THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Review

In 2005, director Christopher Nolan redefined the superhero origin film by grounding the first chapter of Bruce Wayne’s story in heightened realism on practical, emotional, and philosophical levels in “Batman Begins.” It was only three years later that Nolan would completely transcend the genre all other masked heroes called home with “The Dark Knight.” It was a modern crime drama that forced Batman to wonder what his intended symbol of hope actually inspired, all while battling an anarchist who wore clown makeup and had a knack for predicting mankind’s wavering relationship with morality. Now, Christopher Nolan and his award-winning collaborators have returned to deliver the inevitable conclusion to the story of Bruce Wayne and the city he protects. “The Dark Knight Rises” is an all-out war movie with not just lives, but souls and the very nature of heroism at stake. It is a masterful epic that proves the final hour of this trilogy is also its finest.

It has been eight long years since Batman took the blame for the death of Harvey Dent and all of the murders Gotham’s fallen district attorney committed at the end of the last film.  At large, Gotham has prospered, but the two men behind that noble lie, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman), have been crumbling under that burden. This is especially true of Bruce, who’s not dawned a cape or cowl since, and isolated himself within the confines of Wayne Manor. The death of Rachel Dawes, the love of his life, still weighs heavily on Bruce and he no longer seems to crave that “normal life” she represented.

Without question, this is Bale’s best performance in the series. His Batman is still as convincing as ever, but it is his work without the mask that drives the entire film. Subtlety and nuance are to be expected from Bale, but never quite like this. Heartbreak, anguish, anger, amusement, and hope can all be seen and felt even when Bruce Wayne, in or out of the mask, isn’t saying a word. The story challenges Batman like we’ve never seen before and it is Bale’s endearing, soulful effort that makes us as worried about his fate as his adoptive father, Alfred (Michael Caine).

What Caine shows is that Alfred’s paternal love for Bruce is rivaled only by the absolute shame he feels for failing to help the son of Thomas and Martha Wayne lead a happy, healthy life. By tolerating and assisting Bruce in his crusade, Alfred knows he’s been an enabler and when the former feels compelled to come out of retirement, a difficult choice has to be made. The raw, sincere emotion pouring out of Alfred in each of his scenes ought to garner Caine supporting actor nominations from any award-giving body.

This series’ two other father figures, Gordon and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), are much more in favor of Batman’s return. Gordon, who does not know the man behind the mask, is sickened by his allowance of his friend’s reputation to be destroyed. Oldman finds just the right pitch for Gordon as a man torn between idealistic sensibilities and a jaded sense of reality. Lucius Fox has taken a step back from his role as Batman’s conscience in “The Dark Knight,” opting to provide encouragement and new toys. Freeman’s still a delight, even if he does not have as much to do in this installment.

Despite the opinions of those closest to him, it is the newcomers to the trilogy who are most successful in getting Bruce back in the cape and cowl. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is an appropriately dressed cat burglar whom Bruce finds more amusing than dangerous, but she is actually both. Hathaway is smart, funny, and lethal as she builds a character who seems to play on whichever side best suits her.  Her wit every bit as sharp as the serrated heels on her boots, Hathaway’s Catwoman is the biggest source of fun in this intense film, yet she is still grounded by an emotional arc of her own.

The real threat to Gotham comes from Bane (Tom Hardy), a mercenary who might have a legend equaling that of The Batman. He is certainly every bit the fighter that The Dark Knight is, with disastrous consequences. Having most of his face covered by a mask proves little trouble for Hardy. The ferocity in his eyes is terrifying enough, to speak nothing of Bane’s actions. No, he does not have the charisma of The Joker, but he more than makes up for it by being a villain that is smart enough to get to Batman, and strong enough to do what needs to be done once he’s there. He’s not likeable because he’s not supposed to be.

Bane is the revolutionary general in this war film, recruiting new members of his army along the way, including Gotham’s worst felons. Physically, Hardy’s Bane looks like a beast, but his heart and mind are much scarier. He is a master strategist capable of inciting civil war to distract Gotham’s citizens from their real problem. Bane is the kind of terrorist that could exist in our world, but we hope like hell we’ll never see.

In one of the few things Batman has going for him in this conflict, a seemingly anonymous beat cop turns out to be an invaluable ally. Police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) replaces Harvey Dent as the new idealist in Gotham, but he holds up much better under tragic circumstances for reasons we learn fairly early in the picture. He’s considered a rookie by his peers, but his courage demonstrates that heroism comes from within, not a costume on the outside. Levitt’s performance is understated at times, but always assertive. His impact on the story is earned, making him a wonderful addition.

Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and Deputy Commissioner Foley (Matthew Modine) round out the new cast with their own great performances. Tate is the lovely temptation of normalcy for Bruce, and she might just be the one who can convince him to move on with his life. In many ways, Foley represents the people of Gotham with a character arc that one imagines was shared by much of Gotham’s citizenry. In each phase his character goes through, Modine delivers.

From the ashes left behind by the devastation of war, a powerful theme arises. Fascinating questions about what constitutes courage and what makes a hero are asked. The answers are empowering, providing a ray of hope to shine through the black clouds of smoke. It all builds to the finale, which is an emotional payoff to the events of the entire trilogy, inspiring tears for a variety of reasons, and a tremendous sense of pride in those who’ve long-held Batman as their hero. Undoubtedly, it is a definitive ending to the story, and a phenomenal one at that.

In order to lift Batman up higher than ever before, Christopher Nolan had to take The Dark Knight to his lowest point. The result is a brutal yanking of the heartstrings that generates a powerful wave of emotion that is difficult not to be overpowered by. It is worth enduring, though, as the investment pays high dividends by showing a beloved character at his very best, all while showing us yet again how he inspires the very best in others.

“The Dark Knight Legend” may have concluded within the world where this story takes place, but by telling a definitive tale of Bruce Wayne and The Batman he became, Nolan has ensured the legend of his trilogy will live on forever. “The Dark Knight Rises” is Batman better than we have ever seen him before, and perhaps better than we ever will see him again.  –Sean Gerber

 

  • http://Spill.com Ike

    DESHI (DESHI) BASARA! (BASARA!)
    DESHI (DESHI) BASARA! (BASARA!)
    DESHI (DESHI) BASARA! (BASARA!)
    DESHI DESHI BASARA! BASARA!
    DESHI DESHI BASARA! BASARA!
    DESHI DESHI BASARA! BASARA!
    DESHI DESHI BASARA! BASARA!
    2 more days!

  • J Rocka

    A legend where Batman only really operated for a little more than a year and then ducked out for almost a decade…not saying this film was bad, I enjoyed it, but I would not call it definitive by a long shot.

    Looking forward to the future.

  • TheEdwardian

    Great read, Sean. I’m 23 hrs and 20 minutes away from truly understanding this read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/domo.d.kun.39 Domo Dante Kun

    CHRIS CHRIS NOLAN NOLAN!
    CHRIS CHRIS NOLAN NOLAN!
    CHRIS CHRIS NOLAN NOLAN!
    CHRIS CHRIS NOLAN NOLAN!
    CHRIS CHRIS NOLAN NOLAN!

  • http://gravatar.com/jdmwoodlane jdmwoodlane

    I loved Nolan’s first two films and can’t wait to see TDKR, but despite all of this trilogy’s accomplishments, I still feel like it’s a “stepping stone” towards Batman coming into his own onscreen. Though I’m not quite as fond of the films, themselves, I think that the overall character of Superman DID come into his own onscreen with the Chris Reeve characterization. Whatever has been or can be added to the Superman myth, the character and his world remains, at its core, as it was depicted in the first two Chris Reeve movies.

    It could be argued that waiting for Batman to “come into his own” on film is an unrealistic expectation given the myriad of ways the character and his world has been and can be interpreted, but I do think a better balance could be struck. Ignoring the sixties television show and its gimmicky big-screen one-off as more of a spoof than anything else, Burton’s movies broke the ice in terms of taking at least parts of the mythology seriously, but they were still fantasy films more than superhero films, with Batman taking a partially-justified backseat to his over-the-top villains. Schumacher’s films dared to bring Robin into the equation and embrace the concept of the “Batman family,” but caved-in way too hard to the backlash after “Batman Returns” that demanded a lighter tone. Nolan’s movies have come the closest to distilling the character and his world down to its most basic, common elements. Nevertheless, it only does so by virtue of its debt to writers and artists Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, all of whom basically did the exact same things in the graphic novels and story arcs from which Nolan and company have so specifically drawn. If not for those specific pieces of source material, I’m not confident that someone like Nolan could have ever really managed it because they really have been such blatant, overt guideposts – narratively, thematically and emotionally. This is something driven home for me just the other day when listening to the TDKR score and reading Loeb’s Miller-inspired “The Long Halloween” and being amazed at how the music and material synced up in places, almost beat-by-beat.

    Again, I’m excited to see TDKR, but somewhat relieved that this particular trilogy is over. Also, I have mixed feelings about the whole “reboot trend” nowadays, in general, but feel it to be acutely appropriate for Batman. What I’m waiting for – regardless of what anyone else might be – is a Batman movie/franchise that isn’t so filmmaker-centric. Usually, I respect filmmakers putting their own personal stamps on their movies, even with adaptations, but so far, if you took those “stamps” off of the Batman films we’ve gotten so far, you wouldn’t be left with much. That’s really the big creative accomplishment of what Marvel has been doing since 2008′s IRON MAN and why it’s characters’ movies have worked so well and ultimately came together so effectvely in The Avengers despite having sometimes very different creative, directorial leads. Those movies are made almost like a television series in that it has a group of producers behind it that allow their filmmakers a certain degree of freedom, but never so much that it risks tainting or overshadowing the reasons that audiences want to see these characters on screen in the first place. Batman and, more so, DC’s hero properties needs that sort of oversight, especially if DC is going to ever attempt a Justice League movie, which is why I was originally happy and then disappointed to learn that Nolan was and then, as was recently revealed, was not, in fact, returning to oversee the reboot and other DC big screen adventures. Then again, as good as Nolan is, I think his “vision” as either a director or a producer is too specific and, at this point perhaps, overwhelming to do justice to what is an otherwise diverse group of characters and ways they can be depicted.

    • http://gravatar.com/alexhemans Dr.H

      ” Then again, as good as Nolan is, I think his “vision” as either a director or a producer is too specific and, at this point perhaps, overwhelming to do justice to what is an otherwise diverse group of characters and ways they can be depicted.

      Damn this post way too long bro, jesus. This point I want to tackle, I like that Nolan has put his own stamp on the character. Faithfulness is not a indicator of quality whatsoever and personally I think Nolan’s iteration of Batman has improved upon things from the comics, and made things better. It is true that Nolan does borrow ideas from other comics writers but what’s great about it is that he uses this as a model to craft his own original tale. He humanized Bruce Wayne far better than the source material ever did and made him relatable and interesting. I love that he has a strong realistic vision for this character that excludes the rather boring villains form the comics)Killer croc). I don’t want he movies to be exactly the same as the source, that would be boring.

      • http://none Adrian Edmondson

        Great points Dr. H .
        Though the next films need to steer clear of Nolan’s vision for Batman and perhaps like most have said , do an Arkham City verison but definitely not R rated .

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregorywalsh74 Gregory Walsh

        Nolan focused on Wayne as the character, where as the comics focus on Batman. I think as time goes by and more movies break beyond the self-implemeted limits the superhero movie has of being costume heroes to individuals that happen to put on a costume Nolan’s vision will only gain in respect, vision and gravitas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.ramey Bill Ramey

    Good review Sean — I agree totally. Definitive? Absolutely. As far as the future, good luck to whoever takes over and reboots 5 or 6 years from now as the bar is HIGH as it can possibly be. However, that’s actually a GOOD thing.

  • Ben

    Sean,

    I am a reader of your site simply because I have been a follower of BOF (since I was in… high school?!…crazy. Anyway…) I just wanted to say that your review was very well written. I’ve trolled through a number of reviews because my curiosity can’t contain itself any longer and I really felt like you backed up your opinions with a concise summary of the major plot points without revealing anything. So thank you! Great work on your website as well and I wish you the best as you move forward with coverage of films not depicting a certain winged vigilante.

    See ya’ at the movies (well, not literally, but you get the idea…).

    Ben

  • http://none Adrian Edmondson

    In a few short hours I will get to watch , enjoy , and be content watching the best picture of the year …..

    Looking forward to the podcast

  • rOn

    Just left, seen the marathon on IMAX and it was amazing. I agree, it was far and away Bale’s best performance in the trilogy and would love to see him get an oscar nom for it, but probably won’t happen. Was worried about the ending but I loved it.

  • Ron III

    Best Bale performance. Best Batman film. Just a tremendous achievement. tonight, I am a spoiled fan. :]

    • Michael P.

      +1 !

  • http://none Adrian

    I MUST see this again . The ending ROCKS !!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregorywalsh74 Gregory Walsh

    Movie is awesome. 5 out of 5. Just bought my second ticket. Equal to TRK in every way.

    My only small gripe which does not directly effect the movie is the 8 year absence. I didn’t see a need for it. Frankly I could have easily seen at least one other movie in-between TDK and TDKR. BB is almost a prologue in both style and substance. But that is more just me wishing to see more of Nolan’s bat verse.

    • http://none Adrian

      Couldnt agree more
      The way I look at it is this way
      BB – Batmans primitive years
      TDK – Batmans prime
      TDKR – Batman at his end

      Looking forward to seeing this several times . I feel I missed so much but over all a great trilogy .

      And to those who loss someone dearly this morning , my condolences to you and your family . You will all be in my prayers .

  • AP

    Thanks for your review, I thought it was well written and well thought out. I had some issues with Nolan”s vision, but in the end it is his vision and I accept that. It was a great film and well worth the wait.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.d.hern Jonathan Hern

    I’m apparently in the minority but this film was largely a let down. Of the 3 films only Begins really captured that dark essence of Batman accurately for me. This one, while still enjoyable enough I suppose, was really just disappointing. I guess for me I want a Batman that isn’t so…real. I don’t want to see him lose fight after fight and then have such a whimpering end. I understand what Nolan was going for with his trilogy with the realism and the questions of morality and heroism. For me, I thought the promise of Begins was not kept with this last installment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.d.hern Jonathan Hern

    For me, I was a little disappointed in this movie. The Batman in Begins was a classic Batman. I felt that the promise made in that movie wasn’t delivered. I suppose it is that the Nolan’s Batman is too real for me…too much of a mortal with fragility. I, of course, like the emotional side and drive of Bruce but I don’t want to see him lose fight after fight and quit for 8 years. I loved Hathaway’s performance as Catwoman and thoroughly enjoyed the scenes she shared with Bale’s Wayne/Batman. That was really a great part of this movie. Overall, I felt the trilogy ended in a whimper and really look forward to whenever down the road they decide to reboot. Maybe that Batman will be closer to the Batman we see in comics.

  • Alex

    Great review. The movie was fantastic and ever better the second time around. It wasn’t quite the end I had expected but it was powerful and I’m looking forward to Round 3!!

  • http://none Adrian

    What ?!!

    • JD

      I would have to agree with gepeto here. He was batman for a year or so…and then just done? There was so much more that could have been done here. Again, Nolan had his version of the Bat and he told it. He’s making the movie and it is his prerogative. I paid to see it and don’t regret that.
      I enjoyed the Trilogy enough but TDK and TDKR just went down from Begins.

  • http://gravatar.com/djseeley djseeley

    I enjoyed the film overall, didn’t think it was better than the last two Bat-films, but I don’t mean it in a negative way. I disagree with you however, regarding Marion Cotillard, however, as I felt the character could have been played by any actress. I felt disappointed that the character wasn’t more. Other characters with lesser screen time made more of an impact. At first I thought my disliking her was due to “The Worst Kept Secret” but after giving it thought, it would not have mattered. The character was dull. Cotillard phoned it in.

  • http://none Adrian

    I’m not sure why people keep bringing up this letdown that they have with a ” real ” Batman .
    Nolan has dropped hint after hint that this “version”
    of Batman would not be chasing after the rest of his rogue gallery night after night .

    Even if he was at peak strength , it would only last for a short period of time before age and injury caught up with him .

    I think of Michael Jordan , at his peak he could take on the best the NBA had to offer , but age eventually caught up to him .

    He came back but was a shell of his former self .

    Bruce Wayne is in this same quandary as Alfred has tried to get across to him .

    To see him try again and work his way back , for me is better then watching him whip villains that pose no real threat to him even in his current condition .

    People honestly think the Riddler would pose more a threat than Joker ?

    Man come on .

    We knew this going in , NOW people are “upset” that they didn’t get what they really wanted ?

    Even if he could go after most of his rogues from the comics , at some point it would turn into what the previous films turned out to be , more focus on the ” villian ” than the man himself .

    Saw this again this evening and I love it even more .

    I feel the “promise” was kept and Nolan and company have delivered .

    Looking forward to the podcast gang

    • JD

      I don’t need to see all the rogues gallery, I just want to see Batman as Batman not this hyper realistic version. Although I did enjoy the doctor sequence telling him about all that was wrong with him.
      And let’s be honest…if Heath Ledger hadn’t have tragically passed away, TDKR wouldn’t have made the same splash. He was awesome and everything that was said about his performance was deserved, but without his untimely passing it would have been viewed as just another comic book movie. TDKR was more about The Joker so the villain did the same upstage as previously. Of course, when it is the Joker that is bound to happen.

      • JD

        Sorry got my acronym’s mixed up. TDK not TDKR wouldn’t have made the splash and it was as much about the Joker as anything.

      • http://none Adrian

        While I agree that heaths death brought MORE attention to the movie , that argument loses steam after about a week since the STORY and PERFORMANCES made that movie what it is . That’s why it remained # 1 for weeks due to those factors as well .

        It’s not like Brandon Lee in the Crow who died on set , he died after all the filming was completed .

      • http://none Adrian

        In addition , although BB did not gross a billion dollars or whatever , it accomplished much more than most give it credit for .

        It now allows studios to reimagine franchises that have hit the wall years ago and give a fresh take on them .

        It makes you invest in the main character and story instead of all splash and very little content .

    • TheEdwardian

      In reference to your comment about Michael Jordan coming back only to be a “shell of his former self” do you mean him coming back and winning 3 more NBA Championships? Hmmm….

  • gautam govilkar

    a stunning movie experience & that’s all i can say…waited 4 years for this & last one year was like 1000 years… bale was at his finest as bruce wayne & only mr. nolan can pull off anything like this… perfect ending to the greatest movie series in the history.. people will have their opinions & some say its a letdown, well they definately failed to understand nolan’s vision of batman.. they just came to see another dark knight & that’s where they got it all wrong… don’t compare it to the dark knight, that was a once in a lifetime movie… & remember this movie had a greater responsibility on its hand, to complete the story… TDKR has done it in the best possible way…the pacing of the first half may be a bit slow but the multistory line plot demanded it dis way… finally i would say that a true batman/nolan dark knight triology fan will surely feel satisfied with this one… looking forward to your podcast guys..

  • RW

    I’ve seen the movie once (7/20). While watching it, most of it worked for me, a little of it didn’t work, and some left me a bit confused (e.g. the rationale behind the nuke/decoy trucks and how they’re neutralized). In 2 hours and 45 minutes (with probably at least 10 of that devoted to end credits), this movie packs a lot of thematic elements, new plot-centric characters (both major and minor), and fragmented, but interconnected, plot threads. However, none of that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the movie, and much of it added to it.

    There were probably about 20 words spoken by Bane that I found too muffled to comprehend, and probably 20 more words spoken by others which could have benefited from lowering the volume on Hans Zimmer’s score, but these issues were sufficiently counterbalanced. I expected Tom Hardy to be a great Bane, and he was. I was pleasantly surprised that Anne Hathaway was a great Selina Kyle (“The Cat”). My initial skepticism about the purpose of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake character quickly wore off. And patient viewers will find that Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate character does pay off. There are two businessmen villains (one a Wayne Industries board member), and a Selina Kyle sidekick, who may have been unnecessary pieces on the character chess board. But Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and other returning actors did their usual great jobs. Nobody sleepwalks through a performance. Pittsburgh made a great stand-in for Gotham City, and I say that as a Chicagoan. The new flying vehicle (sort of a helicopter/plane hybrid), referred to by Lucius Fox as “The Bat” actually came off well.

    I had been somewhat ambivalent about the eight years of Batman inactivity between the end of “The Dark Knight” and this movie, with Bruce Wayne first appearing as a somewhat broken-down man in his late-30s, just as I was ambivalent about Batman having taken the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes in “The Dark Knight”. Based on “The Dark Knight Rises”, there was apparently no second dance with The Joker (or any dance with the likes of The Penguin, Riddler, etc.), and Batman had a relatively brief tenure as a costumed crusader. However, I think that this works in the Nolan Batman-verse. A superpowerless superhero, who fights without guns or deadly weapons, only has so much milage before his body gives out, his mind gives out, or his luck runs out. A Batman putting in the equivalent of an NFL game a week (where a lot of the other players bring guns) for nine straight years would probably be irreparably crippled, if he didn’t get himself killed first.

    The ending managed to be sad, happy, and satisfying. This was one of those rare movies that rattled around in my thoughts off and on for about 7 hours after I walked out of the theater. My impression of the movie has become more favorable upon post-viewing reflection. I plan to see it again as soon as possible, with more focus on plot details and themes.

    I will end with praise for Christian Bale as both Bruce Wayne and Batman over all three movies, and particularly this one. Bale convincingly showed us Bruce Wayne at many different stages of maturation, the earliest being the directionless, revenge-minded college kid who wanted to assassinate Joe Chill in “Batman Begins”. Bale probably gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne in this movie. There have been a lot of complaints that there isn’t enough “Batman” in the movie, but this movie is about the resurrection of the whole man and not just the symbol he represents as a costumed crime-fighter. And Nolan has never set out to make Batman movies that lend themselves to obvious video game tie-ins. Unlike 1989′s “Batman”, where Bruce Wayne/Batman was a supporting character in his own movie (especially in the first half), “The Dark Knight Rises” is Bruce Wayne/Batman’s movie, and Christian Bale’s performance is the anchor.

    • http://none Adrian

      + 1

      Loved the example of the football player and the mileage they have . Great points and well thought out .

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregorywalsh74 Gregory Walsh

    Just saw it again. Even better the first time. With no anticipation, and not wondering what was going to happen, I just sat down to enjoy it and it was even better.

    What I observe in most people not satisfied with Nolan’s vision is because they don’t realize, and this is just my opinion, that this was the story of Bruce Wayne, not Batman. A movie just about Batman has no emotional core or gravitas. While I enjoy a movie like the Avengers, which is just pure entertainment, though highly executed, it does not reach for something more as Nolan did. Some will not agree he succeeded, which is fair, however for me he did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregorywalsh74 Gregory Walsh

      To add. There is definitely a movie missing in between TRK and TDKR. I never felt at the end of TDK that Bruce would stop being Batman.

      You could add “The Dark Knight Falls ” about 2 years after TDK. The main theme would be that Bruce himself becomes disillusioned with the symbol of Batman because deep down he knows he has failed that ideal because he used it to cover his own pain over his parents.

      I see it going like this: in the 2 years after TDK Batman has only appeared on occasions he was absolutely needed. But its taken its toll. The loss of Rachel and failing Harvey, the relentless assault of the police to hunt the Batman, on top of the physical toll of being Batman is breaking Bruce down. Once again Batman is needed when a new crime lord appears only known at the Penguin, attempting to take control of the remains of the mob. At the same Gordon is pressured to form an above the law task force assigned with one task, to reveal the identity of the Batman. It is led by Edward Nygma. Nygma believes he succeeds he reveal Wayne as Batman but Bruce tricks Nygma when he attempts to reveal him and humiliates Nygma sending him over the edge. In the mean time Batman is about to take down Penguin when the cops intefer at the last moment and Penguin is killed.

      Bruce realized he has destroyed the symbol of batman. His taking responsibility for Two-face crimes led to the Penguins death. For the finale though Batman saves Nygma from going into complete insanity and stops his final plan. Yet Bruce can’t see the that where in Dent he failed, he saved Nygma, and he retires from the Batman.

      Then TDKR and the only thing you have to change is batman was gone for 5 or 6 years instead of 8.

      While TDK and TDKR are awesome as individual movies, for me this bridges the gap between them creating the perfect trilogy with BB as the prologue.

  • http://gravatar.com/angelajholden Angela Holden

    Wow. Great review, Sean. And I very much appreciate that it was spoiler free since I haven’t seen it yet. :)

  • Eric

    The last “confirmed” sighting of Batman was 8 years ago. I’m sure he probably suited up a handful of times in those first few years, but kept largely to the shadows as the entire police force was looking for him. I thought I’d have a problem with that element of the film, but in all honesty, it’s vague enough, like the Joker’s lack of an appearence in the film, that you can fill in the blanks much more satisfyingly than the filmmakers could have ever done.

    Also, anyone else think the “alligator in the sewer” remark could be taken as a Killer Croc dig? The way that line was said, wasn’t as flippant and played for laughs as you’d think if it were a comment meant totally in jest. I’m probably reading too much into it, but again, that’s just how I choose to see it. I like the idea of there being a few untold stories in Nolan’s universe before TDKR (and after). Nolan created a world in which I’d like to imagine how the other rogue villains would look and that’s a big testement to the film. It created a world that I like and wanted to see more of, while still telling a complete story. Well done. Well done indeed.

  • Brandon

    This review was pretty spot-on. I just saw the film in IMAX last night and I loved it. It was emotional and exciting. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane was absolutely terrifying, and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman was very impressive…definitely the strongest female character in Nolan’s trilogy. I was also impressed with JGL and how integral his character became. All the other actors were great as well: Caine, Oldman, and Freeman were their typical top-notch selves. But it was Christian Bale who owned this movie. His performance was fantastic. The action scenes were phenomenal, and the cinematography & visuals were just incredible.

    *POSSIBLE SPOILERS to those who haven’t seen it*

    I had a few minor quibbles with the movie.As another commenter said, Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate (and “The Worst Kept Secret Ever”) felt kind of shoe-horned into the story, and her “romance” with Bruce was pretty unbelievable, especially since Bruce/Batman obviously had more of a connection with Selina Kyle. I kind of wish that Tate’s character had been introduced in the previous movie, or not been in the film at all.

    I also felt that, after the airplane sequence (and the rather horrible new overdub of Bane’s voice for that sequence), the first 20 minutes of the film felt very haphazard and almost too frenetic, throwing characters and plotlines at the audience almost randomly. I felt it could’ve been tightened up a little bit. But once we get to the masquerade ball, the pacing and storytelling aspects of the film seemed to coalesce.

    I was also a little disappointed with the disappearance of Alfred for the majority of the story. The emotional breakdown between him and Bruce was very fitting, but then he’s gone until the finale of the film. I would’ve liked to have known where he went & what he was doing throughout the months that Bane had the city under siege. Just a scene or 2 of him maybe watching the news and seeing him react to what was happening in Gotham would’ve been nice.

    My last minor gripe with the film is that I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of the “war in Gotham”. The 5 month span of the siege felt a little glossed over, and I think it would’ve been exciting to have at least 1 or 2 sequences of Gordon, Blake, Foley, and some of their allies fight back against Bane’s army.

    *END POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

    Aside from those relatively minor things, I absolutely loved this movie. There were so many great setpieces throughout the film, including the Batman/Bane fights which were intense and awesome. There were some very memorable lines and dialogue exchanges, and nice callbacks to the previous films. I was also delighted by a few surprise cameos, and astounded by some really epic imagery. The finale/conclusion was also incredibly emotional and satisfying. I was cheering and in tears at the same time when the credits hit.

    Having just recently rewatched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in preparation to seeing this, I have to say that I was impressed how each film stands on its own with its own structure and tone. This is a trilogy where the overall cast and crew are the same, all 3 films follow one big story, but each individual piece has its own feel and style.

    Christopher Nolan and his team did an amazing job and definitely crafted one of the best trilogies ever made.

    • RW

      (Spoiler Warning)

      Here’s where I think Miranda Tate was critical to “The Dark Knight Rises”. The Bane/Tate plan didn’t just entail giving the people of Gotham City false hope and then destroying Gotham (and its people), but also doing the same to Bruce Wayne, in as complete a fashion as possible. And that included baiting Bruce with hope of a woman’s love reciprocated, with possibility that this would grow into a future of happiness, before ripping that away, along with everything else (e.g. his wealth and his freedom). Who would sign on for this, and qualify? Not just any woman. Someone who could pose as a wealthy, humanitarian businesswoman, someone in a position to save Wayne Enterprises, who is also very attractive, making her an ideal lure for Bruce Wayne’s affection. And to play that woman, you need a woman who can haunt Leonardo DiCaprio’s dreams, and make Russell Crowe leave a successful London career in investment trading for French wine country. A woman like Marion Cotillard. I don’t think Bruce Wayne ever fell head-over-heels for Miranda Tate, but there was a spark there, and a trust. A “watch my nuclear reactor for me” trust. And for the first time after the death of Rachel Dawes, Bruce began to think of moving on from that death. I don’t think Selina Kyle would have worked in this fashion, because the character upon introduction is too much of a wild card, and probably would have remained so, if she’d stuck with her original plan to get out of Gotham and let Gotham’s chips fall where they might, instead of coming back to help stop Bane and the bomb. I also realize that if Bruce Wayne had never escaped from the prison, there wouldn’t have been a final betrayal by Tate near the end of the movie. However, I think the final betrayal was just improvised by Tate when the opportunity arose.

      I also don’t think that the Tate character undermined Bane as a strong villain. I think a lot of people seem to be coming at that issue from the standpoint that the Tate revelation near the end undermines Bane’s motivation and makes him subordinate to Tate. I disagree. I think Tate supports Bane’s motivation, and I didn’t see Tate as necessarily Bane’s superior, but at least an equal partner. Each had important things to do concerning the overall plan (for Gotham and Bruce Wayne), and I didn’t get the sense that Bane was being pulled along for the ride. So what was Bane’s motivation, besides loyalty to Tate? I think a lot of it may have been succeeding where Ra’s al Ghul had failed, not out of loyalty to someone who rejected him, but to prove himself better than Ra’s al Ghul. And I think a lot of the desire to destroy Bruce Wayne came from Bane’s knowledge that while he was rejected by Ra’s al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul accepted (the rich, spoiled) Bruce Wayne, who ultimately betrayed him. Then there’s the fact that if the Bane/Tate plan had succeeded, both of them would have been destroyed along with Gotham City. Dying didn’t appear to be part of Ra’s al Ghul’s plan in “Batman Begins”. That it seemed to be part of the Bane/Tate plan indicates to me that both had lost all hope for themselves; that, in some crucial way, they had been broken by their pasts.

      Regarding the opening airplane sequence, that’s one that I want to pay very close attention to upon a second viewing, because I share your impression of the character and plot stuff upon first viewing. However, I think that the sequence was intended to leave audiences scratching their heads somewhat, while being of the impression that, whatever that was about, this Bane guy is intelligent, physical, audacious, unsettling, and formidable. And that questions would be answered later.

      • RW

        Just saw the movie for the 2nd time, today (7/25). Additional thoughts:

        Miranda Tate’s additional key role in the Bane/Tate plan was as “the inside man (woman)” during the siege. How did Bane and his people get to the special forces guys so easily? How did Bane’s people catch Gordon and the other officers who were trying to identify the nuke truck? Tate was in the information loop in both circumstances. And all of this is in addition to getting control of the bomb and eliminating Lucius Fox’s reactor core bomb neutralization protocols.

  • Mark

    Excellent summary to the point and really sets up the movie for those who have not seen it yet. I just saw TDKR and thought it pushes this trilogy to the next level of tragedy, endurance, and triumph. I think its hard to compare this movie to the other ones since the circumstances have pretty much reached the limits of what a city could experience, and thus the characters are pushed to their limits showing their true colors. Bale did a great job and I’d like to thank him and Nolan as well as the whole cast and crew for bringing us such an endearing and powerful trilogy that has drawn me into this movie since 2005. Sad to see it come to end, but couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

    • Mark

      fyi the best surprise here is just how strong hathaway portrays Selina Kyle I couldn’t imagine her doing a better job.
      and Bane was so very fear-inducing

  • Terence

    Great Review.

  • Lamont Turner

    In the Dark Knight Manual I seem to recall it being stated he wore his Batman Begins costume for 5 years before switching to the TDK costume, At the begining of TDK he seems to have been around for awhile, long enough to inspire a legion of copy cats and for the underworld to be afraid of him. We can aso assume, although the night at the end of TDK was stated to be his last reported appearance, that he was active for a bit after those events. He seems to have aquired injuries not sustained in TDK and he has rebuilt the batcave. I’d say there were a lot of Batman adventures we just didn’t see and that he was active for more than just 8 months.

    • JD

      Well I don’t know anything about the Dark Knight manual so that may or may not be canon. But I do know in the The Dark Knight the Joker indicated that Batman had been around for a year. He said rewind the clock back a year about what happened. A year ago that cops wouldn’t bother them but that changed with Batman.
      Seems to me he was only Batman for a little over a year before the Two Face thing sent him to hiding. I assumed his injuries came from being shot and then falling 3 or 4 stories after saving Gordon’s kid.

  • TheEdwardian

    I really liked a lot of the thematic elements that Nolan an co. employed. I think it really added extra layers to the film. The biggest one I thought, which was one of the more obvious ones, but still super effective was that of “rising”. And in almost every example except for Bruce Wayne’s there was also a very harsh ceiling that was crashed into on the way up. Commissioner Gordon put it best, “And now there is evil rising”.

    The amassing of Gotham-ites and Bane’s mercenaries from the sewers underneath the city rising up to take control of Gotham

    For example, the citizens of Gotham rising up against against the wealthy, powerful and elite.

    Orphans “aging out” of the system and often times literally ending up washing out at the bottom of the city.

    A cat burglar attempting to rise above her socio-economic status by becoming a very successful thief only to get caught and end up serving an evil ideology.

    The prison which Bane and Talia were raised in provided more of a literal example of upwards mobility. Rising up and out of the environment which birthed them and their ideals only having to end up answering to their severly misguided ideals via our Caped Crusader.

    Officer John Blake being promoted from a Beat Cop to Detective, then finally rising to even more of people serving role. His example is an exception to this specific subject, which helps serve the wonderful ending to this story.

    Bruce Wayne (with the exception of his wealth) was a regular person able to face many challenges over the course of his life, hitting many a ceiling and falling, sometimes quite literally. But he is able to overcome and “rise” from his failures and challenges all for the city of Gotham and for all of it’s people.

    Every time I see this movie the themes, plot points and story feel tighter and more cohesive. I think it’s also worth noting that most, if not all of the critics seemed to have failed to observe the commentary on social oppression and all of the other undertones and sub-currents running throughout the film and were also far to quick to compare it to the “trickiness” and intelligently deceptive aspects of the plots of it’s two predecessors.

    Vive Nightwing!!