The Dark Knight Rises

By James Jay Edwards
Released: July 20, 2012
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Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' "The Dark Knight Rises" is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

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Film Review
As the final film in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. With Batman having taken the blame for Harvey Dent's crimes, Bruce Wayne (once again played by American Psycho's Christian Bale) is a frail, beaten shell of his former self. Wayne is convinced to bring Batman out of retirement when a new threat appears in Gotham City in the form of Bane (Inception's Tom Hardy), a terrorist who has figured out how to turn a nuclear device that was designed to provide sustainable energy to Gotham City into an atomic bomb. With the future of the city hanging in the balance, Batman looks for help from his old pal Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and his new detective John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, also from Inception) to put a stop to Bane and his army of followers.

While he is an effective antagonist, Bane is not as charismatic of a villain as The Dark Knight's Joker. While The Joker was insanity mixed with ingenuity, Bane is more collected and calculating. With his muscular physique, Bane is obviously a more physically intimidating specimen, but he's also intelligent and cunning, and he is the type of character who is always in control of his situation. The Dark Knight Rises also prominently features another legendary Bat-villian, Selina Kyle (better known as Catwoman and played by Anne Hathaway from Love and Other Drugs). Although not a main antagonist by any stretch, Selina is a mercenary who, unknown to her, plays a pivotal role in Bane's master plan. While neither villain can hold a candle to The Dark Knight's Joker, both can hold their own with Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises is an impressive example of blockbuster filmmaking. Everything about the film is big, from the stunts to the stars to the explosions. Although it is primarily an action film, it's also very suspenseful; in fact, Bane and his atom bomb is a literal definition of Hitchcock's ticking bomb theory. The movie clocks in at about 2:45, and the viewer feels every minute of it. That's not to say that it drags; on the contrary, the film is never boring, and there's really nothing that could be trimmed out to shorten it without taking something integral out of the storyline. However, the story is not all fistfights and gunfire. There's an ingenious story that keeps even the most explosion-happy viewer glued to the screen.
Written by Christopher Nolan with his brother Jonathan (who has co-written several of Nolan's screenplays with him) from a story by Nolan and David S. Goyer (who worked on Nolan's stories for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), the script for The Dark Knight Rises mixes together elements of the comic book Batman and the pop-culture Batman and throws them into a complex, multi-layered storyline. At the onset, it appears that there are several different parallel plotlines running simultaneously but, slowly and surely over the course of the film, everything ties together and nothing is left hanging. The plot is full of surprises and twists right up to the last frame, and it seems as though the Nolans have left all of their cards on the table with The Dark Knight Rises.

It's fairly clear that 2008's The Dark Knight was a thinly veiled critique of the War on Terror and, with The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan seems to still be making topical statements. This time, Nolan appears to be chiming in on the 99 Percent/Occupy movement. A big part of Bane's plan is financial, and one of his first huge crimes is stock-market related. Furthermore, Selena Kyle is a burglar who steals mainly from the rich; Bruce Wayne even likens her to Robin Hood. In more ways than one, The Dark Knight Rises brings attention to the problems of the shrinking middle class, and it does it with a main protagonist who is the epitome of a one-percenter.
Like Christopher Nolan's previous Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises has an exceptional cast. Of course, Christian Bale is back and IS Batman, even with his oft-criticized gruff Bat-voice that he uses as part of his disguise. While Tom Hardy is no Heath Ledger (but then again, who is?), he is a more than capable villain, especially since he spends the entire film with his face half-covered so that he only has his body, eyes and voice with which to get his character across. Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle is exactly what a Catwoman should be - smiling and friendly one second, brutally fierce the next. The principals are all great, but the real stars are the ensemble players; any cast that relegates acting heavyweights like Liam Neeson (Batman's mentor, Ra's Al Ghul), Morgan Freeman (Bruce Wayne's technology advisor, Lucius Fox) and Michael Caine (Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred) to glorified bit parts has got to be free of weak links.

There's about a quarter of the movie where Batman is "indisposed," and this portion of the film brings out the best of the rest of the cast, mainly Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective Blake. These stretches of the film prove that The Dark Knight Rises is not simply Christian Bale's show; it's a complete and talented ensemble.
The score for The Dark Knight Rises was written by Hans Zimmer, who is as close to a go-to composer as Hollywood has right now, having done the music for everything from Hannibal to The Lion King. His score for The Dark Knight Rises is rhythmic and driving, moving the story forward as it builds suspense and tension. Whether it is subtle strings accompanying quiet exposition scenes or grand orchestrations punctuating action sequences, Zimmer's ambitious score is the perfect complement to Nolan's sweeping visuals, and the music adds to the film exponentially.

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Action, Thriller, Fantasy, Drama
Release Date
July 20, 2012
MPAA Rating
PG 13
Running Time
164 minutes
Production Designer
Music Score
Special Effects
Auteur Consideration