Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dark Knight Rises, The

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dark Knight Rises, The
  • a review of Dark Knight Rises, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 24 July 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dark Knight Rises, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 164 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has remained in seclusion for the past eight years and has never fully recovered after taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes.  He is now labelled a criminal and murder. As a result of the passing of the “Harvey Dent Act”, the bulk of Gotham’s criminals are now behind bars giving the residents of Gotham a relatively crime free city. However, all that changes when Bane (Tom Hardy) arrives in Gotham with the intent to steal a nuclear weapon and destroy Gotham City’s police force.

The threat Bane poses forces Bruce Wayne out of retirement. But Batman finds Bane to be more the he can handle, and knowing that he is outclassed, enlists the aid of some old friends, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), as well as some new friends including rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and cat-burglar Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).

The film is a race against time as Batman and his band of followers fight to locate and disarm Bane’s nuclear weapon before he can use it to destroy Gotham.     

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has remained in seclusion for the past eight years and has never fully recovered after taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes. He is now labelled a criminal and murder. As a result of the passing of the “Harvey Dent Act”, the bulk of Gotham’s criminals are now behind bars giving the residents of Gotham a relatively crime free city. However, all that changes when Bane (Tom Hardy) arrives in Gotham with the intent to steal a nuclear weapon and destroy Gotham City’s police force. The threat Bane poses forces Bruce Wayne out of retirement. But Batman finds Bane to be more the he can handle, and knowing that he is outclassed, enlists the aid of some old friends, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), as well as some new friends including rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and cat-burglar Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). The film is a race against time as Batman and his band of followers fight to locate and disarm Bane’s nuclear weapon before he can use it to destroy Gotham.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

As well as the stylised action violence expected in superhero films, the film contains scenes of disturbing realistic violence and battles resulting in large scale collateral damage, hostage taking, anarchy and rioting. Examples include:

  • In the film’s opening scene we see several hooded prisoners with guns pointed at their heads and being threatened with being thrown from a plane. Another man has an intravenous needle inserted into his arm and has blood drained from his body (we see blood running through plastic tubing) before being shot in the chest. A second larger plane attacks the first plane, using grappling hooks to upend and capture the entire plane. During the attack we see two groups of men fighting with men punched in the head and 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 styled kicks and punches to knock her attackers out; on several occasions we hear the sounds of bones breaking. Catwoman also shoots a number of men dead with a handgun.
  • We see a couple of thugs roughing up a small boy with one about to strike the boy when Catwoman intervenes and stops them.
  • Several men are executed. Some are shot at point blank range while others have their heads twisted and their necks broken (we hear the sickening sounds of sounds of bones braking as their heads are twisted).
  • Bane callously shoots numerous people dead, most of them innocent civilians. He assaults numerous people in a brutal and violent manner, including bludgeoning them with his fists and in one instance a motorbike helmet. In one scene we see Bane using 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; later we see three bodies hanging by the neck from a bridge.
  • One scene depicts a particularly brutal fight between Batman and Bane in which we see them punching each other in the head and body and swapping head butts. Batman is left lying beaten on the ground with his facemask broken in two. Bane lifts Batman’s body into the air and brings it down over his knees. We hear 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.
  • There is mass destruction when multiple bombs are set off throughout Gotham City, causing the destruction of major bridges and buildings with cars falling into bomb craters. Explosions cause an entire playing field to collapse beneath the players’ feet, and rubble and concrete falling from buildings into the streets with smoke and dust filling the air. Hundreds of police are trapped in caved-in sewers.
  • Armed thugs with military style weapons storm Gotham’s prison. The thugs kill a number of guards and release 1000 prisoners. The prisoners, all of whom are armed, go on a rampage through the streets of Gotham and we see people being dragged from their homes and killed. Dead bodies with blood on their faces and chests lie in the streets.
  • In one scene we see thugs forcing innocent people to walk out onto an ice-covered bay and see the ice crack and one man killed when he falls through ice.
  • A woman plunges a knife into Batman’s side. We do not see the actual stab, but see the handle sticking out of Batman’s side and see the woman twist the knife with Batman gasping in pain. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

N/A

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • The film’s chief villain is a muscle bound giant, who wears a mask that covers his mouth and nose and has multiple breathing tubes. In a flashback we hear that Bane needs his mask as a result of injuries received through torture in prison and we see images of Bane with his head and face wrapped in a bloody cloth. We also see a flashback image of Bane with a large ragged scar running down the length of his spine.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The film contains the threat of nuclear holocaust throughout. At the end of the film we see the detonation of a nuclear bomb 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 and his father was murdered in a gambling incident.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Car and phone brands

Sexual references

There are some low-level sexual references in this movie, including:

  • We hear a story about a man who fell in love with a warlord’s daughter and how the daughter became pregnant. We hear that the woman was forced to give birth to the child in a prison full of men and how Bane protected the woman and child from the other prisoners.
  • A man makes a snide remark about Catwoman being their prisoner, with sexual intent implied.
  • Catwoman jumps into the back of a man’s car and tells the man that it is his lucky day (implying sexual favours) to which the man agrees and drives off.  
  • Alfred tells Bruce Wayne that he needs a woman to make his life meaningful saying, “I’d set you up with a chimpanzee if it would bring you to reality”.
  • A high powered businessman entertaining some male guests offers his guests some champagne and then says “And can we have some girls in here?”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial low-level nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Women wearing cocktail dresses with plunging necklines.
  • Selina, wearing a short maid's dress and stockings, pulls up her skirt to expose her upper thigh before climbing out of a window.
  • Catwoman wears a tight fitting jumpsuit and high-heel shoes.
  • Bruce passionately kisses Selina.  
  • A woman and Bruce kiss passionately. They lie on the floor under a rug; the woman’s bare shoulders are visible and we see Bruce’s naked chest and torso.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Social drinking of wine and spirits
  • We hear that a man was in prison because he was a morphine addict when he was a doctor in the prison.
  • The henchmen inject their victims with a knockout drug causing the victim to fall unconscious immediately. Batman renders several henchmen unconscious with drug laced boomerangs.  

Coarse language

The film contains some occasional low-level coarse language, name calling and putdowns. Examples include:

  • Goddamn; society hag; Son of a bitch; You dumb bitch; Got their balls in a vice; You little bastard   

In a nutshell

The Dark Knight Risesis the final chapter in the current trilogy of Batman films.  The film is a powerful and intense drama with a plot and sub plots that require the viewer’s full attention. Parents of younger viewers should note that the film is too intense, violent and disturbing for children less than thirteen years of age. The film’s running time of almost three hours is also too long for younger viewers.     

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Ordinary people can be heroes - you don’t have to wear a mask and cape.
  • There comes a time when the older generation must hand over responsibility to the young.
  • Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children includeselflessness, honesty and bravery as displayed by John Blake in particular.
  • This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:
  • Parents may wish to discuss the moral dilemma faced by a soldier over obeying orders when those orders appear to go against common sense and moral reasoning. A group of soldiers refuse to allow a bus load of children to cross a bridge because they are ordered to do so, even though the children pose no possible threat and refusing to allow them to cross results in their death.   

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