Imposing in scale and length, The Dark Knight Rises takes viewers on a scenic but meandering journey — two hours and 45 minutes — that can test the limits of patience. But that’s OK. Thanks to some great acting and incredibly satisfying final scenes, these indulgences are easily forgiven. TDKR wraps up Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy with style while offering some honest-to-goodness surprises and moments of pure fan delight.

This guy right here.

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

  • As Gotham City cop John Blake, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a wonderful job of bringing this epic down to human size. Along with Gary Oldman as Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, he gives an understated, first-rate performance that stands out among all the costumes and world-ending spectacle. Superheroes and larger-than-life villains are great, but the intimate, Gotham Central aspect of the film is one of its finest qualities.
  • Way back when Gordon-Levitt’s casting was announced, there was some wishful thinking that he’d portray a certain sidekick. John Blake isn’t Dick Grayson, but speculators got a huge reward when the film slyly revealed the character’s real first name: Robin! And how about those scenes of Blake in the Batcave, which strongly suggest a future for Batman beyond Bruce Wayne? What a nice way to pass the baton and to let the audience’s imagination go to town.
  • In some stories and shows like Batman Beyond, Bruce has grown older and ever more isolated as the Dark Knight. There’s something refreshing about seeing him perform one last spectacular act of heroism before exiting the stage and assuming a new life far, far away from Gotham City. TDKR touches upon the psychological and physical toll that the Batman role had taken on Bruce Wayne, and after a guy has had his back broken, escaped a hellish prison, been stabbed by Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter and flown off into the sunset with an atomic bomb, he’s earned a faked death and retirement.
  • Speaking of broken backs, few actors can convey physical pain as convincingly as Christian Bale. That brutal physical therapy scene? Ouch. It’ll take a heck of a thespian to step into his shoes for the inevitable reboot.

  • I didn’t quite buy Anne Hathaway as the duplicitous Selina Kyle, but anytime we get a sharp-witted, capable woman in an action film who isn’t there merely to pose unnaturally, that’s welcome. Too bad there wasn’t time to fully develop the Talia angle, because she’s such a rich character.
  • Michael Caine almost made me cry. Cheers indeed, dear Alfred.
  • Yes, there were parts that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I can’t be the only one who wondered how Bruce got home after ascending from the prison pit of doom, or why Bane would take a risk on shipping Batman, even broken, off to the desert for a flatscreen viewing of Gotham’s ruin. Suspension of disbelief and all that.
  • Tom Hardy does right by the hulking, cruelly efficient, and occasionally unintelligible Bane, but Heath Ledger’s Joker remains the Gold Standard for terrifying Batman cinema villains. Speaking of the bad guys, it’s fun to see Cillian Murphy in a cameo as the kooky Dr. Jonathan Crane.
  • Can you think of a better fate for Wayne Manor than being converted into a home for orphans?
  • On another note, I wasn’t sure what to make of the trailer for Man of Steel, or as some fans are calling it, Deadliest Catch Superman.

8 thoughts on “Random thoughts on ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ with spoilers

  1. I agree about the Talia story line as well as Anne Hathaway. I think if we had gotten more of a story line for Selina Kyle she would have been more convincing. But I also couldn’t see anyone else being able to put on that adorable smile as America’s favorite princess and then turn to sinister jewel thief at the blink of an eye. I suppose I am biased….but I would have liked to have seen more of her and Talia. I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I do hope that whoever decides to take the baton and make the next series considers him for a role. I was lucky enough to be at a marathon here in Anaheim, CA and it was like a rock concert. I loved it, The geek inside was crying…as well as the geek outside. I cried like a girl and I am not ashamed to admit it. A fitting ending. But nothing will ever compare to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Great review, btw.


    1. Thanks, Chauntel! The movie hit a lot of high notes overall and was surprisingly touching. Even when I wasn’t quite sure where it was all going, the performances held my attention to the end. The DVD extras are going to be outrageous.


  2. I enjoyed it immensely. I find it amuasing how we wish that they could have fleshed out Selina & Talia (no pun intended) and it was almost three hours. I feel both were under utilized. I am very anxious to see what Nolan will do next. I believe he is an extremely talented story teller and I am anxious to see what he has planned outside of comics. I also beleive we saw the best of what comics has to offer this summer, from the comic book brought to life with The Avengers & the smarts with Batman. It is going to be tough summer to follow.


  3. Amazing film! Nolan has set the bar so high on future Batman projects that we may never see anything as awesome and inspiring like this again! And I hate him for it as much as I love him! I got chills watching JGL rise to the Batcave and we may never get to see how incredible that would be. But a friend of mine brought up a good point…a Bruce Wayne-less Batman may not sit well with folks. I would love to see it and I think the geek community would embrace it after bitching about it for months, but I doubt WB and DC would ever allow it to happen. Overall, thank you to Nolan and crew for a fantastic trilogy of films. Ever since I read Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, I have always wanted to see some TV or movie version…this is about as close as it will ever get!


  4. I really, really loved it. Alfred standing and talking to the Waynes made me tear up. The ending made me cry. I think it was the thought of Bruce actually happy. We so rarely see that in the comics. And as much as I love Batman with Wonder Woman, this was a Selina I really liked, and could see him falling for.

    As for the plot itself, I was very impressed at the large number of different plot points from the comics they were able to work with and still make it feel like a reasonably coherent movie. Loved the nod to Robin and the way Lucius, Gordon and Alfred in turn learn of Bruce’s survival. Very nice and very true to character.


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