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The Dark Knight Rises: The Robin to Dark Knight’s Batman

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Christian Bale contemplates putting on the suit | Warner Bros.

After years of waiting, Batman has finally come back out of the cave to deliver the last movie in Christopher Nolan’s directorial trilogy. The hype surrounding The Dark Knight Rises rose to heights even the most daring of bats wouldn’t attempt to fly. Was it worth the wait? Is this the Batman film fans would consider the best ever? I’m not jumping to a quick “Yes” to either question.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the end of The Dark Knight. If you’ve never seen The Dark Knight, minimize this review and go watch it. I hear that movie’s Joker was pretty good. After the events of that film, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is presiding over a new draconian police force, and Batman has become a legend. Gotham City is doing fine without any bats until a ruthless mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy) starts raising hell. With no other options, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced to come out of retirement and sign a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Or become Batman again. It is one of those two.

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I liked a lot of things about this movie. The music, cinematography, acting, and visual effects are all outstanding. Gary Oldman once again delivers a captivating performance as Commissioner Gordon. Anne Hathaway also does a great job at not being a stereotype female character in a superhero film. Christian Bale is a great Bruce Wayne, and his Batman voice is still hilariously unnecessary.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) think about other words that rhyme with bats and cats | Warner Bros.

With that out of the way, it is time to talk about what isn’t so good in the movie. In the comics, Bane is a towering mountain of uncontrollable Spanish fury. In The Dark Knight Rises, he is 5’10” with a weird British accent and a gas mask. I don’t mind Nolan’s new spin on the character, but Bane’s whole gimmick was being huge. Taking that away, the character really isn’t all that interesting. Still, I don’t think Tom Hardy did a bad job, but it is nowhere near Heath Ledger’s now legendary “hobo Joker” performance.

If your villain isn’t strong, the rest of the film better bring the heat. Unfortunately, it fails to do so fast enough to be effective. This already long film starts painfully slowly. It takes forever for the other characters to nag Bruce Wayne out of his new isolated hermit lifestyle. Every character finds the time to pester Wayne endlessly about everything. Catwoman even finds the time to give Wayne (and us) an awkward rant about how rich people don’t care about the plight of the poor. Why am I watching a social commentary? Where’s Batman?

“Where’s Batman?” is a question you will be constantly asking during the movie. It takes at least an hour for Christian Bale to finally put on the suit. It will be another 45 minutes before he puts it on again. I said Christian Bale is a good Bruce Wayne, but this movie went overboard. There is more Wayne than Batman. The other characters get even more screen time than Bruce Wayne or Batman.

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Bane (Tom Hardy) rocks a stylish coat and gas mask combo | Warner Brothers

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a random cop named John Blake. Gordon-Levitt fits in pretty well, but he mysteriously becomes the main character for long stretches of the film. He becomes our link between Batman and Commissioner Gordon and serves as the most relatable character for members of the audience who didn’t see the other movies. At the very end of the film, it is shockingly revealed why this random police officer was important enough to focus on this whole time. By then, I really didn’t care.

The plot of the film is pretty bland, but Nolan still manages to make it convoluted anyway. We jump from character to character at a moment’s notice, and our only chance at making sense of what is going on is lost in Bane’s garbled speech through a mask. The film has a big twist that will rock the audience, and everyone will drown in a sea of gasps. This twist, however, assumes the audience knows absolutely nothing about Batman. If you do, you will see it coming a mile away, and it will totally ruin the surprise. It did for me.

I think it is safe to say that The Dark Knight is still the best Batman film out there. The Dark Knight Rises is not a bad movie, but it’s not a fantastic movie either. I enjoyed watching it, but I’m not eagerly anticipating the DVD release. The movie did give me something to look forward to, though. Hopefully, you get the Man of Steel trailer at your showing like I did (though see why Jane thinks it’s confusing). It easily makes the bad parts of The Dark Knight Rises easier to forget.

John Dempsey

John Dempsey is a young writer who specializes in manly things like explosions and terrible character development. He graduated from Penn State in 2011 with a Journalism degree. While there, he wrote humorous columns that sometimes resembled useful information on the Penn State news blog, Onward State.

John Dempsey has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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  1. Totally disagree, Fantastic film to be sure. Perfect ending to the trilogy.

  2. totally disagree as well this movie is so amazing. have you seen the first movie? this ties directly with raz al ghoul wanting to destroy gotham and Nolan very discreetly brings in talia through bane and bruce wayne and batman finally get to rest in heaven with his parents. saw the movie twice already going to see it again! this is a modern masterpiece !

  3. I agree almost completely. Finally an accurate review. Not like the brown-nosers you’ve been hearing from as of late. What happened to “real movie critics” who don’t just say yes it’s good cause it’s gonna make big bucks? Good stuff and right to the point! Cheers!

  4. Wow. I was blown away by your review. I personally was so impressed by this movie and everything in it from the acting to the writing to the cinematography to the music. It was all first-class entertainment. Tom Hardy as Bane was fantastic and my favorite character in the film. I think this was the best of the three films and I can’t wait to see it again. I understand not everyone will agree, but I don’t think critics in favor of this movie are just paying lip service. The single best comic-based movie trilogy to date. Go see it, you won’t be disappointed by any stretch of the imagination. 

    • I also loved this movie, but loved The Dark Knight just a tad more. What annoyed me most about Dark Knight Rises is that it was hard to hear what Bane was saying at times. I wanted to reach through the screen and rip off the mask so I could tell what he was saying.

      Also – and this was possibly the sound quality in the theater where I saw it — the music overpowered the dialogue in spots, especially near the end during those crucial scenes.

      But these are minor annoyances, and I still think people should see The Dark Knight Rises at some point.

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