film review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

film review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

There’s a lot to be said for knowing that this is the end.

Too often blockbuster films are constructed to lead you down a merry path… right up to the point where they turn around, look you in the eye and say “Sequel? Maybe?”. We’ve all known from the start that this would be the end of Bale and Nolan’s Batman trilogy. That The Dark Knight Rises is where he wraps it all up, the full stop at the end of this Batman story.

The Dark Knight Rises, Flame posterAnd what an end it is.

As I’ve said a few times here and there, I was never a fan of Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. In fact, I did a whole section about it on Cinerama once. I got less flack than I did for my defence of The Notebook but still, I don’t think it went down too well.

Fact is, I just couldn’t get on board with the over-wrought soul-searching gritty realistic Batman that Nolan and Bale were doling out. It wasn’t a big enough story for all the angst. And Batman wasn’t a superhero any more. He was just some guy, and I don’t think the first two films ever really reconciled that idea with the superhero concept. It bored me. And tired me. Unfortunately for me though, others did not agree and the films made a ton of money. Loads of it. Suddenly all superheroes had to be dark. Meh.

When The Avengers came along in April I was overjoyed. At last the colours and spectacle were back. These were superheroes that really were super. Thank Lordi, I could get behind this. And it also made A LOT of money, maybe superheroes of the future will be fun again. This hope for the future might get me through another Nolan Batman.

As it turns out, it didn’t have to… because I loved The Dark Knight Rises.

Nolan has given it his all in this one. He has weaved a fairly complicated story out of a fairly simple concept but… he’s told it is a fairly clear way. There’s been a trend lately of trying to make a film seem more interesting than it is by keeping the audience in the dark for most of it. It’s lazy and annoying. Nolan has eschewed this idea and just let the story unfold naturally.

ok, I can’t really deny that sometimes it is nice to have a “big mystery” for a film to hang on but I think in this case Nolan knew he had a lot to say and he was going to say it, damn it. Even if it took him 164 minutes to get through it.

Ultimately, The Dark Knight Rises is a much bigger spectacle than the last two. If you’ve seen the trailers you’ll have some idea of the scale. If you haven’t I’ll just say, it’s much bigger. I found this worked much better for the… emotions… that Nolan and Bale were looking to tap into. The story is that much more dramatic than the others and thus that bit more satisfying.

Also, mercifully less time is spent wallowing in Bruce Wayne’s angst. Some time is spent yes, but it’s mostly not time spent being moody and aloof. He’s wearing his pain on his sleeve here. Perhaps Nolan realised that your hero can not spend ALL his time being moody. Sometimes he has to get to work on trying to save the city as well.

Heath Ledger’s Joker aside, I felt that the characters were better in this film too. Now, there’s a lot more of them, and there’s a bit more action than the others so no-one gets a big look-in, but I do think that it’s more consistent that the others. There were people I found irritating and unnecessary in the previous films. Not the case here.

That said, it not perfect. Far from it. If I think too hard about it I know that more than some of the reasons I liked it, will be become reasons to dislike it. Clear can quickly turn to simplistic, a harsh look at the characters could reveal shortcomings in setting up motivation. The action in particular could be said to leave much to be desired… Also, it’s not particularly fun. But then I don’t think anyone expected that.

I think the film could be best described as bombastic. Its overall imprint is greater than the sum of its parts. Christopher Nolan has aimed high here and while I think he’s hit it, others may not.

I really enjoyed this last outing of Christian Bale’s Batman, but I do hope it’s the last we see of these realist type superhero flicks. Christopher Nolan has pulled it all out of the bag now, don’t go rummaging around for more.


You can also now catch up on the first two instalments of the Dark Knight trilogy, Batman Begins and the Dark Knight at Sign up today and you get a 30 day free trial.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, I enjoyed The Avengers more.

I have all the video for The Dark Knight Rises here as well as a whole host of images here.


  1. comment-avatar
    The Movie WafflerJuly 18, 2012 - 11:27 pm

    Great opening 20 minutes, shame about the other 145.

  2. comment-avatar
    Sue CarrollJuly 19, 2012 - 10:40 am

    I have to agree, first two movies left me bored, too dour, but I also loved this one. My biggest gripes were that there are a lot of places where the dialogue was inaudible (perhaps my screening had problems), and not just Bane. This was most interesting of the 3 films to date, and I though a few people came out well from it, JGL and Michael Caine, but some great actors were left with 1 line of dialogue and that was it! Hubbys take was that the reasoning of the entire movie made no sense at all, it had more holes than swiss cheese, and without a decent reason its just set pieces.
    4/5, as I didn’t expect much and it exceeded my expectations.

  3. comment-avatar
    Nicola TJuly 19, 2012 - 11:56 am

    Harsh Movie Waffler! Kept my attention all the way through – something which neither of the other two managed.

    Sue – That was the same at ours, now Batman was a little more intelligible than he was in The Dark Knight but there were definitely a couple of time that I had no idea what Bane was saying. Which was annoying, considering how chatty he seemed to be. I would disagree on set pieces, if anything it lacked set pieces – the action really was nothing to write home about, but then that didn’t worry me.

    I do think the film makes sense, it’s pretty simple really but it was fairly full of holes – best to just ignore them and enjoy the show!

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