Ror Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

This Friday Christopher Nolan finally unveils his highly anticipated last ever Batman movie to the public. This one couldn't be any more hyped, but does it live up? Click for my Spoiler free take..

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By Mark "RorMachine" Cassidy - 7/18/2012
A good while back when shooting had just wrapped on The Dark Knight Rises, an interviewer asked director Christopher Nolan on a red carpet junket what the theme of his third and final Batman movie was. Nolan of course played it coy as ever, replying simply that we would find out soon enough. People like to attribute prevailing themes to Nolan's first two Batman movies -- fear, escalation etc -- so if I have to pin one on TDKR, I'll take this one: Hope.

Surprised? As many critics have pointed out, this is indeed the "darkest" of the trilogy, and the most melancholy. But ultimately, in many ways, it is also the most uplifting.



8 years after the events of The Dark Knight we find Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a broken shell of a man. He's a recluse, only conversing with Alfred (Michael Caine), until he encounters Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) a highly skilled cat-burglar. Kyle robs him of his late Mother's pearls, and something else, something that kick-starts the story and sets Wayne/Batman on a collision course with the unholy terror, Bane. Aiding him are his old friends Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), as well as a couple of new faces in idealistic young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a new love interest in Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). But, as his faithful friend Alfred warns him when he decides to put on the cape and cowl again, has he underestimated just how powerful and committed Bane really is?

There's quite a bit of plot -- arguably not all needed -- here which I won't go into, but the basic story is a simple one well told. Very well told, in fact it might be Nolan's most cohesively structured narrative yet. The pacing is spot on, although one or two scenes -- particularly that moment from the first trailer when Batman pays a visit to Gordon in hospital -- feel a bit rushed. The film looks incredible, but isn't that to be expected from cinematographer Wally Phister at this stage? Nolan has also definitely improved in the action/fight choreography department. I don't want to spoil anything but the first clash between Batman and Bane is going to be talked about for a very long time. But these movies have never been about action and spectacle first and foremost, they work so well because of the characters and the time we are given to get to know them properly. Some say Nolan's Batman movies lack heart, and while there is undoubtedly a coldness to how the stories unfold, I disagree completely -- particularly with this final installment.

Here Christian Bale gives his best performance of the three movies, hands down. He takes charge of the usual stuff (action, charm, general Bat-manning) better than ever, but it's the scenes showing a side to Bruce Wayne we haven't encountered before -- ones shared with the great Michael Caine in particular -- that he really shines in. He has the usual level of excellent support from Oldman and Freeman too, but what about these controversial (at least for comic fans) cast additions?



Those fans (or at least most of them, there will always be "purists") can rest easy, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway are both brilliant in this movie, in fact Hathaway threatens to run away with it altogether. Her Selina Kyle (never referred to as Catwoman, but it makes sense why when you see the movie) is crafty, sexy and most importantly adds a much needed sense of fun and playfulness to the proceedings. If anything my only gripe with her was that she wasn't in it enough. And then we come to Bane. Let's face it, no villain was ever going to compete with the character of The Joker for a start, he is the greatest comic book villain in history for a reason. Add to that the late Heath Ledger's incredible performance and I really don't think anyone could match up. That being said, Hardy gives it a damn good go. Acting from behind a steel muzzle which obscures most of his acting tools was never going to be easy, but he makes it work. A less interesting character than The Joker for sure, and one who's villainous motivations are a lot more conventional. But what he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in sheer brutality, and that much maligned voice? For me it was creepy and very effective -- even if I couldn't understand every single word! Yes, I'm afraid that old chestnut does come into play, and once in a very important scene too. Joseph Gordon Levitt is also on top form as Blake, bringing humanity, decency, and probably a bit more physicality than you might be expecting to the story.

If there's a weak link, I'm afraid it's Cotillard. She's good, but just doesn't have enough to do to make a real impact. To go too much into why her character doesn't really work would bring us into spoiler territory, but let's just say ..well, let's just say no more! You'll see soon enough.

Nolan was under a lot of pressure to deliver after the critical and commercial juggernaut that was The Dark Knight, and he has succeeded. Is it better? yes, in many ways it is, and in many ways the previous movie wins out. The point is that it is a worthy follow up, and a more than satisfying ending to the trilogy. I will echo a few other reviews by saying whoever reboots Batman -- whether they deliver a more faithful interpretation or not -- is going to have their work cut out.

Not without its problems (what is?), but a truly great achievement, and a brilliant film. Action packed, thrilling, thoughtful and heartbreaking, Christopher Nolan has indeed crafted one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history.











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195 Comments
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ksommer - 7/18/2012, 12:12 PM
Your review looks neat. Well put together. I'll read it now. :)
AsianVersionOfET - 7/18/2012, 12:20 PM
Looks nice! But are there any spoilers? I mean even mild ones? Cuz I don't wanna know NOTHIN!
CR4D - 7/18/2012, 12:20 PM
Great review! Can't wait for Friday!
superotherside - 7/18/2012, 12:21 PM
Great review Ror. Can't wait till I see it!
BlazinTexan - 7/18/2012, 12:22 PM
Great review Ror. I can not wait to see this!!!!
GazelTGM - 7/18/2012, 12:23 PM
Bruce Wayne/Batman is a broken shell of a man? Doesn't sound like the Batman I'm familiar with.
DraculaX - 7/18/2012, 12:24 PM
Great review Ror. This is will probably be one of the most talk about movies in the years to come.
marcel - 7/18/2012, 12:25 PM
[frick] the guy posting spoilers in the comments ban his ass now please
marcel - 7/18/2012, 12:26 PM
great review also
stidham32 - 7/18/2012, 12:27 PM
@Ror...nice review! One question the voice...has it improved yet? Cause I just watchd Begins and it was way better then than it was in TDK.
whoelsebutkevin - 7/18/2012, 12:28 PM
Great Read. Glad that this Batman Series is doing well, Can't wait to own all 3 on Blu-Ray.
InTylerWeTrust - 7/18/2012, 12:28 PM
People actually thought this was going to be bad.
Tevii - 7/18/2012, 12:29 PM
Nice review... Hope you are correct about it being better then The Dark Knight. That movie is so incredibly overrated. It was good but FAR from great, I HOPE this one is better.

Batman Begins however, was EXCELLENT.
But no matter what, from the sounds of it, we FINALLY have a SOLID Superhero trilogy. No more Spiderman part 3, Batman Forever or Superman part 3. Great news!
RorMachine - 7/18/2012, 12:31 PM
The voice is a bit gruffer than in Begins, but not at the level of TDK. Look, there are going to be people who hate this movie because it takes liberties..some big ones..with the source material. They won't be able to see past that, but they're not who I'm reviewing this movie for..so keep that in mind.
JustCallMeRazzy - 7/18/2012, 12:31 PM
That was a fantastic review!!! Im so psyched to see this!!
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 7/18/2012, 12:34 PM
@AsianVersionOfET
Don't read it, I'm not. Just enjoy those 5 stars!
Sanderman - 7/18/2012, 12:34 PM
Great review. From what I'm hearing the imax is unbelievable...too bad I don't have any real imax theatres close by
DanteSparda - 7/18/2012, 12:34 PM
There is something I want to share with you all, Hathaway is a real copycat.





And this isn't the first time they copy a pose for Catwoman:





OR



The Halle Berry Catwoman movie was released before the Secret War comic, but Hathaway's hair looks identical of that of Black Widow.

I have nothing against the movie or Nolan or whatever, but seriously what's wrong with the guy who decided to copy this poses for Catwoman?? Specially when the poses can be easely recognized by comic book fans.
RorMachine - 7/18/2012, 12:34 PM
Don't read Millanstar's reported comment, they might be spoilers...not saying if they are or not, I'm just trying to get the asshat booted sooner rather than later
ISeeStupidPeople - 7/18/2012, 12:35 PM
I trust Ror's reviews. Okay, I'm officially pumped for this movie. I still say "[frick] Twitter" though.
stidham32 - 7/18/2012, 12:35 PM
If you take the source material into context on screen thre are a lot of comics that would be flat out lame....there ae som back stores that wouldn't hold up on screen so there are always going to be liberties that need to be taken
BizarroGrif - 7/18/2012, 12:35 PM
Good review man. It's reassuring to read one that is legitimately praising the film whilst still being aware of it's weaknesses.
NerdyGeek - 7/18/2012, 12:36 PM
Great review Ror.
lunesta - 7/18/2012, 12:36 PM
great review ror my friend saw it he said it one of the best commickbook trilogy yet and he love it more than the dark knigth which he was not a fan of.
ImnotDaredevil - 7/18/2012, 12:37 PM
Friday can't come quick enough & not just because it's payday! Going for the 12.30 & 4.15 showings.Knows it.
Bandrews1 - 7/18/2012, 12:37 PM
Great review Ror, it sucks I have to wait until Saturday to see it since I have to work :/ But oh well what's one more day.
skidz - 7/18/2012, 12:37 PM
I've always seen Bane as something like a general leading his troops into an invasion. Someone more inclined to take territory rather than just destroying it. Joker would blow up Gotham, Bane would take it as a trophy.

Bare in mind, I haven't seen the movie so don't spoil anything.
HelaGood - 7/18/2012, 12:38 PM
great review, @Ror
asdalhjljh - 7/18/2012, 12:38 PM
The statement "Not without its problems (what is?)" tends to sum up my criticism of this review. The Godfather is without problems. Casablance is without problems. Star Wars is without problems. And all are deservedly 5-star reviews. A film with problems such as the signficant ones conceded by the reviewer should not be given a 5-star rating just because it is the capstone on a prominent, popular, and successful comic book franchise. Reason has given way to passion. Please either drop the rating to 4-stars, or redact (and justify doing so) your criticisms of the film. Otherwise it is not congruent, and does not do a service to the reader, except the reader that is merely looking to fap his ego.

UrbanKnight - 7/18/2012, 12:39 PM
Nice. Thank you for that Ror.
ThunderCougarFalconBird - 7/18/2012, 12:41 PM
Great review! Can't wait to see this!


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GodzillaKart - 7/18/2012, 12:42 PM
Great review Ror! Really looking forward to this.

BB: 4/10
TDK: 9/10
TDKR: ?

Assuming I like TDKR as much as I think I will, can I call this one of the greatest trilogies of all time? Only if I give points for improvement and effort...cause BB was a stinker.
RorMachine - 7/18/2012, 12:42 PM
No, you're wrong. ALL movies have problems, some are just so minute that they don't register, while some are larger. 5 stars doesn't mean perfect, because nothing is, it means the movie is an excellent example of its genre and a must see.
asdalhjljh - 7/18/2012, 12:43 PM
@Ror- the problems registered enough for you to mention them.
UncleJimmy - 7/18/2012, 12:43 PM
this is on par with other 5 star movies? Taxi driver? raging bull? the godfather?
...right.

You are to into this to be objective Ror. way to big of a fan of Nolans.
sonofsamadams - 7/18/2012, 12:43 PM
[frick] yes. Best movie of the year.
UncleJimmy - 7/18/2012, 12:44 PM
Batman begins 9/10
TDK 7/10 (at best)

how do you get a 4 godzilla fart?!
Greengo - 7/18/2012, 12:47 PM
I LOVE EVERYBODY!!!
Sanderman - 7/18/2012, 12:47 PM
darthdanimal - that's your opinion. You state those other 3 films as films with no problems yet someone else may say those films have problems and still give it a 5*.
HavocPrime - 7/18/2012, 12:48 PM
Nice review, Firday is going to be awesome.
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