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The Dark Knight Rises Reviewed

Kevin Bourke reviews the latest very noisy Batman extravaganza

Published on July 22nd 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises Reviewed

THE ROT had definitely set in by the third film in the original Warners' Batman franchise, Batman Forever, directed to new depths of silliness by Joel Schumacher. In fact, it's generally a safe bet that the third film in any franchise will not be the charm. 

Oh, and there's a nuclear time-bomb ticking away, even as our battered Bat Hero is incarcerated in a rather literal Hell-hole.

Even director Christopher Nolan acknowledged that in the run-up to his own frothingly-anticipated third Batman film, after Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. "I have to ask the question, how many good third movies in a franchise can people name?," he mused. 

But The Dark Knight Rises bucks the trend bigtime.

As well as being physically big (Manchester's Printworks is one of the few places you can see the film in its full IMAX 70mm glory, incidentally), it's hugely ambitious in blockbuster terms. It's sweepingly epic and yet it's about as intimate and personal as a film like this can get. It's dark and it's not afraid to confront such contentious issues as financiers raping whole strata of society for their own profit while more blue-collar law-breakers endure having the prison keys thrown away so as to fit in with some spurious law-and-order agenda.

But it also knows how to tick all the big action-scene boxes. "Boy, you are in for a show tonight," drools a fat cop as we're about to see the Bat Man in action for the first time - and he's not wrong.

After a very Bond-esque opening skyjack scene, the film proper opens eight years after Batman (Christian Bale) took the blame for Two Face’s crimes. Holed up in Wayne Manor like a modern-day Howard Hughes, Bruce Wayne's a bit of a physical and mental wreck these days, with a beard, a limp and even a bit of grey in his hair.

Even his faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine) is starting to despair of him, with the once-mighty Wayne Corporation on its financial knees while The Dark Knight endures his own dark night of the soul. 

But Wayne/Batman starts to come back to life when Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a jewel thief with a social agenda and a nifty line in outfits (think Audrey Hepburn as Catwoman), sneaks into his inner sanctum and has his old mum's pearl necklace away on its toes just because she fancied them, although she is actually after something rather more dangerous.

Cat on a bikeCat on a bike

Meanwhile, the fearsome mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy, looking like a Mad Max version of Hannibal Lecter) is starting to wreak havoc in Gotham City's version of Wall Street and, pretty soon, has the whole city in his thrall. Oh, and there's a nuclear time-bomb ticking away, even as our battered Bat Hero is incarcerated in a rather literal Hell-hole.

Of course, not all is quite as it might seem - how else would the running time be the better part of three hours?

Old faithful characters like Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman)  and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in a beefed-up part, vie for screen time with newcomers like the Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard in the ever-popular 'beautiful but mysterious scientist' role, with the equally dog-eared 'dogged but honest' cop role of John Blake taken on by Joseph Gordon Levitt.

I'm giving away nothing at all, by the way, in telling you that the film’s final frames imply that we haven’t seen the last of this character. Nolan may be hanging up the Batcape for good but Warners surely ain't gonna unless they really, really have to.

And if the sequels are anywhere near as hugely entertaining yet morally questioning as The Dark Knight Returns, then, unexpectedly, that might actually be no bad thing for once.

Rating: 9/10

The Dark Knight Rises. Starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levett. Directed by Christopher Nolan. Certificate: 12A. On general release every single place in the universe.

*Holy tie-in! Manchester's Generation Gallery art shop (click here) has flown 'pieces from the official Batman fine art collection' over from Washington DC, which will be exhibited at the Printworks Odeon until September. Meanwhile, Costa Coffee in the appropriately-Bat Cave-like venue are offering Bat themed coffees…


Man chases helicopterMan chases helicopter

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2012.

Couldn't disagree more. The film was a disorganised, clunky, expositional mess.

The ending was telegraphed from the start, characters didn't behave as they should (imho), just didn't feel like a Batman movie in the slightest. I was bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

I realise I'm in the minority as most people appear to love it, but as far as I'm concerned there are only two films in Nolan's Batman trilogy - this just wasn't Batman.

4/10, maybe 5/10 at best.

Mark GarnerJuly 23rd 2012.

Anon, Kevin is right in my opinion, hugely entertaining movie, loved it.

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2012.

"I'm giving away nothing at all, by the way, in telling you that the film’s final frames imply that we haven’t seen the last of this character."

Yes, giving away nothing except revealing that there is a massive plot twist in the last few frames involving John Blake and the continuation of the franchise. The rest of the review is basically a plot summary as well, a good example of why most reviews (with honourable exceptions - some reviewers are able to give an opinion on a film with out filling it with spoilers) are to be avoided before watching the film.

bourketothefutureJuly 23rd 2012.

Hi Anon,
Did you not believe the franchise was going to continue by any means necessary then? Sorry about that....
But "massive plot twist" and "spoiler"? Please!
You might have a point about the review being a bit too much of a plot summary, though.

SmittyJuly 23rd 2012.

I am going to see The Batman on (Orange) Wednesday and would appreciate it if ranters could do the same as what the Sainted Bourke has done, and not spoil! Please!

I also think Mr Anonymous is wrong as I think this is a great review which, as all good reviews should do, has whetted my appetite for the film itself. It's not just a plot summary.

AnonymousJuly 24th 2012.

Yes, I'm planning to see it soon too, and am now left wondering exactly why I opened up a review of the film and then read it, followed by comments from other reviewers..........I must be as daft as Smitty

AnonymousJuly 24th 2012.

Hi Bourke
Yes, I suppose Warner Bros were somehow going to keep the cash cow mooing no matter what, but highlighting that the continuation involves Blake seems a bit unnecessary. It is definitely a spoiler, anything which references "the last few frames" by its very nature affects the viewing experience of the film as a whole if that is always in the back of your mind. However I might just be being a bit precious as I had just seen the film and was disappointed by it! Too long, bogged down in theme at the expense of characterisation/logic and so very very serious. Some good set pieces mind you.

1 Response: Reply To This...
bourketothefutureSeptember 21st 2012.

I've only just seen this final comment and, you know what, I think I've come around to agreeing with you about it being a spoiler, Anonymous. So I apologise for my sloppy writing.
In my defence (and still trying to be a bit discreet), I should say that I probably also thought that Nolan was being a bit mealy-mouthed about this, opening the way for someone else to use a character that he'd made a big deal of saying that he wouldn't.

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