The Dark Knight Rises Review (MovieMantz)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. --
The Dark Knight Rules!
“The Dark Knight Rises”
Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy
Directed by Christopher Nolan
If 2008’s “The Dark Knight” raised the bar and set a new standard for how great movies based on costumed comic book heroes can be, then “The Dark Knight Rises” defies the impossible by raising the bar even further. Quite simply, it’s that brilliant.
That’s saying a lot, since the second Batman installment directed by Christopher Nolan received rave reviews and grossed over $1 billion worldwide. And when it failed to get a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars, the Academy took the unprecedented step of expanding that category so that popular films worthy of being nominated would have a better chance of doing so in the future. Then there’s the late great Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his outstanding performance as the Joker.
Talk about a tough act to follow, but “The Dark Knight Rises” doesn’t just follow it; it tops it in almost every way, making it a guaranteed frontrunner for Best Picture. Where most trilogies end on a weak note (witness the likes of “Return of the Jedi” and “Spider-Man 3”), “The Dark Knight Rises” succeeds as an epic triumph that scales the rare heights of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” making it the crowning achievement of the Batman trilogy and the biggest, best, most exciting Batman of them all.
Picking up eight years after the death of both his true love, Rachel Dawes, and the city’s idealistic D.A., Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a shadow of his former self. Crime in Gotham City has dropped since the downfall of the Joker and the passing of the Dent Act, so there hasn’t been much of a need for Batman anyway. That changes with the arrival of Bane (Tom Hardy), a sinister and powerful terrorist who’s on a mission to plunge Gotham into total chaos and anarchy.
Batman emerges from seclusion to stop that from happening, but meets a painful defeat at the hands of Bane. With the clock ticking on Bane’s plan to destroy the city, the Dark Knight must rise again, and he’ll need all the help he can get. Among those who are on his side: Alfred (Michael Caine), the loyal butler who cared for him since the death of his parents; Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), the police commissioner with close ties to Batman; John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a dedicated cop who idolizes Batman; Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), the brilliant innovator for Wayne Enterprises; Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), an affluent member of the board at Wayne Enterprises; and finally, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a skilled cat burglar who could turn out to be Batman’s biggest ally…or his worst enemy.
The fact that “The Dark Knight Rises” exceeds its incredibly high expectations is due to a number of factors, the first of which is the smart screenplay co-written by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan (with a story assist by David S. Goyer). As with Nolan’s previous films, “The Dark Knight Rises” is filled with intricate details that require multiple viewings, but there are also numerous references to its predecessors (especially the first installment, 2005’s “Batman Begins”), making a refresher course on those movies essential if the new film’s many twists and turns are to be fully appreciated.
And while some may feel that Nolan’s Batman films took themselves a bit too seriously, the fact is that they are the most grounded of all the movies based on costumed comic book heroes. “The Dark Knight Rises” in particular features a villain who is a terrorist, a story that’s set during an economic crisis and images of mass destruction that seem all too real in a post-9/11 world. That’s a far cry from the vibrant fun of “The Avengers,” in which the villains were aliens from outer space and the heroes were indestructible, but that’s also what makes it more intense, exciting and emotionally engaging – especially in IMAX, since a whopping 72 minutes were filmed using the giant IMAX cameras.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is also more of an ensemble piece than its predecessors, and each of the cast members give incredible performances. Christian Bale, who became an Oscar-winner since the release of the last installment (he won Best Supporting Actor for 2010’s “The Fighter”), comes full circle with a grueling performance and spends a lot more screen time as Bruce Wayne than in costume as Batman. Returning players Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are also at the top of their game as Alfred, Lucius Fox and Commissioner Gordon, respectively.
But the newcomers make their mark in a very big way, starting with Tom Hardy as the ominous Bane. Between his shaved head and enormous bulk, Hardy’s transformation to play Batman’s deadliest arch-enemy makes him one of the most terrifying masked villains to grace the big screen (and as for previous reports that his mask distorted his voice beyond comprehension, that appears to have been resolved). Anne Hathaway easily holds her own with a sexy and strong character that is never actually referred to as Catwoman, which helps her stand apart from previous actresses who played the part with scene-chewing verve (like Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer).
And after collaborating with Christopher Nolan on 2010’s brilliant mind trip “Inception,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard give fantastic performances – though the less said about them, the better, so as not to spoil the biggest and best surprises of the movie. And despite a slow buildup and an excessive running time of 2 hours and 44 minutes, those surprises help bring “The Dark Knight Rises” to a rousing, unforgettable, emotionally satisfying and chill-inducing conclusion, which further solidifies Nolan as one of the greatest filmmakers working today.
And though it’s hard to see how Nolan could top an epic like “The Dark Knight Rises,” I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it with his very next movie.
Verdict: SEE IT!
-- Scott Mantz
Copyright 2013 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MovieMantz Reviews: Jack The Giant Slayer; 21 & Over
“Jack The Giant Slayer” is supposed to be a fun, clever and entertaining riff on “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairytale, so why is Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz calling it a “misfire”? Plus, what does Scott think about the raunchy comedy “21 and Over”?
Miles Teller Parties Hard In 21 & Over
Miles Teller talks with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about his character, Miller, in his new movie, “21 & Over.” Also, he discusses how the friendship between all the characters is the core of the film.
Miles Teller Finds Success
Miles Teller discusses with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about success he’s had in the past couple of years. Also, he chats about the awkward circumstance in his new movie, “Two Night Stand.”
MovieMantz Reviews: Oscar Predictions 2013 - Who Should Win & Who Will Win?
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz joins Access’ Shaun Robinson to run down the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards, to break down who he thinks should win and who will end up winning on Oscar night.
2013 Oscar Predictions - Access Unlimited
As Award Season winds down, movie guru Scott Mantz teams up with Access Hollywood’s TV expert Laura Saltman to discuss his picks in the top categories for the the 85th Academy Awards.
MovieMantz Reviews: Side Effects & Identity Thief
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz calls “Side Effects” suspenseful and interesting — but what did he think of the movie’s surprise payoff? Plus, Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman faceoff in “Identity Thief,” but why is Scott calling this one “painfully unfunny”?
Oscar Luncheon 2013: Screenwriter Lucy Alibar Talks Oscar Nod For Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Lucy Alibar chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about the journey she has been on since debuting “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at Sundance to now being at the Oscars with a nomination. Could she have predicted this was going to happen? Plus, how did her parents react when they found out she’d been nominated for an Oscar? Lastly, is she surprised the young star of her movie, Quvenzhané Wallis, is now doing a movie with Brad Pitt?
George Takei: What Does He Think About How The Star Trek Franchise Was Rebooted?
George Takei chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about the JJ Abrams reboot of the “Star Trek” franchise. Does he like the alternate timeline JJ’s movie created? Plus, what does he think about JJ signing on to direct the new “Star Wars” movies? Is he the right guy for the job?
George Takei On Being Forced Into An Internment Camp During World War II
George Takei talks with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about the internment camp he and his family were incarcerated in during World War II. Despite that experience, how did he remain positive? Plus, what does he remember about that experience?
George Takei Talks Playing Both Good & Bad In Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas
George Takei chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about playing twins — one good and one evil — in the Nickelodeon show, “Supah Ninjas.” What similarities does his evil character share with an episode of the original “Star Trek”?
George Takei Talks Original Star Trek Series: Why Did James Doohan Claim He Was Out Of Control?
George Takei tells Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz a story about rehearsing on the set of the original “Star Trek” series. What happened on the set that had James Doohan (who played Scotty) claiming George was out of control? Plus, how excited is George for “Star Trek’s” 50th anniversary?
Bruce Willis Saves The World In A Good Day To Die Hard
Bruce Willis tells Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz it’s almost “impossible” for him to believe he’s completed his fifth “Die Hard” movie. Also, he talks about the challenges of upping the stakes in “A Good Day to Die Hard.” Plus, would Bruce considering doing a sixth film for the franchise?
Jai Courtney: A Good Day To Die Hard Is ‘Mind Blowing’
Jai Courtney chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about why it felt “outrageous” to be part of “A Good Day to Die Hard.” Also, he discusses the training he went through to perform his stunts. Plus, Jai talks about meeting co-star Bruce Willis for the first time.
MovieMantz Reviews: The Best Of Sundance 2013
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival has wrapped, and back from the festival after seeing a whopping 15 movies is Access’ own film critic, Scott “Movie” Mantz,” who tells Access’ Billy Bush and Kit Hoover what he thinks is the best of what he saw.
Sundance Film Festival 2013: Paul Rudd’s Prince Avalanche Premiere
Paul Rudd chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about how exciting it is to be back at the Sundance Film Festival. Also, he tells Scott why it was so “great” to work with his “Prince Avalanche” co-star Emile Hirsch.
Sundance 2013: Elisabeth Moss Talks Mad Men Season 6
Elisabeth Moss chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at Sundance 2013 about “Mad Men” returning for Season 6. How many episodes for the season have already been shot? Plus, can she believe that they have gotten this far? And, how many more episodes until the series finale?
Sundance 2013: Julianne Moore Praises Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Directorial Duties On Don Jon’s Addiction
Julianne Moore chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at Sundance 2013 about working with first time director Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “Don Jon’s Addiction.” What’s the movie about? Plus, where did Julianne put her Golden Globe that she recently won?
Sundance 2013: Michael C. Hall Explains Dexter’s Season 8 Summer Premiere
Michael C. Hall chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at Sundance 2013 about the final season of “Dexter” premiering summer 2013 instead of the fall, like previous seasons have. What is the motivation? Plus, what’s it like being at Sundance for his new movie, “Kill Your Darlings”?
Sundance 2013: Kristen Bell Talks Playing ‘A Darker Role’ Than Ever Before In The Lifeguard
Kristen Bell chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about playing Leigh in “The Lifeguard,” a character she describes as a “darker role” for her. What attracted her to the part? Plus, how is she enjoying the festival? How is the altitude affecting her?
Sundance 2013: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Talks Making His Directorial Debut With Don Jon’s Addiction
Joseph Gordon-Levitt chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz about making his directorial debut at Sundance 2013 with “Don Jon’s Addiction.” What’s the movie about? Plus, what was it like working with Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore on the film?
Sundance 2013: Elisabeth Moss Talks Seven-Part Mini Series Top Of The Lake
Elisabeth Moss chats with Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz at Sundance 2013 about bringing her seven-part mini-series, “Top of the Lake,” to the festival. Will she watch all seven-hours of the screening? Plus, what role does she play? And, how is she enjoying Park City? Will she go skiing?
MovieMantz Reviews: Gangster Squad & The Impossible
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz shares his two cents on the big films hitting theaters this weekend, “Gangster Squad” and “The Impossible.” So, out of the all-star cast for “Gangster Squad,” which of the actors stands out the most?
Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto Talk Star Trek Into Darkness
Access’ film critic Scott “Movie” Mantz made quite an impression on the “Star Trek” cast four years ago during the press rounds for the last film. So, we beamed our resident Trekker in again for the highly anticipated sequel due next summer, and it was magic all over again!
MovieMantz Reviews: Les Miserables, Django Unchained & The Guilt Trip
Everyone is excited about “Les Miserables,” but why does Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz say he wasn’t “blown away”? Does Scott think “Django Unchained” is as good as Quentin Tarantino’s last movie, “Inglourious Basterds”? And, why is he giving “The Guilt Trip” a “B-”?
MovieMantz Reviews: Jack Reacher, Les Miserables & This Is 40
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz gives his take on three of the films coming out this holiday season — “Jack Reacher,” “Les Miserables” and “This Is 40” — only one of which does he think is worth seeing. So, which one does he think you should see?
Star Trek Into Darkness Review (MovieMantz)
Iron Man 3 Review (MovieMantz)
42 Review (MovieMantz)
Oscar Predictions 2013: Who Will Win/Who Should Win (MovieMantz)
Top 10 Movies Of 2012 (MovieMantz)
This Is 40 Review (MovieMantz)
Zero Dark Thirty Review (MovieMantz)
Life Of Pi — MovieMantz Review
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 Review (MovieMantz)
Lincoln Review (MovieMantz)
Flight Review (MovieMantz)
Top 10 Zombie Movies Of All-Time (MovieMantz)
Skyfall Review (MovieMantz)
Cloud Atlas Review (MovieMantz)
Argo Review (MovieMantz)
Taken 2 Review (MovieMantz)
Hitchcock Moves Into Oscar Race (MovieMantz)
Total Recall Review (MovieMantz)
The Dark Knight Rises Colorado Tragedy: The Aftermath (MovieMantz)
The Dark Knight Rises Review (MovieMantz)
‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Review (MovieMantz)
‘People Like Us’ Review (MovieMantz)
‘Brave’ Review (MovieMantz)
‘Rock of Ages’ Review (MovieMantz)
Prometheus Review (MovieMantz)
Top 10 Baseball Movies Of All-Time (MovieMantz)
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz countsdown the top 10 baseball movies of all-time. Play ball!
Top 10 Movies Of 2012 (MovieMantz)
Access’ Scott ‘Movie’ Mantz counts down the best movies of 2012!
MovieMantz: Top 10 Christmas Movies Of All-Time
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz breaks down his top 10 favorite Christmas movies of all-time, with some titles that you might not expect!
MovieMantz 2011 Oscar Predictions: And The Oscar Will Go To…
Who will walk away a winner on Hollywood’s biggest night? Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz weighs in with his predictions!
MovieMantz: Oscar Predictions 2010 — ‘It’s Complicated? Hardly!’
Who will walk away a winner on Oscar night this year? Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz weighs in with his predictions!
MovieMantz: Best Movies of the Decade
Find out which films made MovieMantz’s list!
MovieMantz: Best of 2009
For the first time in a while, I actually had a hard time picking just 10 movies for my annual year-end best-of list. Ah, if I only had this problem every year…
MovieMantz Countdown: Top 10 Scariest Movies of All Time
Access’ Scott “Movie” Mantz counts down the top 10 horror films of all time!