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For 20 Years of writing as Cranky, the site has maintained a Prime Rule that "You Shouldn't Have to Know the Source Material" to enjoy the movie. For Batman, that means comic books and/or the preceding films. Let's be honest. If you haven't seen the first two Batman films by Christopher Nolan, you live on a different planet than we do. We'll assume you've seen those two. Those who live on Joel Schumacher's planet are not on board with Christopher Nolan's vision, and they know that by now. Our preference is the Nolan-verse. So . . .

dark knight rises
Click for full sized poster

The Dark Knight Rises

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Alon Aboutboul and Liam Neeson
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan;
Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer
Based on characters created by Bob Kane
Directed by Christopher Nolan

(A week ago) David Letterman, in his interview with Anne Hathaway, dropped the bomb that "Batman's Dead." Fanboys already knows that the combination of Batman + (new villain) Bane = Not A Good Thing For The Batman. For them, The Dark Knight Rises honors comic book continuity and contains at least one surprise . . . that based on the "Cranky is a fanboy and if I'm surprised you'll be surprised" scale,

For those that only know the Batman from films . . .

Eight Years of mornings after the last film turned his alter ego into a wanted criminal, Bruce Wayne has gotten out of bed and again donned the cowl of the Batman. Thus, "The Dark Knight Rises"<if we had a "ba-rump-ump" drum sound effect it'd go here>

IN SHORT: Knowledge of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight absolutely required. [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language. 161 minutes]

The reason we've been rambling is that we saw The Dark Knight Rises on the Tuesday before it's Friday opening, in a theater whose sound was so bad, every other word on the sound track was unintelligible. A director friend blamed a lousy sound track. We're not prepared to go that far. Nor had we dropped our DVDs of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight into a player to refresh our memory . . . a really dumb idea, given that we see 250 to 300 films a year. (and it's been four years since the last Batman movie. You do the math.) By the Prime Rule described above, and by that kind of thinking, The Dark Knight Rises fails miserably.

If you see, maybe, just a movie here and there (like most people) and have run the DVDs a couple of times, The Dark Knight Rises may be a whopper of a finale to Nolan's trilogy. At 161 minutes it is a whopper. An it's finale is as final as you can get. And, no, that doesn't mean what you think it means. Unless it does.

But if you haven't refreshed yourself with new viewings of of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight you're wasting your time and money.

Simply put, we were hoping that this film would be as close to near perfect as The Dark Knight was -- and there was a good amount of applause from the parts of the room that, apparently, could hear the whole thing (we think you shouldn't show a surround-sound film in a theater without the capability. A 1AD film director friend, at the same screening, dissed the sound mix. Either way, the sound has major problems. The Nolan Brothers' screenplay is, as usual, so chocked with enough "how does (he) know this?" moments that it almost becomes distracting.

Since it really doesn't matter what any critic says, this is the stuff you want to know:

The Dark Knight Rises begins with the kidnaping of a nuclear scientist, one Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Aboutboul) by a masked bad guy called Bane (Tom Hardy). Pavel has created a nuclear fusion engine that could provide endless free and clean energy to the world. That is, if employer Wayne Enterprises hadn't pulled the plug because of the engine's potential to become an atomic weapon of such potential that it could end Mankind As We Know It (so to speak). Pavel's work connects him to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and thus into the Batman universe. What Bane is, other than a terrorist of some kind, we don't know at this point.

What we are told is that we are now eight years past the end of The Dark Knight. The Batman is still wanted for the murder of Harvey Dent, whose life is still celebrated on a yearly basis and whose secret is gnawing at police Commissioner James Gordon's (Gary Oldman), gut. Indeed, it is Gordon's intent to set the record strait, at a newly rebuilt Wayne Manor gala celebrating "Harvey Dent Day". Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, though he does reveal himself when gala guest Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) breaks into his safe to steal his mother's pearls.

Ms. Kyle isn't just after the pearls, though it's a good cover. She's really lifting Wayne's fingerprints off his safe, all in a complicated deal that will destroy Gotham's equivalent of Wall Street, strip Wayne of his fortune and his company and leave a wounded Commissioner Gordon in the hands a sewer dwelling army of thugs led by the aforementioned Bane. When the long suffering Alfred (Michael Caine) has had quite enough and vents his own frustrations with how Master Bruce is behaving, he is handed his papers. Bruce is, after all, broke. With all this mishegas (Yiddish for "craziness") tromping across your screen, the Batman returns to put bad guy Bane down.

Fanboys will be pleased with what happens next . . . but we're not going to tell you 'cuz it would spoil things. For everybody else, there are visual reference back to Batman Begins. There are surprise appearances from characters from the first two films in the series and probably more hidden "easter eggs" that will be found once this thing gets multiple viewings on DVD. We don't care. The Dark Knight Rises is a bloated mess of a movie.

We will say pay close attention to two new members of the cast. The first is a new member of the Wayne Enterprises board of directors, one Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). The second is a beat cop, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), with a long standing tie to and deep honor for the work W.E. did for orphaned and abandoned children of Gotham. Which includes himself. Both characters are loaded with surprises for the audience, though what kind of surprise(s) would trip the Nolan brothers screen writing plans full up. Since they come at the end of the film, what? You'd expect us to be like the lout who spills the end of Citizen Kane or The Sixth Sense? Not gonna happen.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Dark Knight Rises, he would have paid . . .


Rent it. Then strap yourself in for a ten hour marathon of all three films in Christopher Nolan's trilogy.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.