The Dark Knight Rises
December 1, 2012

As I said when the DVD was announced, I wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises mainly because of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, um, Selina Kyle. I didn’t catch it in theaters, because I find these spectaculars too dark for my taste. I don’t even recall if I ever saw The Dark Knight (because I was upset by Heath Ledger’s passing), and I was three years late on Batman Begins. So this is something of a naive writeup. Plus, at 2 hours and 45 minutes, I’m more comfortable watching the movie at home. Thanks to Hathaway and the film’s message of redemption, however, it became my favorite of the three in the trilogy.

After taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s death in the previous film, Bruce Wayne has holed up in his mansion for several years. We all know Batman is going to return, but it takes the new threat of Bane, super-terrorist (played by Tom Hardy with an Alien on his face), to make it happen. The cast is great, of course, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a dedicated cop, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon (who gets shot, providing additional motivation to Wayne), Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine as Alfred (to provide housekeeping and exposition). On a personal level, it was a pleasure to see Tom Conti again.

Christian Bale seems well-suited to play Bruce Wayne as a grumpy recluse, obsessed with his solitude. But it’s Hathaway that kept my attention. I loved her bad-ass schemes as pleasant changes from the video game-style action, especially when she outwits Wayne. (Didn’t really care much about the political layer, though.) I wanna see her get a movie!

Christian Bale as Batman and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

Christian Bale as Batman and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

There’s an air of unreality to all of this — especially with Bane’s dialogue sounding like it was overdubbed by the bastard son of Patrick Stewart and Sean Connery on a completely different audio track. A lot of times, the sound is almost unnecessary, anyway. So much is conveyed through the action and visuals.

The stunt sequences are so outrageous as to be almost cartoony, although filmed with great attention to detail, huge spectacle, and immense amounts of bravado. I almost didn’t need Batman, with the ears and the cape, because he looks slightly ridiculous compared to all the realism the rest of the movie strives so hard for. Still, he has cool toys, even if his voice is still silly.

I spent the early part of the movie wondering what Bane’s motive was, other than scaring people and taking hostages. I mean, I know he wants to mess up Gotham, but I don’t know why. (Other than “he’s a bad guy.”) Apparently, this film is a better experience if you’ve seen and remember the first two films, since some plot points stem from the previous installments.

Bane (Tom Hardy) faces off with Batman

Bane (Tom Hardy) faces off with Batman

You may need to watch The Dark Knight Rises more than once to get all the details and schemes, although that’s a very different reason to rewatch than for something like The Avengers. The latter, I want to see again because it was so much fun; this one, watching again feels a little like homework. (And it’s not going to make the plot holes go away — during one climactic showdown, I kept wondering how much use someone trapped underground for three months was really going to be in a hand-to-hand battle. Not to mention why you’d keep engaging with your fists with someone so much better at it than you are.)

Then again, that’s another great reason to watch at home: I could read about the movie in other sources while just letting the astounding visuals wash over me. Although it is kind of weird how negative some of its messages are. Like doing the right thing getting you killed, or how authority figures rarely make the right decisions, or how trying to save Gotham ends up blowing up a large part of it anyway. (Do you know how much it would cost to rebuild a major urban bridge?) Whatever, it’s a fantasy. And a very impressively visual one.

Special Features

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

The Combo Pack has two Blu-ray discs, one for the movie, the other for the extras; one DVD; and an UltraViolet copy. There’s also a single DVD edition, movie only, or a pay-for-download version available, or a box set of all three Nolan Batman movies. All come out on Tuesday, December 4.

There’s a second screen FX app for iPad users, which in addition to the featurettes below, includes design documents and images for locations, costumes, and vehicles. However, most of its content isn’t available without syncing with the Blu-ray. Here are the features on the second disc:

  • “The Batmobile” (58 min) is almost an hour on the Batman’s cars, including the animated ones. Adam West and Tim Burton participate, which is pretty nifty, as well as the infamous director of Batman and Robin, Joel Schumacher, and George Barris, designer of the best-known Batmobile, the one from the 60s TV show. I was thrilled to see our buddy Bob Greenberger on screen, too. Crazy fact: one of the Batmobiles has tire treads that make Bat-symbols in the tracks. How does that work with a secret identity?
  • “Ending the Knight” is broken up into sections (with no Play All). These are also available in the tablet app in the Featurettes section.
    • Production: 12 parts, focusing on key effects scenes and bits of movie-making. Those I looked at were anywhere from five to eight minutes each. Most interesting to me was the one about the football stadium scene.
    • Characters: “The Journey of Bruce Wayne” (9 min), “Gotham’s Reckoning” (10 min on Bane, although we don’t see Tom Hardy on-screen out of the mask), “A Girl’s Gotta Eat” (9 1/2 min on Selina Kyle)
    • Reflections: “Shadows & Light in Large Format” (5 1/2 min about how big a production this was in scope and locations and filming for IMAX and such), “The End of a Legend” (9 min on ending the trilogy)
  • Trailer Archive, with four versions of the trailer, played together or separately
  • Art Gallery for the print marketing of the movie, with 30 images, many of the same key art with different poster treatments

It’s not as comprehensive a feature package as I’ve seen on other films, but then again, I can’t think of much that’s missing, beyond a commentary that I probably wouldn’t listen to anyway. (The studio provided a review copy.)

18 Responses  
Vantine writes:  

This was my least favorite of the trilogy. So much about this film made no sense. For example, he’s been in hiding for 8 years (as opposed to a “few”). Why? Why didn’t he take the blame for Dent and just keep fighting crime? That makes no sense. Second, why, after almost a decade, is he still recovering from the knife wound in Dark Knight? It was a knife wound. Yet he hobbles around like he’s recovering from a leg amputation. Third, giving up at the end to go drink expressos in Italy? Guess his parents getting killed in front of his eyes didn’t have that much of an impact on him after all.

Then, after the epic battle with Bane and Batman recovering, I’m expecting an epic…EPIC confrontation between the two at the end. So, just as the two are about to go mano a mano in the battle of the century, catwoman runs him over with a motorcycle. The end. I mean…what?

Then you have the air heist scene. If you’re going to swipe wholesale from another movie, dont’ make it a James Bond movie. They’re too well remembered. That stunt was nearly a frame by frame reshoot of the scene in the Dalton Bond film License To Kill. The subplot of Talia/Bane was ripped off almost entirely from the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Not mildly similar, but exactly the same.

Ugh. Needless to say, I didn’t care for it. I found everything Batman does in this film very UN Batman like. Not only unlike the comic book Batman, but unlike anything resembling the Batman that Nolan gives us in his own previous two films. And frankly, the fact that Nolan has Batman quit at the end seems to have more to do with Nolan than with the character or the story.

Catwoman was the only character I liked or who did anything that made any kind of narrative sense. I can’t wait to see her in Les Mis this Christmas.

That said, I’m glad you liked it. ;)

William writes:  

“I don’t even recall if I ever saw The Dark Knight” “…it [Dark Knight Rises] became my favorite of the three in the trilogy.”

Umm, what? How can you say one of the movies is your favorite of the trilogy if you haven’t seen the trilogy?

Johanna writes:  

It’s my favorite because I didn’t even want to see the second one, and I did want to see this. I know, it’s not exactly a knowledgeable judgment, but I said that going in. :)

Ralf, thanks for sharing that link — hilarious! I particularly related to the action coma one.

Vantine, I thought they explained the hobbling with the whole doctor scene (yay Tom Lennon!) saying he had no cartilage left. Made sense to me that he’d beaten himself up, so to speak. And sue me, I liked the secret happy ending. It’s nice when creators put the toys back on the shelf instead of messing them up, washing their hands of it and walking away.

Catwoman didn’t run over Bane, by the way. She shot him. Thus the whole guns wisecrack. But I know I have an advantage recalling this stuff having just seen it. Whereas I don’t remember License to Kill at all. That was the second Dalton? So if it was (let’s say) an homage, eh, I didn’t notice. At least we agree that Catwoman was great! Yay! Best part of the film.

Jim Perreault writes:  

Certainly, I feel that Anne Hathaway stole the movie. She certainly shines in every scene she is in.

I agree with Vantine ; the battle at the end of the movie just did not work for me. It felt too much like a video game and not enough like a movie. For that reason, I would not rate it as the best of the three.

Ralf Haring writes:  

It doesn’t even come close to being as memorable as the second one for me. I saw it in the summer and am having a difficult time thinking of particularly memorable or enjoyable scenes that I’d want to rewatch. I remember mostly enjoying the times Catwoman was on screen and the Scarecrow’s court was a nice image. The rest mostly washes together, whereas I came out of the second totally thrilled and champing at the bit to see it again.

Dwight Williams writes:  

As far as Nolan’s vision of Bruce and Selina’s future at the end of the movie goes…I kept thinking “Simone Templar and Patrick Holm”. Maybe I’ve read too much Leslie Charteris, but I could see those two making their second start along those lines…

William writes:  


“It’s my favorite because I didn’t even want to see the second one, and I did want to see this. I know, it’s not exactly a knowledgeable judgment, but I said that going in. :)”

It’s not even “not exactly a knowledgeable judgment”, it’s a completely misinformed and incomplete judgment. It’s like saying that between Joe, Bob, and Tim, Joe is your favorite person without having even met Bob. How can you say that? If you had met Bob, he might have been your favorite of the three.

Johanna writes:  

Ok, let’s run this metaphor into the ground. What if I haven’t met Bob, but my good friends tell me about the things he does that really annoy me whenever anyone does them, and when I see him from a distance, he’s wearing a tshirt featuring an image that I really don’t care for? It’s very unlikely he will suddenly become my favorite person.

But there’s no reason to get up in arms over my favorite not being yours. I’ve since been reminded that I did see Dark Knight, or at least the first hour and a half of it. I think my not recalling it speaks to how well it suited my tastes. Watching Hathaway as Catwoman was much more enjoyable for me than Ledger as the Joker.

William writes:  

My responses were based on the only information I had, which was the third and sixth sentences of your article.

And I’m not getting up in arms over our favorites not being the same. I haven’t even mentioned which one is my favorite, so please don’t put words in my mouth (or I guess in my hands/keyboard?).

What I am getting up in arms about is you saying you had a favorite in the trilogy without watching the entire trilogy. And you running the “metaphor into the ground” is based on a faulty premise; I never mentioned anyone else saying anything about Bob, just as you never mentioned anyone else saying anything about The Dark Knight. So I don’t see how a bunch of people telling you bad things about me is analogous at all. All you said in the article was that you hadn’t seen The Dark Knight, but that The Dark Knight Rises is your favorite anyways.

Johanna writes:  

And when you questioned that, I clarified, yet you want to keep talking about it. What are you looking for here? (Serious question — I’m not sure what the purpose of continuing this discussion is.) For me to use a different word than “favorite”? I stand by the idea that if you don’t want to watch one film but would happily rewatch another, that latter is more of a favorite than the former.

I think, perhaps, I would have reacted better to an approach that said something like “Oh, it’s a shame you haven’t seen Dark Knight, you might like it more than DKR” than this one, which felt like “rawr, you have bad word use, stupid!” I prefer discussion to abuse. :)

William writes:  

“And when you questioned that, I clarified, yet you want to keep talking about it.”

How did you clarify? You response to my question was, “It’s my favorite because I didn’t even want to see the second one, and I did want to see this” which isn’t a clarification; it’s you restating what you already wrote in the article, which was, “I don’t even recall if I ever saw The Dark Knight (because I was upset by Heath Ledger’s passing)”.

What I’m looking for is a fair, accurate, and precise statement. As a writer, I would imagine you value accuracy and precision when it comes to words. Saying The Dark Knight Rises is your favorite in the trilogy without having seen the entire trilogy is neither fair, accurate, nor precise. The fact that you explicitly called it out as your favorite of the trilogy is the problem. If you had just said it was your favorite movie ever, then that’s fair. But by saying that TDKR is your favorite of the trilogy without seeing TDK, then you’re not giving it a fair shot. When is the last time you saw someone professionally/semi-professionally review a movie by saying, “I didn’t watch the whole movie, but I’m going to say I didn’t like the whole thing.”

That would be like someone saying they saw The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded and saying that The Matrix Reloaded is their favorite of the whole trilogy without having seen the The Matrix. Or that Star Wars Episodes 1-3 are their favorites without having seen Episodes 4-6. Or that Terminator 3 is their favorite without having seen Terminator 2. Or that Robocop 3 is their favorite without having seen Robocop. Etc…

I am questioning your diction and syntax. I’m sorry you are interpreting that as abuse (abuse seems rather strong a word, since I have been polite and haven’t called you names or said anything vilifying). I have been treating this as a discussion (and a civil one at that).

Johanna writes:  

“I don’t remember if I saw it” and “I’m not interested in seeing it” are two different sentiments, not a restatement. At least, to me. (The first suggests boredom; the second, dislike.) I’ve also seen reviews that went along the lines of “this was so bad I couldn’t finish it.” It’s not the kind of thing you want to do every time, but I think it’s a valid response occasionally. Also note that I was careful to say (since we’re talking about precision) that it *felt* to me like abuse, not that you were doing it. I know that’s a subtle distinction, but that seems to be what the whole discussion is turning on. :)

I wonder… would you question as strongly if someone said “Star Wars (the original) is my favorite of all the Star Wars movies” if they hadn’t seen whathever #3 was? (Not Jedi, the other one.)

William writes:  

You are right; “I don’t remember if I saw it” and “I’m not interested in seeing it” are two different statements. And neither is a clarification of the other.

I’m not sure why you’re pointing out that it felt like abuse to you if you’re also saying that I’m not abusing you.

I’m also not sure why you wonder whether or not I would take issue with someone using words imprecisely if it related to Star Wars specifically, but the answer is, yes, I would still take issue with it. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the Star Wars movies, or a trilogy of student films about defecation; one cannot fairly state that they have a favorite film in the series without watching them all.

Johanna writes:  

I’m pointing it out because communication takes place in so many different parts, including the sender, their intent, the receiver, and what they hear. Some or all can fail, resulting in confusion. This time around, I’ve learned that you have stricter rules about use of the word “favorite” than I do.

Clint writes:  

To answer some of ‘Vantine’s’ questions… Nolan and Goyer have been extremely faithful to the ‘Modern’ Batman career timeline.

Batman Begins mirrored the comic ‘Batman: Year One’ Bruce’s first year of estabilishing himself as Batman in a corrupt and violent Gotham.

The Dark Knight film mirrors ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’ in which it is Bruce’s second year of being Batman, he teams up with Gordon and Harvey Dent to bring the Mob families down and Dent becomes the villian Two-Face, all the while a serial killer knicknamed ‘Holiday’ is on the loose. The serial killer was replaced with The Joker and his plan to bring down Dent to his level, mirrored ‘The Killing Joke’ comic, except Gordon is The Joker’s target in that story.

8 years later in the comics, in Batman/ Bruce’s 10th year of crime fighting, Bane comes to Gotham in the comics “Vengeance of Bane’ and ‘Knightfall’.
He breaks Batman and takes over Gotham.

Nolan and Goyer used the comic ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, where Bruce has retired as Batman, for 10 years due to the death of Robin/ Jason Todd as a touchstone, to create the gap of time, when Bane would arrive on the scene. Only in the movie, its due to the death of Rachel Dawes the love of his life, that Bruce has retired.
The reason Batman comes out of retirement in ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is because of The Mutant gang. Nolan’s and Tom Hardy’s Bane in the film ressembles The Mutants Leader more so then Bane from the comics in appearance.

I agree there was some hits and misses with the film, but I think its pretty cool to see the comics represented fairly well compared to the Burton/ Schumacher films.

Jeff writes:  

Meh. Count me as another detractor. The battles with Bane made no sense, and he basically was just Batman a couple of times and then retires until this? Batman is someone with a huge rogues gallery and a history and there is virtually none here. The cape bugs me too – i almost wish they had gone computer generated and had it be a moody extension of the Bat like Spawn’s wild chains – the Elvis velour poster effect they went with just didn’t do anything for me. The Talia/Bane connection was the closest thing to inventive re-mixing of the Batman universe and almost worked – but in all this time we didn’t get a good idea of how Bane beats the Bat, and then how he comes back. A lot of Bane cartoon material is out there too – think I’ll go watch some of the animates series…

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[…] the third biggest US movie of all time (based on box office) in The Avengers, and while DC’s Dark Knight trilogy also ranks highly on that list, they haven’t been able to make Superman an unqualified […]


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