Movie Review: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’


So, at last, like scores of people here in the US and around the world, I was finally able to see the final installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, and it is with great pleasure that I can tell you that I loved the movie entirely. Altho there were some minor problems, I’d say that Nolan and his cast of actors did a fine job bringing to a close this series of Batman films. I will do my best to review the film without providing any spoilers that might ruin the movie-going experience for any of you. Click below to see what I think about The Dark Knight Rises.

The first thing you should know about The Dark Knight Rises is that it is a very BIG story … massive, actually. The themes and action that take place are colossal, the plot takes place over a series of months and the film itself has a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’s big. The second thing that I must make clear is my opinion of Anne Hathaway’s performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I am a big enough person to confess that my fears that she would not be a good enough actress in the role were completely unfounded. While I, personally, do not find her a better Catwoman than, say, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, I will say that she is a great Selina Kyle/Catwoman for this film. Where Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was a bit more camp (and fun), Hathaway’s Catwoman is a bit more realistic (and dark). Hathaway manages to successfully project the nuances that make Catwoman a complex character and she manages to do so in a very believable manner. Again, I must make clear, my worries that she would not do well in the part were unnecessary. As the months and weeks led up to the release of TDKR, we were told things by some of the actors about the film’s characters that are flat out lies. I don’t want to reveal exactly what I’m referring to (so as not to spoil the “twist”) but if you go back and read some of the coverage that was written up about TDKR after you see the film, you may understand what I’m referring to (in particular, I am referring to the characters played by Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). I loved the usage of flashback scenes peppered thruout the film … we see images from both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in the film (tho, not a single mention of the Joker was ever made). The flashback scenes helped tie together all 3 films into one cohesive story. I was very happy to see that the Bane character as he is known in the comics is, for the most part, kept intact. There is an excellent homage to a pivotal scene in the Knightfall comic book series in this film … those of you who have read the books will know what I’m talking about when you see TDKR. Altho I figured out the plot twist early on, I still enjoyed watching the development play out. Other reviewers have remarked on how much they loved the ending of the film … I am not so sure about how much I loved it. Everything does get wrapped up nicely, I guess, but the end is also left wide open … which is odd since Christopher Nolan has said he is done making Batman films.

I don’t know that The Dark Knight Rises will be good enough to garner a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards but it’s a very good film, one definitely worth seeing. It remains to be seen how the Colorado shooting will effect the film’s performance at the box office but I suspect it will still do very well. I liked the film a lot … I will likely see it again. I’m really curious to hear what others think about the film … so hopefully we can continue this discussion in the comments below without spoiling the film for those of you who haven’t yet seen the film. IMHO, The Dark Knight Rises is an excellent bookend to the Batman saga. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

  • nicole

    i wont be seeing this until wednesday, but Trent, im so glad you talked about Anne, i also had my doubts – happy to hear i was wrong!

    • @nicole — Honestly, Anne quickly made me a believer early on in the film. She makes a pretty good Catwoman, I think. Do me a fave and let me know what you think after you see the film.

    • nicole

      @Trent – will do sir!

  • Adam H

    I agree with your review 100%, except for the fact that I was a big believer of Anne Hathaway being Catwoman from the beginning. I had a feeling about the way Nolan was going to take the character from the beginning and I was huge supporter of her. I am very glad that you can “Man Up” and admit you were wrong about her. The only thing I would add to your review is, this is the ending to the trilogy that I expected and wanted. I just hope that they leave the series alone.

  • Matt

    I found the film to be a great way to end the series. I enjoyed the Nolan take on JGL’s character. Anne knocked it out of the park as Catwoman. Honestly, I was disappointed in Marion. Her performance falls flat to me. I was not blown away by the end, but found myself smiling.

    It sounds weird, but I found the whole final action scene odd taking place in the day. After all of the night action in TDK, the daytime action in TDKR felt off.

  • This film was definitely worth getting up at 2:00 am for (yup)! Anne Hathaway was good– still very much Anne Hathaway though, and I agree that she was fine for this film, but not as amazingly bizarre as Michelle Pfeiffer.

    Trent, I don’t know the comics like you do so I was SHOCKED when things took a dark turn! It was amazing! And I kept saying to Johnny, they lied! They totally lied! I couldn’t believe it– it was so fun!

    It’s so interesting that you point out the lack of Joker flashbacks… got me ‘hmmmmm’ ing over here.

    The wrap-up is not something I usually like in my films and this one was packaged a bit too nicely but honestly? By the end of it, I was so madly in love with the story (and the constant THUDDING in my chest; thank you IMAX) that I didn’t care. I loved it, loved it, loved it. And Bane? I was “that girl” shrieking and grabbing onto my man EVERY single blessed time he came on screen. I was terrified. Unlike the Joker, there was NO humor there– and I appreciated that. Also, the many interlocking love stories were such a friggen delight. Ok, lemme stop. But yeah. Loved it!

    • fab4runner

      Okay…I freaking love your review, too. Agh! I am so jealous that I haven’t seen it yet!

  • fab4runner

    Love your review. Not spoiler-y, but still some good details. I was really curious how you would feel about Anne Hathaway and the entire film in general. I am even more excited to see it now. Noon tomorrow needs to get here ASAP!

  • Jenn

    I loved this movie!!! I loved “so that’s how that feels”

    the nearly three hours flew by. My experience was only deminished by the heavy heart I had due to the killings in CO

  • Ben@pr

    @Trent, the part of your review that I was expected the most was about Anne performance as Catwoman. You were reluctant about her casting since the beginning but if you liked it I can’t wait to see the movie!!!

  • Megan

    I’m so glad you liked Anne, I believed in her once I saw the first trailer and I think she did a fantastic job! I have to stop going to see films with JGL in them because I just keep falling more madly in love with him :/ Excellent film all round, I loved being in a packed theatre where every member of the audience is gripped by a film.

  • Megan

    I just got home from seeing the movie. It was amazing. (that may be exaggerated just based on how much I adore all of these movies). The ending, I enjoyed, but was a little let down. I teared up, I smiled, had an “oh wow” moment, and even laughed. So I guess it was an ok ending. Overall though, the movie was massive and overall awesome. I will be back in the theater at least once more.

  • Meghan

    This movie was amazing. I,too, had my doubts about Anne Hathaway, but she was amazing. She stole each and every scene she was in and she had great chemistry with Christian Bale. This really made me a huge Anne Hathaway fan. I thought her performance was much better than Michelle Pheifer’s portrayal, but I’m not a fan of the campy Batman films.

    I won’t give anything away and I know this is the last for Bale and Nolan, but I hope we see some follow up films for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

    The last minute of this film is perfection.

  • Meghan

    Oh and there is absolutely no mention of the Joker, but I think this was done out of respect.

    • ClaireMichelle

      Yes. Chris Nolan said he didn’t want to mention the Joker at all out of respect to his relationship he had with Heath.

      And I looooved the movie. So much. I can’t wait to see it again. I thought the ending was done well. Anne was fantastic. Alfred made me tear up practically every time he was on the screen! Haha.

    • Meghan

      Yes! Michael Caine was at his best!

  • Amanda

    It looks like I was the only person who was just kind of unimpressed with the movie. I still couldn’t believe Hathaway as Catwoman, for one. She wasn’t terrible, but she had NONE of the sexiness I think is necessary for Selina Kyle. Worst of all, though, was every single thing to do with Bane. I adore Tom Hardy, but he is not and can never be Bane. But then again, Bane is supposed to be a South American Luchador with super-human strength due to genetic modifications. He doesn’t need a respirator, and he sure as hell isn’t supposed to sound like a very poor Sean Connery impersonator who can’t speak above a whisper. On top of that, the plot holes drove me crazy. There are SO MANY things left unexplained, and not of the intentional/makes you wonder sort, either. It seems like Nolan just wanted to tell this grand tale but felt that the details were unimportant. He did the same thing in The Dark Knight, tho, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    In the end, it’s an entertaining movie but it doesn’t fulfil the promise made in Batman Begins IMHO.

    • @Amanda — I see your point about the sexiness of Selina Kyle/Catwoman but in the context of this film, that wasn’t the focus. As for the changes to the Bane character, it was obvious from the start that Nolan was going to feature his version of the character. In fact, Nolan put his stamp on many of the classic Batman characters for his trilogy of films. When dealing with film adaptations of books/comic books, I think it’s less important to be insistent on strict adherence to the original source material and more important to judge the adaptations made in the context of the new telling of the story. As for plot holes, the movie already pushes 3 hours … it would be impossible to fill all the gaps in the story and not have the film be less than 5 hours long.

  • Phoebe in Cincy

    The movie was very entertaining. I knew as soon as she was cast, Anne Hathaway would do well. I was annoyed by Bane. I understood about every fourth word…

  • bleeding ears

    As one of Anne’s biggest supporters from the start… I am not surprised by your review Trent. And thank you for being big enough to write about it. To those who want to compare Anne and Michelle, you just simply can’t. Different film, different director, different writer and different feel. Both performances were stellar. Period.

  • Xadax

    This is a slap in the face to the haters who questioned Anne’s portrayal. Which would you prefer, a campy, & fun catwoman, or a darker & realistic type?

    • @Xadax — “Which would you prefer, a campy, & fun catwoman, or a darker & realistic type?” It depends on the film. We are talking about comic books as original source material, characters who run around with superpowers and wear capes and costumes. In the context of the dark, twisted world that Tim Burton created, Michelle Pfeiffer’s patent leather wearing Catwoman was PUUUURRRRFECT. In Christopher Nolan’s more realistic world, Anne Hathaway’s somewhat restrained yet extremely clever Catwoman fits in well.

    • Xadax, I didn’t think Anne Hathaway’s catwoman was especially dark. She was definitely clever and of course she looked amazing but– yes– she was more “realistic” than anything. And that was great! But I did not doubt she’d be good, and I also did not expect her to be like Pfeiffer.

      bleeding ears probably said it best. Although the urge is there, you really should not compare the two. ALTHOUGH, if we’re just talking about memorable performances, I think I will personally always see align Pfeiffer with catwoman, even though I loved Anne’s performance as well.

    • @Shannon — “I didn’t think Anne Hathaway’s catwoman was especially dark”

      I saw an implied darkness that wasn’t fully fleshed out, possibly because of time constraints. Where Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was literally pushed to her madness, you could tell that Hathaway’s Catwoman’s came from a dark place over time. In the comics, Catwoman isn’t merely a cat burglar … she was also a prostitute in her youth, which is hinted at in TDKR. When Hathaway’s Catwoman says “a girl’s gotta eat” in response to why she steals, the implication is that she has done a lot of things in her past in order to eat. Also, when she helps the little boy who stole the apple, it’s clear that her lesson “never steal from someone you can’t outrun” comes from personal experience, very probably when she was a young girl. Oh yes, I see darkness in Hathaway’s Catwoman.

    • Hmmm, good to have a little background info! Thank you, Trent. I agree with you on the “implied darkness” bit but I think I was also considering and comparing that “pushed to her madness”-ness of Pfeiffer, lol.

      Anyway, the more we chat about these women, the more I love both of their performances. Anne really was delicious– I loved that apple-stealing scene :)

    • @Shannon — AND, let’s not forget the amazing Catwomen who came before … for me, Eartha Kitt is THE sexiest Catwoman. Julie Newmar is THE vampiest Catwoman. And, PLEASE DON’T KILL ME ANYONE, I even enjoyed Halle Berry’s turn as Catwoman. Oh, I know that movie sucked but I honestly thought Halle did a pretty good job with the character based on what was given to her. The thing I hate most about Halle’s Catwoman was her outfit. I mean, those loose pants? WTF?!

      BUT, I have to say … based on her costume alone, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is everything. EVERY. THING.

  • ames

    Eh… Am I the only one that didn’t quite love the film? While I loved the way it was filmed, I couldn’t appreciate the way it was edited. There were way too many stories trying to be told, too many characters (which led to characters not getting the screen time they deserve) with very cliche stories and overall a let down, considering it’s a Chris Nolan film. Maybe my expectations were too high? I also found Bane’s voice and intonation to be too much, given Batman’s already comical voice.

    • Bryan Sunday

      Not the only one, no.

  • DJ

    Anne Hathaway was great… she wasn’t at all Catwoman… but she was great, whoever she was playing. ;-)

  • Halli

    I am SO glad I finally saw the movie. It took a lot of effort not to read anything about it before seeing it as well as not seeing any trailers. That said, I really loved it. My main complaint was that it was hard to understand Bane. (I also wasn’t really crazy about the CGI snow but that is a general pet peeve of mine).

    I too was nervous about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman but I thought she was pretty damned good. I liked the twists that were in the movie even though I had figured a lot of it out before hand. The ending was just ok to me. I was told how epic the ending was and I just didn’t find it epic so I guess that’s partly why I was let down.

    As for comparing Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfiffer’s portrayals, I feel like it’s comparing apples and oranges because both stories are told in very different ways.

    • @Halli — “As for comparing Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfiffer’s portrayals, I feel like it’s comparing apples and oranges because both stories are told in very different ways.”

      Yes, exactly exactly. BUT, if we’re going to compare anything about these 2 Catwomen, let’s compare outfits. Hands down, Pfeiffer’s Catwoman has the best costume — no question :D

    • Halli


  • Tyler

    Saw it tonight, and absolutely loved Anne in it! And Bane scared the sh*t out of me. Will definitely be seeing it again. :)

  • Sam

    I am one of the few who was unimpressed with the movie. I loved the first two, but this one fell flat. It wasn’t a bad movie at all, but it was honestly too long for me. I felt like a lot of the scenes could have been cut out for a tighter movie. It’s weird, I feel like the plot was both convoluted and underdeveloped at the same time. My biggest disappointment was never feeling engrossed in the storyline as much as I was with the previous films. Bane just didn’t do it for me, and that voice..uuggh that voice! That being said, I thought the actors were great and the “dark” feel of the movie was spot-on.

  • Bryan Sunday

    Epic fail. Bane was all wrong and never should have been in this movie. Catwoman was completely under utilized and although Hathaway does a terrific performance and I can even get into the costume, I can sum up the character’s short comings with this, “Where’s the whip?!” The entire Batman/ Catwoman dynamic was missing. Where was the fight and flirt that this pair is known for?!
    As for the ending, I can’t decide what’s worse: the fate of Bruce Wayne/ Batman or Nolan’s terrible suggestion of who the John Blake (Levitt) character will become.
    I’m baffled by this film’s high ratings from critics and viewers alike. And frankly I am surprised and disappointed that it is scoring higher than Superman Returns.
    Giving this film two stars is being generous. I will not be adding this to my home collection. For me, this franchise is not a trilogy and remains incomplete.

  • Bryan Sunday

    OK, I’m using my phone here and I meant to thumbs up you. It won’t let me change it for since reason.

    • Sam

      lol, I forgive you Bryan!