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The Dark Knight Rises – Great movie, but not quite the greatest Batman movie

The Dark Knight Rises - Theater Review
Release Date: 07/20/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 4 Clacks

"The Dark Knight Rises" is an excellent conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, with plenty of action and a pretty engaging plot.


Just to make things easy, here is the least spoiler-filled review I can write while still reviewing it at all. After a few days, I’ll write a more “spoilery” article with some actual analysis of the plot and themes.

The Dark Knight Rises was a good movie, if more predictable and straightforward in some ways than its predecessors. The only weak performance was Matthew Modine’s Deputy Commissioner Foley, who seemed a bit caricaturish and flat. Gary Oldman kicks a lot of ass (finally!) and he ain’t the only one. Given the numerous twists the movie throws at you, try to prevent yourself from learning anything about the plot. At the end of the movie, it felt like a satisfying conclusion, not at all disappointing.

As for the acting of the primary characters, Tom Hardy was a superb villain, physically imposing with a dark sense of humor that isn’t in the movie enough. It’s not Heath Ledger levels of awesome, but that was the best supervillian performance of all time. Marion Cotillard (another of several Christopher Nolan repeats) is suitably alluring and intriguing, if not a completely fleshed out character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings action and energy to his role, and remains one of the coolest performers of his age.

I know many people pre-hated the casting of Anne Hathaway (see my hilarious article about it), and some of those people will still not like the performance here. As for me though, I thought she did a pretty good job, if not as great as some of the other ones. But there are some pretty impressive actors here, like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, putting actual effort into it, shockingly enough. The thematic structure of the movie followed in ways that made sense from the rest of the Batman movies, and the character arcs worked well. One of the biggest problems going into the movie is that the trailers give away too much — I won’t specify, but avoid all videos if you want the maximum effect.

Is it the bestest movie ever? No. Best superhero movie this year? Maybe. The Avengers was a lot of fun and very tonally different, but in some ways I liked this one better. Avengers didn’t really say anything, it was a fun, shiny time. TDKR says a lot, but that means it can get muddled and jumbled at times. I still enjoyed it, though.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

5 Responses to “The Dark Knight Rises – Great movie, but not quite the greatest Batman movie”

July 20, 2012 at 8:49 AM

In a lot of ways it’s such a deconstructed Batman film that it stopped being a superhero movie at all … The Dark Knight did this too, but not to this degree. For me it fit perfectly and connected to the other two movies in a way I wasn’t expecting, but it’s not as strong a movie on its own. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it beyond that but I am on about 3 hours of sleep right now.

Oh and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was stellar in this, especially considering he’s playing a brand new character in a movie filled with iconic characters.

July 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM

True, it spends a lot of time addressing whether Batman is useful at all.

July 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM

I think the movie just comes with such impossibly high expectations, that people are going to be disappointed by it, one way or another. But, it’s not Spider-Man III! I thought it was epic, and maybe have a small nitpick or two, but nothing major that knocks it down from a stellar, epic conclusion to the trilogy.

July 22, 2012 at 12:18 AM

It was excellent for what it was – the conclusion of Nolan’s Batman saga, the resolution to the stories and ideas explored in the previous movies. The trilogy tells a cohesive tale, and I found that very satisfying.

Despite being a fan of Anne Hathaway, I was among those who were not enthused about her being cast as Catwoman. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. One of the little details I loved was that her “ears” were not stupid little cat ears at all – they were goggles that happen to look a bit like ears when she pushed them back on her head. That really sold me on this version of Catwoman. :-)

July 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM

. . . . .

I’m right with you, Ruby … well … except for the cat ears thing.

I did notice the cat ear bow Kyle was wearing at the event when Bruce danced with her. Nice subtle touch.

You said it: This chapter was excellent for what it was with resolution, a nifty wrap up.

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