The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Review

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Image

The Caped Crusader rises for the third and final time in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, a film that the director is adamant will spell the end of his involvement with the character. If that’s the case (and Nolan’s reputation has not led me to think otherwise), then “Rises” makes for one hell of a send-off. Clocking in at nearly three hours (though you probably won’t notice), this is the culmination of everything Nolan has built up since 2005′s “Batman Begins” and continued in the gazillion dollar earning “The Dark Knight”. In many ways, Nolan’s Batman is everything Joss Whedon’s superhero team-up “The Avengers” isn’t, and it’s that complete opposite nature of the two movies that will allow many (including myself) to appreciate them both without ever having to do the ridiculous either/or dance. Whedon’s Avengers could never exist in Nolan’s Batverse, and vice versa, and that’s exactly how it should be.

“Rises” is set 8 years after the events of “The Dark Knight”, and finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) self-exiled in his mansion, much to loyal butler Alfred’s (Michael Caine) displeasure. Caine, as always, is soulful and elegant, bringing tremendous heart to the film’s surrogate father-son relationship. Bruce’s secret, and that of Gotham City DA Harvey Dent’s death (as chronicled in “Knight”), is shared by now-police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), who has used Dent’s death to push forward tough new laws that have all but wiped out crime in the city. It’s a new Gotham, one built on lies, and it’s all about to come tumbling down when a masked anarchist name Bane appears on the scene. When we first see Bane, he’s pulled off a grand escape involving two mid-air planes in spectacular fashion. Bane is vicious, without mercy, and he’s damn smart, too. He is possibly the most dangerous villain Batman has ever faced — all of the Joker’s malevolence and none of the crazy.

Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Image

Bane has a plan for Gotham and its protector. Only Batman, Gordon, and a handful of willing citizens can stop him. Batman has never had to fight harder, or faced a more destructive force. Before the film is over, the Dark Knight will be beaten, battered, and bloodied, and forced to once again rise from the ashes. A mostly unrecognizable Tom Hardy plays Bane like a warped version of his character from “Warrior” — a battering ram of violence, supremely confidant in his skills and fueled not just by the machine that covers his mouth, but by unbridled faith in his motives. When he and Batman clash for the first time, you will feel every punch, kick, and strike. Even hindered by his metallic mask, Hardy gives a chilling performance, doing just as much with his eyes as he does with his metallic-infused voice. There are still moments where you have to strain to understand Bane, but to me this only adds to the man’s dripping menace.

Christian Bale, in his last go-round as Batman (if, indeed, this is the last for him as well) is the best he’s ever been as Bruce Wayne. I’ve never had any trouble with Batman’s growling voice, the source of many online jokes, so I could always appreciate how well Bale played the role. In “Rises”, Bruce Wayne is not the man we remember, but the presence of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a brazen thief re-ignites the fire in him that has been missing all these years. When confronted with the scope of Bane’s plans — to lock down Gotham and unleash chaos into the streets — Batman is forced to put everything he holds dear on the line. I’ve always thought Bale had to work the hardest of all the actors in the series, mostly because he’s covered up in costume for the majority of his screentime. To me, there is no doubt — Christian Bale will go down as the best Bruce Wayne/Batman. I feel sorry for whoever tries to replace him in future reboots/re-imaginings/whatever.

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Image

Now three movies in, “Rises” smartly injects new life with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, a street smart cop with ties to the streets who remembers when Batman was still around. Blake is what you would imagine a young Jim Gordon must have been like — idealistic, tough, and smart. Gordon-Levitt, who was in Nolan’s “Inception” (along with Hardy and Caine), is our street-level perspective on the film’s city-wide mayhem. He, along with fellow newcomer (and also “Inception” alum) Marion Cotillard provide a much-needed infusion of freshness into the series. Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a wealthy socialite who Bruce Wayne turns to after one of Bane’s assaults on Gotham’s financial institutions put his holdings in dire straits. Cotillard is charming and captivating, and it’s too bad she’s going up against Anne Hathaway as the other woman in Bruce Wayne’s life, and that’s a battle few are going to win.

Because Hathaway is simply fantastic as Selina Kyle, an impudent cat burglar with a sharp, sharp tongue. Christopher Nolan and co-writer Jonathan Nolan made a concerted effort to never refer to Selina as Catwoman once in the entire movie, which I guess makes sense in a way, but in other ways seems a bit silly. After all, there’s already a Batman, right? In any case, Hathaway plays Selina with verve and sex appeal to spare, but never with the comic book flourishes that could have made the character, well, comic book-y. Everything about Selina Kyle serves a purpose, from her seductions to her alliances, and when she hops on Batman’s ride, it turns out she can fly on wheels, too. Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, under Nolan’s direction, never once feels like a rehash of old, previous Catwomen; she’s her own woman, in more ways than one, and Hathaway is shockingly good.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Image

“The Dark Knight Rises” was made on a reported $250 million dollar budget, and good God does Nolan and his longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister put every single cent of that onto the screen. When a movie costs this much, you’re expecting plenty of CG worlds and wild effects. Nolan isn’t a total Luddite, of course, but he’s old school in that anything he can get away with using physical effects, he’ll do it. “The Dark Knight Rises” is filled with stunts and chases and the type of grand action spectacle that Hollywood used to do so well back when CG wasn’t a crutch. Sure, Nolan could have used CG for action sequences involving the Bad-Pod and Batman’s latest toy, a flying wonder called The Bat, but why go there when he doesn’t have to? Simply put, “Rises”, like “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” before it, just looks and feels real. It’s hyper-realism, to be sure, but you do get the sense that it’s all possible.

At times the film’s unrelenting doom and gloom threaten to swallow you, but Nolan always manages to stay just a step away from plunging completely down the abyss. Hans Zimmer’s score is particularly of note, fabulously bringing out the epic nature of “Rises” with every clash and sweeping action sequence. Make no mistake, despite its PG-13 rating, the wrath of destruction that Bane wreaks upon poor Gotham is on a massive scale. For the political-minded among you, you could certainly read plenty of ideology into the film’s plots — Bane’s crashing of the Stock Market, scenes of the 99% storming the 1% and, literally, tossing them into the streets — and you’re more than welcome to them. What cannot be argued is that “Rises” is vastly superior filmmaking, the product of, possibly, the finest director currently working with big-budget Hollywood canvasses. While “Rises” signals the end of an era, the bright side is that we got three great movies out of it, capped off with a whopper of a finale, and the fact that Nolan will be making more movies. They just won’t have a guy in a bat suit in them, that’s all. Well, probably. Hey, this is Hollywood, after all, where anything is possible. Directors have been known to change their minds a time or two…

Christopher Nolan (director) / Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)
CAST: Tom Hardy … Bane
Christian Bale … Bruce Wayne / Batman
Anne Hathaway … Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Liam Neeson … Ra’s Al Ghul
Joseph Gordon-Levitt … John Blake
Gary Oldman … Jim Gordon
Marion Cotillard … Miranda Tate
Morgan Freeman … Lucius Fox
Juno Temple … Holly Robinson
Michael Caine … Alfred

Buy The Dark Knight Rises on DVD



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    SOunds great! I for one also never had a real problem with his Batman voice (except when he over does it in certain parts), but I think it was better in Batman Begins. Glad bane came across right, one of my favorite villains. And them not callinge her Catwoman is kinda weird. A newspaper headline dubbing the new female theif the Catwoman would’ve worked.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      Haha, yeah, the Catwoman thing. I think the Nolans would have loved to NOT call Batman “Batman” if they could have gotten away with it in “Begins”. Maybe “The Bat” or something like that.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

        Agreed! I like the way marvel did it with The abomination, and most of their villains for the most part. They didn’t call themselves Iron Monger or Whiplash, etc. Hell even the “Red Skull” was used as a derogatory name by the Nazi’s under Hitler for Schmidt!

  • kraven

    kick ass review. i never imagined anything could top The Dark Knight in this series but it sounds like this one goes supernova. cant wait to catch it.

  • http://twitter.com/Terminator2366 Bad Zack

    just saw it — it was amazing ill be seeing it again saturday afternoon for a 2nd time

  • Juggernaut

    Just got back from the Dark Knight trilogy. It was excellent! I had my reservations going in but all doubts were totally dismissed. This movie is a spectacle in every sense of the word. I wasn’t sure how Nolan could possibly top TDK but this movie definately delivered.
    It is everything that a conclusion to a series of this magnitude should be. The cast was stellar. The script superb. The cinematography and score both astounding. After watchijng all three back to back I am completely satisfied with the outcome of this collection. To think that Nolan almost never made this film is insane. This fim was not only a good idea, in retrospect it was absolutely neccesary.
    The movie works on its own merit but also fits perfectly as the definative ending of the Dark Knight saga.
    While most of my thought on this movie are glowing it needs to be said that it does have its certain flaws. For starters Bane’s voice at times was inaudible. Not only that but it was also a bit distracting and took a while to get used to in my opinion. I know that the voice was altered after negative reviews flooded the net and that may have cleared up some of the muddled delivery but what was left was sometimes still difficult to understand and sounded incredibly silly. There were also a few scenes that either made no sense or could have been handled differently. I can’t mention those because they contain major plotl ines and spoilers.
    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and am 100% satisfied!

    • I am a Ro Beast

      I too was having problems understanding Bane’s Latino eastern euro accent but over all the movie delivers. This maybe the ultimate CBM Warner Bro. will ever produce I doubt superman and dont give a shit if a Justice league movie will be made. This movie deserves an Oscar nomination.

      • Juggernaut

        Agreed. While I am ooking forward to Man Of Steel, there is no way that it could bebetter than this. As for Banes voice my friend made a comment that I thought was pretty spot on. He reffered to his voice as a robotic Sean Connery. Botom line? MOve over TDK, step aside Avengers, this is the new standard in comic book moves!

  • r4zor

    oh you lucky bastards… I need to wait 2 weeks to see this!!!!!!!! i dont know how i`m going to, but I need to not download a cam version of this :/

  • http://caseymoviemania.blogspot.com/ Casey

    No doubt THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is one of the best comic-book movies of all-time. Check out my review here at http://caseymoviemania.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-dark-knight-rises-2012.html

  • ErickKwon

    Here’s my pointlessly long take:

    7 Takeaways From “The Dark Knight Rises”

    No spoilers:

    1-Bane, Gordon and the old guys in the prison: so much mumbling. When I get the home video release, I’ll be using the subtitles for their scenes.

    2-Christopher Nolan still has a problem with internal logic. A great example was at the beginning of “Inception” when Joseph Gordon Levitt spots Marion Cotillard during the movie’s first heist and casually says to DiCaprio “What’s she doing here?”. As the movie goes on, we find out she’s DiCaprio’s wife, the woman he’s falsely accused of murdering after they spent decades in dream time. She’s basically a ghost and a walking, talking reminder that DiCaprio is sort of out of his mind. So JGL SHOULD be worried that she’s shown up, but that would give away the reveal of who she really is and that’s a very important part of the movie. Then there’s the fact that any competent CSI team would’ve deduced that DiCaprio wasn’t in the room when his wife killed herself. Shit like that is internally illogical and it keeps happening in Nolan’s movies, including this one.

    3-Tom Hardy < Heath Ledger, though not for lack of trying. I was worried though that Hardy is a relatively short guy (if you see him in “This Means War”, both Elle Wood and Capt Kirk are taller) but his scenes are shot in a way where that isn’t a problem. It helps that he’s insanely pumped up, even more than he was in “Warrior”. Anne Hathaway is great, her costume may be the best costume in the Nolan series except for maybe the Joker's, and at least she's a normal person. Compare that to the unkillable psycho prick-tease in "Batman Returns" or the ancient reincarnated cat-spirit Amazon in "Catwoman".

    4-What you get out of the Occupy Movement analogy depends on what you put into it since there’s conflicting information about how the movement began, who in our government may or may not be enabling it, and what its ultimate goal is. I personally think they’re a bunch of spoiled, stupid, mostly young, mostly able-bodied assholes who should try working a shift at either a Chinese manufacturing plant or a brothel in Bangkok or Tijuana before whining about being disenfranchised. I think the movie’s strongest political message echoes portions of “Animal Farm” and there are plenty of signs that a Gotham City run by the People is going to rack up a decent bodycount well after the revolution is over, and guess what? It’s a lot easier to keep people down at the same level than it is to raise everyone up into the privileged class and even then, it’s not self-sustaining.

    5-The series always drops in “Hey, I know that face” actors, though it’s still mostly guys since these movies aren’t interested in women much. This time around, you’ve got actors from “Lost”, “Full Metal Jacket”, “The State”, “Devil Wears Prada”, “The Wire”, and “Year One”. Downside is that Gary Oldman and Michael Caine don’t have a whole lot to do.

    6-SORT OF SPOILER Like the previous movies, the big finale is a bit too comic book-ish compared to the overall serious and realistic tone, plus it’s needlessly complicated because it tries to give every major character a part to play in the action. But before it really kicks in, it stops to have a character deliver the kind of monologue that “The Incredibles” made fun of.

    7-SPOILER That ending. If I didn’t like the series so much, the ending would’ve pissed me off big time. It's kind of a cheesey copout, especially after Michael Caine's heartbreaking gravesite speech, but it’s an ending that fans would want for Bruce Wayne. “The Dark Knight” had a insanely downbeat ending and “Batman Begins” seemed kind of upbeat but if you think about it, he got fucked in that movie, too. Passing the job of protecting Gotham City to a worthy successor followed up by a life of leisure with a beautiful woman by his side is something he deserves

    Oddly enough, my order of favorite for the series follows their release order, but it's like choosing favorites in the "LOTR" series or the least favorite "Star Wars" Prequel

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      SPOILERS:

      Most Nolan fans probably don’t want to admit it, but the brothers are decidedly very pro-Establishment. You can see it in the uber surveillance of The Dark Knight, the “Revolution as sham” in Rises, and Jonathan Nolan’s Person of Interest show, which is essentially about what a great tool total surveillance is. Granted, creepy as hell, but ultimately, necessary.

      • ErickKwon

        Hell, I had no idea he was involved with that show. May have to check it out. And I think the Nolan’s greatest contribution is that they gave us a Batman who, especially in the “TDK”, is a very flawed person. He does questionable things like the Lau snatch-and-grab and use of surveillance, he lets himself be blinded by anger during the Joker interrogation. He makes very big mistakes and has to deal with the fallout.

        SPOILERS:

        And I don’t know how true that rumor about a possible Wonder Woman cameo in “Man of Steel” is, but if DC is going to take a shot at a cinematic universe, how meta-cool would it be if in a few years we got a movie with Superman and JG-L’s Batman?

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          It would be very cool, but I don’t see Warner Bros. having the far sight for such a thing. This is the same studio that saw what Marvel was doing YEARS ago and looked down their noses at it like it was never going to work, so they just kept on pushing on with their individual superhero movies, never bothering to even hint at any of them connecting in any way.

          • ErickKwon

            I think they were hinting at a shared universe in “Green Lantern” with the way Amanda Waller was used. She was basically a female Nick Fury in that movie and based on the character’s arc in the comic books and how she was used in “Smallville”, she’d be an ideal point of contact for a lot of other characters.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    Finally got to see it and loved it. ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! You know it’s a good movie when even the fanboys aren’t bothered by the ending (which I thought was perfect). Everyone from returning cast members to new additions were all on point! My mind is still trying to process it all. Loved the nods to “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land.” Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer are beast with the story.

  • kraven

    finally saw it. freakin fantastic. a big story well developed. kudos to those guys for going batty on this. really well balanced as where in the Dark Knight i felt Ledger was just so damn amazing he took it all. the climax blew my mind. just a killer job of pulling all the pieces (past and present) together to end a masterful trilogy. i originally slammed the casting of hathaway thinking she was too sweet but she fit the defined role purrfect!

  • Alghoul

    I’m gonna throw in my two cents.

    Tom Hardy’s Bane version felt like the Ian Mckellen version of Magneto.

    Soft.

    TDKR’s Bane looked more like a goon wearing a crappy mask with a muffled voice and a verbose choice of lingo. What would’ve been cool though is when push comes to shove, he should’ve gone all rage and hulk smash like a madman or a fused version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with enough wit and sly underneath all of that reckless brutality. Nolan’s version was almost there but there was just not enough rage to sell it. (or maybe more like a manic/depressive with sudden violent outbursts after hours of mumbling to himself against the wall. crazy.)

    Oh and while I’m at it, Magneto should be like a grizzled war general: Buff (at least physically fit), calculating, ruthless, and majestic. Not some geriatric who looks like he might trip over his own damned cape.