The Dark Knight Rises

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Dark Knight Rises Movie Poster Image
Bale's final Batman is as gritty and dark as the first two.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 164 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 37 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 193 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy explores many philosophical ideas about identity, responsibility, power, hope, despair, sacrifice, and justice. Revenge is also a key theme of The Dark Knight Rises, which is, at its core, a meditation on the duality of humanity -- for instance in how the memory of Harvey Dent contrasted with the reality of how he died affects all of Gotham. What does it mean to be good? The villain Bane questions whether police officers are instruments of justice or of oppression and whether Batman is a man of honor or a man who betrayed a code of honor.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Unlike almost every other superhero, Bruce Wayne/Batman isn't an alien or a mutant. He doesn't have superhuman strength; he's a rich man with some nifty gadgets and an extraordinary need to protect the citizens of Gotham -- as well as avenge the anger that drives him. Bruce isn't perfect, and he often makes mistakes (especially about whom to trust), but he summons his courage for the good of Gotham, even though it comes at considerable personal cost to him, both physically and emotionally. John Blake is an upstanding, responsible, loyal cop who always tries his best to do the right thing. Selina Kyle starts off as just a ruthless jewel thief, but her interactions with Batman/Bruce help her become less selfish and more helpful. Bruce's two mentors and friends, Alfred and Mr. Fox, are loyal and loving toward him. Bane is cruel and callous.

Violence

Like The Dark Knight, this movie has frequent, cringe-inducingly realistic violence on top of the standard, high-octane action violence that's so prevalent in superhero films. Some moments are horrifyingly up close and personal: neck breakings, stabbings, hand-to-hand combat, and there's also the enormous collateral damage of wide scale destruction: bombings, fireballs, massive explosions, building collapses, shootings, and more. Many, many people are trapped, held hostage, killed, tortured, and executed, and Bruce Wayne himself is injured in painful, nearly irreparable ways. Villain Bane is very scary-looking, with his mask and bulked-up aggression. The movie opens with a terrifying plane takeover/crash; weapons include guns, knives, bows and arrows, bombs, fists, and more. A dead teen boy's body is shown washed up outside a sewer grate. Batman and Selina are at odds over Batman's "no guns, no killing" rule.

Sex

While the romance isn't as central here as in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne/Batman kisses two different women. In one case, a passionate kiss leads to lovemaking, although the sex is off camera. Afterward, Bruce and his partner are shown (she's bare-shouldered, he's bare-chested) snuggling and kissing in front of a fireplace. In two other scenes, Bruce enjoys brief but passionate kisses with a woman.

Language

Language includes infrequent use of words including "damn," "bitch," "hell," and "sons of bitches," as well as "Jesus" (as an exclamation) and insults such as "idiot," "stupid," and "hag."

Consumerism

Part of a popular comic book franchise. No overt product placements, though some car brands are seen, and Bruce Wayne's black Lamborghini makes another appearance.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink cocktails at Gotham's ritzy dinner parties and costume galas.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment in director Christopher Nolan's dark, violent Batman trilogy. Like its predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises features ultra-violent scenes of torture and death that are too intense for younger kids used to the nearly comic, stylized action violence of other superhero films. A disturbingly high body count is achieved via massive explosions, kidnappings, neck breakings, shootings, and hand-to-hand combat. While there's not a lot of actual blood, there's tons of death and mass destruction. Bruce Wayne enjoys a few passionate kisses and one love scene that shows bare shoulders; swearing is very infrequent (the strongest words used are "bitch" and "damn"). The film's villain, Bane, is monstrously muscled and frighteningly sadistic, and his mask is very scary looking. Despite the violence, be prepared for kids to beg to see the much-hyped Caped Crusader's latest adventure.

User Reviews

Adult Written byTrami Nguyen August 1, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISE IS AN AWESOME!

The Dark Knight Rise is so perfect!
Adult Written bybatmanyeah! July 20, 2012

Ugh. dumb review.

really, the first thing they talk about is the level of violence? The film has so many aspects one could talk about. And Batman, for his level of determination,... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byscoobyjack8 July 20, 2012

Messed up values

Since when is it rude to show 'bare shoulders'. Americans have mixed up values. No kids, you can't see any part of the human body other than arms... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydevin200 July 19, 2012

Perfectly Appropriate for Teens- Common Sense Over Plays it Again.

This isn't a romance movie. There's kissing, sure, but nothing out of the ordinary or innapropriate. Common Sense makes it sound like Batman is spen... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES picks up eight years after the Joker's rampage on Gotham led to Harvey Dent's (Aaron Eckhart) horrific death and Batman's sacrificial transformation from hero to outlaw. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has remained hidden in seclusion, leaving Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to handle the affairs of Wayne Industries. The citizens of Gotham live in complacent security until Bane (Tom Hardy), a ruthless mercenary, arrives with a murderous agenda that threatens the very existence of Wayne's beloved city. With the help of a nearly demoralized Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and cunning jewel thief Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), an out-of-shape Bruce resurrects Batman for one more battle against evil.

Is it any good?

With their Batman trilogy, Nolan and Bale have revolutionized superhero films from colorful action adventures that even young kids can appreciate to serious meditations on justice and power. The franchise's loyal fans won't be disappointed with this immensely satisfying conclusion to Nolan's epic trilogy. Injured and relatively out of shape, Batman is physically no match for the huge and menacing Bane. With his Hannibal Lecter-meets-Darth Vader mask and his overpowering physique, Hardy is completely disguised as the amoral assassin, but even rendered unrecognizable, the acclaimed British actor gives a masterful performance in villainy.

Bale's always thoughtfully nuanced portrayal is complemented by the addition of two breakout performances: Gordon-Levitt -- whose character is an ordinary cop with an extraordinary bravery that's pivotal to the story -- and Hathaway, whose Selina Kyle steals the show with her whip-smart humor and crackling chemistry with Batman. The banter between Bale and Hathaway (who seems to be having a ball in full vixen mode) provides much-needed relief from the story's otherwise overpoweringly grim nature. Visually stunning, incredibly acted, and unyieldingly intense, The Dark Knight Rises is one of the rare movies for which the huge budget, super-sized runtime (almost three hours), and undying ardor of fans are well deserved.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the amount of violence in The Dark Knight Rises. How does it compare to what you've seen in other superhero movies? How does the film differentiate between "good" and "bad" uses of violence?

  • What distinguishes Batman from Bane? Both are angry and rely on violence to accomplish their goals; why is one a hero and one a villain? Is the rule of law more important than the rule of force?

  • Bruce Wayne isn't the only orphan in the movie. How does orphanhood shape the three orphaned characters? While anger motivates each of them, why do some choose to do good and others evil?

  • What does it take to maintain order in the face of those who try to create chaos? Does keeping the public safe from harm justifying curtailing their right to privacy?

  • Would you like to see the story continue with a successor? Which of the trilogy is your favorite?

Movie details

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