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Still shot from the movie: The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises

Although Batman (Christian Bale) appeared anything but a hero at the end of his last movie, The Dark Knight, the caped crusader returns when Gotham faces a villain named Banes (Tom Hardy).

Overall Grade: B-
Violence: D+
Sexual Content: B
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: A-
Release Date: 20 Jul 2012
Run Time: 165
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

It has been about eight years since Batman (Christian Bale) graced the streets of Gotham. After accepting the blame for crimes committed by the late Harvey Dent (played by Aaron Eckhart in the prequel, The Dark Knight), in order to preserve the two-faced man’s more honorable image, the caped crusader determined it was best not to show his own mask in the angry metropolis. Bruce Wayne (Batman’s true identity) has likewise retreated, dropping out of the city’s social scene. But events are about to transpire that will cause the Dark Knight to rise again.

The first is the intrusion of a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) who seems more interested in him than just the contents of his safe. Another is the insight of a bright young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that sees right through Wayne’s conflicted character. And the last, and perhaps most compelling reason, is the discovery of a new threat to Gotham’s peace: A disfigured mercenary named Banes (Tom Hardy) who shares the same training and subsequent disfellowship from The League of Shadows, the brotherhood that taught Batman his skills. (This fraternity figures prominently in the first movie of this trilogy, Batman Begins). So despite the pleadings of his faithful and concerned butler Alfred (Michael Caine), the recluse (and his suppressed rage) comes out of retirement.

Of course, the super hero is in for more than he originally suspects. Although he arms himself with high-tech tools, courtesy of Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), he isn’t quite prepared for the hatred of his fellow citizens that still believe in Batman’s guilt, the witch-hunt of a police force determined to hold him accountable, the betrayal of assumed friends, or the attack on the personal and finical affairs of Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile Banes proves to be a very formidable foe, with connections to numerous nefarious doings, and greater brute strength than the returning champion has to give the challenge.

The writers of this latest DC comic adaptation (Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer) deserve credit. They have created an intricate script with tangled plot lines that weave in threads from both of the proceeding films. They even include cameos from former characters Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson). While the end product may not be entirely revolutionary, such as the “wham, pow, bang” type of fist-fighting showdowns between the villain and the hero which hearken back to that days of the comic strip, fans of this franchise are sure to applaud their careful work.

Yet parents with teens anxious to see this supposed final chapter in the series should be well aware of the film’s continuous violence. Some of these depictions are larger than life. An example is a heart-stopping plane hijacking that takes place in mid air and later the fear of a nuclear bomb detonation. Others are a little closer to home, like depictions of choking, numerous neck breakings and a character whose back is cracked—all of which feature enhanced sound effects. Weapon use is pervasive, resulting in countless deaths, explosions and scattered corpses. Physical and physiological torture is also employed. And even though blood is seldom seen, these atrocities are often portrayed in much detail.

As if to balance this objectionable content, the script is light on profanities (a handful of mild and moderate terms) and sex (an implied intimate relationship where only a man’s naked chest and a woman’s bare shoulders are seen). As well, the disturbing factor has been scaled back from that seen in The Dark Knight to about the same level as in Batman Begins. Where as Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was sadistic, Banes is only brutal and ruthless.

While these subtle differences may just be shades of grey, families may appreciate the portrayals of loyalty ands self sacrifice the main character displays for the people of Gotham, even when their behavior begins to look more like the French Revolution or the Spanish Inquisition. As he and various others grapple with noble ideals versus self-preservation, the movie presents an interesting picture of human nature.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: Pervasive violence includes depictions of hand-to-hand fighting, beatings, shootings, explosions, choking, neck snapping, back breaking and stabbing. These portrayals are detailed, although little blood is shown. High tech and nuclear weapons are employed, causing loss of life and property damage on a mass scale. Characters are betrayed, threatened with death and in constant peril. Criminals and murderers target innocent citizens and the police. Physical and physiological torture is applied. Multiple corpses are shown.

Sexual Content: Sexual relations between an unmarried man and woman are implied: His naked chest and her bare shoulders are shown. Passionate kisses are exchanged. Mild sexual references are made.

Language: Infrequent mild and moderate profanities are used.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink at social occasions.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Batman continuously puts his life on the line for the people in his city. Is Gotham worth saving? Are the citizens or the authorities appreciative of his efforts? Are there good souls amongst the populace? If it were you, would you keep trying?

Which of the other characters in the script rise to higher ideals? What are their motives? Why do the base people act the way they do? Are their actions justified?

Banes uses some unusual tolls to reach his objectives. How does he turn hope into a form of torture? How does his version of freedom for the people cause anarchy?

To learn more about the history of the cartoon character Batman, check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman

Video alternatives

Actor Christian Bale has played the caped crusader in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Val Kilmer took on the role in Batman Forever.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Release Date: 24 September 2013

Warner Brothers releases their trio of Batman movies in one package: The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Along with a Blu-ray copy of each of the films (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises), the 6-disc set includes these bonus materials:

- Ultraviolet Digital Copies

- Premium Mattel Hot Wheels Vehicles: Batmobile, Batpod and Tumbler

- Newly commissioned collectible art cards by Mondo featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent, and Ra’s al Ghul

- 48-page hardcover book featuring production stills and behind the scenes images from the trilogy

- The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy (Ultimate Collector’s Edition exclusive)

- Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation (Ultimate Collector’s Edition exclusive)

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight Rises

Release Date: 4 December 2012

The Dark Knight Rises releases to home video in two packages:

The Dark Knight Rises - Combo Pack (Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Digital Copy)

- The Journey of Bruce Wayne

- The Batmobile documentary

- Ending the Knight - 17 featurettes about the making of The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises - Limited Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack

- Features all of the above in the Limited Edition Broken Cowl Packaging.

Home Video Notes: The Dark Knight Trilogy

Release Date: 4 December 2012

Warner Brothers Studio is releasing all three Batman movies, starring Christian Bale in the title role, in a 5-Disc package. Featured movies include Batman Begins,The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

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About the Reviewer: Donna Gustafson

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