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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Tom Hardy
Anne Hathaway
Christian Bale
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Marion Cotillard
Josh Pence
Tom Conti
Matthew Modine
Gary Oldman
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman
.
Directors
Christopher Nolan.
Screenwriters
Jonathan Nolan
Christopher Nolan.
Running Time
164 minutes

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The Dark Knight Rises
God help the bloke who reboots this


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Plot
Eight years after Batman disappeared, blamed for murder, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a wounded recluse, but Gotham is vibrant — until masked maniac Bane (Tom Hardy) decides it’s high time to bring the city down. Facing this new threat and mysterious cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Wayne decides the Dark Knight must rise, once again.


Review
The Dark Knight Rises
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As The Dark Knight Rises, so has anticipation. In 2005, when Christopher Nolan rebooted and resuited Batman, the cinematic reputation of the Caped Crusader was at a pitiful low after the gaudy debacle of The Film That Shall Not Be Named. Now, a short seven years later, Nolan could deliver the print of his trilogy topper in a chariot drawn by flame-breathing unicorns with diamond eyes and some people would still shrug and say, “Meh. It’s not as impressive as The Dark Knight.” In this — as within Rises itself — he could be said to be the victim of his own success. He raised the bar so high, no-one could be expected to clear it. Still, whether you believe this betters Begins or eclipses Knight, it is certainly a satisfying conclusion to what is now — we’re calling it — the best superhero series of all time.

Not that Nolan ever really wanted his Batman to be ‘super’ — instead, he posed what proved to be a compelling question: what if this were real? Sure, it’s hardly Ken Loach’s Batman (though we’d pay to see that: about a Hackney bat-wrangler with anger issues), but Nolan bends more rules of physics than he breaks, with his heart focused on the heart of Bruce Wayne: a child traumatised by the murder of his parents and raised with a rage he cannot quench. Rises asks other probing questions: Can you redeem without sacrifice? Can revenge bring peace? What the bloody hell is Tom Hardy saying?

Actually, the preview footage palaver about Bane’s babble is largely irrelevant: he may sound like Sir Ian McKellen gargling meths in a wind tunnel, but the verbal clarity of the masked, muscled monster is never as important as his brute bulk (though he does have some memorable vocal barbs). Hardy looks like he could have played the Hulk — with a CG Bruce Banner — and is more than convincing as the man who could break the Bat. For the first time, perhaps ever, you really worry for Batman, with his armoured suit unable to disguise a relative physical frailty, his body worn down by years of putting it in the literal line of fire for the citizens of Gotham.

Bane is not fuelled simply by whatever pumps through his mask, either, as Alfred (Michael Caine) observes: “I see the power of belief.” The Wayne family butler has acted as his master’s conscience throughout the films and he’s at it again here, challenging the bruised billionaire about what he could achieve if he sought social justice instead of rough. Indeed, there’s a sense that Wayne has regressed back to the boy of Begins, his journey out of the grief of his orphaning reset by the death of his childhood love.

As Gotham prospers in the wake of the criminal crackdown brought about by the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent — and his mythologising by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) — Wayne feels he can stay hidden in his mansion, a truculent Beast resisting being transformed by Marion Cotillard’s Beauty. Where his parents were active, engaged philanthropists, giving life to the city, Wayne nurses only his own grief. He walks with a stick as symbolic of his psychological frailty as his physical degeneration. Here, the film could be said to be going over old ground, but Wayne’s mental fissure has been mined in the comics for 73 years and it’s testament to Christian Bale’s stalwart, admirably unshowy but soulful performance that we once again feel for a man born to privilege but eternally trapped in a personal prison.

This is aided by a valedictory feel to the first act, with everything freighted with the knowledge of its finality and a sense that this will not end well. Caine is all heart in a beautiful recollection about his hopes for his surrogate son, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt — who looks supremely dashing despite a somewhat glamour-free role as a rozzer — also has a sorrow-fuelled speech, but with a more positive sense of belief to counter Bane’s destructive faith.

Then, when Batman finally returns, you relish the gleeful comment of a copper to a younger colleague: “Boy, you are in for a show tonight, son.” That you are, even if the film doesn’t, until the very end, match the emotional tenor of its blistering beginning. That 45 minutes or so can be called the ‘beginning’ gives a clue that Batman not only rises but lengthens. This is a long film that feels weighed down somewhat in its middle section, struggling to carry the weight of exposition. The desire for scale and belief-beggaring action also means that, curiously, what would be other movies’ budget-blitzing conclusions are reduced, in a way, to the level of mild incident. There is more plot here than there is story and as impressive as certain scenes are — the sporting spectacle seen in the trailer, for example — they can feel a little like a very expensive treadmill when you’re waiting for the emotions to really run.

As ever, Nolan’s Batman is at its best in the more intimate moments — whether it’s a man finally realising a hero’s identity, or the scene- (and jewellery-) stealing introduction of a new character. As slinky burglar Selina Kyle, Anne Hathaway is superb: physically dangerous, emotionally intriguing and sexy without milking it. (It’s a very different take from the Catwoman portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, but no less enjoyable.) As ambiguous as Kyle is, her journey shares with Wayne’s a sense of struggling for a fresh start, for a clean slate, ultimately for redemption.

Many of the best characters in the Batman universe offer a mirror to the man himself, whether walking that razor-wire between justice and revenge, or being trapped by the traumas of the past.

Dedicated fans of the comic books are unlikely to feel surprised by many story twists here, but that’s no surprise in itself given the DC icon’s extensive history. Another story strand feels a little familiar and may unconsciously reflect the director’s love of Bond (please, God, let him and Bale one day deliver 007), but it’s ideas, not schematics, that you will be mulling over afterwards. What’s impressive is how Nolan, his fellow story wrangler David S. Goyer and co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan have found a way to bring their Bat-cycle full circle without coasting — instead touching on our world within a comic-book context.

Where Avengers demolished New York with a glee unrivalled outside of a terrorist training camp, Rises takes turning Gotham into Gomorrah very seriously indeed. Nolan’s has been the Batman of the War On Terror and the credit crunch, made in an age where belief-driven crazies threatened world security (Osama bin Laden, George Bush) and men with nothing more than computers and a sense of entitlement destroyed arguably as many lives as thugs with guns. Rises plants seeds of sedition, questions the position of the financial elite and presents the plight of the 99 per cent. Even as the jeopardy ratchets and our position — as surrogate citizens, the people Batman has sworn to protect — is dire, Rises doesn’t forget to have some fun, with a pyrotechnical act that brings to mind Fight Club’s Project Mayhem. It’s this balance between sobriety and sensation that is Nolan’s most significant achievement throughout these films. Batman can easily play as either glum or camp — it takes a special talent to not just recognise his inherent absurdity and his inspirational power but also embrace them both: a talent with a taste for the theatrical.


Verdict
With spectacle in abundance and sexiness in (supporting) parts, this is superhero filmmaking on an unprecedented scale. Rises may lack the surprise of Begins or the anarchy of Knight, but it makes up for that in pure emotion. A fitting epitaph for the hero Gotham deserves.


Reviewed by Nev Pierce


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Dark Knight Rises
Empire Star Rating

RE: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

It's my favourite of the trilogy too....a decent amount of action for once for a start....but still nothing special. Doubt I'll ever buy the trilogy. ... More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 08:26, 20 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I think this is currently my favourite of the trilogy.Epic in every way with great performances, action, and humour.Was never a huge fan of Anne Hathaway but she really nails the role of Selina Kyle.Would love to see a spin off based on her character. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 21:03, 18 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The plot holes were not the problem for me, just the bland Villain and over long running time. For the first time over the three films I was actually getting bored. Making it more into a action film was a slight flaw this time. Still lots to enjoy, and some of what I didn't like about it may have been more down to how much I liked the other two. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 01:13, 18 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

L: BJORNtheBLU The Dark Knight Rises Very insightful review there. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 21:29, 17 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

If k Knight Rises parachute, you'd drop like a stone from all the holes in it. But it would be an exhilarating trip back to Earth. ★★★ ... More

Posted by max314 at 00:59, 17 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

Just a measly 86 pages? And I thought this sucker would break the ton, too. Now, much as I loved ] (see: posts /i]!), that ending a bit of a cheat, wasn't it...?* * And I'm one of the biggest "Nolan fanboys/apologists" on the web. Apparently. ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 10:05, 14 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

L: Porrohman I'd like to know how bruce got from wollaton hall in nottingham to gotham so quick! bloody stupid i tell thee. here must be some sort of space-time anomaly or wormhole in Nottingham. That would also explain how the Costner incarnation of Robin Hood got from Dover to Sherwood Forest so fast! Hey, do you think Nottingham will feature prominently in Nolan's upcoming ellar ( ALERT!eve Capaldi's new Doctor Who will be meeting Robin Hood some time soon. Ma... More

Posted by chris kilby at 10:02, 14 June 2014 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

Rgirvan44 - Really enjoyed your review. Nicely summed up everything that is wrong with DKR. For me, it was the biggest disappointment since the Matrix sequels. Haven't bothered to watch it since. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 16:17, 06 June 2014 | Report This Post


"The shadows betray you... because they belong to me."

If there is one prevailing negative factor to The Dark Knight Rises, it is solely in comparing it to its predecessors. Apart from that, this is a first-rate summer blockbuster with some of the finest action set-pieces you're likely to see in a long time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 07:07, 15 October 2013 | Report This Post


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises ... More

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Posted by BJORNtheBLU at 10:41, 31 July 2013 | Report This Post


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Ever has a film been so hyped up as The Dark Knight Rises. Probably not but it is understandable because in 2005, when Christopher Nolan rebooted and resuited Batman, the cinematic reputation of the Caped Crusader was at a pitiful low after the campy and brainless Film That Shall Not Be Named, oh I may as well say it ‘Batman and Robin.’ I now shiver in disgust. Directed by Joel Schumacher, who for a while we thought had ruined Batman forever. You see what I did there. But, a short seven years l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BJORNtheBLU at 10:40, 31 July 2013 | Report This Post


Good film though it would've been great if there weren't so many continuity errors. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Riggs at 13:19, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


The Dark Knight Rses

The Best Ending To One Of The Greatest Trilogies Of All Time ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LukeTheFilmFan at 15:06, 21 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

L: Mr Gittes Well said. Indeed, some of the plot holes people are so happy to dig into do actually have logical or emotional explanations. But, regardless, I've never really had a problem with plot holes as long as I care about the story and characters and the movie is well directed and acted. I think this new internet sensation formed by the likes of the Plinkett reviews have led some to believe that plot holes and minor flaws make movies bad when really it's because the reviewed... More

Posted by chris kilby at 11:42, 08 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The Dark Knight Rises

L: Mr Gittes Well said. Indeed, some of the plot holes people are so happy to dig into do actually have logical or emotional explanations. But, regardless, I've never really had a problem with plot holes as long as I care about the story and characters and the movie is well directed and acted. I think this new internet sensation formed by the likes of the Plinkett reviews have led some to believe that plot holes and minor flaws make movies bad when really it's because the reviewed... More

Posted by Lisamoviegeek at 12:41, 07 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

The second best trilogy closer next to The Bourne Ultimatum. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 19:59, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

Besides the Narrows though... it was always basically Chicago. ... More

Posted by rich at 18:49, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: Don_a_van L: Dannybohy I thought Nolan managed to create a great Gotham in Batman Begins, the slums, the monorail etc. Then I go to the cinema to watch TDK, first scene in bleached daylight on mundane cityscape, looking more like a scene from HEAT! and I'm like! what the hell!! I enjoyed TDK but it felt like a completely different version of Gotham from Begins. I watched Begins again at the weekend so I know what I say is the truth!.. love the calling in the Bats scene! ..... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 14:42, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: Dannybohy I thought Nolan managed to create a great Gotham in Batman Begins, the slums, the monorail etc. Then I go to the cinema to watch TDK, first scene in bleached daylight on mundane cityscape, looking more like a scene from HEAT! and I'm like! what the hell!! I enjoyed TDK but it felt like a completely different version of Gotham from Begins. I watched Begins again at the weekend so I know what I say is the truth!.. love the calling in the Bats scene! ... I've played the... More

Posted by Don_a_van at 14:15, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: AxlReznor L: MonsterCat L: Don_a_van I've yet to watch my perfect Batman movie I'm afraid. or me Adam West's Batman is almost there. lol hipster choice r the choice of someone who likes appallingly cheesy movies. ote] That too. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 12:09, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: Don_a_van L: Phubbs Cliched maybe but I just wish there was a little more dark goth involved in these films and less cop drama. ot going to get into the plot holes argument as every film has them but this IMO is the most important reason why Nolan's Batman doesn't work for me. If Christain Bale didn't have his mask, I could have been watching an episode of CSI New York (with a similiar effects\stunt budget too). Not saying Burton's films are the best by a long chalk as... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 11:58, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: MonsterCat L: Don_a_van I've yet to watch my perfect Batman movie I'm afraid. or me Adam West's Batman is almost there. lol hipster choice r the choice of someone who likes appallingly cheesy movies. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 11:58, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: Don_a_van I've yet to watch my perfect Batman movie I'm afraid. or me Adam West's Batman is almost there. lol hipster choice ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 11:16, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

L: Phubbs Cliched maybe but I just wish there was a little more dark goth involved in these films and less cop drama. ot going to get into the plot holes argument as every film has them but this IMO is the most important reason why Nolan's Batman doesn't work for me. If Christain Bale didn't have his mask, I could have been watching an episode of CSI New York (with a similiar effects\stunt budget too). Not saying Burton's films are the best by a long chalk as they also have the... More

Posted by Don_a_van at 11:10, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: TDKR

i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/197/319/batma n-bomb.gif?1320800858 ... More

Posted by Dannybohy at 09:05, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post


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