PaulRom Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray today, The Dark Knight Rises has received mostly positive reviews since its theatrical release this summer. What do I think of Christopher Nolan's final Batman film? Hit the jump to check out my review.

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By Paul Romano - 12/4/2012


Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 2 hr. 44 min.
Release Date: July 20th, 2012 (Theatrical); December 4th, 2012 (Blu-Ray)
MPAA: PG-13
Rating:

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.





After winning fans over with 2005's Batman Begins and smashing box office records with 2008's The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan returns for the final chapter of his cinematic Batman story, The Dark Knight Rises. Ever since Dark Knight was released to rave reviews, anticipation was through the roof. TDKR was easily one of the most anticipated films of 2012, up there with The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. With Nolan crafting the best comic book movie up until Avengers came out, "the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight Legend" was expected by many to surpass its predecessor. However, when it was released this summer, The Dark Knight Rises wasn't as well received as expected. While critically acclaimed (though not quite as much as The Dark Knight), TDKR left fans a little more divided, with many criticizing its long running time and differences from the source material (among other things). Nevertheless, it surpassed TDK at the box office, becoming the second highest grossing CBM to date.


I'll admit, Nolan's Batman series is rather special to me. Not only did it make me a hardcore fan of the Caped Crusader, but it (along with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series and the first Iron Man) also made me a passionate fan of the comic book movie genre in general. So clearly, I have been anticipating The Dark Knight Rises greatly, to say the least. And what exactly did I think of it? I absolutely loved it.

As I said before, many have criticized TDKR for having a very long story/running time. For a film this big and a storyline this deep, a long running time is a must to properly tell this tale. I'll admit that some scenes are rather slow and not as attention-grabbing as others, but rarely does a scene feel out of place or unnecessary. The final half hour is particularly engaging, and is packed with spectacular action sequences.

Speaking of the action, one major improvement in Chris Nolan's directing here is his action scenes. Many of the fighting scenes in Batman Begins were rather poorly shot, and while improved, the action scenes in The Dark Knight were a bit hit and miss (particularly the final confrontation between Batman and The Joker). In The Dark Knight Rises, however, Nolan definitely knows how to properly shoot a fight scene. From Batman and Bane's brutal first confrontation to the climatic battle between Gotham's police officers and Bane's army, every scene is shot wonderfully. Other than the occasional fight choreography being imperfect, Nolan has perfected filming an action movie. Wally Pfister's cinematography couldn't be better, giving the film a distinct epic feel to it. Hans Zimmer's score is remarkable, and is also epic. An Oscar win is a must.

As expected, the acting here is top notch. Christian Bale has previously done a fantastic job playing Bruce Wayne/Batman in the past, offering a believable human take on the legendary character. In TDKR, he gives his greatest and most emotional performance as the Caped Crusader yet. While it has rarely bothered me in the past, Bale's gritty Bat-voice isn't really perfected here. In fact, there's one scene in particular where he gets carried away, and it's actually pretty amusing. But otherwise, Bale is hands down the best Batman on film that we've had to date. Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman each give wonderful performances as their respective characters. Caine's Alfred is a particular joy to watch, and some scenes with the butler are incredibly moving. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the finest young actors of the past couple years, and he's excellent as cop John Blake, giving perhaps his best performance yet. His final scene is particularly (somewhat) surprising. Marion Cotillard's "Miranda Tate" is a decent character, although the twist regarding her true identity was arguably one of the worst kept secrets regarding the film.


Now for the cast additions that everybody has been looking forward to: Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy's Bane. I approved of the idea of Hathaway playing Catwoman for sometime before she was cast in TDKR, so I was very excited to see her take on the femme fatale. Despite fans' complaints that she wasn't the right choice for the role, she was absolutely terrific as Ms. Kyle. Hathaway's take on Catwoman is smart, sexy, and is probably the best film version of the character yet (yes, even better than Michelle Pfieffer).

The film's main villain, Bane, is played perfectly by Tom Hardy. Ever since I saw him in Warrior, I knew that Hardy would be brutal as the man who broke Batman's back. And he most definitely was. Hardy does an amazing job portraying Bane, even with a mask covering most of his face. Bane is personally my favorite Batman villain, and even though TDKR's take on the character is quite different from the comic book version, the film depicts his personality spot-on. His voice has also caused much controversy since the film's opening sequence was leaked last year, due to being muffled and not understandable to many. Other than a handful of scenes, I understood him just fine.

Now, let's get into some of the film's flaws. (I hate to admit that the movie has flaws, but is there such a thing as a flawless film?) A common statement about TDKR is that it isn't quite the masterpiece that The Dark Knight was. I can see why many think so. TDKR has an excellent story that properly concludes the trilogy, but I can't say it's as unpredictable/unexpected as TDK. Also, Bruce's relationship with "Miranda" was rather rushed. They've only met a handful of times, and suddenly they're a couple? Additionally (I'll be getting into some spoiler territory here, so if you haven't seen the film, you can skip the rest of this paragraph), the deaths of two key characters weren't properly handled. The death of one was abrupt and somewhat anti-climatic, which was surprising for such an important character. And the other death was rather laughable, in all honesty.

This isn't really a flaw in the film's story, but the biggest problem I've had with TDKR personally is that it doesn't focus as much on Batman as you would expect in a Batman film. It works perfectly as a Bruce Wayne story, in addition to the first two movies, but those who were looking forward to seeing Wayne donning the cowl for most of the film are bound to be disappointed. As I said, this doesn't affect the story negatively, but the fanboy in me always wants as much Batman screen time as possible, and I wish TDKR had more than it did. The film has a handful of other flaws, but mostly just nitpicks.

Now for the two big questions. With two genre-changing comic book movies released this year, comparisons and debates were inevitable. So, which is better: Marvel's The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises? All I gotta say is that it's like comparing apples and oranges. The two films are entirely different in almost every aspect, so comparing them would be almost pointless. It depends on what approach you prefer to see in a CBM. For me personally, I have to go with Marvel Studios for this round. TDKR is a brilliant film, but is it as groundbreaking as Avengers? Not quite. And the other question: Does TDKR surpass The Dark Knight? Again, I believe that it depends on preference. TDKR is on a more epic scale, and features a more physical villain for Batman. However, TDK's story is definitely less predictable, and many agree that Heath Ledger's Joker is a far more memorable villain than Bane. Overall, however, I have to go with TDKR. I felt more engaged on an emotional level, and there are plenty of other improvements from the first two movies (better action scenes, better acting, etc.). Although I can definitely see why some would prefer The Dark Knight.

When all is said and done, The Dark Knight Rises is an extraordinary film. It serves as a proper conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman saga, and the director successfully brings things full circle back to Batman Begins. Epic, thrilling and filled with sheer emotion, this is a movie that you do not want to miss. While not perfect (again, what film is truly perfect?), The Dark Knight Rises avoids the "third movie curse" which has plagued other popular film franchises, and is easily one of the best comic book movies to date. Here's hoping that the film receives some sort of recognition at the Oscars come February. And finally, thank you Mr. Nolan for giving us the greatest CBM trilogy so far. The director of the next Batman film definitely has some enormous shoes to fill.

Click HERE to pre-order your copy of The Dark Knight Rises.











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FireKnightRises - 12/4/2012, 6:43 AM
Awesome Movie. A Masterpiece. One of the best Films in 2012. three thumbs up!!
Kyos - 12/4/2012, 6:48 AM
I really wish I could watch TDKR and like it as much as some people. :(
FireKnightRises - 12/4/2012, 6:49 AM
@DangerStranger
hahahaha you edited your comment!! you're fan of this film 5 minutes ago lolz
Greengo - 12/4/2012, 6:53 AM
Confronted by the headwinds of seemingly insurmountable expectations, compounded with tragedy... it "rose" to be an unmitigated success.
marvel72 - 12/4/2012, 6:54 AM
i'm glad you got whatever you got from the movie,i found it the biggest disappointment of 2012.

biggest disappointment of 2012 in movies

1st the dark knight rises (nowhere near the quality of the first two films)

2nd the amazing spider-man (an average spidey film not as good as the original spider-man trilogy)

3rd prometheus (i liked it but it could of been better)
Squish - 12/4/2012, 6:56 AM
So many boners for TDKR. Batman begins and TDK are both better. TDKR didn't flow well at all and had way too many plot holes. The Nolan Johnson gagging has to stop.
Greengo - 12/4/2012, 6:58 AM
Sooooooo, some people liked it and some people didn't?

Shocking.

That must be a first in the history of cinema.

HellsHammer - 12/4/2012, 6:59 AM
I loved this film. Waiting outside for the store to open right now to get my copy!
Coldblood6 - 12/4/2012, 7:00 AM
Boring crap. Turned it off after an hour.

Still laughing at the sheer audacious stupidity of "I knew you were Batman from your eyes". That plot device shows the lack of respect nolan has for his audience's intelligence, and sadly, guys like this reviewer and most nolanites justify that lack of respect.

noaln still cannot do action; the Batman vs mini-Bane fights were worse than bar brawls between a couple of drunks. I saw the clips on youtube and felt really glad I never wasted any money to see this cinema.
mctrinket - 12/4/2012, 7:04 AM
FireKnightRises - 12/4/2012, 7:06 AM
Ranger14 - 12/4/2012, 7:11 AM
"This isn't really a flaw in the film's story, but the biggest problem I've had with TDKR personally is that it doesn't focus as much on Batman as you would expect in a Batman film."

To me, that's an automatic deduction of, at least, one star. I found that to be one of the biggest of many flaws, but I want to see Batman in a Batman film, not a wimpy, broken-down Bruce Wayne through most of it. Different strokes. 3 stars at best for me.
ChuckV - 12/4/2012, 7:12 AM
TDKR was soooooooo OVERRATED... action was subpar and i hated that we were presented with a Batman who quits his crusade TWICE!!! Really don't understand people's praising of this film. It wasn't a great Batman story. Simple.
Christuffer - 12/4/2012, 7:18 AM
I totally agree with your review, Paul. Even I couldn't give it five-stars. I would give it 4.9 out of 5.0, simply because of the way Bane died. It felt like a cheap move from Nolan.

Anyway, I'm getting really tired of everybody blatantly just calling it the "biggest disappointment of 2012", and people saying that it was "boring" and things along those lines. Holy crap guys! If the movie isn't perfect, it's automatically chalked up as "disappointing", or just plain bad? Maybe whining about it makes me just as bad as the trolls. But seriously, what's up with the "all or nothing" attitude? Why are you on this site? Do you even like comic-book movies? Do you like movies in general? What does it take to please you? Really? Your standards are so ridiculously all over the place, that it's embarrassing.
blackster - 12/4/2012, 7:19 AM
i honestly don't understand how this film's ended up being so polarizing. some claim it to be a masterpiece, while others claim it to be a shitfest.

i don't think it was the best film ever.
i don't think it was the worst film ever.
i do think it was disappointing and lame at parts.
i do think it had its moments
it wasn't really such a great BATMAN movie
but in its work right, it was still pretty good

overall it was a good movie. nothing great nothing terrible. its just sort of there, and honestly will be forgotten as time passes
QuanZen - 12/4/2012, 7:22 AM
@Nomis Well said my friend ;)
JordanKing - 12/4/2012, 7:24 AM
Better late then never?
Maximus101 - 12/4/2012, 7:26 AM
@marvel72 nobody cares lol you say the shit shit over and over and over you realize that right?
Christuffer - 12/4/2012, 7:27 AM
lol @yossarian
DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:27 AM
I loved Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I went in to this movie with medium expectations and it didn't come close to meeting them.

TDKR, to me and many others, IS the most disappointing movie of the year. It had potential to be great, but Nolan and Company dropped the ball so hard on so many levels.

Also, @Christuffer, people have opinions. You may not agree with them. Get over it, man. You like it, good for you. Many here (and many I personally know) didn't like it. Just deal with it, man.
DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:30 AM






DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:33 AM




Greengo - 12/4/2012, 7:34 AM
It's prolly gonna win an Oscar or two. We'll see.

For the record it didn't "rise" to my expectations but, for me at least, it gets better with each viewing.
That's good enough for me.
armagedom - 12/4/2012, 7:34 AM
this is how the fight between batman and bane looked like


GodzillaKart - 12/4/2012, 7:34 AM
@PaulRom: Although you liked the film far more than I did, that was a good, fair minded review.

One big disagreement I have is the fighting scenes. Bane and Bats looked like a couple of thugs brawling at the local biker bar, not highly trained combatants.

Outside of that, I thought that Bale, a great actor, was absolute shit in the role. But my feeling on that are well documented. :)
JRM1995 - 12/4/2012, 7:35 AM
Best film of 2012, EASILY....and I'm sure the DVD sales will prove that as well. Heck, speaking of comparing films apples to apples, none of the safe, watered down Marvel flicks are worth 2 cents besides the first Iron Man film...at least the Iron Man films made money, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor couldn't even break the $200 million mark domestically...pretty sad that Superman Returns and Batman Forever out-grossed those films with cheaper ticket prices.....
DrRockso - 12/4/2012, 7:35 AM
Whoa! Broderick looks just like Hathaway with her current haircut
DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:36 AM




Oh Tom. You're such a softy.



BillyM67 - 12/4/2012, 7:39 AM
Though I really enjoyed the trilogy, I have to admit that I am ready for a Batman reboot that is not so serious and shows more of Batman as a super hero. I would love to see Joss Whedon's take on him.
TheOneWhoKnocks - 12/4/2012, 7:39 AM
i think nolanites exaggerate things just to piss off marvelites & marvelites hate on TDKR just to piss off nolanites ;)
For me TDKR is one of year's best movies.Others being Avengers, skyfall,argo and life of pi.
0ptimusCrime - 12/4/2012, 7:43 AM
Damn, before the movie came out

90% was like: masterpiece and best movie ever

now: 90% says its crap...
DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:43 AM






thespiderkat - 12/4/2012, 7:47 AM
I liked the movie, and enjoyed it, but I´m not really interested on buying it or watching it again soon. it doesnt deserve all the hate is getting, but it doesnt deserve all the rabid fanboy cult-like praise either. much less being called a “masterpiece”. it was just okay, even if it was the most dissapointing of the trilogy (wich does not mean it was bad).

Personally, I´m ready for a new version of the bat. 3 movies and 8 years of nolan´s dark, gritty, melodramatic, “realistic” and pretentious batman, almost ashamed of being a comic book character, are more than enough.

Bring on the new bat; one that spends more time kicking asses and solving crimes, than whining and looking for any excuse to quit....
aztecRaingod - 12/4/2012, 7:47 AM
Um, your barely reviewing this movie? Were you stationed in Afghanistan the last 6 months?
DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:47 AM
Bane= VILLAIN OF THE YEAR!





breakUbatman - 12/4/2012, 7:52 AM
I love this movie but its ranked third out of the trilogy for me.

I feel it had the most emotion, and was the most "light-hearted" but its reliance on Begins held it back. I know the plan was to come full circle but it takes something away from the films individual identity.



It's amazing how we differ in tastes and preferences though, this is not Nolan's Masterpiece neither is it the crapfest that people claim.

DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:52 AM




Otisburg - 12/4/2012, 7:54 AM
THE MOST OVERATED FILM OF OUR GENERATION.

*DID BATMAN/BRUCE FORGET THAT HE KNEW KARATE?!

*BATMAN VS BANE LOOKED LIKE AN ALLEY FIGHT

*THE BAT, LOOKED LIKE A FLYING ASH TRAY

*WHY WASTE A GREAT EMOTIONAL SCENE FROM M.CAINE CRYING
THEN SHOWS NO EMOTION WHATSOEVER WHEN HE SEES BRUCE WAYNE ALIVE?!!? WTF!

*HASNT GOTHAM BEEN BLOWN UP ENOUGH, DO ALL BATMAN VILLIANS JUST BLOW UP STUFF?!!

*BANES DEATH WAS JUST PATHETIC,KILLED BY A WOMEN IN A SPEEDO NO LESS.

*WHEN DID BATMAN/BRUCE LEARN TO BE A TOP GUN PILOT?

THE ONLY THING NOLAN DID RIGHT WAS CAST HEATH LEDGER AS THE JOKER, OTHER THAN THAT HE RUINED BATMAN.

DrHorrible - 12/4/2012, 7:55 AM




ATrueHero1987 - 12/4/2012, 7:55 AM
Once again, people trying to start shit.smdh

Ready to get my hands on the blu ray collection.
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