RECAP: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012): Christopher Nolan

How do you follow up one of the most successful movies ever made? If you’re Christopher Nolan, you don’t worry about it. You make Batman go away for awhile, maybe retire. Make him vulnerable. You ignore the transcendent greatness of the previous villain. Oh, and you throw in a nuke.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A masked villain terrorizes Gotham with a nuclear bomb while an injured Batman tries to stop him. 

Hero (4/10)

For eight years Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has ignored society, sulking about his Stately Wayne Manor while Gotham exists in peace around him. For eight years the Dent Act, passed in honor of hard-nosed District Attorney Harvey Dent, helped lock up more than 1,000 criminals, making the city safe again.

But, as one character says, a storm is coming. Those criminal elements missing from the streets have, by accident, allowed the financial criminals to take the city. The Dark Knight Rises shows the fall of The 1%.

Bruce hangs out in his manor alone save for Alfred (Michael Caine). At a charity gala held at his house but without his appearance, Bruce meets a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), who steals his mother’s pearls and Bruce’s fingerprints, which she sells to a local mob boss.

This burglary prompts Bruce to re-enter society, first as Bruce Wayne and later as Batman. He visits a doctor, where he learns that most of the cartilage in his joints is gone. He’s got some scar tissue on his kidneys and is told not to heli-ski anymore. Agreed, but how ’bout Batmanning? The doctor doesn’t rule that out.

Bruce has not Batmanned for eight years, since the downfall of The Joker.

Something is brewing in Gotham, and Bruce is on the case. We learn that Wayne Enterprises is doing poorly. Bruce dumped most of its funds into a clean energy project spearheaded by Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard).

Before handling that, Bruce prepares his body for a struggle, and he unearths more Bat gear from Wayne Enterprises, including a jet that he plays with a lot in this movie.

Bruce solves problems as much as Batman does, hinting at a possible blithe future for the once-billionaire, as he loses most of his money in a stock market fraud perpetrated by a criminal loose in Gotham named Bane (Tom Hardy). Bruce takes to the streets, meeting with the increasing roster of people who know his secret identity–John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Selina Kyle among them.

Bruce’s primary motivation is keeping tools out of the hands of those who would turn them into weapons. He has the applied sciences division off the books at Wayne Enterprises so Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), another board member, wouldn’t have them. For the same reason he purchased a company that created Clean Slate, a program that allegedly wipes away a person’s identity, the program Selina seeks for some time.

And it’s Bruce’s chief consideration for withholding the fusion reactor his company has developed for years. Miranda’s project, Bruce won’t allow it to come online until he determines it’s safe from those who would turn it into a bomb.

But can anything be completely safe? Bruce is destroying his company thanks to his reticence. Then he hands the proverbial keys to his reactor and his company to the worst possible person in the world–Miranda.

Batman on the Bat Cycle, his favorite toy in the trilogy.

For all his efforts to control, Bruce loses his weapons to Bane, he gives away Clean Slate to help save Gotham, and Bane turns the reactor into a bomb anyway.

After a backbreaking fight with Bane, Bruce is tossed into The Pit, a giant hole in the ground in some Asian destination, where Bane once endured life before escaping. Bruce watches his city burn for months before escaping himself and trying to save a city that might not deserve saving.

In Christian Bale’s final role as Batman, he deserves credit for playing world-beating financial geniuses as diametrically opposed as Bruce Wayne and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. It’s hard to imagine these two would even speak to other, but Bale plays them both convincingly.

Villain (6/10)

Batman’s opponent is a masked mercenary known only as Bane. Great name and great mask aside, Bane is a terrific opponent for the Dark Knight.

Bane’s backstory is smudged throughout the movie. He spent some time in The Pit, a prison with no roof, and is believed by Bruce Wayne to be the only person to ever escape. During Bane’s time in the prison he contracted a plague, and a botched attempt to cure him by the prison doctor led him to lifelong pain. The mask he wears feeds anesthetic gas to mitigate that pain.

After Bane left the prison he joined Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows, and later the group excommunicated him. A man too insane for the League of Shadows is a force to be reckoned with indeed.

Bane wears metal armor because you never know when a fight will break out.

Though that’s not how Bane sees it. “I am Gotham’s reckoning,” he declares to his bankroller, Daggett. Bane starts the movie being captured by the CIA and flown across Asia to some black site. The CIA agent leading the operation is surprised to find Bane on his plane. He asks him who he is. Bane answers that who he is doesn’t matter. “What matters is our plan.”

From then on we see the reach of Bane’s resources. A four engine cargo plane flies above the CIA plane and captures it, literally captures the plane. Bane manages to kidnap a famous nuclear scientist and fake his death while dangling from a broken fuselage nose down. Bane commands many goons on board, one of whom he convinces to stay behind as sacrifice, to give lie to the ruse.

Bane controls a massive, seemingly endless supply of labor and insane men eager to kill and die for him. Perhaps these men enjoy the money flowing from Gotham billionaire Daggett. Perhaps they enjoy following a masked man with great coat choices. They follow him despite his insanity. One afternoon two goons drag Gotham police commissioner Gordon to Bane’s hideout. Bane is upset about this. He kills one of the two men in seconds, choking him. To the other he says, “Search [Gordon]. Then I will kill you.”

So, not the best boss, but an honest one. Bane comes to Gotham to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny of destroying corrupt Gotham. Though, if one does not fulfill one’s destiny it was never one’s destiny. “Dream” would be a better word choice.

Bane wants Batman and Gotham to learn, as he did, the true meaning of despair. To have a little hope dangled before you, or in Bane’s case, above you, as was the exit from The Pit.

Bane nearly succeeds. He hijacks a nuclear reactor and turns it into a bomb, using the scientist whose death he faked earlier. He breaks Batman’s back and sends him to The Pit for some psychological torture, watching Gotham eat itself. “Then you have my permission to die,” he says.

With Batman gone Bane enacts his plan. He seals most of Gotham’s police force under the city before announcing his plan to Gotham at a Rogues football game. He kills the mayor and overthrows the government. Bane desires to give control of Gotham back to the people.

The people respond, looting the homes of The One Percent. Kangaroo courts sentence “elites” to exile or death…by exile–walking onto the ice surrounding Gotham. If Bane enjoys this it’s hard to tell; he seems like a guy who doesn’t emote.

For Bane’s rough upbringing and lack of wearing shirts, he has a solid grasp of vocabulary. He refers to the nuke as “the instrument of your liberation.” About members of the Wayne Enterprises board he says “People of their status deserve to experience the next era of Western Civilization.” To Batman he says “The shadows betray you because they belong to me.”

You might recognize Tom Hardy as Bane because you can’t see his face. Yes, I meant what I said. Hardy struts around the sets like a tank. His best posture comes from his gripping the collars of his coat. He fights with powerful punches peppered among speedy body blows.

Bane is no Joker. The sequel to The Dark Knight never mentions the previous, iconic villain, and with good reason. Even Scarecrow appears for a humorous sentencing scene or two. Bane takes all this in stride, as if terrorizing a city is part of his day-to-day. There’s no joy to it.

Bane’s mask makes him less human. He’s more force of nature than person, and his physique and costume exemplify that. Bane is terrific: menacing, brutal, composed, and, surprisingly, loyal to a cause and person. He’s not a foil for Batman (like The Joker was) so much as his evil counterpart.

Action/Effects (5/10)

If you can get a time machine to send you to 2012, I recommend watching The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX, because the action sequences look great.

The big set piece occurs toward the end. Batman, with help from others, has freed the thousands of Gotham police officers trapped beneath the city for months. These guys have worn the same clothes without washing them, and no one comments on the inevitable stench.

Luckily, the cops are freed in winter, so they probably smell better than they could. All these cops don’t have hygiene on the mind, though. They want to remove Bane from their city. They have one chance.

A line of cops stands on a narrow street outside one of Gotham’s city buildings. Dressed, pressed, and under duress, these men and women are itching for a fight. They are about to get one.

Cops charging Bane’s mercenaries.

Bane has his men stand on the steps and two tanks drive up and call for the cops to disperse. It appears that the tanks will slaughter the cops, and they are preparing to do so when the Bat Jet soars in to pepper the tanks. That’s the cue to attack.

Tear gas flies in hamper the cops’ effort as they charge. Armed only with pistols, the cops outnumber Bane’s men but are heavily outgunned. Machine guns open fire and the cops in the front line start falling.

Pretty soon the shooting devolves to a melee of hand-to-hand combat. Batman joins the fray, as does Bane and the two find each other. Bane is breathing hard, unlike their first encounter. He notes that Batman came back to Gotham, escaping The Pit.

“I came back to stop you,” Batman says. It’s not his strongest line, and he’s had months to plan one. Batman spent his time training for fisticuffs, though. He’s far more aggressive in his attacks, forcing Bane to counter with faster punches.

Batman remains no match for Bane. The mercenary is too fast and powerful, and Batman still too weak. Witness Bane punching out masonry and pummeling Batman’s face mask with no problems.


But now we know why he can do this. It’s that mask. Batman dislodges one of the tubes feeding anesthetic gas to Bane, and suddenly the pain is overwhelming. Bane tries a rapid set of body blows and wheezes like a pit bull. It’s not enough as Batman tosses Bane into the lobby.

The scale of the action overwhelms what’s lacking in these sequences. No blood, of course, in Nolan’s Gotham. Bullets are fired but rarely hit their marks. Bane’s tanks should have easily killed every cop on the street, especially when someone realized Batman was on the ground.

The overheads of Gotham, especially when the bombs blow to seal the city and turn the football field into a sinkhole are spectacular, the reason to see this movie, and any movie, on the biggest screen you can find.

Nolan makes movies for those big screens, and that’s why he’s one of the industry’s most popular.

Sidekicks (5/8)

Alfred: Alfred might be the real hero of The Dark Knight Rises. He’s spent eight years tending to a moping, backward looking Bruce Wayne, and he wants more than that for him.

Early in the film, Alfred tells Bruce about a fantasy he’s had for the last few years. Alfred would take his annual vacation to Florence. He would sit at a cafe and order a drink, a macchiato or something, and look across a few table to see Bruce sitting there, with a wife, maybe a couple of kids. Their eyes would meet. They wouldn’t say anything to each other, but they’d nod.

Alfred wants a safe, happy future for his charge, the man he’s watched grow since he was a child, his surrogate son. He doesn’t want what Bruce wants. “You’re just waiting,” he says, “hoping things’ll go bad again.” Bruce doesn’t get out much, Alfred tells him. At this point he’d “set [Bruce] up with a chimpanzee.”

When Bruce starts Batmanning again, Alfred is upset. Gotham needs Bruce Wayne’s resources, he says. “It doesn’t need your body or your life.” Alfred doesn’t get that Batman is Bruce Wayne’s resources, and that a man, in the end, has only his life to give.

Alfred won’t bury another Wayne. In his final act as caretaker of Wayne Manor, he confesses to Bruce that he burned the letter from Rachel Dawes, the letter in which she explains her choosing Harvey Dent and a life away from Batman, a life that Bruce could also choose. Bruce fires Alfred.

Blake: Police officer John Blake is a smart kid working the beats in Gotham when he starts sniffing around Bane’s plans. Raised in a group home for boys, funded by Wayne Enterprises, Blake made it out and made good on his upbringing.

What makes him smart? How about this–he deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman. A monologue helps Blake explain that he learned to mask his anger from an early age, and he saw that mask on Bruce Wayne’s face the day the billionaire philanthropist visited the boys’ home.

He’ll be Robin, but don’t tell anyone.

That’s difficult to believe, but believe it we must, because he was right, and those instincts help him in his current career. Blake the cop follows leads, reputations be damned. When a body flows out of the sewers, he’s the guy hot on the case checking out those sewers. Later, when Batman shows up after a stock market hostage situation, Blake wants to follow the criminals when his boss is hot on chasing Batman. (Remember that Batman is wanted for the murder of Harvey Dent.)

Often called a hothead, Blake never backs down, not from criminals or bosses. It gets him promoted to detective, a job that doesn’t allow him to believe in coincidences. He even convinces Batman to put on the cape again. This guy should run for office one day.

Gordon: Commissioner Gordon is having a rough time. He’s spent eight years of peace praising Harvey Dent, the man who tried to murder his children. The mayor is going to dump him in the spring. The war with crime is over; it’s time for a new leader.

Then Bane shows up. Gordon is re-energized. He’s nearly killed by Bane, but a hospital stay won’t keep him down. He promotes Blake to detective and leads the fight against Bane in a Gotham cut off from the world.

Henchmen (7/8)

Miranda: Wayne Enterprise board member Miranda Tate appears to be another suit telling Bruce Wayne what to do with his company. She sleeps with Bruce, and she agrees to take the reigns of the company.

Then, it turns out, she’s the villain! Bane wears an actual mask, but Miranda masks herself much better. She’s created a nuclear reactor to help provide the world with low-cost, mostly clean energy. Did she have true philanthropic purposes?

Miranda Tate turning the slow knife slowly.

Someone who grows up in a prison cannot love humanity. She turns the reactor into a weapon that will destroy Gotham. That’s true power. Early she speaks to Daggett, telling him, “You understand only money and the power you think it buys.”

That’s a good line, but money certainly paid for the development of the nuke. And it certainly pays all the goons willing to die for Bane. And it likely paid for the plane that captures the CIA jet.

Miranda’s heel turn is unexpected. It comes when she jabs a knife into Batman’s side and holds the knife there for several moments, while she explains how her patience led to this moment, when Batman was about to fail and the nuke about to destroy Gotham.

Daggett: Gotham’s other billionaire, Daggett deserves mention for his line “Can we get some ladies in here?” after the successful stock market fraud.

Selina: The Catwoman who’s never called such, Selina Kyle is Gotham’s best thief. She’s a small-timer, flying below the radar, or at least she wants to be. Her call up to the big leagues of burglary involves her in the biggest crime in Gotham’s history.

Selina in life did what she had to do, not what she wanted to do. She grew up poor, continued life poor, and remains poor today, despite her excellent thieving skills. And they are excellent. She begins her role posing as a servant at a party in Wayne Manor. She infiltrates Bruce’s room, opens his safe, and steals his mother’s pearls. She also lifts Bruce’s fingerprints.

Anne Hathaway on fire as (Don’t Call Her) Catwoman.

Those prints she sells to Daggett, who will supply her with Clean Slate, a program that will let her wipe away her legal problems. She’s up to her neck in debts to the wrong people. After she hands over the fingerprints, the goons she deals with are ready to kill her.

You know that saying about cats and nine lives? Selina gets it. She strides around town with countless insurance plans. She arrived at the fingerprint deal with a Congressman in tow, a man missing for days. She has the goon she deals with use the Congressman’s cell phone. The police must have had a SWAT team in the area because it is on scene within seconds.

Selina uses her femininity to escape dangerous situations. When Bruce catches her snooping his room she feigns fear, until he notices the pearls on her neck. She drops the charade and goes full femme fatale. Later, as the police raid the bar where the mob men almost kill her, she screams bloody murder as the cops run past her. They expect a woman to be scared, not to be the conductor of the orchestra. Selina walks away from the bar unscathed and unquestioned.

Her tenacity and devotion to her cause–robbing the rich–makes her Batman’s top case. She tells Bruce Wayne (before she knows his secret identity), “There’s a storm coming,” and she’s pumped ab0ut it. Later, after the storm hits (and after she knows Bruce Wayne’s secret identity), she walks around Gotham like it’s her child’s dirty room, angry and unsurprised and disappointed by the mayhem.

Batman makes her his pet project. She begs him to flee Gotham with her, icily telling him, “You don’t owe these people any more.” Bruce disagrees, saying, “There’s more to you than that.” He forces her to adapt to his code of “no guns, no killing,” to which she says, “Where’s the fun in that?” He gives her the Bat Cycle and Clean Slate to buy her aid in saving Gotham from nuclear destruction. This after she sold him out to Bane to save her own life.

You could make a case for Selina as the protagonist. No one changes more than she does. She opens the film trying to steal Bruce Wayne’s identity, and by the end they are dating, living it up in Florence. She learned a trick or two from her future boyfriend, ghosting him on a rooftop when he turned away from her for a moment. “So that’s what that feels like,” Batman says.

After she receives the Bat Cycle, Batman implores Selina to help him save the city. She disappears for some time, and we forget about her, until she shows up at City Hall to shoot Bane dead before can shoot Batman dead. She helps Batman fly the bomb from the city and ends up with a boyfriend and a trip to Florence for her troubles.

Anne Hathaway oozes sexuality. That’s kind of Catwoman’s M.O., yes, I get that. Hathaway does a good job, is all I’m saying. Her leather suits and cartwheels are sexy.

Stunts (4/6)

Awww we gotta talk about the Batman/Bane fight. Hell yeah!

Batman is duped and locked underground with Bane on a construction gangway. Batman tells Selina she’s made a big mistake. “Not as serious as yours,” Bane says. He stands ready, eager, to brawl.

Batman strikes first with four powerful blows to body and face. They affect Bane not at all. Bane catches a punch. “Peace has cost you your strength,” Bane says. “Victory has defeated you.” They trade some blows until Batman head butts Bane back a step.

Bane beating the shit out of Batman.

Bane absorbs more blows from Batman that do nothing. Bane lands kicks on Batman and the latter falls over the railing, caught by some dangling chains. Bane, monkey-like, climbs down the chains and shoves Batman into a standing I beam.

Batman responds with more punches. It’s clear to those watching that Bane is rope-a-doping Batman. Selina, who found out seconds ago that Batman was Bruce Wayne, is feeling less than good about her choices this evening. Bane delivers one downward punch to knock Batman to the ground. It’s the first blow that made Bane breathe hard.

Batman throws a smoke bomb at Bane. “Theatricality and deception: powerful agents to the uninitiated. But we are initiated. Aren’t we Bruce?”

Bane lifts Batman by the neck. Batman calls Bane a psychopath. Bane dislikes this and punches him hard in the gut. “I am the League of Shadows,” he says. Batman mounts Bane for more blows that are easily ignored. Bane fights Gotham’s best martial champion like he’s a rude child.

Batman turns the lights out. Big mistake. “I was born in [the darkness].” Bane ends the fight with some face blows. He explodes some bombs to reveal their digging beneath Wayne Enterprises armory and the tactical tanks it holds.

Batman has a final well of strength. He charges the amused Bane. “I was wondering what would break first,” Bane says, “Your spirit or your body.” Bane lifts Batman clean over his head and drops his back onto his thigh, cracking some vertebrae.

Bane further beating the shit out of Batman by breaking his back.

Batman suffers a broken back and is sent to Bane’s prison pit. That Batman survives the next fight at all is a stunning achievement.

We must admire the work of the stunt crew willing to hang off the back of those motorcycles sprinting from Gotham’s stock exchange.

Climax (3/6)

Following the big cop fight, Batman, exhausted and enraged, kicks Bane into the bank where he holds Miranda Tate. Batman screams at Bane, “Where’s the trigger!?” He roughs up Bane real good, especially because his mask is broke and the pain is creeping in. He knows Bane would never give an ordinary citizen control of the bomb. “Tell me where the trigger is,” Batman says, “then you have my permission to die.”

Bane looks at Batman as if he’s a student who has graduated his class, of whom he is so proud. “I broke you,” he says. Bane explains that he was not the one to escape the prison. He is not the child of Ra’s al Ghul. That’s when Miranda unmasks herself. She plunges a knife into Batman’s torso (remember that his armor plates are detached for increased movement?). “Though I am not ordinary,” she says, rubbing her thumb over the trigger button, “I am a citizen.”

Speaking of that bomb, where is it? Gordon has eliminated one of the three trucks as empty. This was presumably the truck Miranda marked as carrying the bomb, so we understand why. Gordon and a handful of other guys commandeer an enemy gun truck and attack long enough for Gordon to board what must be the bomb truck.

Miranda spends time caring for her protector, Bane, fixing his mask, as she explains that she, young Talia, climbed from The Pit on the day her mother was killed. She found her father, Ra’s al Ghul, who returned to The Pit to exact vengeance. He could not accept Bane into the League of Shadows, because he reminded Ra’s of the hell he left his wife to die in. “His only crime,” Miranda says of Bane, “was that he loved me.”

Well, he did a lot more crimes, eh? Bane only forgave Miranda’s father after Batman killed him. She and Bane believe that “innocent” is a strong word to describe the people of Gotham. She lectures Batman on the virtues of “the slow knife” that more efficiently kills. She and her infinite patience, however, are derailing her plan, because we also see Gordon laboriously climbing around the bomb truck, trying to place the box device that will block signals from the trigger Miranda holds.

Bane, recovered now with his mask fixed, wraps a rope around Batman’s neck. Miranda finishes her lecture and triggers the bomb. Nothing happens. Gordon has succeeded. “Maybe,” Batman says, “the knife went too slow.”

Blake, meanwhile, leads the orphans to the only bridge not yet destoryed and tries to cross it. The cops are freaking out. They will shoot children if it means appeasing Bane.

Miranda withdraws her knife and instructs Bane not to kill Batman. She wants him to feel “the fire of 12 million souls you failed.” Miranda boards a tank with a Bane goon and orders everyone shot. I mean, why show mercy when in 10 minutes the bomb will kill everyone?

Bane stands over Batman. “We both know that I have to kill you know,” he says. “You’ll just have to imagine the fire.” He points a shotgun at Batman’s pronounced, Anglo jaw. The fire that emerges does not strike Batman, but Bane. Selina steps off the Bat Cycle. “About the whole no guns thing,” she says, “I’m not sure I feel as strongly about it as you do.”

Miranda and another tank reach the bomb truck. Miranda boards. Batman flies to menace the enemy tanks. Back on the bridge, a very angry cop orders it destroyed as Blake tries to cross. Selina, riding the cycle again, guns down one tank while Batman evades rocket fire. Miranda has deduced the plan to reattach the bomb to the reactor.

The heroes ponder Miranda Tate’s life choice as time ticks away on the bomb.

Some very expert flying, that likely took thousands of hours to learn, allows Batman to dodge most of the rockets tailing him and lead one into the final tank, sending it crashing into a building and not killing its occupants. Batman turns on the truck, which he plasters with rockets, killing the driver. Miranda takes control. She’s not scared of a little rocket fire.

Still, the truck crashes down into a freeway. Gordon pops out unscathed somehow. Miranda reveals that she learned how to operate the emergency flood at the reactor. So that option’s out. There’s no stopping the bomb.

Batman has two minutes to fly the bomb over the bay. He and Selina pause long enough to kiss, which is sweet for movie viewers but catastrophically dumb in the context of the movie. We heard from the doctor that it has a six-mile blast radius. Can the jet fly six-plus miles in 90 seconds?

Was Batman on the jet when the bomb blew?

Batman flies out to sea, his final seconds contemplating what, we do not know. Gordon reads the eulogy at Bruce Wayne’s small funeral. “I failed you,” Alfred quivers. Gotham unveils, to tepid applause, a statue of the Batman.


A few months later, Alfred takes his annual vacation to Florence. He sits at his usual cafe with his usual newspaper. He glances a few tables over and spots, hey, isn’t that Bruce Wayne? And isn’t that Selina Kyle? It is! Alfred, like in his dream, nods at master Wayne. Master Wayne nods back. The Batman is dead, but the man behind the mask is not.

Jokes (0/4)

Is The Dark Knight Rises funnier than The Dark Knight, a movie with a character called The Joker?

No, it is not.

Setting (3/4)

New York and Pittsburgh replaced Chicago as Gotham. Dozens of overheads show Gotham as an island, especially when its bridges are destroyed. Meetings with the military take place on the bridges, and Batman signals his symbol in flame on one.

Much action occurs underground, in giant holes the size of missile silos. Where do they find these places? Do such holes exist? The reactor is underground. Even Batman’s cave is literally in a cave this time, and there’s a computer station that can hide underwater.

Dude ran so hard he blew up the field.

The coolest scene occurs at a Gotham Rogues football game against those assholes from Rapid City. The Pittsburgh Steelers famously filled in as Rogues players, lending Gotham their black and yellow. Former Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, the highlight of his day, until he turned around and found the field collapsed and his teammates dead. Credit to Ward though, he didn’t hear a whistle so he kept running.

Commentary (1/2)

“We take Gotham from the corrupt,” Bane says, “and we give it back to you…the people.” Bane speaks like a politician. Might he run for office? The mayor recently left his position (and this Earthly plane).

One of the questions of our time.

Do the 1% have too much? Most Gothamites believe so. They eagerly ransack their Park Avenue-equivalent apartments after Bane “liberates” them. “We come here not as conquerers, but as liberators.” That’s close to what the President Bush and Vice President Cheney said about Iraq shortly before invading it.

Bane is a leftist terrorist, Occupy Wall Street’s wet dream, but he rules the city in a Robespierre-like manner. All this is a ruse, however, because Bane truly wants to destroy Gotham. He seeks to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny which was ___.

[dent act and batman the vigilante]

Offensiveness (-1/-2)

How do you feel about femme fatales? Anne Hathaway plays a doozy one, wearing tight leather pants and heels with sharps edges. She seduces a Congressman, toys with him for a few days, then drags him to a dive where he’s shot in the arm. He presses charges but is still head over heels for her. Presumably edged heels.

Gotham might be America’s largest city, but its as diverse as a block of chocolate. Does Nolan know that American cities are filled with dozens of languages? This movie is so white it makes Marion Cotillard look like a brown person.


  • If you have to walk on a frozen lake, why walk? Those forced to do so should have slid on their stomachs. They probably still would have died, but maybe not.

Summary (37/68): 54%

Christopher Nolan dug himself a deep hole in following up arguably the best and most important superhero movie ever made with The Dark Knight Rises. The final film of the trilogy ties together the two predecessors, tosses multiple characters with opposing motivations into the mix, and films action sequences in glorious IMAX.

The movie does everything right, but it doesn’t have The Joker. Superhero villains are still–a decade later–working in the shadow of Ledger’s performance, but in this sequel you notice how long that shadow is. That’s not a knock on Rises, but a comment on how great The Dark Knight was.