"The Dark Knight Rises" Early Reviews, Minus Spoilers

And the consensus is? With few exceptions, overwhelmingly positive.

1. 1. “The Modern Equivalent Of Greek Myths Or A Jonathan Swift Satrie”

Richard Corliss, TIME:

The Avengers is kid stuff compared with this meditation on mortal loss and heroic frailty. For once a melodrama with pulp origins convinces viewers that it can be the modern equivalent to Greek myths or a Jonathan Swift satire. TDKR is that big, that bitter — a film of grand ambitions and epic achievement. The most eagerly anticipated movie of summer 2012 was worth waiting for.

3. 2. “The Best Of Nolan’s Trio”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:

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…The real world threats of terrorism, political anarchy and economic instability make deep incursions into the cinematic comic book domain in The Dark Knight Rises. Big-time Hollywood filmmaking at its most massively accomplished, this last installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy makes everything in the rival Marvel universe look thoroughly silly and childish.

5. 3. “Hugely Ambitious”

Justin Chang, Variety:

Nolan’s trilogy-capping epic sends Batman to a literal pit of despair, restoring him to the core of a legend that questions, and powerfully affirms, the need for heroism in a fallen world. If it never quite matches the brilliance of 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” this hugely ambitious action-drama nonetheless 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.

7. 4. “Has Pretensions Vastly Beyond Its Capabilities”

Chris Tookey, Daily Mail:

The Dark Knight Rises is not as repellently sadistic as its immediate predecessor, but it has pretensions vastly beyond its capabilities, and the special effects drown out the narrative.

9. 5. “Staggering”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

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…

11. 6. “Meticulously Made, Grand Scale Tale”

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:

“As a result of the precarious layering of big philosophical notions (can the System be fixed?) over pointy little bat ears, Nolan’s meticulously made, grand-scale tale caroms between a self-serious meditation on How We Live Now and an oof! pow! extended fistfight between a good guy and a bad guy…”

13. 7. “Remarkable For Its All-Encompassing Gloom”

Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal:

This third—and, the director insists, final—installment of Mr. Nolan’s series makes you feel thoroughly miserable about life. It’s spectacular, to be sure, but also remarkable for its all-encompassing gloom. No movie has ever administered more punishment, to its hero or its audience, in the name of mainstream entertainment.

15. 8. “Overloaded And Sadly Lacking”

Christy Lemire, AP:

There’s so much going on here, though, with so many new characters who are all meant to function in significant ways that “The Dark Knight Rises” feels overloaded, and sadly lacking the spark that gave 2008’s “The Dark Knight” such vibrancy. The absence of Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the anarchic and truly frightening Joker, is really obvious here.

17. 9. “Very, Very Good Large-Scale Action/Crime Movie”

Glenn Kenny, MSN:

But it’s a very, very good large-scale action/crime movie with a degree in high technology and a will to make you believe in costumed crime fighters. … As for what’s not to love, or why this movie isn’t getting a perfect rating? The movie crams in a little more superhero-movie-as-civics-class stuff than I subjectively needed, although I understand how it’s kind of crucial to the larger moral thesis Nolan’s trying to attach to his story. Call me parochial, but I’m not sure the world actually needs the Tolstoy of the superhero movie, if such a position is even tenable.

19. 10. “Heavy-Metal Fury, Full Of Pain And Toil”

Xan Brooks, The Guardian:

If viewers were wanting a corrective to the jumpsuit antics of The Avengers, or the noodling high-school angst of The Amazing Spider-Man, then rest assured that Batman delivers in spades. Here is a film of granite, monolithic intensity; a superhero romp so serious that it borders on the comical, like a children’s fancy-dress party scripted by Victor Hugo and scored by Wagner.

The Dark Knight Rises may be a hammy, portentous affair but Nolan directs it with aplomb. He takes these cod-heroic, costumed elements and whisks them into a tale of heavy-metal fury, full of pain and toil, surging uphill, across the flyovers, in search of a climax.

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