Does ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Rise to the Occasion? Early Reviews Are In

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bill-swift - July 17, 2012

A flood of early reviews have begun to pour in for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. And while the rest of you will have to wait until midnight Thursday to lay judgement on the final installment of the Dark Knight saga, a few reviewers were lucky enough to catch a sneak preview of Anne Hathawayand Marion Cotillardrunning around Gotham City.

It seems like the general consensus is that Nolan and his teamhave achieved the impossible and managed to make a movie that lives up to the expectations of The Dark Knight. While many reviews make mention of the lack of a standout Oscar-winning performance like that of Heath Ledger as the Joker, it seems like everyone agrees the new film contains enough brains, brawn and depth to create a fitting end to the beloved series.

So does The Dark Knight Rises have what it takes to break The Avengers $1.5 billion box office?

Despite all the love for Ledger, Variety does take notice of Bane as a unique villain to the series in his own right.

The figure who decisively triggers Batman's re-emergence is Bane (Tom Hardy), a vicious mercenary introduced seizing control of an aircraft mid-flight in a bravura opening sequence...Wearing a steel-trap-like gas mask to neutralize the pain of unspeakable wounds, this bald, hulking brute is a former member of the League of Shadows, the same "gang of psychopaths" that gave Wayne his own basic training...Bane is also the franchise's first major villain who turns out to be a physical match for Batman, something made brutally apparent in a pummeling scene of hand-to-hand, mask-to-mask combat.

And Empire agrees.

Hardy looks like he could have played the Hulk — with a CG Bruce Banner — and is more than convincing as the man who could break the Bat. For the first time, perhaps ever, you really worry for Batman, with his armoured suit unable to disguise a relative physical frailty, his body worn down by years of putting it in the literal line of fire for the citizens of Gotham.

The Hollywood Reporter points to the film's self-awareness of 21st century paranoia as its ability to resonate strongly with audiences.

Nolan has thus boldly rooted his film in what are arguably the two big worries of the age, terrorism and economic collapse, the result of which can only be chaos. So when virtually the entire Gotham police force is lured underground to try to flush out Bane, the latter has the lawmen just where he wants them, trapped like animals in a pen waiting for slaughter...Nolan has always been a very serious, even remorseless filmmaker, and never more so than he is here.

Screen Daily applauds Bruce Wayne's possible love interests but wishes their characters were better developed.

As the demure Miranda Tate, Marion Cotillard exudes a sweet warmth, while Hathaway as the conniving, acidic Selina Kyle is a dangerous seductress. There's potential for an interesting dynamic between the three characters, but Nolan and co-writer Jonathan Nolan don't offer enough emotional beats to either woman's story.

And Drew McSweeny of Hitfix thinks Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings a fresh point-of-view to the series.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake...provides a normal person's view, but with a broader perspective on the events of the first two films, since he was a young man growing up in Gotham during the ascent of the Batman.  He is a cop now, a sincerely good officer who catches the attention of Jim Gordon (Oldman), just as Gordon is struggling to cope with the emotional guilt of the lie that he and Batman told eight years earlier at the death of Harvey Dent.

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