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So, about an hour ago, I was watching a special screening of “The Dark Knight Rises”. I’d like to say that I acquired access through my substantial clout as a movie-related cartoonist scored me the tickets, but actually I won a contest on Tribute. The line for the screening stretched around the block. Even though I showed up 50 minutes early, there were still about a hundred people ahead of me. Fortunately, after security was certain that I wasn’t going to cause any trouble, I got in.

I’m about to share my initial thoughts of “The Dark Knight Rises”, so if you are interested in seeing it completely “fresh” (beyond Del’s slight slam in today’s comic), then read this after you’ve checked out the movie. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers of the new movie, but I might mention plot points from “Begins” and “Knight”.

So, without spoiling anything, here goes: I didn’t really like the movie. Parts of it were great, but I think the film feels chunky and bloated overall. Here’s what I dug:

1) Hathaway’s Selina Kyle. Note that I don’t call her “Catwoman”, because the only reference to that name appears briefly and obliquely. I thought she had the right attitude for the character, combining the best aspects of the various versions of her in the comics. I did a strip about her odd-looking heels, but they are very nifty in practice. Kyle has a line (which is in a few of the trailers), where she mentions that she’s “adaptable”, and that’s very much apparent in her behaviour. She was absolutely the highlight of the movie for me.

2) The scope of the conflict. Gotham has to endure some pretty serious crap, and it’s good to see the Bat up against something this major.

3) Joseph Gordon Levitt’s monologue (and Levitt in general, I guess). He’s got a great one near the beginning of the film, and I think the actor really nails it.

4) Squad car cop banter. I complained about annoying squad car cop banter in the last movie, but in “Rises” it’s back and it’s awesome.

Here’s what I didn’t dig:

1) Voices. Bane’s voice, while not the unintelligible mess we heard in the early previews, was still annoying and weird. Batman’s voice, similarly, is marginally better than “The Dark Knight”, but I don’t know why bad guys would be afraid of someone who sounds like he’s out of breath and fighting a sore throat. Even Gordon’s voice seems to have gotten raspier.

2) Hammering the point home. It’s odd that Nolan, who isn’t afraid to write complex stories that support multiple interpretations, has so little faith in his audience’s basic intelligence. He’s got in a scene in “Batman Begins” where Batman says to Rachel “It’s not who I am underneath, it’s what I do that defines me”, calling back to something Rachel told Bruce earlier in the movie. He’s telling her that Batman is Bruce Wayne. The audience, if they have been paying attention at all, will understand this. However, immediately after saying this line and leaping off the building, Rachel says “Bruce?”. Sigh. Yes, it’s Bruce, dear.

Well, in “Dark Knight Rises”, there’s a similar scene and it’s EVEN WORSE.

3) Maguffin Complexity. Again, I don’t want to spoil the movie, but there’s a threat in the third act that is extremely complex, so it was tough to understand the stakes involved as the story progressed. I know, that’s super-vague.

Overall, I feel like there’s a really good two-hour movie hidden in “The Dark Knight Rises”. I’d like to see a “Phantom Edit”-style treatment of the flick eventually. Also, I didn’t sit through the credits, so if I missed out on something special, be sure to let me know.

Google Led You Here: “Batman the Dark Knight Wilfrid’s Letter” I wish Wilfrid Laurier DID have a cameo in “The Dark Knight”, but it’s simply not the case, Internet Searcher.