The Dark Knight Rises (7/20/12) [Spoiler-free]

Movie One Hundred Seventy Two

The Dark Knight Rises concludes Christopher Nolan’s spectacular Batman trilogy with Bruce Wayne donning the suit of Gotham’s hero for perhaps the final time.

Picking up eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises has Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living in seclusion, except for Alfred (Michael Caine) of course, after he uses Batman as a martyr and sets Harvey Dent up as Gotham’s real hero. During a party at Wayne Manor, Bruce finds a young woman stealing his mother’s necklace and taking his fingerprints. Bruce soon finds out this woman is Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and she is selling Wayne’s fingerprints for a plot by Bane (Tom Hardy) to bring down Bruce Wayne and also Gotham city itself. With the assistance of old friend Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), “hotheaded” rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and board member Miranda (Marion Cotillard), Bruce Wayne must come out of the shadows to become Batman and save Gotham before Bane destroys everything.

There are no doubt going to be people that walk away from The Dark Knight Rises disappointed, it’s inevitable. And yes, there are some disappointing things about the film, but nitpicking aside, it shows some of the strongest filmmaking of the trilogy and I would say it actually exceeded my expectations by a fair margin. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have pulled out all the stops for The Dark Knight Rises and I will say that the action grabs you by the throat early on and doesn’t even let up, though the film throws a lot at you to begin with so that helps keep you on your toes.

While I did not view this film on an IMAX screen (I will in a few weeks, though) there is obvious care taken to filming and I could safely guess which portions of the film were shot for IMAX. The sets are somehow even grander than The Dark Knight and Gotham feels larger too. Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were filmed here in Chicago and The Dark Knight Rises was filmed elsewhere (Philadelphia, I believe Pittsburgh) so that may play a part in this. Most surprising for me was the high quality acting, Michael Caine especially. It would be forgivable for a comic book film to have the actors mostly phone it in, but the actors all truly deliver here. The only exception would possibly be Tom Hardy as Bane…

Which leads me to my few nitpicking gripes about the The Dark Knight Rises. Bane is my biggest peeve since he sounds like a cross between Hardy’s earlier role in Bronson and Sean Connery doing a Peter Sellers impersonation. Obviously test audiences had a hell of a time understanding Bane when he talked, so they made his voice this way on purpose and it sits high in the mix too. At least he is clearly audible. My other main gripe is that the CGI is a bit uneven. Nolan is fantastic at using real sets for his stunts so maybe the CGI portions just stood out because of this, but I thought some of the bits looked a bit flat.

I was not expecting to be surprised by The Dark Knight Rises and yet I was. Several times, in fact. While Christopher Nolan may not be returning to Batman films anytime, I hope he and and his brother are at the very least creative consultants on the next set of Batman films. In case you are wondering if I prefer this film over The Dark Knight, it’s a close call. In fact, I would rate all three of Nolan’s Batman films 5/5 so technically I can be noncommittal and say they all tie! I will be seeing The Dark Knight Rises again very soon and I honestly cannot wait. This is a real contender for best film of 2012.

I give it 5 Pee-Wee Herman narrates the trailers out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


42 responses to “The Dark Knight Rises (7/20/12) [Spoiler-free]

  1. Nice review, thanks for not spoiling it. I plan to be seeing it today. I think this one will have the most debate and struggles with the audience because of what The Dark Knight became. I think it will take a few viewings just to get the feel of it.

  2. Great review. Unfortunately I won’t be seeing the film until I come home next week. I’ve been reading positive reviews all around and now I’m really excited to see it.

  3. I really dug this film. While I don’t think it is as good as The Dark Knight, I think it is as good as Batman Begins. Keep watch on my blog, I’m finishing up the review of The Dark Knight now, then move on to the review of TDKR.

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  5. That’s too bad about Hardy. I really like him (even in the otherwise mediocre Bronson). I’m seeing it tonight in IMAX so you’ll be able to see my thoughts tomorrow! Great review considering you had to avoid spoilers!

  6. I enjoyed it, too.

    Thank you for mentioning Michael Cane. That man deserves an Oscar nomination for this movie come Oscars time. The one scene where he explains what he hopes to see in a restaurant during his vacation moved me like no other scene in the movie.

    On point once again about Bane. I //wanted// him to be interesting but he was just… marginally. At least the hand-to-hand combat scenes between he and Batman were interesting. Bane was scary… but appealing. It’s a weird feeling!

    I liked how the Nolan bros. interpreted Hathaway and Gordon-Levitt’s characters. But wasn’t the rookie cop a biiiiit too… I don’t know, goody-goody/almost one-dimensional? …Maybe I’m being a bit hypercritical.

    • I sincerely hope Caine gets at least a nomination, I was really moved too. Bane was good but not necessarily as good as the film needed him to be. Not to get too nerdy here, but I thought their version of Bane had some characteristics of Hush and Black Mask and maybe they were tooling around with those villains before settling on one a little more well-known?

  7. Good review Andy. I loved just about every aspect of this flick and even though I do admit that the story does have its problems here and there, I couldn’t help but be hooked right from the start.

    • Thanks! Same here, I’m looking forward to seeing it again so I can enjoy the parts I liked and better understand some of the finer points. Who knows, I may have a totally different opinion a second time around.

    • I had just been reading or watching something about how much Bale hated being in the Batman costume and that he said he would never put on the suit again after this film and I kind of think that shows in his performance. I can see how you would be disappointed I thought it was a good ride, though.

  8. “Sean Connery doing a Peter Sellers impersonation”. Hahaha, that’s interesting!

    Great review, man! I’m pretty much dying to see this one. I have to wait til Friday. It’s going to be one long week.

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  10. Maybe it’s different in IMAX, but Bane was still hard to understand in parts. Yet I found him to be very threatening and a scary villain. I really enjoyed the film and the issues that I had with it were pretty minor. One of the greatest trilogies of all time. Nice review!

    • I liked Bane but when the obvious comparisons to the Joker roll in, he doesn’t fit the shoes left for him. I still quite liked the character and I definitely agree that it’s one of the best trilogies ever.

      • The Joker is just one of the villains. I thought Bane compared very favorably with than Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Carmine Falcone, The Scarecrow, and Selina Kyle. Only Two-Face might, just MIGHT, have him beat.

  11. Great review Andy. I can understand why you like it. It’s a fair review by saying “And yes, there are some disappointing things about the film” … I guess what you feel toward TDKR is same with me toward Prometheus.

    I was hoping I can like it as much as everyone else because I love Nolan…but, somehow I can’t get over the disappointing part.

    About Bane, I quite like him, too bad his relationship with Marion’s character is not well built.

    • After Bane and Marion’s relationship was exposed I really wanted more than a 30 second flashback too. It’s hard to get over disappointments like that in movies that you really expect to be flawless but there was more to like in TDKR (and Prometheus) for me. Thanks!

      • Actually…I never expect anything from TDKR, it’s not one of my most anticipated movies. I watched it with open mind, no expectation at all (my only expectation is more screening time for Cillian 😉 )

        I was hoping to see some love (not man-woman love, maybe father-daughet love or something like that) between the two, I see bane has love toward her but she seems to think of bane as slave rather than her savior.

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