The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


I should probably start this review with a confession. I am a huge fan of all things ‘superhero’, in particular, Batman. From 1989 when I was 7 years old and introduced to Bruce Wayne, then played by the fantastic Michael Keaton, I have been hooked. I have every film, all manner of memorabilia and could be called by some a geek, I will however, attempt to be as unbiased as possible with regard to The Dark Knight Rises.

When I first saw Batman Begins in 2005, the first in the trilogy of the regenerated and refreshed Batman franchise, I was mesmerised completely by the sheer brilliance of it. Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne superbly, Michael Caine as Alfred is casting gold and the way the films are constructed and delivered is impeccable. Each aspect of the film worked exactly as it should have, it could not be beaten, or so I thought?

In 2008 the franchise delivered the next segment in the trilogy, entitled The Dark Knight. It included all previous brilliance with one added feature, Heath Ledger. I would like to state on record now, that I personally believe Heath Ledgers performance in The Dark Knight as the Joker to be one of, if not the best, performance of all time. The man more than became the role, he lost his own personality to it. As a cinematic experience goes, it would be almost impossible to better, or so I thought?

It is now 2012 and the third and supposedly final segment of the trilogy has been released, The Dark Knight Rises.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the same director as the previous two films and written by Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises concludes the story of Bruce Wayne and how he overcomes his personal demons and becomes the saviour of Gotham City.

As with the previous two films this film introduces to us a new evil, Bane (Tom Hardy).

Bane is an excommunicated member of The League of Shadows, a terrorist cell previously lead by Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) Bruce Wayne’s mentor and eventual foe in the first instalment of the trilogy, Batman Begins. Bane demands nothing less than total destruction to the hierarchy of Gotham’s society and uses a mixture of phenomenal intelligence as well as the purest of brute strength to achieve his goals. In this final instalment of the saga we are witness to Bruce Wayne’s own personal journey into and out of the darkness of his own psyche, forcing himself to overcome his fears and in some instances give in to them.

Visually it is a treat, filmed partly using IMAX cameras to give the best possible picture, Nolan utilises all his directorial knowledge and experience to deliver a film which is practically perfect. There is not any particular scene I can reference that stands out as being specifically good as each and every scene works well and is shot with perfection.

The plot works as a progressive piece from the previous two films and neatly ties in every last detail of the overall story, a story arc which mainly revolves around Bruce Wayne and what role his alter ego Batman plays in his life.

This film introduces us to a number of new characters. Bane, played by Tom Hardy is the main master villain in this instalment and Hardy plays the part exceptionally well, albeit not quite at the same level as Ledger played The Joker in the previous film. Hardy uses a fantastic physique as well as exceptional body language acting to portray the character at his rawest and most evil. The way Bane holds himself and the presence that he has on screen is a delight to watch. As I understand it, during initial viewings in the US it was said that the voice of Bane was difficult to understand, this has been rectified for this UK DVD and Blu-Ray release.

The character of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is also rejuvenated in this instalment and Hathaway plays the role with a mixture of Sexual decadence and mysterious depth perfectly.

A mention should also be made about Joseph Gordon Levitt who plays John Blake, a beat cop with an incredibly sharp instinct who senses trouble is coming. Levitt has evolved as an actor from his early days in Third Rock from the Sun and in this role he plays the part excellently. I expect this is not the last we will see of Levitt being involved in a super hero related role…

I could continue to write about this film for an age, going into great depth and detail regarding various aspects of the filming and characters, however I won’t as this would delay you from running to your nearest DVD or Blu-Ray retailer to purchase it. In fact, I’m amazed you’ve read this far? For a fan of cinema there is no question that this must take up permanent residence on your film shelf.

I originally said as a cinematic experience, The Dark Knight would be almost impossible to beat. I was right, it was not beaten. However it was very nearly equalled. The Dark Knight Rises is a truly exceptional film and one that is well worthy of a place in anyone’s Top Ten of Films.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
Runtime: 165 min
Country: USA, UK

Film Rating: ★★★★½

  1. Olly Buxton says

    nice review mike, but i confess i couldn’t get it – i thought it was overlong, bloated and silly. what was that punch up all about? and the nuclear bomb on the truck – i mean, *really*?

  2. Tue Sorensen says

    Good to hear that you’re a fellow superhero fan, Mike – but I, too, was rather nonplussed with The Dark Knight Rises. My ratings of the Nolan efforts: BB: 9. TDK: 7. TDKR: 5. I thought the franchise ended up as what we call “a terrific piece of self-indulgence”. Above all, there was far too little actual Batman in the last installment, and the story became over-convoluted. But of course, those who enjoyed it are very free to do so. 🙂

  3. Mike Heron says

    Really? The way I see the trilogy is that Batman Begins is just that, the beginning of Bruce Waynes journey as Batman. The Dark Knight is titled as such because it doesn’t claim to be solely Batman, it is The Dark Knight because that is what Bruce/Batman needs to be in that segment, Gotham’s Dark Knight. The third installment again doesn’t claim to be Batman, merely The Dark Knight Rises as that is what occurs. I actually think the titling of the films is clever. We had pure Batman in the 80s/90s, full out ridiculous action, this re-brand is more than that, as I said, more about Bruce Waynes own personal journey. I do agree that there is less of Batman then perhaps a fan would like, however I think that is the point? As a continuous, emotion based storyline these are very good. This is obviously how I see it but I do agree with you Tue, each to their own opinion 🙂

  4. Tue Sorensen says

    Well, as I see it, the “Dark Knight” moniker is just used because it is his epithet in the comics (just as the next Superman movie is called The Man of Steel), and because it is considered cool to refer to Frank Miller’s iconic The Dark Knight Returns. As a long-time comic collector who considers the superhero genre to have been in decline since around 1990, I most often disagree with modern, gritty and “more realistic” (which almost always means “less heroic”) takes on the characters. To me, the real essence and substance of the superhero are being intolerably watered down and transformed into other, more “safe” and mainstream, less radical, things. That makes it uninteresting to me, even if many production values are much better now than they ever were before. But, most of the Marvel Studios efforts have been very successful at mixing elements of the old and new, which is great.

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