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The Dark Knight Rises - THE REVIEW (and discussion)

Updated on August 14, 2012
It meets expectations. Which considering the hype around it, is no easy feat.
It meets expectations. Which considering the hype around it, is no easy feat. | Source

Carrying the heavy expectations left by The Dark Knight with ease, Christopher Nolan satisfies and delivers the final part of one of the greatest trilogies of modern cinema in a film shows why studio's have to confidence to let Nolan spend hundreds of millions of dollars on what is at it's heart, an art house movie about Batman. Or is it.

Batman and Bruce Wane get less than 60% of the screen time and characters such as Anne Hathaway's Catwoman or Joseph Gordon Levitt's young police officer are allowed to flourish. Anne Hathaway's Catwoman is particularly impressive. Considering her role as a 'sexy woman clad in latex' she is not exploited or portrayed in a sexualised manner - she is treated with respect and not an object, hats off to you Nolan. Yet the fact this film does not feature Bruce Wayne constantly, is not a problem of the film. It remains very much a Batman film. The other characters only add weight to the power and message of the film allowing the events and actions of Batman and Bane to have meaning, seeing the impact they have on others. The whole cast does a solid job at allowing this to work and there are few weak actors in Nolan's vision of Batman's world.

And what a world it is. The previous two films had individual themes, those of emotional threat and pain. They both posed specific threats to Batman and Gotham. In this film, the rising of the Batman and the nature of the threat from Batman Begins are concepts which are blended with the psychological threats of The Dark Knight to create this films plot.

Bane famously broke Batman's back in the comic book world, how will Batman stand up against a threat like none other he has faced before. See how confident Bane is against a very weak Dark Knight who has yet to 'rise'
Bane famously broke Batman's back in the comic book world, how will Batman stand up against a threat like none other he has faced before. See how confident Bane is against a very weak Dark Knight who has yet to 'rise' | Source

Yet to this films credit, Nolan creates a world which has real gravitas with a real physical feel to it, all encapsulated by the very physical threat of the behemoth that is Tom Hardy's Bane. And as a villain, Bane is superb. Even as a viewer, you an feel the true physical power he has. He is very much a physical force, much like the Joker was a psychological one. This goes down partly to the soundtrack which allows a visceral feeling when watching the film, but also down to the character design. The fact Bane's outfit and 'mask' hide much of what is human about him (specifically the face), means he is seen much like Batman, as a symbol. Given his characters past and the parallels between Bane and Bruce's lives, only adds to the power of their conflicts. However the conflict is not simply Bane vs Batman with Catwoman in the predictable role of being neither good nor bad. This is perfectly seen in a scene in which Batman and Bane fight in a crowd (I do not consider this a spoiler as it is seen in the trailer). The fact this critical fight occurs amongst a crowd of real people, each fighting for a cause, is a perfect illustration of why this film stands out so much against a traditionally average superhero film. It has depth. It has a message. There is something beyond the fight of two men. It is the battle between symbols, ideas and real people. The fact Nolan has put these emotions into a summer blockbuster is truly notable.

This film is definitely one which requires a second and third viewing before you can truly grasp the immensity and message of the film. To cite those messages would ruin much of the film but suffice to say, there are elements of politics, identity and morality scattered through the film. Yet at a base level, this film feels a step up from the previous films and given that the previous films posed huge threats o Gotham, that's quite some achievement. The whole film feels very epic. It has twists and turns. You genuinely don't know how it will turn out. However, it is not without flaws by any means. I found many are minor issues such as my particular dislike for Marion Collitard whose character in the film seemed like an add on. Other complains containing spoilers are again present. However, my main issue with this film is not Bane's voice (a posh British accent crossed with Darth Vader? I loved it). It is the editing. It's a long film and it deserves to be. While it does feel epic, there are moments where you loose touch. There were moments when I thought to myself 'what just happened, why is this happening'. Maybe I was too caught up in the film but I'm still not entirely sure of Bane's motives! There are whole events (mentioned below) which could have been ignored or scrapped which did not need to be there and added nothing to the stories message or course of events. Perhaps a smaller cast list would have been more appropriate and this is perhaps why I would personally place it behind the Dark Knight in terms of my respect and how much I like it.


Nevertheless, it is still a great film. Nolan is a genius. However, it could do with some tweaks. Yet considering that it met my very high expectations, I have to say well done. Well done. Go see it.Nevertheless, it is still a great film. Nolan is a genius. However, it could do with some tweaks. Yet considering that it met my very high expectations, I have to say well done. Well done. Go see it.

The Avengers Comparison
Is it better than the Avengers?.....It depends. What do you want from a film? The Avengers is a comic book film. It is unrealistic. It is fun. It is exciting and colourful. Batman is much more like a graphic novel or 'light novel' as someone said to me. It is less 'light hearted' and more serious in tone and message. Which you would rather watch depends very much on what you are in the mood for.


If this review has tickled your fancy, then follow me for future ones, or take a look at previous Hubs such as:

  • The Robin twist at the end was nice. It rounded off the end of the film nicely. Will there be a sequel or spin off? Not likely if Christopher Nolan is right, and for the first time ever in a series I loved this much, I can say I hope not. Let is stand as a great trilogy.
  • Marion Collitard. I do not know about the comic book history of her character as the actual daughter of ....... but I did not like this twist. Bane's presence as the ultimate villain lost much of it's power when she turned out as the evil one. And then, he died! Just like that! I wasn't even sure if he was dead! The whole back story we thought Bane had was wiped away to a character we had no connection to.
  • Why did Bruce and Talia al Ghul sleep together? It hardly drove the plot. It hardly had a message. It hardly had a point.
  • The Catwoman and Batman getting together plot came out of nowhere. I liked it actually. True peace for Bruce Wayne. A reason to live. Yay. However, the lack of build up to it was a shame.
  • Politically this film is interesting. The revolution of the people aspect in particular. It showed how those left behind by society (such as the orphans) could rise up against their oppressors. However, fundamentally when the revolution in Gotham came, it rested upon the power of the people, the belief one person had the trigger. When the audience believes Bane has the trigger, the whole idea of the people being as one and working together, is eliminated. Bane has the trigger. One man has the true power and the people are being manipulated. Yet when it comes down to it, Taila actually has the trigger, a normal person. What does this say about the political messages of the film, especially on Communism? The snow, the punishment of the elite, the suppression presumably have very intentional allusions to the Russian Revolution.
  • Jeremy Jahns (a youtube movie reviewer) pointed out the scene on the rooftop where Catwoman and Batman escape is the perfect example of the force Bane had. The music. The very way Bane carried himself (he walkedinto a battle, he did not run) and the fact both characters 'ran' from him. A very memorable scene.
  • The final battle involving police and mercenaries was actually filmed and choreographed with real people, not CGI. Really helps to emphasise the physical theme of the film.
  • The opening scene is amazingly designed and is a perfect introduction to Bane. It shows his smooth calculation. His brute force. The behaviour of his henchmen shows he is a threat like no other Batman has encountered. In the Dark Knight the Joker's men have no loyalty to the Joker, only doing what he wants because of fear. Here, it is all about the greater cause - something quite unnerving.


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