We can finally feast our eyes on Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20; in the meantime Warners opened the embargo doors Sunday to a flood of ecstatic early reviews:
Rolling Stone: "Audiences will be arguing forever about director Christopher Nolan's capper to his Batman trilogy. Want to bitch? Start with the reactionary politics and that franchise feeder of an ending. But the sheer scope of Nolan's vision – with emotion and spectacle thundering across the screen – is staggering. The Dark Knight Rises is the King Daddy of summer movie epics. For nearly three hours, Nolan juggles themes that took root in 2005's Batman Begins and reached doomsday perfection in 2008's The Dark Knight with the late Heath Ledger's masterful, Oscar- winning performance as the Joker."
The Guardian: "Old superheroes never die; they simply hang up their capes and retreat to the shadows, awaiting the moment when fashions change and they're required again. One minute Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is hobbling around his country pile, leaning on his stick like a latterday Howard Hughes and woefully proclaiming that "there's nothing out there for me". The next he's back in the bat-suit, back in the saddle – recalled to save the world or Warner Bros, whatever comes first."
THR: "A truly grand finale raises Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to the peak of big-screen comic book adaptations,..Entirely enveloping and at times unnerving in a relevant way one would never have imagined, as a cohesive whole this ranks as the best of Nolan's trio, even if it lacks — how could it not? — an element as unique as Heath Ledger's immortal turn in The Dark Knight. It's a blockbuster by any standard."
Variety: "[it] retains the moral urgency and serious-minded pulp instincts that have made the Warners franchise a beacon of integrity in an increasingly comicbook-driven Hollywood universe,..Hardy, Gordon-Levitt and Cotillard, recruited for duty after their stints in 'Inception,' are all on their game here, blending easily in a supporting cast anchored by old pros Caine, Oldman and Freeman. Perhaps the riskiest casting choice was that of Hathaway in the potentially problematic role of Selina/Catwoman, but although her kitty outfit reps a slightly more cartoonish touch than Nolan's neo-noir aesthetic typically allows (if nowhere near as campy as those worn by Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer), the versatile actress nails the sardonic, hard-edged tone necessary to make this morally ambiguous vixen a dynamic foil for the Caped Crusader."
Indiewire: "a spectacular noir epic that's equal parts murky, bloated, flashy and triumphantly cinematic,..With a grisly twist that puts Batman out of commission for large portions of the movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises' hardly qualifies as a superhero movie by the usual standards, which may have been Nolan's intention from the start,..While Hathaway's character is something of a letdown, Batman's new foe Bane provides a supremely menacing creation."
TotalFilm: "As the scale and stakes balloon, Nolan maintains taut control; if anything the storytelling coheres sharper than The Dark Knight. The trick lies in holding fast to what he – and we – care most about: the cost to a (Bat)man's body and soul. This time, it's painfully personal,..And Christian Bale? Never more vulnerable, likeable or willing to get his gloves dirty, pushing to new emotional depths for his final Gotham go-around."
ThePlaylist: "An action opus that manages to be both viscerally and intellectually engaging, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated third Batman film comes full circle, examining both the Dark Knight and the society that produced him without sacrificing any of the sweeping thrills for which the series is known. A literate, thoughtful and invigorating finale, 'The Dark Knight Rises' delivers everything audiences could ask for and then some, albeit in fewer of the ways than they might expect."
HitFix: "We may never see superhero films quite like these again, and that's fine. Nolan had something special to say with his time in the trenches, and he's ended on his own terms,..this is a triumph, a victory for all involved, and one of the year's most impressive efforts so far in any genre, on any subject. 'The Dark Knight Rises' confirms that these films have always had an endgame in mind, and it has been a remarkable ride, one I would not want to follow. Whoever Warner Bros hires to reboot the 'Batman.'"