the best of the trilogy. I did go back and watch the other two and see the third again. TDKR is by far the best written, best story and best acted of the three.

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Posted on August 12, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    By far the Best Batman movie in the series. And Christian Bales is BY far the Best Batman Ever.

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Posted on August 14, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I think what the review fails to touch on is the fact that Bane is not the main villain. He is essentially Talia’s bodyguard. He is simply doing her bidding. If you understand that he is not the true mastermind you can appreciate his brutish character much more. He is SUPPOSED to be a brawler. There were plenty of reasons for him to be causing destruction. You just had to pay attention to the film.

  3. Suzanne Morovic
    Posted on August 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Possibly going to see it soon while it is still in the theaters. Love Christian Bale and Nolan’s work, but can’t help but feel a little hesitant after the tragedy that occurred in Colorado. It is a dark film, like the previous ones, with a lot of violence, and I just feel safer possibly watching it in my own home.

  4. ne ne
    Posted on October 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    AWESOME MOVIE need I say I more!