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Review: The Dark Knight Rises (Chris Bumbray's take)

Jul. 20, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has hung up his cowl and is living as a recluse- while Gotham City rebuilds itself under the guidance of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). Batmans forced to re-emerge after a masked mercenary, Bane (Tom Hardy) begins committing random acts of terror throughout the city. But, in his dogged pursuit of Bane, and his preoccupation with jewel thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Batman- after years of inactivity, makes a the fatal error of underestimating his new opponent- plunging Gotham City into a nightmare from which it may never escape.

REVIEW: I dont think anyone could argue that Christopher Nolans take on the Batman saga has raised the bar against which blockbusters are judged. More than a hit, THE DARK KNIGHT was a pop-culture phenomenon. A follow-up was inevitable, but Nolan took his time to craft the conclusion to his trilogy. As a result, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES feels like an organic, natural end to an incredible series, and easily maintains the level of excellence weve come to expect from not only the series, but from Nolan himself.


As you read this review, bear in mind that I was unable to see TDKR in IMAX, so when I tell you that it ruled me, youll know that this isnt a knee-jerk reaction to whats bound to be incredible eye candy on the giant IMAX screen. From the moment Hans Zimmers anarchic, signature Dark Knight theme kicked in on the soundtrack over the opening logo, I was right back in Nolans Bat-universe, which is right where I like to be. I went in with impossibly high expectations, but damn if Nolan didnt exceed them all.

If you re-watch the first two films before heading into TDKR, youll get a lot more out of what Nolans doing here. The focus here is where its always been- squarely on Bruce Wayne. The villains and the action are secondary. While he was already good enough to be the best Batman we ever had in the other films, here- Bales performance is even better, with him going through the wringer, emotionally and physically. Its hard to get too much into it with heading into spoiler territory, but his arc here is positively epic.

Bringing the film in at just under three hours allows Nolan to give the Batman legend the epic finish it deserves, and like BEGINS, we get extended amounts of time with Bale out of the cowl. The entire midsection, following his initial battle with Bane is easily my favorite part of the film, with Wayne forced to rebuild himself physically and emotionally while trying to survive in a place that could literally be called hell on earth. If you enjoyed all of the League of Shadows stuff from BEGINS, this section will be a particular treat- with it culminating in a final revelation about the group that leads into the epic forty-five minute finale thats such a pulse-pounding cinematic rush that I was literally out of breath by the time the credits rolled.


Like the other films, TDKR is also an ensemble piece, and everyone gets their due. Tom Hardy as Bane will no doubt suffer from the fact that everyone will be comparing him to Heath Ledger as The Joker, but to both Hardy and Nolans credit- no attempt is ever made to shoehorn him into that mold. Yes, Ledger was great- but lightening doesnt strike twice. Rather, Bane is more in the mold of Liam Neesons Ras Al Ghul, with him, in a way, being Batmans freakish, evil alter-ego. If Bruce Wayne had stayed with the League of Shadows, he might have ended up like Bane. Hardy brings not only a truly demented sense of dedication to the part, but also a primal physicality that makes it believable that he could own Batman in a fight. Hidden behind a mask, Hardy has to do the majority of his acting with his eyes- which take on a cold, dead look- utterly devoid of any emotion- which is chilling. As for his voice- have no fear, Bane is easily understandable throughout (the opening was almost surely re-looped) and sounds a bit like his own BRONSON by way of Darth Vader.

Probably the best addition to the saga though has to be Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (whos never called Catwoman)- a jewel thief whose dealings with Bane put her squarely on Batmans radar. Sensing something within her that distinguishes her from the people she works for, Batman tries to bring her into the fold throughout the film, and Hathaways performance is brilliant. Kyles main motivation, above anything else is self-preservation, and unlike Pfeiffers approach to the part, shes not unhinged in the least. In fact one could say shes the shes a lot saner than Bruce Wayne. Hathaway brings a lithe, cat-like grace to the part- that perfectly complements Bale and Hardys brute force. Expect Hathaway to walk away from TDKR with mass-praise from both fans and critics.


Another new addition to the series is the luscious Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, who provides Bruce Wayne with a much needed, flesh and blood love interest. A billionaire philanthropist in her own right, her initial scenes opposite Bale are charming, with her figuring in a major way into the devastating conclusion.

All of the other key players from the franchise are back for TDKR. My only criticism might be that Alfred gets the shaft a bit, with his screen time being limited in this installment- but thats only because I love me some Michael Caine. While he may not have much in terms of quantity, in quality he makes his presence felt, and his relationship as Waynes surrogate father takes on an added dimension, with Alfreds increasing horror at the physical and emotional ravages Wayne suffers throughout being particularly affecting.

In terms of importance, the player to get the most screen-time is probably Gary Oldman as Gordon, who, along with his protg- John Blake- played by a really solid Joseph Gordon-Levitt, becomes a kind of Charles De Gaulle figure once Gotham falls into Banes hands. Morgan Freeman is also back as Lucius Fox, although like Caine, he takes a bit of a backseat in this entry. Theres only some much you can do in three hours, and if Nolan gave everyone his due- this film would have come in at four hours plus (which would have been fine with me).

Suffice to say, at 165 minutes, TDKR is packed to the brim with enough drama and spectacle for three movies. But- what I like most about these films is the fact that Nolan tends to hold back a bit on the action until the storyline has evolved in a way that gets us invested to the extent that when the action hits, it hits hard (and I do mean hard- as this really pushes the boundaries of PG-13). As such, the hand-to-hand bouts with Bane, and the final battle for Gotham City rank among the best action sequences of the last few years. Meanwhile, Hans Zimmer (co-composer James Newton Howard sits this one out) provides one of the best scores hes ever written, with it sounding a bit like an industrial take on John Barry. Truly, his work with Nolan has led to the best work of his career, and if you dont rush out and get your hands on the soundtrack after- you dont know good film music (I wish Zimmer would score a Bond film). Meanwhile, Wally Pfister, even in conventional 2:35:1 prints pulls off some incredible shots- although I wont really be able to judge his work until I see the IMAX version.

In the end, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is everything that I hoped it would be and more. Looking at my ratings for the last few Nolan films, I notice that they have a knack for earning perfect scores- and thats not going to change here. More than any other modern director save for maybe Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, PT Anderson and Nicholas Refn, Nolan has a talent for making exactly the types of films I crave. He brings a sense of art and spectacle to the blockbuster that calls to mind past greats like Stanley Kubrick and David Lean. While he may be done with the Batman series, I have a feeling Nolan himself is only getting started- and I cant wait to see what he does next. In the meantime, we can be grateful that we have yet another classic to obsess over.

Extra Tidbit: My deepest condolences to the friends/families/victims of the shooting in Colorado. Truly a horrible thing that casts a terrible shadow over a great film.
Source: JoBlo.com

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-1
11:34PM on 09/25/2012
Nolan is great and everything but in no way is this movie a 10/10.
Nolan is great and everything but in no way is this movie a 10/10.
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9:25PM on 08/06/2012

Huge disappointment

I don't understand how Prometheus gets criticized but the Dark Knight Rises gets praised even though it is full of the same mistakes. Everyone acts out of character, characters motives are questionable. Also a plot twist isn't a plot twist if you blatantly lie to your audience just to hide the reveal, which nolan does at least two times in the film. There are so many things wrong with this movie I am completely shocked by the level of praise it is getting. The only time the film was
I don't understand how Prometheus gets criticized but the Dark Knight Rises gets praised even though it is full of the same mistakes. Everyone acts out of character, characters motives are questionable. Also a plot twist isn't a plot twist if you blatantly lie to your audience just to hide the reveal, which nolan does at least two times in the film. There are so many things wrong with this movie I am completely shocked by the level of praise it is getting. The only time the film was interested was when JGL was on screen. And how is no one else upset about the cop out ending!? 6/10
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2:46AM on 07/28/2012

The worst of the lot...

oh my god...The Dark Knight Rises is absolute pretentious bullshit, what Nolan built with Batman Begins and Dark Knight he has dismantled with this watering down of both a great piece of classical literature and one of the most iconic comic book heroes ever created. Bruce Wayne would never have been fooled by such a stupid plan. Nolan completely disregards what characters such as Ra's al Ghul and Amanda Waller insists, that Wayne is the greatest detective that ever existed. 10/10 seems like
oh my god...The Dark Knight Rises is absolute pretentious bullshit, what Nolan built with Batman Begins and Dark Knight he has dismantled with this watering down of both a great piece of classical literature and one of the most iconic comic book heroes ever created. Bruce Wayne would never have been fooled by such a stupid plan. Nolan completely disregards what characters such as Ra's al Ghul and Amanda Waller insists, that Wayne is the greatest detective that ever existed. 10/10 seems like pandering t the fanboys, and just demeans all credibility you had as a reviewer Bumbray. The movie is filled with dialogue that seems they boiled a thesaurus and fed the broth to the cast, most of whom seem not to like the words they are uttering. The actual plan to "break the bat" took 3 months of whittling down by Bane because even he was weary of the Bat. 7/10 at best.
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12:50PM on 07/22/2012

JGL was awesome.

****************SPOILER ALERT*******************************
Abdog47 :Joseph Gorden Levitt movie featuring Batman, but 10/10 is absurd.
Yes because he is the Dark knight that is rising. (Can't wait for a Nightwing movie)
****************SPOILER ALERT*******************************
Abdog47 :Joseph Gorden Levitt movie featuring Batman, but 10/10 is absurd.
Yes because he is the Dark knight that is rising. (Can't wait for a Nightwing movie)
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+5
5:54AM on 07/22/2012

Thumbs down for questioning a review?

I've noticed that people who question this getting a 10/10 get hit with thumbs down. Thats fine but this film is flawed. I for one, don't think this is Zimmer's best work in years, especially when you consider that this is after Inception and Rango (both superior scores) and that most of this music is as repetitive as it his work on POTC4. Every actor is fine in their part but that doesn't mean that their part is necessary and almost every character didn't get enough development imo. Modine,
I've noticed that people who question this getting a 10/10 get hit with thumbs down. Thats fine but this film is flawed. I for one, don't think this is Zimmer's best work in years, especially when you consider that this is after Inception and Rango (both superior scores) and that most of this music is as repetitive as it his work on POTC4. Every actor is fine in their part but that doesn't mean that their part is necessary and almost every character didn't get enough development imo. Modine, Cotillard and Juno Temple could have been excised completely. I feel like Nolan was just writing parts for actors he wanted to work with and I think you are COMPLETELY wrong about Oldman getting the most screentime. That award goes straight to JGL, whose character was fine but nothing special. I did enjoy his scenes but I always had this voice in my head asking where Bruce Wayne or Alfred was. You say Alfred gets the short end of the stick. I say he gets 3 scenes and most of those if not all are redundant. Bane was strong, his voice was distractingly redubbed but I do agree the fights with him are strong. Still, I felt the movies fear of showing us anything made him a little silly at times. His menacing movie is the Joker's magic trick mixed with Darth Vader's force choke but it was always goofy to me and never looked painful or horrifying.
And I know that you are trying to avoid spoilers and I will try to avoid them too but every review leaves out the key part of the climax which bears a strong resemblance to something we saw in The Avengers but it was out of place here and just felt stupid to me. Let me just say that Rhas wanted to tear the city apart through fear. The Joker wants to tear the city apart through violence and chaos. Bane wants to the people to 'take back their city' so he can rule the city, I guess but even that isn't entirely clear once the last piece is introduced. Also, I don't know if everybody was fine with it or if nobody wants to address it but the plot twists at the end were soap opera level stuff at best.
Instead of going Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and giving the film its own adventure with characters we've come to know and love, this film decides to go the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull route, bringing back characters, imagery, and lines from the last films without doing anything new with them. Another comparison could be made to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise which opted to make the first film look as though it was "cleverly designed" to support a sequel, so elements that should have been left alone were now given this added weight of "significance." Weight these elements could not nor were ever meant to support.
However, the thing that astounds me the most about this film, and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing yet, is how this is the ONLY trilogy where every film is so stylistically different that they don't appear to exist in the same universe. BB is comic booky (in a great way). TDK is a crime move. TDKR is almost an apocalypse film, with frozen rivers and baren streets. Because they chose not to shoot in Chicago, none of the buildings look the same and it made me feel as though this wasn't even Gotham, which always felt crowded and tall.
And finally, my hat goes off to Anne Hathaway who impressed me, but I wonder how this movie would be any different if her character was removed entirely as well. And that scene of her pictured above was pointless as well.

Don't attack me and tell me I didn't get it or say that I'm an idiot for not liking this "obvious masterpiece." This is just my opinion. I do not come here to make you hate this movie, but merely to ask you to see the film as what it is, a good but flawed ending to this series.

... and I hope we can still be friends.
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11:25PM on 07/21/2012
"More than any other modern director save for maybe Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, PT Anderson and Nicholas Refn, Nolan has a talent for making exactly the types of films I crave".
THIS.
"More than any other modern director save for maybe Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, PT Anderson and Nicholas Refn, Nolan has a talent for making exactly the types of films I crave".
THIS.
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12:49PM on 07/21/2012
are you kidding me? 10/10? this is a PERFECT movie? flawless?
are you kidding me? 10/10? this is a PERFECT movie? flawless?
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10:49AM on 07/21/2012
awesome review c-bum
awesome review c-bum
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10:28PM on 07/20/2012
Your opinion is noted but a 10/10 is really pushing it. This film wasn't even close in quality to The Dark Knight.
Your opinion is noted but a 10/10 is really pushing it. This film wasn't even close in quality to The Dark Knight.
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7:00PM on 07/20/2012
I concur..
I concur..
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6:15PM on 07/20/2012
Great Review, surprised you didn't talk a little more about JGL. I thought he was awesome.
Great Review, surprised you didn't talk a little more about JGL. I thought he was awesome.
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2:27PM on 07/20/2012
Much better review than expected from Mr. Bumbray. I thought it would be nothing but comparisons to TDK. Very well written review here & very good in detailing the movie without giving too much away. I too would have sat through a 4 hour version, but slightly over 2 & a half is just as great. Can't wait to see this bad boy in theatres. Great reviews all around on both parties & what i expected from JoBlo considering the amount of coverage this week.
Much better review than expected from Mr. Bumbray. I thought it would be nothing but comparisons to TDK. Very well written review here & very good in detailing the movie without giving too much away. I too would have sat through a 4 hour version, but slightly over 2 & a half is just as great. Can't wait to see this bad boy in theatres. Great reviews all around on both parties & what i expected from JoBlo considering the amount of coverage this week.
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12:32PM on 07/20/2012
Absolutely epic film. I love the first 2, and I can't choose between them all when it comes to which was better. It was like one big movie, they moved so well together, making one complete story. Can't wait to watch it again. Each respective actor / actress throughout the franchise seriously own their role. Put that with some talented writers and director... and you got the perfect storm.
Absolutely epic film. I love the first 2, and I can't choose between them all when it comes to which was better. It was like one big movie, they moved so well together, making one complete story. Can't wait to watch it again. Each respective actor / actress throughout the franchise seriously own their role. Put that with some talented writers and director... and you got the perfect storm.
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12:12PM on 07/20/2012
I gave the film full marks as well, but right now I am quite shaken by the horrific news of a shooting that broke out at a midnight showing of the this film in Aurora Colorado. The victims were people who just went to catch a movie and enjoy themselves, nobody should ever have to die this way. I hope the shooter was not inspired by the plot of the film, and it is even worse that it seemed like it was part of the show initially and that many were cosplaying, according to the news clip, so the
I gave the film full marks as well, but right now I am quite shaken by the horrific news of a shooting that broke out at a midnight showing of the this film in Aurora Colorado. The victims were people who just went to catch a movie and enjoy themselves, nobody should ever have to die this way. I hope the shooter was not inspired by the plot of the film, and it is even worse that it seemed like it was part of the show initially and that many were cosplaying, according to the news clip, so the killer appeared to be part of that crowd and took advantage of the loud noises from the action scenes in the film. I hope justice is brought to this man for the sake of the victims, their families and the community at large.
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+19
12:00PM on 07/20/2012
Saw it last night and agree with the review totally. This trilogy is a Bruce Wayne story and Bale does his best performance as Wayne in this one.
Saw it last night and agree with the review totally. This trilogy is a Bruce Wayne story and Bale does his best performance as Wayne in this one.
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-94
11:41AM on 07/20/2012

Huge Disapointment

This movie is a 6/10 at best. Before you randomly give me a thumbs down, know this: I'm a fan of all of Nolan's movies and even paid to see the trilogy last night. Even my friends who "liked" it said TDKR was easily the weakest one and felt disconnected from the first two. I understand that some people may like this Batman movie, my apologies, I mean this Joseph Gorden Levitt movie featuring Batman, but 10/10 is absurd.
This movie is a 6/10 at best. Before you randomly give me a thumbs down, know this: I'm a fan of all of Nolan's movies and even paid to see the trilogy last night. Even my friends who "liked" it said TDKR was easily the weakest one and felt disconnected from the first two. I understand that some people may like this Batman movie, my apologies, I mean this Joseph Gorden Levitt movie featuring Batman, but 10/10 is absurd.
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5:55PM on 07/20/2012
OUCH! No thumbs down from me although I thought it was great. With so much going on in this movie though I feel like a second viewing may increase its value.
OUCH! No thumbs down from me although I thought it was great. With so much going on in this movie though I feel like a second viewing may increase its value.
6:15PM on 07/20/2012
JGL did get a lot of screen time but I love him as an actor so i was cool with it. The story was still heavily focused on Bruce Wayne though. He probably got close to if not double the screen time Levitt did.
JGL did get a lot of screen time but I love him as an actor so i was cool with it. The story was still heavily focused on Bruce Wayne though. He probably got close to if not double the screen time Levitt did.
11:35AM on 07/20/2012

My condolences to the victims in Aurora, Colorado

Great review, Chris. Looking forward to this one.
Great review, Chris. Looking forward to this one.
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+15
11:34AM on 07/20/2012
Great review.
Great review.
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11:17AM on 07/20/2012
You da' man Chris! 12 hours to go. Also want to extend my best wishes to the families and law enforcement in Aurora, Colorado.
You da' man Chris! 12 hours to go. Also want to extend my best wishes to the families and law enforcement in Aurora, Colorado.
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