Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has stayed in seclusion for the past eight years, having never fully recovered after taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes. People now think of him as a criminal and murderer. At the same time, most of Gotham’s criminals are now behind bars because of the passing of the Harvey Dent Act. This means Gotham is relatively free of crime. But all this changes when Bane (Tom Hardy) arrives in Gotham to steal a nuclear weapon and destroy Gotham City’s police force.
The threat posed by Bane forces Bruce Wayne out of retirement. But Batman finds that Bane is more than he can handle, so he gets some friends to help him. They include his old friends Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), as well as new friends John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a rookie cop, and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
The movie is a race against time as Batman and his friends try to locate and disarm Bane’s nuclear weapon before he can use it to destroy Gotham.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Nuclear weapons; organised crime; superheroes
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
As well as the stylised action violence you might expect to see in superhero movies, this movie also has scenes of disturbingly realistic violence and battles. These scenes include large-scale collateral damage, hostage-taking, anarchy and rioting. For example:
- In the movie’s opening scene, several hooded prisoners with guns pointed at their heads are threatened with being thrown from a plane. Another man has an intravenous needle inserted into his arm and blood drained from his body before being shot in the chest (the scene shows blood running through plastic tubing). A second larger plane attacks the first plane, using grappling hooks to upend and capture the plane. During the attack two groups of men fight. Men punch each other in the head and are shot dead. Hooded hostages are thrown from the plane, which is ripped apart as it is upended.
- There are several stylised action fights between Catwoman and groups of henchmen. She uses martial arts kicks and punches to knock out her attackers. Several times there are the sounds of bones breaking. Catwoman also shoots several men dead with a handgun.
- Some thugs rough up a small boy. One thug is about to strike the boy when Catwoman intervenes and stops him.
- Several men are executed. Some are shot at point-blank range while others have their heads twisted and their necks broken. There are the sickening sounds of bones breaking as the men’s heads are twisted.
- Bane callously shoots dead many people, most of them innocent civilians. He assaults many people in a brutal and violent way, which includes bludgeoning them with his fists and one time with a motorbike helmet. In one scene Bane uses his knee to press down on a man’s throat until the man stops breathing.
- Bane orders his men to kill civilians and hang their bodies where they can be seen. A later scene shows three bodies hanging by the neck from a bridge.
- One scene shows a particularly brutal fight between Batman and Bane in which they punch each other in the head and body and headbutt each other. Batman is left lying beaten on the ground with his mask broken in two. Bane lifts Batman’s body into the air and brings it down over his knees. There is the sound of bones breaking.
- The injured Bruce has a rope tied around his torso and is lifted into the air. A jail doctor punches him in the back in an attempt to set his broken back. Bruce screams out in pain.
- Lots of bombs explode in Gotham City, causing the destruction of major bridges and buildings. Cars fall into bomb craters. Explosions cause a playing field to collapse beneath the players’ feet. Rubble and concrete fall from buildings into the streets. Smoke and dust fills the air. Hundreds of police are trapped in caved-in sewers.
- Armed thugs with military weapons storm Gotham’s prison. The thugs kill some guards and release 1000 prisoners. The prisoners, who are all armed, go on a rampage through the streets of Gotham. They drag people from their homes and kill them. Dead bodies with blood on their faces and chests lie in the streets.
- One scene shows thugs forcing innocent people to walk out onto an ice-covered bay. The ice cracks, and a man is killed when he falls through the ice.
- A woman plunges a knife into Batman’s side. The scene doesn’t show the actual stab but does show the handle sticking out of Batman’s side. The woman twists the knife, and Batman gasps in pain.
Content that might disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight.
For example, the movie’s main villain is a muscle-bound giant called Bane. He wears a mask that covers his mouth and nose and that also has multiple breathing tubes. A flashback scene shows that Bane needs his mask because of injuries he got while being tortured in prison. There are images of Bane with his head and face wrapped in a bloody cloth. There is also a flashback image of Bane with a large ragged scar running down the length of his spine.
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- The movie’s story has the threat of nuclear holocaust running through it. At the end of the movie a nuclear bomb blows up in the ocean.
- In an emotionally tense scene a man talks about how he was orphaned at a young age after his mother was killed in a car accident. Also his father was murdered in a gambling incident.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
This movie has some low-level sexual references. For example:
- The movie includes a story about a man who fell in love with a warlord’s daughter. The daughter became pregnant and was forced to give birth in a prison full of men. Bane protected the woman and child from the prisoners.
- A man makes a sexually provocative remark about Catwoman being his prisoner.
- Catwoman jumps into the back of a man’s car and tells the man that it’s his ‘lucky day’. The man agrees with her and drives off.
- Alfred tells Bruce Wayne that Bruce needs a woman to make his life meaningful. Alfred says, ‘I’d set you up with a chimpanzee if it would bring you to reality’.
- A powerful businessman entertaining some male guests offers his guests some champagne. Then he says, ‘And can we have some girls in here?’
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie shows some use of substances. For example:
- People drink wine and spirits at social events.
- There is a story about a man who ended up in prison because he got addicted to morphine while he was working as a doctor in the prison.
- Bane’s henchmen inject their victims with a knock-out drug. This makes the victims unconscious immediately. Batman makes several henchmen unconscious with drugged boomerangs.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some partial low-level nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Women wear cocktail dresses with plunging necklines.
- Selina wears a short maid’s dress and stockings. She pulls up her skirt to show her upper thigh before climbing out a window.
- Catwoman wears a tight-fitting jumpsuit and high-heeled shoes.
- Bruce passionately kisses Selina.
- A woman and Bruce kiss passionately. They lie on the floor under a rug. The scene shows the woman’s bare shoulders and Bruce’s naked chest and torso.
Car and phone brands are displayed and used in this movie.
This movie has some occasional low-level coarse language, name-calling and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Dark Knight Rises is the final chapter in the current trilogy of Batman movies. The movie is a powerful and intense drama with a plot and subplots that need your full attention. Parents of younger viewers should note that the movie is too intense, violent and disturbing for children under 13 years. The movie’s running time of almost three hours is also too long for younger viewers.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Ordinary people can be heroes. You don’t have to wear a mask and cape.
- There comes a time when older people must give responsibility to younger people.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include selflessness, honesty and bravery. John Blake in particular shows these qualities.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as what to do if you’re told to do something that goes against commonsense and moral behaviour. For example, in this movie some soldiers have been ordered to stop a busload of children from crossing a bridge. They won’t let the children go across the bridge, even though the children pose no possible threat and stopping them results in their deaths.
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