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The Dark Knight Rises Review
By Matt Click / July 20

Ingredients:  If you liked Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins, the city-under-siege motif of Escape From New York, and the satisfying conclusion of Return of the Jedi, you will like this movie.

Note: This review is spoiler free!

Let's get something straight: Christopher Nolan hasn't made great Batman movies. He's made three phenomenal films that happen to involve Batman. I think that's what makes the Dark Knight Trilogy so damn good -- these films transcend the comic book source material and deliver the Batman movies we need and deserve. With The Dark Knight Rises (T.D.K.R.), Nolan ends this masterful trilogy -- and what a satisfying end it is.

Set eight years after the conclusion of The Dark Knight, T.D.K.R. finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) broken and battered, holed up in Wayne manor, living out the rest of his days as a reclusive shut-in. Neither Wayne nor Batman have been publicly seen in years.

As a result of the ruse set in motion by Batman and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) after Harvey Two-Face's murderous rampage in The Dark Knight, Batman became an outlaw, and the Harvey Dent Act allowed Gotham's police force to eradicate organized crime for good. But the evil that Batman and Gordon buried threatens to surface when a new foe, the masked mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy), appears in Gotham, promising to deliver the city's "reckoning."

The tonal shift happening in T.D.K.R. is a bit jarring at first, but I think that's Nolan's intention. When we last saw Batman, he was taking on entire SWAT teams and flipping semi-trucks. Now he's hobbling around Wayne manor on a cane, pining for the late Rachel Dawes and looking back grimly on his days as Gotham's silent guardian. Watching Wayne don the suit once again in true Dark Knight Returns style is a real treat -- which makes Batman's fall all the more tragic.

Yes, any fan familiar with Bane knows what's in store for the Caped Crusader in this film. Bane is Batman's physical and mental equal. Cunning, ruthless, and deadly, he is pound-for-pound bigger and stronger than Batman -- the first foe to physically tower over Batman, physically and mentally. No CGI or prosthetics are required here to make Bane look larger than life. Hardy packed on 30 pounds of muscle for the role, and Nolan shoots him from below, truly making him appear as a colossus with his shoulders stretching from one edge of the screen to the other. When Batman and Bane finally meet in one-on-one combat, the result is brutal and satisfying, and Hardy turns in a truly memorable performance as the sinister bruiser. I couldn't have been more pleased with this incarnation of Bane.

And I have to mention Anne Hathaway's take on Selina Kyle. Is it jumping the gun to say this is the definitive Catwoman performance? It's almost chilling how quickly Hathaway's Selina Kyle goes from screaming damsel to in-control cat burglar. She's alluring in the role, sexy without eschewing class, sultry without eschewing strength. And yeah, it doesn't hurt that she fills out the leather cat suit quite nicely.

A lot of fans are going to compare this film to The Dark Knight, but I think that's a little silly. If anything, compare it to Batman Begins. Sure, these films are part of a trilogy, but T.D.K.R. is the continuation of the Batman Begins story -- the rise and the fall, the beginning and the end. It's connected by more threads to Begins than it is to Dark Knight, and these two films serve as successful bookends to the trilogy.

Despite its strengths, though, T.D.K.R. is not without its flaws, few though they may be. The film gets a little exposition-heavy at points, establishing new characters and conflicts, and it does take quite a while to get going. This is also a story about Gotham, not Batman singularly, so be prepared for lengthy stretches not involving Bale's Dark Knight (though the supporting cast is so strong, it isn't really an issue).

But that's just me getting nitpicky, honestly. The Dark Knight Rises is truly a fantastic film. Strong performances from everyone involved, consistent tone and theme, and some of the best action sequences of the franchise (it actually boasts my favorite fight scene of any of Nolan's Batman films). This is a satisfying conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies in recent cinema, and I don't think I could be more pleased with how this legend ended.


  1. This film from start to finish is the great film I have ever seen. It has advanced action, characters, and climax. It senses that it goes to quick but it is s truly long film, it will leave you needing more. Bane Coat

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