Unreal Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Expectations are perhaps any big movie’s greatest foe. When the acting, filming and editing are all over, the greatest challenge comes in the form of pleasing legions of diehard fans waiting for any reason to be massively angry or disappointed about a much hyped or anticipated feature.

2008’s The Dark Knight has such expectations. Director Christopher Nolan handled the first film extremely well, and made it a suitably dark reimagining of a superhero who had in recent years, gone goofy. When Heath Ledger’s unnerving performance as the Joker was revealed in trailers, the film looked like it was shaping up to be incredible. When it was coupled with his untimely death, it felt like it would be the stuff of legend.

And it was. Despite all the hype, The Dark Knight not only lived up to expectations, but blew them away, cementing its status as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, superhero films of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises is its sequel, and as you can tell, it’s a hard act to follow. Add on the age-old curse that third films in trilogies are usually something of a letdown, and the fact that across all media, it’s notoriously difficult to put a “hard ending” on a much beloved franchise that satisfies everyone.

Simply put, Nolan has done it again. The Dark Knight Rises is a nearly perfect concluding chapter to Batman’s saga. It shatters the third film curse, and now has ensured the Batman trilogy as one of cinema’s greatest, right alongside Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

Things could have easily gone awry. As soon as characters and cast started to be announced, there was immediate skepticism. The Riddler seemed like the logical choice for Nolan’s next villain, as the man is known for the type of complex and layered plots seemingly suited to Edward Nigma. The choice of Bane seemed like a rather blunt instrument , and as the character is fed “venom” to enlarge him to proportions even grotesque and unreal for comic books, it seemed like he wouldn’t fit into Nolan’s universe smoothly at all.

But Nolan does bring a realism to Bane, and in fact, the entire film feels like the most realistic chapter of the entire saga. There are no more goofy mafia bosses talking like two-bit stereotypes. There’s no more overly schmoozing Bruce Wayne that acts like a younger, drunker Hugh Hefner at all times.

Rather, nearly every character onscreen feels real, and this is a much darker chapter than even the last one featuring a psychotic clown. New characters like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake feel grounded and authentic. Wayne himself is now older, wiser and more bitter than ever. The threats feel very real, and not cartoonish in the least, which is a problem the previous films suffered from at times, and an issue that can plague the superhero genre in general.

Normally in a review, there’d be a some plot summary, but as patrons have been (rightly) avoiding plot details like the plague, much won’t be said here. In brief, eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent is still a hero, Batman a villain and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) now a reclusive shut-in. He’s pulled back into the limelight after a theft at Wayne Manor by a mysterious woman, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), and must deal with a looming threat to Gotham in the form of the mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) whose motivations and background are unclear.

It should be said that the film ends up being much, much larger in scale than most were likely expecting. The Joker may have enjoyed robbing banks and kidnapping loved ones, but here, all of Gotham is at stake. The saga starts as an intriguing mystery, but snowballs into something massive by the end, and you won’t believe the degree to which things escalate.

The main test of whether or not this third film would work was almost entirely reliant on if Bane could be made into an effective villain. After all, Ledger’s Joker was the vast majority of the reason that The Dark Knight was so beloved. Here, Bane could make or break this third film, and fortunately he does the former.

Mercifully, Nolan finally agreed to let his muffled voice be cleaned-up into something audible in post-production. The enhancing effect is noticeable, and it sounds like Bane’s voice is coming from inside your own head rather than being projected out of his mask, but it’s definitely worth being able to understand him, as the entire movie very well could have been ruined otherwise with many of his best lines incomprehensible.

Tom Hardy does a fantastic job considering he only has his eyes to work with, and Bane channels the same sort of pure evil that made the Joker such an effective foil. The way he’s presented by the filmmakers does much to bolster his character and make him a formidable menace. An intense workout regimen and camera tricks make the 5’11 Hardy look absolutely massive, and the way his punches and kicks reverberate when they hit make it seem like his victims are getting shot by a cannon. His initial bout with Batman is one of the best knock-down, drag-out brawls in movie history, in the superhero genre or otherwise.

The film sports a secondary villain (and sometimes secondary hero) in the form of Catwoman who could have been employed a bit more, but she doesn’t feel like an afterthought either. Nolan has drawn out what is probably one of Hathaway’s best performances to date, and her costume is the most cleverly designed of any onscreen,. Her goggles give the proper “cat” effect without forcing her into something as Halloween costume-ish as Michelle Pfieffer or Halle Berry wore. No whip, however.

The plot, despite being Riddler-free, is sufficiently complex as anything in Nolan’s other movies, Inception and The Prestige included. Even if Bane is a brute force villain, his story is incredibly interesting, and his plans for Gotham and Batman are astonishing to watch. While The Dark Knight unfolded in a rather chaotic way due to the nature of the Joker’s tactics, Bane’s plan is far more smoothly executed, and it makes the film flow arguably better than its predecessors. The Joker may indeed be the more memorable villain, but the realistic tone, powerful themes and smartly structured plot allow for the argument to be made that The Dark Knight Rises is actually the better film. Though that’s something that’s going to be debated as much as A New Hope vs. Empire, I suspect. Strangely, I think this is the first trilogy in history where nearly everyone would agree the second two films outdid the first.

It’s not without a glitch or two. The film does suffer from some editing issues, such as when Batman saves two people in different parts of the city nearly simultaneously, or when he asks the location of a woman he literally just talked to in a scene minutes earlier. It seems like too well-polished of a film to leave scenes out of order in the final cut, and after watching the film twice in three days, these moments stood out like a sore thumb.

It also can be a bit predictable, and though a few twists and turns are presented throughout, if you were paying attention during earlier scenes, or were simply good at guessing before the film came out, you might not be as surprised as the film wants you to be when certain things are revealed.

But the fact is, even if you can picture where things are headed, that doesn’t make the ending any less satisfying. The film ends the trilogy in a way that’s both concrete, as Nolan and Bale have said they’re done with the universe, and will please fans of the comic who didn’t want anything too sacrilegious t o be done with the characters.

It’s the shortest (nearly) three hour movie you’ll ever seen, and you won’t want it to end. With how good Nolan makes these films, you want them to keep being made until every last villain shows up and has a masterful story woven around them. But it’s time to move on, and it’s a rare treat to witness a film series with as satisfying a conclusion as The Dark Knight Rises.

5 out of 5 stars

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  1. Semi spoiler reviel (don’t read bellow if you haven’t seen)



    Dick Grayson

    Jason Tod

    Tim Drake

    Nope… no robin in their name. hmmmm

    only prob

  2. Without ruining it I loved the movie but hated the ending. I had a few other nitpicks here and there but this is def the best part three of any comic book movie but still the worst of the trilogy. Only because the other two set the bar so high.


  3. To each their own, but I thought it was the worst of the three. They should have called the movie Bane because you hardly see Batman at all. I thought the directing was flawless, however the story suffered from way to many characters and not establishing motives for how most of them are behaving. To many shoe horns. I won’t go into detail about them cause I don’t want to spoil anything, but I left the theatre a little dissapointed.

  4. I have to disagree.

    Catwoman wasn’t fleshed out as a character, she was a moving plot point. The fact that every character easily figures out who Batman/Bruce Wayne is, without any real effort was a letdown.

    Batman’s fight with Bane was the worst. For a hero who is touted for his ability to prepare well (he didn’t) train hard (he didn’t) and outthink his opponents (he didn’t) it was a travesty. The first fight could be forgiven, he was taken by suprise, but the 2nd time? His entire strategy was “I’ll hit harder”. No thought out plans, no elaborate toys, just go toe to toe with the guy who already beat him and swing harder.


    “But Nolan does bring a realism to Bane, and in fact, the entire film feels like the most realistic chapter of the entire saga.”

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    It was still high calibre, but no where near the Dark Knights standard.

    Those police officers looked pretty damn fresh after 3 months underground as well. Also there was a real lack of Batman being Batman, most of his scenes were him flying his ridiculous designed helicopter or his ridiculously designed bike or being beaten the shit out of with no pain dealt back the other way at any point. What makes Batman so cool is the fact even though he may loose a fight here and there and he may be ruined at one point, he nearly always come back and compeltely destroys his competition.

    Oh and the end? how did he survive and why wasn’t gotham wiped by tsunami!?

  6. I echo those sentiments above. Personally, I would put it on about the same level as TDK. Both suffer from an average 3rd act finishing a brilliant 2/3rds of a film. That said, it’s still really, really good, and everything you would expect it to be. I think the jump from BB to TDK is what made that movie special, and this one keeps that intensity up.

    I do agree that Bane’s plan is legitimately terrifying, and most of that was handled really well. Hathaway was my favorite part, though. Her performace is superb, and I could have used a whole movie with her.



    I absolutly loved it. The whole movie was pretty intense and Bane was a very good villain. My only problem is how he ‘dies’. A shot of the bat-bike and then Catwoman does a very lame joke or something about saving Batman? No. Just no. Bane deserved a better ending than that, considering we saw him almost half the time throughout the movie. Yes he is ‘just an henchman’ but come on.

    Also, the timer on the bomb was pretty stupid. 6 miles in 1 minute = 580 km/h. Nolan could have just added 2 minutes on the timer to make it more believable and it wouldn’t be less dramatic.

    Other than these little problems, I was very satisfied by TDKR and I think that it’s a great ending to an awesome trilogy.

  8. I’d probably give it a 7.5 out of 10.

    Here’s why:

    For one, why is it that Batman and Bruce Wayne both “disappear” for the better part of 8 years and no one puts 2 and 2 together?

    Why did we not get a better explanation as to why Bane is using some sort of breathing aparatus? Why is Bane so abnormally strong that he can plow through concrete with his bare fists? (this is all stuff that was easily explained in the comics but somehow left out for this movie) We just never get a good sense of Bane’s character till the very end of the film – and honestly it would’ve helped for us to relate more to him … at least with the Joker and Ras Al Gul we knew what they wanted to do and who they were and what they were about. Bane was straight up killing people left and right and wasn’t really brought to our attention “why” till too late in the film.

    The film could’ve used more Anne Hathaway because for me she was the shining light of this movie both acting and character. I LOVED how they implied the “catwoman” with the googles/glass things but never really said so. Yet, that is also a complain because she kept taking them on and off without ever really knowing why she needed these “special” googles/glass things to begin with.

    Totally called Talia Al Gul because that character seemed so forced and un-necessary at all towards the beginning of the film. We just get this brand new character that has dumped a ton of money into Fusion and never really told why? Nor do we care … then BAM … she’s the bad guy all along – yeah no-brainer there. Then she goes through EVERYTHING only to die in a car crash after being shot at and missles fired upon her etc etc. … yet the Joker can survive a whole semi flipping over and Gordon can survive the exact same car crash without being strapped to anything at all?

    Not enough Batman … too much Wayne. I know it’s supposed to be a character building thing for us to see Bruce Wayne figure out what he is to do with his life. But by the 3rd movie I would think it’d be obvious – I felt that we heard this time and time again from Alfred and from the theme of all 3 movies. I wanted him to be stronger and to be the BATMAN throughout the film. But no – I think we honestly get about a solid hour out of an almost 3 hour movie of Batman making an appearance. Side note – they really get Bruce Wayne from all the way out in Bufutakistan back to Gotham without any explanation to how he got there. I mean at this point in the movie he is completely broke how exactly can he afford to get from point A to point B through random strangers?

    Another thing I didn’t like dealing with Batman was the “Bat” as Fox called it. It honestly looked like they took the Batmobile and gave it propellers instead of wheels and it somehow was able to fly. It also apparently can fly without wings … Not only did it fly, but it can fly and maneuver better than any jet fighter I’ve ever seen – which lacks any sense at all. That and Bruce really learns how to use it without any training quite quickly if ya ask me…(this goes back to my complaint about how Nolan sets up a “real world” for Batman to live in with a city that looks like New York/Chicago and then even goes outside of Gotham bringing in the President of the USA and the army etc … but he can’t seem to keep the “real world” idea grounded because he introduces things that are just not possible like the “Bat” … if you want to do a comic movie – put more focus into making it a COMIC MOVIE and not a “real world” translation …)

    Robin … really? That was so ridiculous, I would’ve thought that Nolan would have more gumption than to give the character a real name of ROBIN … why he strayed away from just calling him Dick Grayson is beyond me. For shame Christopher, for shame.

    Also back to Bane for a moment – he is this huge force to be reckoned with throughout the movie, but then Selina blows him away with the batcycle? Then we don’t really get to see if he is dead or not or even go back to one last glimpse as he loses his fleeting air … I mean come on – finish the character Christopher … you gave Talia an exit but the main villain you just shoot away? Tsk tsk …

    I have many other complaints but they are all minor compared to what I’ve brought to your attention now. I did enjoy the movie, but am I gushing over it like so many others have done? No. Do I think it was better than the other 2? No … but there are glimpses here and there that shine so bright that make the movie worthwhile. Now after watching all 3 movies back to back to back, I have to say I’d give Batman Begins a 8.5, The Dark Knight an 8.5, and The Dark Knight Rises 7.5.

    Oh, and honestly, I’d say that Spiderman was by far the more entertaining movie over TDKR. 😉

  9. I thought that this movie was way too rushed, where valuable points between characters came and went in an instant and left me feeling disappointed that the sentiment between characters was very insignificant. With a 3 hour run time, i know there were a lot of plot constraints that could have been healed if the movie was only a little longer. Something that worried me from when the first trailer hit was the clarity of audio, and i was correct. At so many points in the movie i was left asking “what did s/he just say?” And they were everywhere!

    SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER: at the end when the bomb goes off, and Fox is talking with the engineers, I didn’t catch the part where they say the auto pilot was fixed, i could only really understand bruce wayne did something to fix the bat. And just FYI, I have amazing hearing, so it wasnt me, my family and friends also had this problem.

    back to analysis: I think the film really tried its best to keep up with tdk but really fell hard trying to cram in Levitt’s character. Miranda tate was an easy thing to see as soon as ghul was re-introduced, well, for comic book readers and anyone who played arkham city, but i can see how it’d try to cap off the movie like in tdk it really moved the plot forward.

    i give the movie a 6/10

  10. Some background here: I’m a complete Batman on film nerd. I remember vividly watching batman 89 at age 8, not because my parents thought it was a suitable movie for a kid my age, they simply couldn’t ignore my incessant pleas and curiosity. I remember loving Batman and finding the joker scene long and tedious even when I was still a kid.

    By the time Batman Forever was out of the movieplex, I was tired of the way the series was going nowhere.

    The Dark Knight Rises is to me, the best Batman film to date. Some people complain that there’s not much actual Batman scenes in the film but that they fail to understand is that sticking Bruce Wayne in the Batman costume has got to a cherished moment. This movie, out of the three movies, had the best Batman scenes. The core of the movie is Bruce Wayne.

    Bane knows Bruce Wayne is Batman before the story even begins. His plans is to take out the Batman while he’s at his weakest. First, physically Bruce Wayne isn’t in good shape even if he’s kept a pretty decent muscle mass. To me this implies that BW kept somewhat ready in case the Batman was to be needed. Psychologically is where Wayne is most damaged and that’s where Bane fails. He managed to bankrupt Bruce Wayne, fight him as his physical worst but failed to break him. Even after the events of Batman Begins, the league of shadows underestimated BW’s spirit.

    And it’s that spirit that drives this movie. Since my favorite thing about Batman is the main character and his complexities, I feel this movie is the best Batman film yet. I’ve seen it twice, and liked it even better the second time… no more anxious that Christopher Nolan would kill Batman.

    The ending was pitch perfect.. The look on Bale’s face the last time we see him as Batman is genuine. The fact that it’s a neutron bomb a nice little detail to enhance realism. How did Bruce Wayne get away? That’s the prestige!

    ***** / ***** (same grade as TDK to me, BB was 4.5/5)

  11. -SPOILER-

    Okay, I’ve seen two people ask how he survived the blast, but the movie answered the question before I got to finish the thought.

    It was mentioned three times that the Bat didn’t have autopilot because of a glitch. After the explosion, Fox is having someone take a look at the glitch and the guy tells him it was fixed 6 months earlier. Wayne just set the autopilot and jumped out at some point before the explosion. Why he felt the need to fake his death, I don’t know for certain. But I feel like with Bane spouting off about giving the city back to Gotham for the last half of the movie, Wayne decided to do just that. By faking his death, he had a reason not to be in Gotham and to avoid the temptation of Batman.

    The fight scenes did bother me. As awesome as they were, I didn’t understand why he didn’t use his gadgets on Bane. He had no problem doing so with the Joker and Scarecrow.

    Other than that, and the Dick Grayson thing, I loved this movie. I do feel like this was a great ending to a trilogy.

  12. @darla

    He did use his gadgets on bane, but bane just laughed them off. He was trained in the same style using distractions and theatrics, so he’s basically immune, the bats tries to turn off the lights and use the shadows and bane said he was born in darkness.

    As for me, saw it 3 times. Loved it. I do wish they had changed one thing though. Instead of batman being retired at the beginning, he should’ve been active the whole time, and completely worn out. Then, bane should’ve broken him publicly.

    The way the movie stands Gotham was used to a world without batman, so breaking him made no real difference to them. And even if they weren’t used to a world without batman, it woldnt matter because bats was broken in private and no one aside from Selina and Blake know about it. It seems in the movie batman was just broken so he wouldn’t bother bane, vs the comic in which bane breaks him to fully allow Gotham to fall into ruin.

  13. @Arlo Ahh I misheard that for the autopilot was broken. Fair enough then. But still, it’s just a film. And superhero films were never meant to be realistic I suppose.

    That’s still my fundamental problem with the film though. Terrible, terrible sound design.

  14. Reply to Lucas:

    “Then we don’t really get to see if he is dead or not or even go back to one last glimpse as he loses his fleeting air … I mean come on – finish the character Christopher …”

    I had no big problem with his ending, BECAUSE we were introduced to a character that was clearly the easy way out. Seriously, Miranda had no effect to the film except take away everything Bane stood for as a villain. Bane could’ve been Batman’s fellow graduate from LoS who actually was ready to accomplish the mission. No problem with that and could stand on his own with a strong background. Just like Harvey was Joker’s ace in the hole, have Bane become Ras’ ace. Miranda’s character made it seem all to cheesy and the easy way out. Remove Miranda from that film, suddenly it becomes way better!

    ” they really get Bruce Wayne from all the way out in Bufutakistan back to Gotham without any explanation to how he got there. I mean at this point in the movie he is completely broke how exactly can he afford to get from point A to point B through random strangers?”

    Granted this film was as close to reality as possible, Americans actually get free travel back home if they were stranded abroad. Think about it, do you think Bruce was actually all out broke? Do you think a billionaire ever goes out full broke? They go bankrupt but their mansions are worth enough to guarantee a small loan. Screw it, Bruce had friends home who would be willing to pay for his plane back home (Alfred anyone?). I just don’t think this is much of a plot hole than some big ones. Unless you wanted to see extra 30 minutes of Bruce negotiating his way back home, this was truly nothing.

    Wanna know the big issues (ignoring stupid Miranda of course)? Bruce going out of character. Bruce never shown how he dealt with his ‘pain’ of actually losing Rachel to Dent. This was merely glanced upon as if it was never a big deal. This film’s theme was PAIN after all. Hell, make us feel as much pain as possible. I enjoyed the chaos in the 2nd film as the theme suggested, then make me feel the pain too! We have Gordon who was about to resign. Why the hell would he give a damn again? As a matter of fact, Gordon was the most interesting character who was left unexplored. This guy dealt with corrupt cops, who he defended with all his might, and eventually ended up betrayed. His cops pretty much killed Dent and Rachel. Remember how he was defending them from Dent? Well, how would you deal with them proving you wrong? Resign, obviously. Seriously, Batman had a lot to explain to Gordon than anyone.

    Let’s move to Selina. She was an interesting character but Bruce ending up with her? C’mon! Where’s our dark cynical film gone to? She was supposed to betray Bruce. She let him for dead after all. Sure, she redeemed herself but Bruce should’ve never ended up with her. She needed to be a strong character who worked on her own rules and somewhat offered us a female version of Batman (albeit a flawed one). Her giving up her ways to end up with Bruce was a cheesy move. Not unforgivable however. It just put a happy ending to a trilogy that dealt with issues pretty much the same way life dealt with them. Shitty, sketchy people will most likely always be shitty sketchy people. They don’t change overnight.

    Also, I wouldn’t mind a bit more on Alfred. That guy carried the film’s theme single handedly. Pain? That guy gave us pain like no other. Bent us, slapped our mouths shut with rags of regret then shoved pain so far up our bodies that our tears made Bat symbols. Every scene, he was on the edge of breaking down. A bit more of him could’ve driven the point home (a painful one, indeed).

  15. Totally Agree!!!
    Best Superhero Comicbook Movie of All Time!

    TDK is good because of the villain and the plot. But TDKR is the better movie. Christopher Nolan picked all the best things from Batman Begins and combined them with all the great stuffs from The Dark Knight and applied them to The Dark Knight Rises. That’s how exceptional this movie is. We got the brilliant story development and magnificent visuals from the first movie, and the mind-blowing twists and turns, the energy-draining thrill and suspense from the sequel. It’s that too much and I do not mind at all.

    It is like Coppola’s The Godfather, almost every scene is memorable!

  16. Spoilers:

    I was completely entertained by the movie. But overall, I’m disappointed with the storyline and the devices used to tell it.


    Bruce Wayne has to learn how to become batman. He struggles, but makes it.

    Gotham is under attack by a madman with a nuke/biological weapon.

    Prisoners are broken out of jail. REALLY? Twice in 3 Movies???

    Scarecrow/Bane is the bad guy…NO, wait. They are just pawns in Raz Al Ghul’s life long dream to destroy Gotham.

    There are a few more, but you get the point.

    There are just way too many similarities between the two stories.
    I enjoyed the movie..it was fun and exciting. Very predictable, but fun.

    I agree with a lot of what Paul said. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a lazy attempt to close off the series.

    Lucas called it right, though.

  17. This movie would’ve been flawless if they figured out a way to not have Miranda Tate in it. Just have Bane by himself do everything. Make him mastermind.

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