Josh Wilding Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Blu-Ray (Film And Special Features)

The Dark Knight Rises is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Hit the jump for my in-depth verdict on Christopher Nolan's finale to his Batman franchise, as well as my thoughts on the picture/sound quality and special features.

In Batman Begins, Ra's Al Ghul told Bruce Wayne that he would have to become more than just a man in order to become something else entirely; a legend. In that same vein, Christopher Nolan's epic finale to his Batman saga is more than just a film. It's a pulse-pounding experience like no other, and not only the best comic book movie to date, but one of the greatest blockbusters to ever grace the big screen. Quite possibly Nolan's best film to date, it's as emotional as it is complex and action packed. In fact, The Dark Knight Rises is flawless in nearly every respect. The story features so many brilliant twists and turns, it's hard to sum it up in a just a few lines, but suffice to say that it is a journey which will keep you thoroughly engrossed for the entire two hour and forty four minute running time.

Introducing a lot of new characters rarely works for any sequel (see: Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand) but Nolan encounters no such problems with making the likes of Bane, John Blake, Miranda Tate, Selina Kyle, and the rest all feel like they truly belong in this world and essential to the story being told. As the film enters it third act, there are a few sure to be controversial reveals and twists which may not sit well with hardcore fans. However, given the context of the universe created by Christopher Nolan, they all work perfectly. If you go into The Dark Knight Rises expecting a brainless blockbuster, you'll get very little out of it. It's a film which demands your attention and is sure to only get better and better on repeat viewings.

In terms of performances, this is without a doubt Christian Bale's best turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He goes through many stages during the course of The Dark Knight Rises, and Batman has never felt as real and as human as he does in this instalment. This time, Bruce and Batman don't feel quite so separate - Bale's performance truly shines through. Tom Hardy's Bane may not quite be up there with Heath Ledger's Joker, but they're so very different that comparisons between the two are unnecessary and unfair. The fact is, he is perfect in this role and what he does with his eyes alone is incredible. There are perhaps only a few lines in the movie which can't be made out, but the voice REALLY works and makes him all the more terrifying a bad guy. Anne Hathaway also transforms herself, quite literally at an early point in the film, as Selina Kyle. She is teriffic and the beautiful actress steals almost every scene she appears in, making Catwoman (who is never referred to by that name, despite a cute hint early on) a fully fleshed out and relatable character.

Joseph Gordon Levitt's John Blake is another major addition to the cast and the actor again proves that he is one of the best talents in Hollywood. Considering that he is yet another new character in an already packed out cast, full credit goes to him for making Blake stand out (although like everyone else, his part is extremely well-written. Marion Cotillard isn't quite so well fleshed out when we first meet her, although the Miranda Tate character (and her actions) are sure to be one of the biggest talking points in years to come. It all works out regardless and the actress is a pleasure to watch. Juno Temple (Holly Robinson) and Matthew Modine (Deputy Commissioner Foley) also impress. Returning actors Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Jim Gordon) and Michael Caine (Alfred) all deliver the quality performances we've come to expect, with the latter two deliver a wonderful level of emotion and heart to proceedings. It's incredible just what a wealth of talent there is in The Dark Knight Rises. Even actors with the most minor of roles are recognisable faces (keep an eye out for stars of everything from The Wire to Prison Break, Torchwood and Supernatural) giving this an air of quality that few films can compete with.

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both flawed in terms of action, but there's no doubting that this is Nolan's best. The various chase sequences are awe-inspiring - 'The Bat' is a truly magnificent sight to behold - and will leave you sitting there with your jaw on the floor. Truly amazing stuff. Batman's first battle with Bane drops the score and is violent, brutal and quite frankly a frightening sight to behold. Bane is an imposing villain and this is emphasised with how he overpowers everyone around him; the Caped Crusader in particular. A fight which takes place later on in the film (on the steps of City Hall) is equally as impressive. An entire review could be devoted to discussing the set pieces and fight sequences - Selina Kyle moves exactly as you would hope and imagine - but all you really need to know is that The Dark Knight Rises is a spectacle like no other. The special effects are also flawless, but kudos to Nolan for clearly keeping as much of the film as practical as possible. The magnificent story and action is all punctuated by Hans Zimmer's incredible score, and he too outdoes himself here. In terms of picture quality, the Blu-ray is stunning, although the switches between the scenes that were and were not filmed in IMAX are a little jarring at times. The sound if also top notch, though Bane's voice does seem to be louder than everyone else. Still, a minor complain in the grand scheme of thing!

In terms of flaws, it really is hard to find any. The Dark Knight Rises occasionally relies on the viewer having a good knowledge of the past two instalments a little too much, but that's to be expected from a third part of a trilogy. There are a few moments which may upset hardcore comic book fans, but it would be foolish to allow that to affect your enjoyment of the film as they all work so utterly perfectly and there are so many others to appreciate. Batman Begins was a great origin story and The Dark Knight was a near-perfect sequel which didn't get anywhere near as much awards recognition as it should have. However, The Dark Knight Rises delivers on being the epic conclusion we were promised and should result in Nolan nabbing his first Academy Award. It will make you laugh, have you close to tears and punching the air with sheer joy and excitement. Marvel's The Avengers held the "Best Comic Book Movie Ever" crown for as long as it could. The Dark Knight Rises has set a new benchmark for the genre and blockbusters as a whole. Wow.

There aren't enough adjectives in existence to fully describe what an amazing film The Dark Knight Rises is. A satisfying and emotional conclusion to a trilogy which will go down in history as one of the best ever. This is Christopher Nolan's crowning achievement and the perfect Batman film.


Disappointingly, there's no sign of any deleted scenes. Those of you hoping for a director's commentary will also be sorely disappointed. However, the disc more than makes up for that with a great selection of featurettes which cover just about every facet of the film you could hope to learn more about. Seeing these highlights just how incredible a filmmaker Christopher Nolan really is, while we also get to hear from some slightly lesser known names who contributed to making The Dark Knight Rises the masterpiece that it is. If there's a downside, it's that some of them feel a bit brief and many actors (Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, etc.) are never even interviewed! It's almost as if Warner Bros. are holding material back from some sort of future release... Elsewhere, there's an interesting enough documentary on the history of the Batmobile, all four trailers for the film and a gallery of promotional images. Still, it feels as if the special features should have been a lot more in-depth.

Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ "The Dark Knight Rises" is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The screenplay is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster "The Dark Knight." The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.


Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Michael Caine as Alfred
Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Tom Hardy as Bane
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake
Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate
Josh Pence as Ra's Al Ghul


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