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Understand that by reading past this sentence you may be exposing yourself to information that could spoil your enjoyment of The Dark Knight Rises.
1. While care is taken not to reveal plot turns, twists and plants, mere mention of the words "turn", "twist" and "plant" may encourage you to watch out for these narrative gimmicks and interfere with regular viewing. It's probably best that you stop reading this right now.
1.1. In fact we recommend that you refrain from reading any reviews of the Batman movie until you have seen it.
1.2. They all die, okay? They all die!!
1.3. We told you to stop reading.
2. Half the time we want to shake director Christopher Nolan's hand (The Dark Knight, illogical action scenes and unbelievable resolution to boat dilemma notwithstanding); half the time we want to beat the crap out of him (Inception, a movie which yakked about itself so much its own musical score tried to drown it out). Fortunately this movie belongs in the first category.
2.1. As the finale of a highly successful trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises is expected to be bigger, grander and more spectacular than the first two flicks. At the very least, it is more coherent.
2.2. Right off the bat, haha, Nolan has to whip up a more compelling opener than the bank robbery in the previous movie. This one involves airplanes and we forgot to breathe for a few seconds.
2.3. How do you beat the emotional wallop of the middle chapter which, among other things, saw a morally upright figure literally divided in half, the love interest blown up, and the hero cast out by the very people he has saved? How do you compete with a charismatic villain played by a beloved actor whose commitment to the role helped to kill him?
2.3.2. Two love interests.
2.3.3. A plot seemingly ripped from the headlines.
18.104.22.168. Bane's takeover of Gotham City is the comic book universe's version of Occupy Wall Street.
22.214.171.124. According to Nolan TDKR was inspired less by the Batman comics than by A Tale of Two Cities. While this statement makes him sound like a pretentious twit—Would he have cited the Knightfall series if it had been written by Dickens?—the revolutionary court scenes are pretty brilliant.
2.3.4. Unleash Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), but not too much because that would be scary.
2.3.5. An appealing new hero played by Joseph Gordon Levitt.
2.3.6. A genuinely scary villain played by Tom Hardy. The reverberating voice is particularly chilling.
2.3.7. Marion Cotillard.
2.3.8. We keep underestimating Anne Hathaway.
3. Let's not forget that Batman doesn't work without Christian Bale.
3.1. He's playing a handsome genius billionaire who puts on a costume every night and fights crime because a mugger shot his parents dead when he was a boy. We believe him.
3.2. We don't know if Bale is playing a guy with a bottomless rage or if he is a guy with a bottomless rage. It may be the same thing.
3.3. Not only do we see more of Christian Bale without the cowl, but he has actual glimmers of humor.
3.4. Raymond noted that when Bale is wearing the costume, his line readings are very FPJ. Pause. Look. Gravelly delivery. "Isang bala ka lang." "You have my permission to die."
3.5. In one scene a doctor recites the injuries sustained by Bruce Wayne in his years of (secret) crimefighting. This reminds us that Batman does not have superpowers - he's just a guy. With brains, fight skills and an unlimited armory.
4. The Dark Knight Rises rounds out the trilogy nicely.
4.1. It links back to the first two movies and closes the loops.
4.2. Have you noticed how in trilogies the middle chapter is usually the best? The Empire Strikes Back. Superman II. (The Lord of the Rings is actually one movie.) Spider-Man II. This, or the one before it? Discuss.
4.3. Why are so many superheroes orphans? The most popular ones - Batman, Spider-Man, Superman - lost their parents at an early age. True, it gives them a motive, but is it also a convenience? (They can stay out as late as they want without getting grounded.)
4.4. Many critics complain that there are too many superhero movies being made. While we wish there were more variety in current movies, we have no problem with superhero movies. We'd rather see a smart, absorbing movie about superheroes than some ponderous, supposedly socially relevant film that thinks too highly of itself. Granted, TDKR thinks highly of itself, but it remembers that movies are entertainment.