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The Dark Knight Rises—movie review

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
July 19, 2012 1:00 AM
22 Comments
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Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics

It’s almost too much to hope for: a summer blockbuster that’s compelling, original, well-crafted and perfectly cast. Yet that is precisely what director and co-writer Christopher Nolan has given us in The Dark Knight Rises. As someone from the minority camp who didn’t care for The Dark Knight (but did like Nolan’s reinvention of the caped crusader’s origin story in Batman Begins) I now emit a huge sigh of relief.

That’s not to say that The Dark Knight Rises is without flaws or beyond criticism. I still find Nolan’s work ponderous at times and too self-serious—not to mention long. David S. Goyer cowrote the story that Nolan then developed into a screenplay with his brother Jonathan. They enjoy exploring the darkest avenues of human nature, and audiences have responded with great enthusiasm. But the film also has grace notes and dashes of humor I found missing from The Dark Knight.

Among its prime assets are the new role of a straight-arrow cop created for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who worked with Nolan in Inception, and a much-expanded part for the peerless Michael Caine, who brings warmth and polish to his performance as the devoted butler Alfred. Anne Hathaway has fun with the flippant character who eventually becomes Catwoman. They are joined by a superior ensemble including Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, and an unrecognizable Tom Hardy as the villainous behemoth known as Bane. (I also didn’t recognize another old favorite, British actor and onetime Oscar nominee Tom Conti, as a shaggy, bearded prisoner in the latter part of the story.)

Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics.

As for Christian Bale, he brings a great reserve of repressed emotion and physical command to his dual role as Bruce Wayne and Batman. The story begins eight years after the last film’s conclusion; Wayne has become a recluse, his body and spirit beaten down. That means there’s nowhere to go but up. Watching him harness his inner strength and build up his battered body gives us great rooting interest. Here is a misunderstood hero who is worthy of redemption.

I wish the movie didn’t take so many storytelling detours, but I’m willing to forgive a great deal because Nolan gives us such a terrific conclusion. I’m not talking about the extended race-to-the-rescue climax so much as the resolution of the story that brings every character full-circle in the most satisfying way imaginable. For that alone, Nolan should earn the gratitude of Batman fans around the world.

The Dark Knight Rises

  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Anne Hathaway portrays Selina Kyle.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine is Alfred.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt is John Blake and Gary Oldman returns as Commissioner Gordon.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox, Marion Cotillard is Miranda Tate.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Tom Hardy (Bane) Christian Bale (Batman) battling it out.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake and Matthew Modine as Foley.
  • Photo by Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    Christian Bale as Batman
  • Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures - TM & © DC Comics
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    The Dark Knight Rises

    The Bat
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22 Comments

  • Sam Keller | January 8, 2013 11:25 PMReply

    This movie was horribly dissapointing being the final installment of trilogy of two great movies, and as being the follow up to the epic The Dark Knight. It really didn't feel right, didn't fit with the other two films: music wise, action wise, plot wise, setting wise (Chicago was great in TDK), Batman wise, prop wise (the bomb looks like something you pull from Iron Man). It felt more like some cheap, cheesy superhero film the high standard Dark Knight film I come to love. I have a hard time understanding and coming to terms why people loved this film so much.

  • r.p.m. | September 6, 2012 4:13 PMReply

    Incase you've missed everything in the trilogy up to this point, you can see a slight rundown at http://voices.yahoo.com/and-batman-begins-11691546.html?cat=9

  • Drew | August 22, 2012 4:07 AMReply

    This movie is rubbish. The so called Villian,Bane, what a disappointment... I would have liked subtitles for half the gibberish he sprouted throughout the movie. The 'Twist' at the end of the movie... laughable.

    You know a movie is Crap when you keep looking at your watch... wondering "when WILL it end!" it ran about 45 minutes too long....

    I enjoyed the first two Chris Nolan / Christian Bale Batman outings immensely.

    The ONLY saving grace in this movie was Anne Hathaway (and I really thought she would have been horrible as Cat Woman). Cheers Anne, I really enjoyed your performance.

  • Jeffrey | August 13, 2012 12:47 AMReply

    Its actually possible to like both this film and "The Avengers". Hard to believe, but its true. They're both dynamic films that offer a big payoff in the end.

  • gary | August 10, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    SPOILER ALERT
    Everybody lives happily ---that is until the fallout from the Atomic bomb dropped just off the shore of Gotham City. And how did all those cops trapped underground for almost 4 months eat? Did the film's catering truck take care of them?

    Sorry but there are just too many plot holes and logic issues that I forgive in a pure comic book film but this takes itself too seriously to get away with dozens of problems. A commentary track on the DVD could talk about all that is wrong. And isn't that bat copter about the clunkiest thing you've ever seen?

    I asked the theater manager if they got complaints about understanding dialogue and he said it is constant. Out of curiosity he rented the previous DK films on the new BluRays and said the same bad sound mix is there too. How does that rate Oscar attention?

  • Joe | August 19, 2012 5:38 AM

    The film showed how Bane's men lowered the cops food and water. He just wanted them out of the way.

  • Darkhawk | August 9, 2012 10:46 PMReply

    When this review is over, you have my permission to die.

  • Jason | July 21, 2012 6:49 PMReply

    I didn't like how the sound kept drowning out character's dialogue; Bane's voice-box didn't help (sounded kind of like Kenneth Mars from Young Frankenstein). Great film though, I'll be opting for subtitles when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray

  • judgegerry | July 19, 2012 7:49 PMReply

    A most disappointing review. It tells us nothing. Everything in generalities. Specifics are absent. I'm not looking for spoilers but get off the perch get down and dirty. Roll up your sleeves.

  • Brian | July 21, 2012 1:43 PM

    Actually, this review tells me a lot. You mean just because he liked the film, it tells you nothing? What's the matter with someone being specific about how much he liked it even though it has flaws? What more do you need to know? What do you want, an encyclopedia?

  • Jmguitar | July 21, 2012 4:03 AM

    Specifics ARE spoilers.

  • Goat | July 19, 2012 5:52 PMReply

    Any TDKR review that gives a shout out to Tom Conti is a winner in my book.

  • Natalia | August 1, 2012 9:24 AM

    agree, totally useless review

  • Jim | July 22, 2012 7:46 PM

    Well said!

  • JoD | July 19, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    Can't wait to see Christian Bale again as Batman. He is such a great actor. Yeah, yeah, I know, he went ballistic on a crew-member who walked into his set ... but so freakin' what? So he lost his nerve, he was in character, too, no matter how "insignificant" the incident appeared to others, it was his right to react. Nobody talks about directors who smash their actors on an everyday basis. In any event - he is just so handsome and sharp and did I mention talented?! Now something weird: What if the current Spiderman was to meet Batman? Would that be an adoption-theme or what? Almost like Natalie Portman as Jean Reno's protegee ... but, never mind. Can't wait to go to the "Three-Batman-movies-back-to-back"! Yes, we do have this here in Austria! There!

  • Martin Grams | July 19, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    I suspect much of the plot will originate from the "Knightfall" story arc. Everything in the trailer reveals that fact. If any movie was going to compete (box office profits) with "The Avengers," it would be "The Dark Knight Rises." Going to see it this weekend!

  • tommy | July 19, 2012 12:29 PMReply

    good to have you back on our side leonard!

  • Suuure... | July 19, 2012 11:12 AMReply

    Obviously you haven't see it yet. Stop being a whiny little 12 year old fan boy. Oh wait, are you a whiny 12 year old fanboy?

  • Lorenzo | July 19, 2012 10:04 AMReply

    The Avengers is just for 12 years old.

  • Zeiram | July 19, 2012 6:43 AMReply

    Maltin likes TDKR, I now have permission to die.... (happy).

  • Jason | July 19, 2012 2:55 AMReply

    Sweet. Speaking also as someone who generally doesn't like Nolan (or his Films Dark Knight and Inception) but as a long-time Batman fan I cannot wait to see this.

  • Ted | July 19, 2012 1:58 AMReply

    SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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