There are movies. And then there are MOVIES. The Dark Knight Rises (a.k.a. the latest, and some say the last, Batman) is most definitely the latter. It has an epic running time of two hours and 44 minutes and is probably best viewed as intended, on one of those giant IMAX screens. That’s where I saw it – on the six-story high IMAX at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. I guess Batman counts as a natural, historical figure these days. Anyway, what you’re probably wondering most is, did I like it? And the answer is…

Why yes, I did. And that’s without having read up on where the story was supposed to lead based on the comics… or who the villain would be… or whether Bruce Wayne would bite the bat bullet. I just sat back and watched. For nearly three hours. And for the most part, the film moved at a steady clip. I’m not a fan of “dark” movies, but this franchise has always managed to keep my interest and ultimately, entertain. I credit Christian Bale. His version of Bruce Wayne/Batman is all at once cocky, endearing, cynical, suave, dark and light. 

If you haven’t seen any of the previous Dark Knight movies, don’t start with this one. It won’t make much sense. It’s designed to be the final installment of a trilogy. If you did see the first two (The Dark Knight and Batman Begins) – and liked them – don’t worry about having a bat-athon, unless you really want to. The Dark Knight Rises drops enough hints of Batmans’ past to jog your memory and provide a rather satisfying story arc. I still got lost in a few places here and there, but nothing too egregious.

As anyone who reads my reviews regularly knows by now, I will not reveal anything that might in any way spoil the movie for those who prefer to let the story and characters unfold without bias. All I’ll say is that I was pleasantly surprised by Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Cat Woman. She rocked the cat suit almost as well as Bale rocked the bat suit. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt has definitely emerged as one of my favorite actors of the decade. He plays a Gotham City cop.

In a nutshell, The Dark Knight Rises picks up with millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (and his alter-ego) physically and emotionally battered and bruised, and long retired from crime-fighting. But he’s forced to get back in the game when an evil guy named Bane unleashes an army of bad guys – and a ticking nuclear bomb- on Gotham. Batman will either save the city – or die trying.

The movie is PG-13 and has a fair share of violence, but much of it is bloodless or implied. It’s dark, but not brutally so. And the loud music crescendos are off-set by even more powerful silences. As long as you’re not one to over-think or over-analyze a movie that is simply about heroes and hope, then I suggest you hop into your batmobiles and check it out. Word to the wise, however: go to the bathroom before the movie starts, and forego the big gulp. Seriously. Two hours and 44 minutes.

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