DURF Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

I review the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. So is it the epic conclusion we all hoped it would be? Read and find out... (SPOILERS AHEAD)

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By Durf - 7/24/2012
Well, it’s finally here. The “epic conclusion” to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It is the movie that has been 4 years in the making and, along with “The Avengers”, has been the most anticipated movie of the year. That movie is “The Dark Knight Rises”, but is it as epic as advertised? Or is it a disappointment? Or something in between? Well, read on to find out…

(WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!)


The cast for this movie is solid, and it might be the best overall cast of the trilogy. All of the acting is superb. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very good as Detective John Blake and does a good job of convincing us that his character cares and really wants to make Gotham a better place. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are brilliant as always as Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon respectively. Michael Caine, although under-utilized this time, is fantastic as Alfred Pennyworth. Although she doesn’t do much for most of the movie, Marion Cotillard does a good job as Miranda Tate. However, there are 3 performances that stand above the rest in this movie: Bane, Selina Kyle, and Bruce Wayne/Batman. Bane is played magnificently by Tom Hardy, who gives Bane a real since of menace and makes him feel like an intimidating figure. More on him later. Anne Hathaway is great as Selina Kyle, who is never called Catwoman. She plays her with a certain elegance and sophistication, and really does make you feel like Selina is complex and has complex motives. Even though she isn’t nearly as sexy as Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, she does a good job of being sexy as well in the movie. Overall, it’s a very good performance. Christian Bale stands out as Bruce Wayne/Batman, finally. Although he has done a very good job in the first 2 movies, he has always been overshadowed by someone else. Not in this one. He does a brilliant job of conveying the emotional and physical agony that Bruce has gone through and does go through in this movie. It really feels genuine that Bruce is progressing and becoming stronger through the hell he goes through early on in the movie. You also really can feel that he truly is the hero Gotham deserves and needs at this point, and that he is willing to give everything to save Gotham. It is a truly great performance, and Bale’s best one yet as Bruce/Batman.

So, what else besides the brilliant cast is good about this movie? Well, the action is absolutely the best of the trilogy and blows away the first 2 films away in that department. The arc of Bruce Wayne/Batman is very good and you legitimately see him grow in this movie to complete his trilogy long transformation in to the great hero that is Batman is very well done. Hans Zimmer’s score is fantastic as always and really sets the mood beautifully for the movie. The Batsuit is very nice in this and a lot of costumes are pretty nice as well. John Blake actually being Robin is kind of cool, as is having Talia al Ghul in the movie. I also really like the fact that this movie brings everything full circle back to “Batman Begins” by including references to it and “The Dark Knight”, as well as wrapping up some lingering storylines. The climax is great and the ending has some good things about it, like Batman finally being recognized as a great hero and getting his own statue, as well as Alfred’s part(s), and the fact that Bruce ends up with Selina. Bane was a very good villain for the most part, but again, more on that later. There are some truly awesome moments and scenes in the movie. Bane breaking Batman’s back admittedly gave a nerdgasm. Also Bruce’s discussion with the doctor in the prison and realization of what he must do to escape the pit, as well as the actual escape, is fantastic. Another very cool moment is when during the final battle Batman takes control and starts to beat on Bane and is winning. That scene is just fantastic. Also, Dr. Crane’s cameo is fantastic.

However, there are some things that do drag this movie down some. There are several pointless characters, such as Selina’s sidekick, Daggett and his stooge, and Foley (who just ends up being a huge jerk). None of those characters really have a point and go nowhere. All the twists are predictable, and the fact that Miranda is really Talia is one of the worst kept secrets in movie history. It’s a minor gripe, but Selina is never called Catwoman. Batman and Alfred are both barely in the movie. There are major plot holes, such as, why would Bane and Talia wait 5 months to detonate the bomb when they had the detonator the whole time? Another one would be how does Blake know who Batman is? Also, how do we go from Bruce and Talia not being involved romantically at all to them having sex? Or why are Selina and Bruce suddenly in love at the end? Did we miss something? The ending is unbelievable sequel baiting for a sequel we won’t be getting, and a slap to the face of the fans. Ra’s al Ghul’s cameo was very “The Empire Strikes Back”-esque and I have expected him to tell Bruce to go to the Dagobah system to train with Yoda. Speaking of Ra’s, they made him seem like a total jerk in this movie and made it seem like he cared for no one but himself, when they clearly established he loved his wife and daughter in the first movie. Also, why would he not listen to Talia when she tried to plead with him? Totally against the character of Ra’s al Ghul. And there are some things that need further discussion. These things are Bane, Talia, and the meandering theme(s) of the movie.



I have mixed feelings when it comes to Bane in this movie. On the one hand there are some very cool things about the character. Hardy’s performance as Bane is very good, especially the facial expressions. You do really get a since that this guy is intimidating and a force to be reckoned with. He is strong, brutal, and intelligent, as well as charismatic. We do also see some emotional depth in Bane, such as on the plane in the beginning. Here he has to leave a guy behind, and although you can tell he knows it’s necessary to do so, you kind of feel as though Bane would prefer not to leave him and does care about his men to a certain degree, as evidenced by his facial expressions here and the way he speaks to the man. The other scene where we really see the emotional depth he has is his scene with Talia where she talks about their back story. You can see the pain in his eyes as he remembers what happened, as well as the love he has for Talia. These 2 scenes to me are well done and really show that Bane isn’t just some monster, but is in fact human. There are some problems I have with Bane here though. It wasn’t a huge deal, but Bane’s size and lack of Venom did produce some issues. He did muscular and imposing that way yes, but next to Batman he was short and not as physically intimidating. The lack of Venom induce strength came in to play in 2 scenes. The first was the sewer fight with Batman. Batman is in a suit of full body armor, but somehow a Venom-less Bane inflicts a great amount of pain on Batman with body blows and breaks his back. How is this possible? I am not denying the general coolness of the scene, but that is something that was strange. Another moment when the strength thing was an issue was when Bane punched through a concrete pillar. That just isn’t possible. There is suspending disbelief, and then there is that. Another minor thing on Bane was his voice. I understood him about 95% of the time, but there were some lines that were not understandable. Just a minor gripe. The changing of the pit story was the biggest negative on Bane though. The story of Bane escaping from the pit was a big part of what made him intimidating and was also one of the reasons Bane was able to defeat Batman initially. Well that gets thrown out the window when Talia is revealed. Not only does it change all of Bane’s character development and make it all for not, but it makes him a glorified henchman. It is really detrimental to his character in this movie. Overall though, I do like Bane in the movie. Talia on the other hand…

Where to begin on Talia? The only cool thing about her in the movie is the fact that Talia is in a Batman movie. Everything else is just awful. Her being in the film is one of the worst kept secrets in movie history and it was obvious early on that she was Talia, so the twist was not a twist at all. Almost everything wrong with her stems from the fact that she has nothing to do with the Talia from the comics. The connection between her and the League of Shadows is only that her father ran it and now she runs it for some reason, not that she was a pivotal member and helped to lead it. She is not a skilled fighter in the movie, as a matter of fact she doesn’t fight at all. She was a master martial artist and assassin in the comics. Here she hates her father and had nothing to do with him really, whereas in the comics she loved her father and was always torn between her loyalty to him and her love for Bruce. Speaking of, there is almost no connection between her and Bruce here and no love story to speak of, they just have sex once. Again, exact opposite of how the character is. Also her motivation makes no sense. She is not continuing her father’s work because she believes in it, but to get revenge on Batman for killing her father, a man that she actually hated. How does that make sense at all? Talia’s death is also one of the lamest of any villain in any movie ever, just forever cementing her as a lame character. Also, her being revealed as the mastermind behind the whole thing makes Bane a glorified henchman and erases any theme(s) that the movie was trying to get across.

Speaking of, what exactly was the theme of this movie? Both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” had a solid theme or themes that were easy to identify and made you think. Here, there is nothing resembling a clear theme. Is the theme that all rich people are bad? Clearly that is not the case, so it does not make you think about that. Is the theme that the “99%” should run the government because they are the majority? Well, they don’t do a very good job here and it’s not necessarily true that they would in real life either. Is the theme that chaos and anarchy are the better than order and government? Again, just kind of makes things worse here. So which of these themes is the one that this movie wants to get across? I think the problem is that it’s all of these. Instead of just focusing on 1 or 2 solid themes like the first 2 movies, they tried to do all of these themes at once and really failed. And why was Bane causing all of this, when he just planned on blowing up the city anyways? Also, in the end these don’t even matter because the whole point of the plan was just for revenge. This is just one area where the movie fails hard.

So it may seem like I am picking on this movie and hate it. Well, that is not the case. In fact, I do really like the movie. I do believe that the good things out weigh the bad for the most part and that it is still a pretty good movie. However, I would say it is by far the weakest of the trilogy and that the first 2 movies were by far better films. The issues I touched on do really drag this movie down some and really prevent it from being as “epic” as it could have been. It is a very good movie that I am glad I saw and will watch many more times on Blu-Ray. This is a satisfactory conclusion to a very good trilogy and cements it as the best CBM trilogy so far.


8.6/10
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49 Comments
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Ghostfire - 7/24/2012, 4:11 PM
Good review... My thoughts exactly. Great Job Durf.
Ghostfire - 7/24/2012, 4:15 PM
Wait.. what are we talking about again?
Durf - 7/24/2012, 4:21 PM
I confirm all the comments after that pic. What was this about again?
Ghostfire - 7/24/2012, 4:22 PM
IM53... still lost.. its a review about what.....? Im lost.. someone point me in the right direction!
DraculaX - 7/24/2012, 4:35 PM
cool review Durf. Dat ass 53
bagadoosh - 7/24/2012, 4:42 PM
Photobucket


LOVE the review Durf
Ghostfire - 7/24/2012, 4:42 PM
@IM53
Nuff Said..
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Durf - 7/24/2012, 4:56 PM
@Kamen: Yeah I am glad I saw it, but I wouldn't say it's a must see in the theaters
JDUKE25 - 7/24/2012, 5:03 PM
Good review, but I wouldn't say the first two were FAR better, they're all really good, which is the way it should be. I need to see it again. My initial reaction was it was my favorite out of the trilogy, but after about a week to let it sink in I probably have to put BB back at the top.
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:07 PM
@JDUKE: thanks. And yeah, maybe saying by far is a bit of an exaggeration, but there was a lot that dragged it down for me.
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:09 PM
thanks for commenting bro
Zordan - 7/24/2012, 5:15 PM
best film of trilogy
timepuzzler - 7/24/2012, 5:15 PM
Great review, Durf! Keep them coming!
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:15 PM
@IM53: that pic is epic win

@Nick: um, what?
LP4 - 7/24/2012, 5:16 PM
TDKR was actually my favorite of the trilogy lol
musashi - 7/24/2012, 5:16 PM
"Also, how do we go from Bruce and Talia not being involved romantically at all to them having sex?"

I can answer this one!

Even Batman has needs! After 8 years locked in his room, The Batman need to let his Man- Bat out!
DCfan89 - 7/24/2012, 5:17 PM
-__- that is all
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:17 PM
@Zordan: Why is that? Not being a dick, just curious as to why you believe that

@timepuzzler: thanks bro
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:18 PM
lol @musashi.
JDUKE25 - 7/24/2012, 5:20 PM
@Durf sure thing, yeah I think they could've done a better job with Bruce recovering in the prison and getting back in to the mentality of Batman. Have him training more or doing something besides push-ups and sit ups. I get the footage on the tv was giving him motivation and making him angry but I thought there should have been about 10+ more minutes on him in there.

@IM53 yeah man, the story and dialogue in that movie is great.


LP4 - 7/24/2012, 5:20 PM
Oh and great review Durf. I agree with you- Talia seemed almost...pointless in this and Bane did revert to a mere henchman after the big "reveal" that was Talia. But idk, this one had all the fighting and bat-breaking I felt the first 2 films lacked in. I was always moreover very impressed with Bane in this movie, much more than I expected!

I loved JGL's character, I loved how it also tied all 3 films together nicely, from explaining more on the effects of Harvey Dent's unfortunate actions, all the way back to explaining Ras Al Ghul's origin in the film.

Bartman87 - 7/24/2012, 5:21 PM
Great movie but I'm ready for the next incarnation
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:24 PM
@JDUKE: yeah, I agree. Kinda surprising that a 2hr 45min movie could have done with another 10 minutes. Who knew? lol

@LP4: thanks dude. I agree, Bane was much better than I thought and like I said the action is the best of the trilogy to me. And the acting was superb all around
MovieMann - 7/24/2012, 5:28 PM
In no way did I get the feeling that Bane gave a shit about the guy he sacrificed on the plane.
JDUKE25 - 7/24/2012, 5:39 PM
Why was this taken off main?
superbatspiderman - 7/24/2012, 5:40 PM
Very good and honest review. Bane didn't use Venom but he wasn't able to feel pain that is why he was so strong and able to punch a stone pillar and break it also that is why he was able to take Batman. I think the reason Talia slept with Bruce was to get his trust and she could stay hidden until she revealed he plan. Bane might have been a henchmen but he still planned and organized the whole dismanteling of Gotham's infestructure while Talia got the fusion reactor from Wayne Enterprises.
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:42 PM
@SUPER: good points bro. I still think Bane punching thru concrete is bs though. lol, but the rest does make some sense

@JDUKE: not sure
Ranger14 - 7/24/2012, 5:44 PM
Nice Job, Durf. I just saw it today and I agree with most of what you said, but had a lot more issues with the film than you did. This contains SPOILERS as well. Be warned!









Talia and Bruce's "relationship" was so forced with zero chemistry developed between them prior to hooking up. People complained about Thor and Foster falling for each other so fast, but they looked like they had known each other forever compared to the "connection" or lack-there-of between Wayne and Talia.

Bane's loudspeaker voice was annoying as all get-out for me. I didn't see any amplifiers or speakers on his mask, but his vocals were like he was on an overall speaker system that filled the room or set where ever he went. It made little sense to me. I thought, with the exception of the two times you mentioned, Hardy/Bane showed little emotion and I found him to be one-toned and you couldn't really tell if he was a good actor or not because the voice was so doctored and you really couldn't see any facial reactions or emotions. He also wasn't in the peak physical shape that I expected as far as being well-defined and cut. Somewhat excess water weight and flab for what I expected of Bane. From way back when I did not care for casting a "relatively" smaller Bane and I felt the same way leaving the film.

Both fights with Bane disappointed me. It's like Batman forgot how to fight in this film, especially in the first fight. Bane was not supposed to have enhanced strength, so his lifting Batman up with one hand was a big stretch for someone who is the same size as the other person. The last fight was very anti-climactic for me, especially when it comes down to Batman not taking out Bane when it is all said and done, but someone else.

Pacing was very slow for me and I found the soundtrack to be redundant and I was growing very weary of the drums toward the end of the film. I only got emotionally moved once in the whole film.

The ending was far too cliche' and gift-wrapped for me. I did really like JGL's role and character, which I wasn't expecting and had been critical of going in, but he is no Batman. Not just anyone can be Batman and I don't buy the premise set in the film that he is just a symbol. I get the symbol part, but to fill his shoes, he's going to need to train you in all aspects of being Batman. It's not like you can just put on the costume and be Batman. JGL has the right spirit and attitude, but didn't come across as being able to physically take on the role. His fighting skills were very questionable throughout the film. I had major believability issues with a completely broken and misplaced vertebrae healing completely in less than 5 months, with no kind of surgery or modern medicine. I know too many people with less serious back injuries that are severely physically limited to buy into that line they try to sell in the film.

I liked the acting overall. Hathaway was solid as Catwoman, but I still didn't find her anywhere close to hot and sexy like I would like to see in Catwoman. Pasty women and bright red lipstick just aren't my thing I guess. :-P

There are numerous other things I didn't care for that I won't get into now. I was going in very skeptical but expecting to see a 7.5-8/10 film. I walked out with 7/10 stuck in my head. Not a film I have any interest in seeing again. I thought it dealt with too much and edited out too much, but there's no way I could have handled any longer of a film.
Ranger14 - 7/24/2012, 5:46 PM
"Bane didn't use Venom but he wasn't able to feel pain that is why he was so strong and able to punch a stone pillar and break"

Umm...not feeling pain has nothing to do with strength. It just means you punch concrete...you don't break the concrete....you break your hand....and you don't feel that your hand is broken. ;-)
Durf - 7/24/2012, 5:47 PM
@Ranger: thanks bro. good points man.
JDUKE25 - 7/24/2012, 5:50 PM
@Ranger yeah, I thought the voice was fine but it was too loud. And about the venom/not feeling pain thing. I think it has a lot to do with his fighting style. You see dudes breaking wood, bricks, etc.. who are trained to do that sort of thing. Bane has trained with the league, plus has his pain reduced. Not someone you want to fight.
TheAmazingSpidey63 - 7/24/2012, 5:59 PM
Hey @Durf, sweet review, man. Team Durf all the way, brah! TDKR seems like a pretty sweet movie, and I'll be sure to watch it when it comes out on Blu-Ray. Again, my friend, a really great and honest review. Keep 'em coming, man. ;)




Stay EPIC, my friends!
Ranger14 - 7/24/2012, 6:06 PM
"You see dudes breaking wood, bricks, etc.. who are trained to do that sort of thing."

I was trained to do that sort of thing. ;-) But, it doesn't work that way. You don't break a solid pillar or wall. You have to be able to break completely through something, because the technique of breaking is you have to target the other side of what you are breaking and go all the way through. Not just hit the surface and break part of it. That's where you break a hand, head, etc. My instructor ended up with a concussion once breaking bricks with his head when he didn't execute properly.
Durf - 7/24/2012, 6:07 PM
@63: thanks bro. yeah give TDKR a look when you can man
GoILL - 7/24/2012, 6:08 PM
Good review Durf felt that your thoughts on Talia were spot on.
Haduken - 7/24/2012, 6:09 PM
I have to say, I completely agree with Ranger14.
Halfway thru the film, I just wanted Bane to shut up, the voice was super annoying.
The fight scene's were terrible. First one was ok but I was expecting the final battle to be truly mind-blowing and emotional, I was left with a real sour taste.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big Batfan, loved both previous installments and firmly believe the TDK is number 1 CBM. I realise my expectations were way too high for this film but I was so disappointed, I actually thought I was watching the Matrix Revolutions at one point, with the whole war aspect of the movie.
I'm not saying its bad, I just walked out with more frustation than elation.
bagadoosh - 7/24/2012, 7:07 PM
boobs are good as is cheese
Durf - 7/24/2012, 11:47 PM
Ratha. Definitely Ratha FIRG. lol
soforizo - 7/25/2012, 11:23 AM
"And why was Bane causing all of this, when he just planned on blowing up the city anyways? Also, in the end these don’t even matter because the whole point of the plan was just for revenge. This is just one area where the movie fails hard."
---
@Durf

You're right. If the bomb was going to explode automatically anyways, and they were already willing to die, it makes the rest of it look stupid. Blow the damn bomb in the stadium, end of story.

I also hated the Bane childhood twist... he really had little character development till the big reveal, and the tiny bit that he actually had, gets taken away and given to Talia. You're left wondering what with the whole bullshit about 'being born in prison' and 'not seeing the light until being a grown man'.

Admittedly the first 2 hours are a mess, clunky, litter with holes and nonsensical crap all over. If not for the last 35-40 minutes which felt good the first time I saw the movie, this film would be a total failure.
soforizo - 7/25/2012, 11:32 AM
BTW, Kudos to Zimmer as always. I was originally disappointed with the OST of the movie, because it didn't have a classic like "Molossus" or lesser but very memorable tracks like TDK's "I'm Not A Hero", but he did a great job mixing in bits of previous tracks in the actual movie. The music was spot on.
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