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'The Dark Knight Rises': Is It As Good As 'The Dark Knight'?

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the dark knight rises review

This weekend, Batman returns in the most anticipated movie of the year, The Dark Knight Rises. This is not to be confused with the movie that came out in 2008, The Dark Knight, which is also a Batman movie, only with one less word in the title. (Nor is it to be confused with Tim Burton's Batman Returns, even though two of the first four words that I wrote were "Batman returns." I didn't mean to do that.) Your anticipation level is palpable. Will it be satisfied by The Dark Knight Rises? Here, we ask and answer every question that you could possibly have about The Dark Knight Rises.

Q: If I just love wall-to-wall Batman action, will I like The Dark Knight Rises?

A: Probably not. But that would also mean that you didn't like Batman Begins. We don't actually see Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in costume until over 50 minutes into the film. Also, there's a good half-hour stretch in the middle of the film in which Bruce isn't a huge part of the story.

Q: Tonally, is The Dark Knight Rises more like Batman Begins or The Dark Knight?

A: Despite the similar titles, The Dark Knight Rises' tone feels much more like Batman Begins.

Q: If I only have time to watch one of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies to prepare for The Dark Knight Rises, which one should I watch?

A: Without question, Batman Begins. Between the two, The Dark Knight is the better film, but the events of Batman Begins have much more to do with the events of The Dark Knight Rises than The Dark Knight.

Q: Is there nothing from The Dark Knight that is referenced?

A: The events surrounding Harvey Dent's death at the end of The Dark Knight are referenced throughout. But, that's all you need to know: That Harvey Dent was a district attorney who went mad, then Batman took the blame for Dent's actions - which is even partially shown in flashbacks.

Q: How many years have passed since Dent's death?

A: Eight.

Q: What has Batman been doing since then?

A: Nothing, actually. And Bruce Wayne has become a recluse - which has lead to some health problems concerning cartilage in his knee.

Q: What caused Bruce Wayne to become a recluse?

A: He's still upset over the death of Rachel Dawes and he keeps photos of her around the house.

Q: Are the photos of Maggie Gyllenhaal or Katie Holmes?

A: The photos are of Gyllenhaal. Though, it would have been nice if the tradition of a new actress was upheld and the photo was, randomly, of Olivia Wilde. Then Bruce just keeps referring to the photo of Wilde as "Rachel."

Q: Who is the villain in The Dark Knight Rises?

A: The villain's name is Bane (Tom Hardy).

Q: Who is Bane?

A: Bane is a very intelligent - and very large - man who wants to destroy Gotham City. When the film opens - in a nifty scene that you may have already seen -- we watch Bane kidnap a nuclear physicist off of an airborne plane. Then, a few months later, he sets up camp in the sewers under Gotham.

Q: Bane is intelligent?

A: You've seen Batman & Robin too many times. Also, in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is not friends with Poison Ivy.

Q: Will I be able to understand Bane?

A: Yes. Well, mostly.

Q: Will I like Bane?

A: As a character? Very much. As a human being? I would hope not.

Q: Will Tom Hardy win an Oscar for his portrayal of Bane, like Heath Ledger for the Joker?

A: No. I mean, it's almost a shame that Hardy has to wear that (quite frightening) mask as Bane, because he's absolutely terrific. And, yes, his voice is weird - but I actually quite enjoy it because it's so unique. No, Bane isn't as good of a villain as Ledger's Joker. But, c'mon, that's like criticizing the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals for not being as good of a team as the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. I mean, they both won.

Q: Does Anne Hathaway purr as Catwoman, like Michelle Pfeiffer did in Batman Returns?

A: No. In fact, the word "Catwoman" is not mentioned at anytime in the film. Hathaway plays Selina Kyle, a highly skilled burglar who is hired to steal something from Bruce Wayne's mansion.

Q: So Selina Kyle is another villain?

A: Let's just say that she has mixed allegiances.

Q: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in this movie. What's his role?

A: Levitt plays a Gotham police officer and that's about all I can say.

Q: Is there a representative from Warner Bros. currently standing behind you, holding a Taser?

A: Yes.

Q: What about Marion Cotillard's role?

A: She's a philanthropist in whom Bruce Wayne places a great deal of trust.

Q: Is that Taser still there?

A: Yes.

Q: What's your favorite, non-spoiler moment of the film?

A: Batman is having a rooftop discussion with Selina Kyle. After turning away from her for a split second, he looks back -- and she's gone. Let's just say there is a bit of comeuppance for Batman in this situation.

Q: Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight?

A: No. But, boy, it's close. Look, this is a movie that can be nitpicked to death, and it will be once specific details can be discussed without ruining the movie. But, really, it's just so well made, I will feel guilty when I do that.

Q: Is The Dark Knight Rises the best movie of the summer?

A: Yes.

Q: Since Christopher Nolan has made it clear he won't make another Batman movie, will the next rebooted Batman movie be called The Amazing Batman?

A: Stop it.

Q: What else can you write about The Dark Knight Rises without being Tased?

A: Well, at the end of the movie, Batman [zzzzzzzzzzppppppp].

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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