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Movie Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Christopher Nolan's Batman finale stutters, but it's got enough pulse-pounding action for true fans

I mention all of this implausability only because Nolan is one of Hollywood's most persnickety writer-directors. The man wrote Memento, for crying out loud, the most exquisitely crafted piece of screenwriting of the past decade or so. It's disheartening to see him get so sloppy, and on such a gargantuan scale. On the other hand, Nolan's action scenes are remarkably cogent. You always know who's hitting whom, and who is getting the upper hand, even in the truly head-spinning scene where two mobs, easily numbering a thousand or so each, run at each other full tilt from opposite ends of a narrow city street and clash, like human tides.

Nolan also coaxes some wonderfully nuanced performances from the veterans in his cast. Michael Caine, as Alfred the butler, seems to get much more screen time than he did in the earlier installments, and he's truly moving as he pours out his affection for Bruce. Morgan Freeman, playing the genius inventor who comes up with all of Batman's toys, is also given a surprisingly large role this time around, and he makes the most of it. And as police Commissioner Jim Gordon, Gary Oldman effectively portrays a man who suffers for having lived a lie — even though it was a lie that inspired millions.

Finally, a word about movie trailers. There's a moment in The Dark Knight Rises when former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward bolts toward the goal line, unaware that explosives are causing the entire playing field to implode behind him in an explosive-triggered landslide. 

Had I not already seen that mind-boggling spectacle, I'm pretty sure I would have needed to step out to the lobby to catch my breath.

But I had seen it, first on a little YouTube screen, then on TV. Pretty soon I'd seen Ward scamper one step ahead of the abyss more times than we ever saw O.J. Simpson vault over suitcases in those old Hertz commercials.

Well, surprise — it's the best scene in the whole movie. And that cool flying Bat plane? Well, if you've seen the commercial, you've seen it all. Same thing for the best lines between Batman and Catwoman. And the bad guy's most menacing moments, too.

Come to think of it, maybe the perfect length for The Dark Knight Rises would be just about 60 seconds.

You may also like: Christopher Nolan's Inception.

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