Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises – can you make a good Batman movie if the Batman isn't in it?

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Batman ~ The Dark Knight Rises ~ Warner Bros.

[Update: Condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the Batman cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado.]

My daughter and I recently saw a screening of the new Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises. We loved the movie. It’s a great story and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. However, some people might be disappointed if they’re expecting to see a lot of action scenes with the Dark Knight. The Batman is actually not in a good portion of the movie. Batman: The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.) opens in theaters today. Below is a quick summary of the film. Continue reading for the full movie review of The Dark Knight Rises.

The 411 for Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

The story Batman returns to Gotham after eight years of retirement
Appropriateness for children It’s OK for children, but there are some profanity, intense action scenes, and implied sex
Positives
  • Great hero story
  • Surprising revelations caught me off guard
  • Nice special effects
  • It’s stunning in IMAX (no 3D as far as I know)
Negatives
  • Batman is missing in most of the scenes
  • The villain is a little hard to understand at times
Release date July 20, 2012
Rating Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Runtime 164 minutes
Genre Drama, action

Third story in the Batman trilogy
The Dark Knight Rises is the third installment of the Batman series. You don’t really need to see the first two Batman movies to appreciate The Dark Knight Rises. Here is what you need to know: Bruce Wayne is the Batman (duh). In the second Batman movie, the Joker turned Gotham’s white knight, Harvey Dent, into a criminal by the name of Two-Face. Batman didn’t want all of Harvey’s good work as Gotham City’s district attorney ruined, so he took the blame for Harvey’s murder and crimes. The second movie ended with Batman as Gotham’s most hated man. The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years later. Batman and Bruce Wayne has not been seen in years. Batman has been in hiding because he is hunted and hated by almost everyone in Gotham. Bruce, on the other hand, is a recluse who can’t get over the death of Rachel Dawes, the love of his life. She was killed by the Joker in the second movie.

Bane is the villain
You can’t really have a hero without a villain. In this case, Bane is the bad guy in the third Batman movie. Like the comic books, Bane is big and strong. But unlike the comic books, Bane doesn’t need any special serum or drug to amp up his strength. In another interesting movie twist, Bane was also trained by Ra’s Al Ghul. He’s the villain who trained Bruce Wayne in the fine art of combat in the first Batman movie. As a result, Bane is more than a match for Batman when it comes to fighting skills. In addition, Bane is also stronger and faster. On the negative side, Bane talks like Darth Vader, which is fine if he didn’t have a lot of dialogue. Unfortunately, Bane does talk a lot in the movie and at times, his voice is a little hard to hear clearly.

Batman is barely in the movie
The Dark Knight Rises is a little like an origin movie in the sense that you don’t get to see the superhero until about a third way through the movie. When he returns to Gotham, Batman is featured in a few action scenes. Then he gets beat up and is out of action. After several months of recuperation, the Batman finally returns at the end of the story. In my opinion, the Batman doesn’t need to be in a lot of scenes to make The Dark Knight Rises a good movie. I think the excellent story is what makes this film a great drama about the rebirth of a hero. But if you’re expecting to see a lot of Batman action scenes, then you better lower your expectations. Otherwise, you might be disappointed.

Good story with unexpected twists
If you are like me, then you’ll want to see The Dark Knight Rises more than once because it’s an excellent movie. In addition, there are several unexpected revelations in the film. Now I want to see the movie again so I can see if there are clues to support the big surprises at the end of the story.

Will there be another sequel?
Of course there will be another sequel. The Dark Knight Rises is suppose to be the final chapter in the Batman trilogy. But we all know Warner Bros. can’t help but make another Batman movie if The Dark Knight Rises becomes a major blockbuster like everyone is predicting it will be. It’s hard to turn down a billion dollars. On the other hand, Christopher Nolan probably won’t be back. He directed all three of the Batman movies. At one time, he didn’t think a third Batman movie was needed so I doubt anyone will be able to convince him to direct a fourth Batman movie. Christian Bale (Batman) is also a question mark. I think he only signed up for three Batman movies. But he really isn’t needed in another sequel. If you follow the comic books, then you know Dick Grayson (Robin) took over as Batman when everyone thought Batman was dead. The fourth Batman movie could easily feature a different character as Batman and not miss a beat as long as the script is well written.

Anne Hathaway carries the movie early on
Once again, Christian Bale is Bruce Wayne and Batman. He does a good job as usual, but it’s Anne Hathaway (plays the part of Catwoman) who carried the movie early on in the story (when Batman was missing in action). I admit it, I was skeptical when I heard Anne Hathaway was casted as Catwoman. But she won me over as Catwoman. She’s an excellent actress and her skintight outfit didn’t hurt either. I now see Hathaway in a new light. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also excellent in the film. He plays the part of Detective John Blake. The Dark Knight Rises also features Tom Hardy (Bane), Gary Oldman (Commissioner James Gordon), Marion Cotillard (Miranda), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Michael Caine (Alfred), Matthew Modine (Deputy Commissioner Foley), Liam Neeson (Ra’s Al Ghul), Juno Temple (Holly Robinson), Ben Mendelsohn (Daggett), Chris Ellis (Priest), Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane, Scarecrow), Josh Stewart (Bane’s Mercenary), Thomas Lennon (Doctor), Daniel Sunjata (GPD Special Operative), Nestor Carbonell (Mayor Anthony Garcia), and Aidan Gillen (CIA Agent).

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11 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises – can you make a good Batman movie if the Batman isn't in it?

  1. Awesome review! I saw it too and totally agree with you about Anne Hathaway! I wasn’t keen on her being Catwoman, but was surprised to see that I actually enjoyed her playing that role. I really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt too!

  2. I’m going to see this movie … eventually … :( It sounds really good, even if it shows Bruce Wayne more than the Batman. I’m glad to hear that Anne Hathaway worked out well as Catwoman. It’s so easy for people to mess up the main comic characters in super hero movies and for some reason, DC movies seem to be more affected by bad scripts and acting. At 164 minutes, this is a pretty long movie. I have enough trouble with the old 100 minute movies sometimes. :)

    1. A bad script can kill a movie like Green Lantern. I was so looking forward to that movie last year. Came away a little disappointed. On the other hand, I’m glad to hear Nolan is directing the new Superman movie. Hopefully he can work his Batman magic on The Man of Steel.

      1. Yeah – I really wanted to like GL. Instead, I kept wondering what comics the writers had read to turn a pretty interesting hero into a really dull movie. Haven’t seen Superman Returns, but just reading the reviews and plot summary leaves me thinking the same thing – where do the writers come up with these ideas?

        I’d love to see a DC movie actually do well outside of Batman. There’s potential for them to do really well, but somehow Hollywood just keeps missing the mark. I don’t understand how they’re able to translate Marvel so well to the big screen, but fail so miserably with DC adaptations. :(

        Dark Knight Rises – on my “to see” list.
        hearing that Superman might be done well – I’m cautiously optimistic. :)

  3. I haven’t seen this yet although the reviews sound good I will likely wait until it is out on DVD.

    Really curious about the revelations now tho!

  4. hope to see this one. Have been a Batman fan since I was a little boy and this movie seems really exciting

  5. I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I had no idea Anne Hathaway was in it! I’m surprised she did such a great job as I would also not be able to imagine her being successful as Catwoman. Exciting though! Thanks for the review!

  6. Cool review. I actually did not know Dick Grayson (Robin) took over as Batman. Seems like that could be a realistic transition with the way the Batman series is shaping up today.

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