January 27, 2013

the dark knight rises

After a tongue-in-cheek tacky movie, a clever casting twist with Michael Keaton, and a slow, nipple-suited downfall further plagued by the crack of Catwoman’s whip, Christopher Nolan reinvigorated Batman.  Fantastical absurdity was replaced with practical reality and the comic edges were smoothed until a bat hero almost seemed like a real-world possibility.  Now the final installation of the trilogy has hit shelves, and you can check out a review of The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray after the jump.

It’s rare that the camera honors the stories of our beloved superheroes. Franchises rise, studio coffers fill, and creativity leaks away until sequels struggle and reboots come knocking. With Batman, however, Nolan was able to foster a full arc for his Knight. In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne’s need to avenge his parents’ murder allowed him to become a beacon of masked light in a corrupt city. In The Dark Knight, Batman’s reputation was sacrificed to give Gotham a human hero (whose human face is, ironically, a mask covering the villain Harvey Dent became). And now in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman shares the fight with the people, the city’s fate resting in the heroism of much more than one masked man.

christian-bale-the-dark-knight-rises-imageA number of years after his city was terrorized by The Joker, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) suffers as his city thrives. The metropolis once dominated by organized crime is now lead by lawmakers who – in the name of Dent – have cleaned up the streets so thoroughly that even the talents of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) are rendered unnecessary. Bruce, meanwhile, is damaged from his battles, from the loss of Rachel, and from professional woes that have seen Wayne Enterprises become little more than a shell of its former self – until a stiletto breaks through Wayne’s isolation. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) offers him his first outside contact in years, her moves and wit waking him from his slumber and leading him back to life just in time to face his match – Bane (Tom Hardy) – who plans to rip apart and destroy Wayne’s beloved city.

dark-knight-rises-bane-tom-hardy-speechNolan, once again, thrives at placing Bale’s dynamic Batman within a strong and surprising mix of supporting players. Much like The Avengers wiped away Hulk malcontent, and Nolan himself shocked us with Heath Ledger’s Joker, TDKR’s supporting cast shines, easily nullifying the worst incarnations that plague our public consciousness. Bane is no longer Poison Ivy’s lapdog, and Catwoman eviscerates the discontent that has plagued the character since Halle Berry’s film. Our only reminder of past tackiness comes during one of the film’s death scenes, when any emotional resonance is wiped away by one laughable dying breath.

Good and bad are ripped apart under an IMAX microscope, which looks down-right delicious on Blu-ray. Filming a third of the film in the extra-large format, using CG only sparingly, Nolan brings the fight to us – free of overt, computer-generated flair and blurry, 3-D distraction. Pushing reality over fantasy is a welcome change, resulting in a more visceral and immersive experience that perfectly suits the film’s thematic arc. The audience is practically placed in Gotham, forced to see why Wayne has fought so hard to protect it.

dark-knight-rises-catwoman-anne-hathawayThe discs in this release offer up just as much to chew on as the film itself. Many releases boasting hours of special content suffer the bloat of filler, but this one offers a nice mix of the latest film’s minutia, how it fits into Nolan’s trilogy, and how it all fits into the greater world of Batman.

The longest feature, “The Batmobile,” is an hour-long look the evolution of Batman’s flashy car, from its life in the cells of comics, to its first real-world incarnation in the television series, the first series of films, and now Nolan’s spin. This is matched with a slew of featurettes that are grouped into “Ending the Night.” The feature covers every angle of the film, detailing how Nolan shot each main location and key scenes (the airplane hijacking, bat cave, Gothan tunnels, the Bat, the pit, the football game, the armory, the fight between Batman and Bane, the battle on Wall Street, and the reactor), how Hans Zimmer then translated the film into a chanting musical score, and how Nolan tackled the three leading players in the story – Batman, Bane, and Catwoman.

In addition to the meaty features, there is a short blip about how Nolan shot so much of the film on IMAX, some trailer and poster galleries, and thankfully just one congratulatory feature, “The End of a Legend,” where the cast and crew talk about how great the experience was. There are no commentaries, but it’s no loss to the viewer since everything is covered in the featurettes.

Between the beauty of Nolan’s filmmaking in high definition, a disc full of behind-the-scenes goodies new and old, and a bonus DVD for good measure, The Dark Knight Rises is a great buy for any Batman fans eager to disappear into Gotham and the history of Bruce Wayne.


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  • Lance

    “With Batman, however, Nolan was able to foster a full arc for his Knight.”

    Completely agree. These aren’t just three movies with Batman in them, like the previous movies were. There is a huge, epic storyline contained in these movies, and for perhaps the first time in any Batman story, we see Bruce Wayne finally succeed in saving Gotham’s soul.

    The quibblers will argue about how there needed to be more “Michael Bay” in Dark Knight Rises, but that’s because they don’t perceive and certainly can’t appreciate the bigger story being told here. But go back and look at Batman Begins — Gordon’s just about the only honest cop in that movie. By Dark Knight Rises, the cops are mostly heroes. Watch all three movies back to back and you can see the changes that happen to the city in reaction to what Bruce sets out to do.

    By the end, you feel that even without Batman Gotham City will be alright, whatever happens, because its people will rise to the occasion. A fantastic and fitting close to a great trilogy.

    • TwoCentsTooMuch

      Thank you, it was a fitting end to a consistently well-acted, well-constructed, and well-told narrative. Far too much fanboy raging on these comment boards.

    • Northern Star

      Bravo, well said Lance, I agree with every word. The best thing about Chris Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy is you could take Batman out of them, replace him with another character entirely, and the films would still stand on their own narrative strengths… and that’s no small or mean feat!

  • tarek

    Thank you for your review, but what about the PQ / AQ ? it is the most important thing to review for a blu-ray.

  • spongefist

    You can’t polish a turd.

    • GunsOfNavarone

      Agreed. I enjoyed the first 2 but I’m sorry, Nolan let his game slip with the 3rd. The film is riddled with issues throughout and is one of the most depressing comic book adaptations I have seen. The acting is great, the camera work is great, the action scenes are great but the overall film is inconsistent and drags in parts.

  • Jamie C.

    I watched the whole trilogy yesterday for 7th time. It will never get old to me and I’ll never stop watching them. To me, they’re the greatest movies of all time and like I said before, ‘The Dark Knight Rises was a movie to end all movies and an epic conclusion to the finest film franchise in cinematic history’. Yes, there are good/great movies out there, but not “EPIC,” like the Dark Knight. When and if Batman ever returns, I will be there, along with the rest of the true Bat Fans, not Fan Boys.

    “I’m Batman”

    • Shaun

      Seems to me a true “Bat Fan” would realize that, after two excellent movies with BB and TDK, Nolan really shit the bed with TDKR.

      ICompletely disrespectful to the characters of Batman/Wayne and Alfred, not to mention a sloppy mess of a film that took far too many liberties with the Bat-mythos. It was riddled with plotholes, stuffed with unnecessary added characters, and Batman himself was more or less a supporting player in a supposed Batman movie.

      I really wanted to like TDKR, but I felt like Nolan himself wasn’t terribly interested in this movie, or at least in telling one final Batman story that was really about Batman. Hopefully the next reboot of the character will focus more on Batman himself (as BB did), and keep him front and center.

      None of this being Batman for only a year or so, then suddenly quitting and living like a hermit who hobbles around on a cane as though he were a 70 year-old man. None of this abandoning Gotham and just leaving his cave, etc., to some younger replacement who never existed in the comics and has little hope of succeeding as Batman when he doesn’t have Bruce their to train him properly.

      • millerscd

        How long has it been since you watch Tim Burton’s Batman? Go back and watch it again. It should have been called the Joker.

  • Nolan Super Fraud

    This movie is as fun as getting stabbed in the groin repeatedly with a rusty screw driver. There’s no arc here. Batman just up and decides to pretend to be dead for some reason without any moment of realization. He’s all like “F–k this jazz, I’m gonna quit cause I’m a cry baby and was batman for a grand total of 3 hours. Crime fighting is tough and things.” He somehow survives a nuclear explosion in one of the stupidest cheats ever put to film. Don’t give me that song and dance that he survived because Nolan shows him in the cockpit, shows the clock with 6 seconds, pow! explosion. He’s dead. It’d be the same as if someone emptied out his brains with a shotgun blast in graphic detail and the next moment scene he waltzs out onto the screen and was all like “them was fake brains.” It’s exactly the same. No bogus it just showed the interior after he already ejected. We’d have seen him eject.

    Let’s see what else: magic punch back healing, sean connery as bane, batman makes a huge bat sign with 6 hours left before the bomb goes off for some reason, batman materializes in gotham through magic, cops run headlong into machine gone and tank fire (3 die?!) , Bane knows where Wayne’s weapon division even though the film takes pains to explain nobody does. A prison with no roof and a rope leading out of it. And on and on and on. I’m tired of trying to teach the fanboys how objectively bad this film is. It’s like convincing zealot christian’s that god’s make believe — logic and reason need not apply.

    [drops mike, walks off stage]

    • TwoCentsTooMuch

      [drops mic, walks off stage... fails to realize nobody was watching.]

  • aj

    I´ll rather spend my money on the dark knight returns part 2.. a much better intrepretation of the character. darker, more violent and more complex that Nolan´s overrated and shallow cop “drama”.with a 20 minute batman cameo.

    “! look ,another cartoony terrorist is going to bring chaos and destruction to gotham with a half baked “evil plan”… like the first, and second movie !”… meh

  • rp

    TDKR still appalls me. This is why you don’t make an artsy flick out of a superhero movie.

    • Neo

      Thanks for the input Michael Bay.

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  • DPW

    Think Nolan missed an opportunity with TDKR…the execution of Bane wasn’t great. No one could understand what he was saying! That could have been an easy fix, but Nolan wouldn’t have it. Even the movie title was clunky. Nolan should have titled it Knightfall and gone the route of the comic book story. Imagine a bunch maniacs at Arkham all let loose by Bane, wearing bats down. They could all make brief cameos, similar to the Arkham City video game. Fits perfectly with the close of BB, and Gordon’s escalation comment. First two movies were awesome, but TDKR was by far the weakest.

  • Marvellous

    People complain about this movie having plotholes but I don’t really think anyone really know what a plothole is. There isn’t anything that happens to contradict certain events, or any inconsistency that goes against the logic of the story’s plot.
    How does Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham? Do we really need an extra 15 minutes of scenes showing him hitch hiking across the middle east, sneaking on a plane back to the US, then sneaking across the bridge? The movie is long enough.
    How does Bruce Wayne retire for 8 years (Batman would never do that)? How do you continue to fight crime in your city when there isn’t any crime to fight in the 1st place?
    Bruce Wayne has no ligaments in his knee and his back got broke, how the hell does he still get back into shape? Knee brace probably fixed his knee and his back wasn’t really broken, as the explained in the movie, and the amount of time he spent in the prison for it to heal isn’t out of the realm of “possible” for a physically fit person like Batman. Plus we’re watching a movie about a guy who dresses up in a bat suit fighting crime, let your imagination be a bit free.
    There aren’t any plotholes because everything can be logically explained without contradicting anything else in the movie, or making it inconsistent with the plot of the story. You can call it “lazy writing” or “bad storytelling”, but not a plothole.

    • mr teaspoon

      “Knee brace probably fixed his knee”


    • aj

      “How do you continue to fight crime in your city when there isn’t any crime to fight in the 1st place?”…

      yeah, that was the worst part of the far-fetched, bullsh&t filled, lazy script for this movie. a law that magically makes all crime dissapear from gotham ? please, even in counttries where they have death penalty and life sentences for everything, there is still crime. and obviously there is still crime in gotham, or they wouldnt have an army of cops at the end of the movie. but okay, let´s say that this magic law stops all organized crime in gotham in less than 8 years (and the “realism” this movie brags so much about just jumped ship), shouldnt batman still be fighting gangs, thieves, corrupt politicians, kidnappers, serial killers and other criminals?…….. it only proves that for this version of bruce wayne, being batman was nothing more than a part-time hobby.

  • Max

    I love this film

  • bane

    Lance and Jamie, beautifully said, and to all the naysayers, you show you’re true lack of heart and intelligence, just admit that this movie and the whole series flew right above your’re tiny little heads. This final movie made a grown man cry at several points, and I know I am not the only one. This movie was beyond deep, if the new star wars has half the heart as this movie, then we are in for a treat. “The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!”.

    • Um, Sure

      I don’t understand the rabid love OR the rabid hate for these movies. They are good. Very good. But they are not perfect, and they have a tendency to wear out their welcome. TDKR does not live up to the first 2 but it is in no way the disaster that some hyperbolic yahoos are making it out to be. I guess I’m in a small minority of people who neither gushes over nor loathes these films.

  • kemo517

    Great ending to a great trilogy. Good full circle with TLOS.

  • Weeks

    Monika Bartyzel, this is a great article and you’re a terrific writer. Wish they’d let you write more stuff on this site!