Review: The Dark Knight Rises

{By Michael Vuke}

Author’s note: This review is divided into two sections; the movie review, and the morality review. If you want a better break down of what ‘bad stuff’ there is in the movie, the morality section is where you’ll want to head.

The Dark Knight Rises is dark, painful, and emotional. Christopher Nolan has crafted an amazing finale to The Dark Knight Trilogy that hits all of the right spots, built off of a fantastic story, solid acting, a driving score, and beautiful cinematography.

Christian Bale returns in his final role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, who feels he must come out of his self-imposed hiding in order to save Gotham from the menace of Bane; a sadistic masked terrorist who is turning Gotham City on its head. The Dark Knight Rises pulls no punches, and neither do the characters. There are plenty of fights and explosions to keep the adrenaline pumping, yet there is more ‘downtime’ than in previous installments, which allows us to explore what makes the characters who they really are.

When watching, I definitely encourage you to keep an eye out for mirroring; Nolan blew me away with how many scenes from The Dark Knight Rises run parallel to scenes from Batman Begins. There is simply brilliant film composition. TDKR is one of the biggest movies I have seen; the sheer size of the shots is enough to overwhelm sometimes, and the plot is very ambitious, and it is executed almost perfectly.

The world of Gotham City feels like it is part of our current world, which makes the movie have that much more of an impact. Even though characters like Batman, Catwoman, and Bane exist, they are done so that they feel like they should be on the evening news. Because of this realism, this movie is able to play the viewer’s emotions; there were several times when you heard someone in the audience cry a little, and I misted up near the end myself.

If you are looking for a mindless summer action flick, don’t watch The Dark Knight Rises. It doesn’t provide an escape from the worries of the world, but instead shows us our world in all its glory and shame for us to ponder. The Dark Knight Rises is a true epic in the vein of the Iliad or The Lord of the Rings, and I definitely recommend this movie.

Morality Review

There is a wide age-range of people that read this blog, and a wide range of beliefs about what is acceptable for someone to watch; I am not condoning everything in this movie for everyone, and I recognize that people have varying standards for what is fine in a movie. For this reason, I’m just going to list off some of the things that could be considered problematic by someone so you can pass judgment for yourself.

Violence: The Dark Knight Trilogy has never pretended to be a family friendly series; it is a dark, gritty take on the Batman mythos aimed at adults instead of children—The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. There is plenty of violence to go around here, ranging from tanks shooting at flying vehicles to brutal hand-to-hand combat. Structures blow up, people are shot or stabbed, and bones are broken. While there aren’t any “Magic Tricks” involving pencils in this movie (or even comparable moments), there are a few scenes that were painful to watch [such as when someone has bones forced to move like they should not move…and later have them popped back into place]. Blood flow is mainly limited to trickling from noses or small cuts. Bane is sheer power, and he uses that indiscriminately—snapping necks, throwing people, and indiscriminately blowing things up.

Sexual Content: There is not much sexual content here, but there is enough to get it rated for sensuality. A couple kisses several times throughout the movie. Once a scene starts with two people lying in bed (fully covered). Bane and Bruce both go shirtless, and Catwoman’s outfit could be considered immodest because it stays close to her body so as to not restrict movement.

Profanity: While there is occasional cursing, it is not prevalent at all. In an almost 3 hour long movie, profanity is used about 20 times or less. (God’s name is used once or twice, which is the strongest they get) [For more specifics, check out PluggedIn’s review—they list every word used.]

Positive things: Lies are shown to be destructive, a priest is a good character, evil is shown for evil, and good rallies against it. Batman avoids killing others as much as possible, yet fights for what he believes in. A man confronts his fears and his past and learns to move on—even after terrible things. A police officer stands firm in his convictions, even though his role models and superiors have been shown to be corrupt. People make extreme sacrifices to protect others.

In summary, The Dark Knight Rises is a gripping story that delivers thrills and lessons in a stunning way, but it is not a perfect movie. It is dark and even brutal at times, but steers clear of gratuitous and/or overly graphic violence (often cutting away before a blow).  I would not recommend it to a younger person, but I believe that most viewers from the mid-teens should be fine to see this movie.

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.