FlixChatter Review: The Dark Knight Rises

In an era where seemingly every Summer we get a superhero cinematic event, Christopher Nolan still manages to kick it up a notch with The Dark Knight Rises. Really, even without the ruckus over death treats over negative reviews and the tragic event that happened in Aurora, CO, during a midnight screening, the hype over the final chapter to Nolan’s Batman saga is still a colossal one. The over-exposure is really quite overwhelming, to the point where I have to make extra effort to tune it out and be as fresh as possible.

Well, I’m happy to say that it paid off to know as little as possible about the plot as I was surprised a couple of times watching this. I think those of you that still have not seen this yet, I suggest you do the same and avoid reading about it as much as you possibly can.

Now, the gist of the story is actually pretty simple… it’s eight years after Bruce Wayne has hung up the Batman mantle, still haven’t moved on from his lost love Rachel who perished in The Dark Knight. But suddenly a disturbance of great proportion threatens to destroy his beloved city of Gotham, and so he feels compelled to help its citizens, even at the risk of facing an adversary that’s even greater than he had faced before. So the gist is simple, but somehow, Nolan and his team of writers concocted a complicated storyline involving a myriad of characters that at times I was left discombobulated trying to make sense of it all.

Before I go further with my critique, let’s start with the positive first.

Nolan has certainly done a remarkable job in maintaining the tone and quality of all three films that they work seamlessly as one spectacular trilogy. In keeping most of the cast intact and most importantly, the writers, we are already fully invested in the story and characters, and when new characters are introduced, there is no dissonant.

Two of the new main characters are both impressive — Anne Hathaway as the masterful thief Selina Kyle [she was never described as Catwoman though she essentially is one] and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie policeman John Blake. Both actors bring something new to the table and I’m happy to say that my doubt about Hathaway’s casting was quickly erased the moment she appeared on screen. She was sassy, strong and playful but yet has that vulnerable side to her for the emotional moments in the film. Marion Cotillard as a philanthropist businesswoman Miranda Tate doesn’t have much screen time by comparison, but her character is certainly a crucial one.

As for Bane, now I think he’s a pretty formidable villain though not the character itself and Tom Hardy‘s performance is not as iconic as the one from the previous installment. Yet I think he’s quite a force to be reckoned with and there are some scenes that made me shudder just on the sheer of physical strength he had.

The rest of the returning cast (Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman) are in top form as well, but if I were to rank my favorite Nolan’s Batman saga characters, I’d say Alfred Pennyworth will be in my top five. Michael Caine brings so much heart into the story, and there’s one pivotal conversation between him and Bruce Wayne that makes me cry. He’s such a father figure to Bruce, and as I’ve said in this Father’s Day post, Alfred really is the one who helps shape Batman to be the kind of hero we’ve come to know and love. Christian Bale proves once again he is the perfect choice to play the conflicted, tormented hero and he even looks like he’s aged a bit here, eaten up by such deep sense of grief.

As Ted mentioned in his review on Saturday, I also think the action scenes are brilliantly-executed. There are not as many of them but once they appear, it is so thrilling and fun to watch, especially the moment Batman first appeared with his brand new toy, the flying tumbler fittingly dubbed The Bat. I feel like I was one of Gotham’s citizens happily cheering my hero once again! As for the mano-a-mano with Bane, well this moody poster with the broken Batman’s cowl on the ground certainly delivers its promise. That fight scene is brutal! Nolan is not afraid to make the hero suffers and Batman has never been more in peril than he is here, both physically and emotionally. Yet we will see why the title ‘Rises’ is aptly used here.

Visually it’s a wonder. Seriously, it’s worth every penny seeing it on the giant IMAX screen. Over an hour of this movie was filmed on 70 mm IMAX film and boy did it show! I was ooh-aahing throughout seeing those gorgeous aerial shots of Gotham, I am certainly glad he chose this format instead of 3D. His longtime collaborator, Wally Pfister ought to get an Oscar nod for his cinematography work here.

At 2 hours 44 seconds, the film also able to keep me engrossed the entire time, which is quite a feat.

So, what doesn’t work here?

A couple of them is on the technical level, such as Bane’s often unintelligible voice that makes it even impossible to comprehend when Hans Zimmer’s score is blaring so loudly in the background that it drowns out everything else happening in that scene. There are moments where I wish they’d turn the volume of the music down a bit so I could hear the sound of the environment the scene is set in and more importantly the dialog! Even when the characters are screaming, I still have trouble hearing what they are saying. I think the score is good, but because it’s so irritatingly loud, I can’t appreciate it as much as I would otherwise.

Now, plot-wise, seems like in seven years, the complexity level has quadrupled since Batman Begins and as I’m watching it, I feel like Bane is not the only one having trouble breathing as Nolan doesn’t seem to give much room for us to come up for air. This film is sooo jam-packed with layer after layer of plot, and whilst it has the power to thrill, it also can be quite frustrating at times. Now, I don’t mind the complexity of the story, but I feel that Nolan seems to be more concerned with the bigger picture of the plot that the *smaller details* seem to have gone by the wayside.

Interestingly, I just read this well-written article on Anomalous Material by Nick Prigge that talks about how the Nolan brothers certainly know their set-ups and payoffs. That is, with every small set-up in the movie, even a seemingly trivial one, there’s always a pay-off, which is always a good rule of thumb in screenwriting. Yet I feel that the writing team drops the ball a few times in this final installment. I’m only going to mention those examples in the spoiler section below for those of you who have seen the movie, but let’s just say that the suspension of disbelief is often stretched too far, and I’m saying that because Nolan has pride himself in creating such a realistic universe in his Batman films that I expect more from him. It’s not a deal-breaker in the grand scheme of things, but yet it’s big enough that I’d have to take into account when I rate the film.

Final Thoughts:

Is this THE best Batman film of the three? I’d say no, and not only because Heath Ledger’s The Joker was such a more compelling villain, but more because of the lack of inconsistencies in the way Nolan set up the universe of Batman and Gotham. I guess I scrutinize this film more because I have come to expect so much more from Nolan and the director himself has set the bar so high to justify such expectations.

Still, overall The Dark Knight Rises is a satisfying finale to a fantastic [and lucrative] franchise, and it boasts such a WHOA ending to boot! The conclusion mirrors that of the spinning totem in Inception where we’d be endlessly discussing what we *think* happens at the end [that darn Nolan does it again!!]. I’m also glad that there’s surprisingly a lot of heart beneath such an exhilarating, rip-roaring superhero blockbuster.

4 out of 5 reels

SPOILER ALERT!

Highlight the text below to read this section:

As I stated in my review above, my beef is that Nolan is inconsistent in the way he set the universe of Gotham. In this final movie he suddenly introduces the notion that Gotham is part of the United States, hence that televised presidential speech, but yet the city seems to function as if it’s on its own and no other states exist. I mean how could the cops be trapped under the rubble for three whole months and NO Federal aid comes to the rescue?? I mean all they had to do is to have a Pentagon-like military headquarter send some kind of help by air (since the bridges are burned down) and just blow up those rubble so the cops can get out?? Instead they had to wait for Batman’s aid to do so. I find that really hard to believe.

Another thing is about Bruce Wayne. Now, why is he wearing a walking stick for eight years walking around in Wayne manor and suddenly when he’s back as Batman again, he no longer has a limp and can withstand such brutal beating from the brute force that is Bane. Even the back-breaking thing, well, we’re entering incredible fantasy territory again with how speedy his recovery is and even if that is plausible, my suspension of disbelief is already stretched thin to see him able to walk normally again, but he can actually make such a giant leap to escape the prison of the League of Shadows?? Wow, I think that’s asking too much because everything in this movie is already set up in such a realistic tone. I mean Gotham itself doesn’t have the fantastical element like in Tim Burton’s Batman movies, it’s set up just like an ordinary metropolitan city like New York. So the inconsistencies feel jarring to me.

Lastly, there’s that part where Miranda, a.k.a. Thalia Al Ghul stabs Batman up close with a big knife and it’s clear Batman is hurt as she sadistically twists the knife before she pulls it out. Yet in the subsequent scene, Batman doesn’t show ANY sign of pain whatsoever, it’s like the stabbing never happened. Make that what you will, but I think that’s sloppy writing, no?? I mean tell me where the payoff is on that one, maybe I’m missing something??

I’m curious to hear what you think about Gordon-Levitt’s character. At the end of the movie, his real name is revealed to be Robin [unlike in the comics where Robin is actually an alias] and seems as if based on Blake’s conversation with Bruce Wayne, Batman is grooming him to take over his mantle as the protector of Gotham. I wonder if there’s going to be a follow-up to that in the future with perhaps Nolan serving as a ‘mentor’ of the project, like he does with Man of Steel.

Now lastly… do you think Batman perished at the end? If so, then that scene at the Italian cafe, is that just Alfred’s imagination of wanting his master to finally have a normal life or was Bruce really there with Selina? Well, my hubby reminded me at brunch today about that auto-pilot thing that Bruce apparently fixed, unbeknownst to Lucius Fox. So that piece of seemingly trivial scene might imply that perhaps the Bat had been flying on auto pilot which allows Batman to rescue himself to safety. So my position is that Batman lives! What do YOU think?


Soooo, what did you think of the movie? Do you agree with my assessment? Feel free to discuss about the spoilery stuff but please state a warning in your comment as a courtesy :)

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77 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Dark Knight Rises

  1. Spoilers ….

    I found this film to be a bit of drag with an overly somber tone and a bit of rehashed plot, sort of a the French Revolution meets The Sum of All Fears. Also the level of action was not what I have come to expect from these Nolan films and the Villian while physically impressive lacked gravitas.

    That is not to say that this is a bad film. I was more than impressed with Hathaway who I thought was going to be terrible. She actually turned in my favorite performance. JGL was great as usual but I ended up wishing his character had evolved much much faster. Lastly, I thought the conclusion of the film was well done and provided a nice closure on Nolan’s Batman run.

    • Hmmm, “…sort of a the French Revolution meets The Sum of All Fears” I don’t know about that, but that’s interesting that you got that. The somber tone is expected as that’s how the tone has been in the other 2 films. You’re right about the villain lacked gravitas, that’s why I like Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and also The Joker.

      Yeah, glad to see Anne proving me wrong. I had been doubtful about her casting at first. JGL has never disappointed me so far, seems like his voice sounds a bit deeper here which makes him seem more rugged.

  2. Yeah, i came out satisfied too. I was also surprised at how well hathaway did.I think she is one of those actress’s whose performance depends largely on the material given to her. And as for the Spoilers, i will answer them below(btw, how did you get it to look like that. Hidden but still visible under highlighting i mean)

    SPOILER ALERT!!

    -I thought Banes warning about the bomb was so no one outside Gotham would interfere. Also, i found it odd Nolan used a white actor for the President. I figured he would have had a black Obama stand in(I remember Heroes did something similar)

    -I think the scene where Bruce had that leg strap thing(Alfred asked if it was painful and Bruce said would you like to try or something similarly witty) was supposed to explain how he was walking cane-less. Plus in his first fight with bane bruce didn’t seem to be doing very well, and he seemed to have a death wish. And as for the spine thing, didn’t one of the people in the Pit fix it for him?

    -it didn’t seem to be a deep stab, and Thalia even told Bane to keep Batman alive, so i’m assuming she didn’t stab any vital organs or anything like that.

    -Yeah, i think Blake will end up being Nightwing.

    -I think its real. I would hope that after audiences sticking with Batmans character for 3 movies he wouldn’t end it on such a ambiguous note. Plus, its not hard to believe the ship thing had a emergency ejection system or something similar.

    -In regards to Hathaway, i think her most notable scene was when she questioned the guy about the blank state device. Even though she didn’t say it, Hathaway managed to convey it meant something very personal to her.And Lucius’s statement in Dark Knight about retiring seemed to have been made null and void since it seemed like he was still very much in control of wayne corp during this one.

    • Glad you’ve seen this Julian. Yeah I agree w/ what you said about Anne, but she was surprisingly perfect as Selina. Plus she must work out endlessly to get THAT figure, wow! Sheesh, about the black vs. white president thing, I don’t know why people are so concerned about it being a stand-in for Obama, I mean it’s fictional universe!!

      About that leg strap thing, yeah I can buy that he can easily walk again w/ that and maybe even run, but he was thrown about all over the place and it didn’t make a dent at all. Ah well, chug it to being a superhero movie I guess :)

      Ok, so you have the same opinion as me about Batman’s fate then.

      As for Lucius, I think he was going to retire but he changed his mind when Batman made good on his promise that shutting down the sonar machine would destroy all the data. Lucius was concerned about the ethics of spying on Gotham’s residents.

      • I just read something that further points to the cafe scene being real, and that is the presence of Selina. Alfred wasn’t around during any of the meetups between Selina and bruce, and i’m pretty sure when Alfred left bruce had last called her a thief.So there’s no reason Alfred would imagine her there

  3. I loved this movie, period. I was satisfied with every part and found that Selina actually stole the show. Sure there were a few head scratchers, but this is a superhero movie after all, license is taken big time. It’s not completely off the grid of plausible like Captain America and his Vita Rays.

    SPOILER ALERT!

    I know many will disagree, but I think Batman died and Alfred was hallucinating like he had all those other times. Batman was bleeding to death, a stab wound like that is always mortal. As for the pain,I think he pulled it together one last time like Maximus in Gladiator. Coupled with the adrenaline, yeah he saved the city and died in the explosion. Bruce has been committing slow suicide for years and he went down. It would be too convenient and a complete cop out for him to survive. Batman had to die for the new one to rise. But that’s just me and the way I see it. :)

    • Hi Melissa, glad that you love this movie so much. I think Selina was great but didn’t really steal the show for me. Ha..ha.. well, Nolan has always maintained a more realistic scenarios for his Batman films, which is why I judge him a bit more harshly on that note.

      SPOILER ALERT!

      Oh, I think whether he perished or not is always debatable, but I like your argument about adrenaline as fuel. Well, one thing for sure, Nolan is definitely DONE w/ the Batman franchise w/ this ending :)

  4. Nice in depth review Ruth, I knew you’d tear up at that scene between Bruce and Alfred, heck I almost teared up myself. :) It’s like a father telling his son he’s no longer welcome at his house anymore.

    As for some of your spoilers, the President thing doesn’t bother me much because I believed Gotham is part of the US in the real world. The back breaking thing, I didn’t expect to see Bane do that to Batman in the film; I think Nolan just wanted to please the super fanboys/girls of the Knightfall comic series.

    The Robin thing, again I think Nolan was trying to be sneaky because he’s been saying for years he’d never put Robin in his Batman films but I think he changed his mind because he felt he at least needs to pay respect to the franchise. Robin is a such big part of the Batman comic book series so I assume Nolan wanted to give a bit of a shout out.

    As for the ending, my take on it is that Batman is dead but Bruce Wayne is alive. By letting people think that The Batman is dead, Wayne can live like a regular person now. Since he groomed Blake to take over, he knows that the city is in good hands.

    • Man, that scene between Bruce and Alfred really had me bawling, not just tearing up :) I mean Alfred just loved Bruce so much, but that revelation he finally told his master about Rachel, oh man that’s killer!

      SPOILER ALERT

      I guess about the back-breaking thing, it’s possible it’s just a fracture, I mean it could be just as painful. Still, that was some speedy recovery. Bruce is just human after all, not a super soldier under that Bat suit.

      I think you’re right about the Robin thing, it’s a subtle nod to an important character in the Batman comics, but Nolan always like to reinvent the genre so to speak so in this case, he sort of get to have his cake and eat it, too.

      Oh yeah, that’s what I mean. The Batman as a *symbol* is gone but Bruce Wayne somehow survived. And I think the scene of JGL going into his lair implies that he’s taking over.

      • Yeah that scene was pretty emotional and Michael Caine really poured his emotion into the scene. I guess he really wanted to give a great performance since he probably realized his role would be reduced in this film.

        I thought for sure that the President role would be Clint Eastwood, not sure if you knew and I think I’ve mentioned it in my Batman Begins from Vision to Film article; Nolan offered Eastwood the Commissioner Loeb role in Batman Begins and then the mayor role in TDK. But Eastwood was so busy he had to turn Nolan down. I thought for sure he’d appear in this film but I guess Nolan didn’t offer it to Eastwood this time since he got turned down twice.

        • Well Caine certainly did the job! I wish he had more screentime but there were already sooo many characters here, ahah.

          Oh wow, I forgot about Eastwood being offered the Loeb role. That would’ve been cool to see him as the president but that might actually took you out of the movie too much y’know, people would be distracted by Clint’s presence in the movie. Interesting though that he’s good friends w/ Morgan Freeman who as you know have played US president before :)

  5. Great review!

    Spoilers………

    I’m one who found the movie to be exceptional. In fact I was really satisfied with how Nolan wrapped up the series. For me it was brilliant.

    As to you concerns in the spoiler segment:

    1. I honestly never really saw the issue of Gotham’s connection to the US as a big deal. I know the military was being held at bay by the sheer genius of Bane and Talia’s plan. One wrong move and BOOM – nuclear detonation! In fact they keep talking about it having to be done from the inside of the city.

    2. As for Bruce’s recovery, there was a scene that showed him put on a mechanical knee brace. He was able to walk plus it gave him a little extra power in the leg too. Perhaps it also had a healing effect as well. In the prison, he was given a mystical cure of sorts – the pushed back vertebrate and then being hung up by a rope under his rib cage until he was able to stand. They could have shown long drawn-out healing processes but I liked this better.

    3. Talia and the knife. I didn’t think much on this mainly because he really doesn’t do much after the stabbing other than fly. Even Catwoman has to save him. In reality he would certainly be hurting more but this really didn’t bother me.

    4. Bruce Wayne lives! Woo Hoo!

    Now even though these things didn’t bug me, there were a couple of things I found to be pretty goofy:

    1. I loved the scenes with Bruce & Alfred except with the big emotional scene. It backed such a wonderful punch only to leave me scratching my head. Ok, these two are best friends, the only real family to each other, as close as any two can be, yet Alfred just ups and leaves over that and Bruce let’s him without much hesitation? I understand that emotional trauma can lead to rash decisions but this didn’t feel like real responses to me. Plus we lose Caine for almost the entire second half of the film.

    2. I found this to be hilarious! Remember when Batman returns after Bane has taken over. He speaks to Fox about the Bat Wing. Fox asks him if he remembers where it is. We then see an overhead shot of the Bat Wing parked on top of a sky scraper with a huge camouflage tarp over it. As many police and news choppers had flown over, none saw this? And Batman would just throw a tarp over it in such open air? I had to laugh.

    3. Why does Bruce still talk in his gravelly voice when in costume even when speaking to people who know his identity? Habit?

    Anyway, what a fun discussion. I shall end my annoying ramblings! :)

    • Hi Keith, glad you love this one. Hey, me too, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t overlook some of the plot issues at the same time.

      !SPOILER ALERT!

      1. “…the military was being held at bay by the sheer genius of Bane and Talia’s plan” I must’ve missed that as I didn’t know when/how they did that.

      2. I guess the mechanical knee-brace is one made by Lucius as it seems to have so much extra power to his leg, ahah. The back quick-fix thing is still highly implausible for what it enables Bruce to do. Walking yeah ok, even running… but leaping from such height several times?? [talk to the hand] :) Ah well, seems like I’m in the minority who has this quibble.

      3. I think Melissa mentioned the adrenaline thing above so I’m ok w/ that.

      As for your additional comments:

      1. As for the thing about Alfred leaving, I think it totally makes sense. It’s not like he suddenly doesn’t care, in fact he loves Bruce and the Wayne family too much to see him die, as he said he doesn’t want to bury another one. Plus Bruce was so upset over the Rachel revelation that he forced Alfred to leave.

      2. Ha..ha.. yeah, maybe that camouflage is like stealth or something, so it’d just blend in w/ the surrounding? Who knows! :)

      3. Oh my!! My hubby and I were talking about that just after the movie ends! Yeah, what’s w/ the gravelly voice when he’s talking to Kyle or Blake?? I guess he can’t easily turn in on and off, just like an actor staying in character, y’know.

      Great comment, Keith!!

  6. I really agree with your review. I found this to be an incredible cinematic experience, and an emotional and satisfying conclusion to one of the greatest film series of all time.

    As for your spoiler questions, I think most of them were answered by others so I don’t want to rehash. However, as for the president being white and not an Obama stand-in, I’m glad he didn’t go that route. It can be disconcerting when a real-life president (or a stand-in) is introduced in a fictional world. Gotham City is not a real place, so its existence should not coincide with real-life people or events (of course, the mayor in Tim Burton’s “Batman” looked an awful lot like then-New York Mayor Ed Koch, but that’s another story). It was cool seeing William Devane in this cameo, though I have no idea why he was cast. Let’s not forget that Morgan Freeman once played the President!

    One plot hole that kind of threw me was when Bruce returned to Gotham City. It was clearly established that no one could enter or leave, yet he somehow just showed up. Of course, that plays into the mystique of Bruce’s League of Shadows training that he can just appear or disappear at will. But it still was disconcerting in the delivery. It was one of those thing that I had to just tell my self that it was just movie stuff, but it did take me out of the reality the film had created.

    I loved the nod to Robin (I actually got emotional over that). The way it was set up in the film, I expected Blake to take over for Batman, but the name thing was totally unexpected. It makes me wonder if he would go by the name of Robin for his superhero identity or if he’d be Nightwing or something else. I actually assumed he would actually assume the role of Batman. However, I like the fact that Nolan didn’t spell it out for us, but left us to use our imaginations as to how he would become Gotham’s next protector. I’d love to see a movie following him, but have no idea how that would happen. Nolan made it clear that he was done with this universe, so whatever direction WB decides to take with the series, it will be in the hands of others.

    Finally, yes, I believe Bruce is still alive despite the fact that the editing made it seem like he was in the Bat until the explosion, or at least had no time to escape the 6 mile blast radius. Again, how he did it was left to the Batman mystique of being able to get out of tight situations easily. I wasn’t really fooled when the bomb went off because if you don’t see the person get killed, then you can assume he got away somehow. That said, Noland has surprised me by killing off characters in a vague manner (Ra’s Al Ghul, Harvey Dent) and keeping them dead. I was nearly in tears when Alfred saw Bruce in that restaurant. It was so perfect.

    • Hi Jamie,
      Yeah I don’t have any issue whatsoever about the color of the president’s skin. I mean seriously??! Why does it have to be Obama-like?? If anything it’d sort of date the movie if you see it decades from now anyway.

      Hmmm, what do you mean when he returned to Gotham City? You’re talking about that night when he first appeared in his Batpod?? I thought he had that garage thing underground under the city where he kept his Bat vehicles?? In any case, I didn’t even realize about that so it didn’t bother me.

      SPOILER ALERT

      I don’t really care about the existence of Robin but I do like the fact that Batman was looking out for another protector for Gotham, someone who’s not corrupt and genuinely loves the city. He finds that in Blake. He might actually assume the role of Batman, remember in the car he told Blake that Batman is a symbol so it could be ANYBODY? I think he implies that it doesn’t have to be Bruce Wayne under that suit. I guess that suit would have to be tailored for JGL though, ahah, I mean he’s a LOT slimmer than Bale :)

      Yep, I think the editing is done to make it look like it could go either way. That’s Nolan’s trick!! He’s just so good at making us wonder ‘did he or didn’t he’ like in Inception.

      • The scene I was referring to is after Bruce escapes from the underground prison. The film doesn’t show how he got out of that country, let alone how he managed to sneak back into Gotham. He was just suddenly there, emerging from the fog. I expected Bruce to have contacted Alfred for traveling, like he did in “Batman Begins,” but due to dramatic structure, Nolan just jumps over all of that. It’s not a big deal, but it did take me out of the film for a moment.

        • Ah I see. Yeah that’s right, and on top of the implausible notion that he could climb that high having just got his back fixed but let’s leave that aside for argument’s sake. That’s true, he couldn’t call Alfred by that time, and suddenly there he was. He just knew exactly where Selina would be too :)

          • Of course, three months passed with him in the prison, so it’s conceivable that his back could heal in that time, I suppose. I chalked that up to movie logic, considering that they did go out of the way to say that one of his discs was out of place and his back wasn’t truly broken. It’s very convenient, but if it was completely realistic, he’d have to have been in traction for months on end and would probably never be able to move freely. There’s a little suspension of disbelief we must endure in movies like this.

            • Yeah, I was reading a few comments on other blogs about the dislocated vertebrate thing, so I guess it’s not completely broken. And sense of time is always weird in movies, it seems really fast to us but in the context of the film, I think Bruce was in prison for months. He didn’t lose any weight though, which considering Bale’s notoriety about weight loss/gain for character integrity, I find that a bit odd. At least show him slightly gaunt by make-up or something.

              Oh yeah, I have prepared myself for a lot of ‘suspension of disbelief’ but some of the things I mentioned just stretched ‘em a bit too far IMO.

  7. SPOILERS

    Ruth, I was hoping that Bruce Wayne perished at the end and I really thought he did, heck how can one survive a FREAKING nuclear blast. But as you and my man Nick Prigge noted, Nolan doesn’t leave any details unaccounted for and as you can remember, there is many mention of the auto-pilot on the Bat vehicle and at the end, it’s revealed to Fox that Wayne fixed the auto-pilot. Hence, the sight at the end is most likely real. Now, that disappointed me after getting to that conclusion because the movie should simply have ended a couple minutes earlier and it would have been so much more. Oh well…

    As a whole though, I think this is my favorite Batman movie of the bunch despite its flaws. I was so engrossed by it I really couldn’t believe I could enjoy a movie so much again. It really hit the right notes for the most for me :D

    • UM… MORE SPOILERS!

      I agree with you, Castor. It felt like a total cop-out. Auto-pilot or not, the film had tonally built up to that conclusion… and then said “Nah, we’re not going to do that, no matter how dark”.

      I also thought the twist at the end with you-know-who was out of left field. I guess I’d have to see it again to see if there’s any set-up, and maybe I just didn’t know because I’m not familiar with the source material. Without that, though, it was out of nowhere. And I thought it was pretty unnecessary, too. The film had done more than enough to satisfy at that point. They didn’t need to introduce that particular plotline.

      My major beef with the set-up/payoff thing was the unstable bomb. They made a point to call out how unstable it was… and then it gets hit by a bus and banged into half of the concrete in Gotham without going off.

      I apparently don’t like this film as much as most viewers. I thought it was pretty clearly the weakest of the trilogy.

      • As I was explaining to Red over on AM, “unstable” as it pertains to a nuclear device doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as your everyday “unstable”.

        It’s highly unlikely that you can set off a nuclear bomb just by shooting at it or hitting it super hard (ie. look at the multiple incidents where nuclear bombs/missiles were compromised after a plane crash and what not). In this case, unstable means that the nuclear reaction inside is going out of control. It would be similar to what happened in Chernobyl for example.

      • Hi John, I think if it were up to Nolan and he didn’t have to answer to the *suits* at WB he’d have no problem killing off Batman. I thought that too until that cafe scene.

        The twist with Miranda could’ve been handled more smoothly but I think because there were sooo many characters, there just wasn’t enough time to explore her character more, y’know. That was my beef about this movie, it’s just TOO jam-packed.

        Ahah, I thought that too about the unstable bomb apparently was stable enough to withstand getting tossed around like that. But I guess Castor’s explanation makes a bit more sense :)

    • Hi Castor! Yeah, I mean it’s got a 6-mile radius even!! But once my hubby mentioned the auto-pilot thing, I was like well, that explains it!! Sure we see his face seemingly right before the blast, but the essence of time isn’t always the same in the movies, isn’t it. What seems like seconds could actually be minutes. Just like some people here argue about the time it took for Bruce’s back to heal, it’s in the span of 2-3 months but seems like only days.

      So Castor, do you mean it should’ve just ended without the cafe scene??

      Wow, so you think this is the BEST of the franchise? I actually still can’t decide yet. I was quite engrossed in it though, which is amazing considering the length of time!

    • Thanks matey! I just figure a lot of people have seen this so it warrants a section to discuss the key plot points :)

      No, I don’t think it’s the best of the trilogy but I still can’t decide whether BB or TDK is the best one. As far as favorite goes, it’d be BB :)

  8. Pingback: » Movie Review – The Dark Knight Rises Fernby Films

  9. Great in-depth look at the film, Ruth. Like you, TDKR is probably my most lengthy review too!

    SPOILER ALERT!

    I don’t think there’s anything more to the ending than what we were given. Batman survived. He stuck the Bat on autopilot and skipped out of there. Arguably, you wonder where he got out as he had to survive a massive nuclear blast, but I’m sure it’s all clear. A part of me was hoping that the film ended on Alfred’s smiling face, and not explicitly showing what he saw. Maybe that would have angered people a little too much!

    Loved the score in this film. Probably my favourite after Batman Begins.

    The Robin thing.. well I was hoping he wouldn’t explicitly go there. I liked how it was implied throughout the whole film. Oh wells.

    Oh and wasn’t Bruce Wayne given a leg brace to make getting back on his feet easier. He busted the brick walls! Reminds me of Logan from Dark Angel…

    I loved the film. Perfect conclusion to a fantastic trilogy where each film has been incredibly strong. How many trilogies these days can boast that?

    • Yeah, I noticed that girl, good for you!

      I’m w/ you about ending it at Alfred’s smiling face and just leave it vague, but maybe Nolan sort of *lost* the argument w/ the suits at WB and they just insisted on actually seeing that Bruce lives [shrugs]

      Yeah I suppose that leg brace supposedly made him have legs of steel, ahah.

      You’re right though, it’s quite a feat to make ONE really good superhero film, let alone three! So Nolan is still all right in my book! :D

  10. Agreed with you that yes Nolan does it again, make us having an endless discussion. And in my opinion, he also able made me (or the audiences) going to the cinema more than once to see The Dark Knight Rises. Just like what he did on Inception.

    • The endless discussion is fascinating to me. I mean, in Twitter today alone, there are some major bloggers who are bickering over this, ahah. I’m sure Nolan just grins ear to ear over it, seeing his creation getting analyzed to death!

  11. Great review Ruth!! I definitely agree with you about Bane in this film as a villain. Not as iconic as Heath’s Joker, but still a strong force to be reckoned with. It was troubling to not be able to understand what he was saying most of the time; partly because the music was very loud. Which is why it’s worth a second viewing in an IMAX screen. I didn’t do that when I watched it the first time, but still enjoyed this incredible scene. As far as the spoiler section, I do believe that Bruce found away to escape, and that Alfred really saw him in the restaurant. Only time will tell I guess. And I am very interested in seeing the role that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play in the next film, if he’s around for it, and we do get another film for the Batman franchise.

    • Hi Raul! That music is just deafening isn’t it? I literally wished I had a remote to turn the darn thing down!

      Well, I think WB will surely want to resurrect this franchise, with or without Nolan. I’m curious to see how that pans out, too.

  12. Great review Ruth!! You didn’t give the plot at all and I am now still clueless to the story. will see it next Wednesday.

    Everyone has been praising the movie…I wonder how I feel myself after seeing it, knowing that I originally only wanted to see it in DVD…but now I want to see it in cinema.

    Will get back to you after seeing it :)

    Ps: TDKR is the basic of my Monthly Murphy for this month…do visit when I finally published it because I know you like men with glasses ;)

    • Hi Nov, well glad to hear! I tried to be pretty careful as I HATE spoilers! I just couldn’t help creating the spoiler section though as a lot of people have seen this.

      Do let me know what you think Nov! And yes, I will check out your Monthly Murphy, with or without glasses :)

      • I have seen it and enjoy it but I can’t make impressive review as others. I will link my review to yours for a better review.

        I agree with you about the scoring…they were TOO loud.
        My friends and I were laughing at the part when Bale was trying to climb out of the prison…why do they start chanting every time someone climbs the well…that was just too funny for us.

        I think the movie is too long…there are parts where I hope they cut down…lucky I didn’t fall asleep ;)

        Overall…I agree with you that Batman Begins is still the most interesting one.

        Btw, the anticipation toward TDKR is crazy here…there are 5 studios in Pejaten Village 21 and 4 out 5 played TDKR. I think that is ridiculous, it left people with only 1 other choice to see.

        Ps. Crane as judge is adorable ;)

        • Glad you agree w/ me on the music Nov, it was practically deafening to me and a bit distracting. I’m amazed not many people complain about that, maybe they’ve gone tone deaf?? :)

          Batman Begins is still my favorite but TDK as the BEST film, 5/5. Wow, that’s crazy that they used most of the theaters for TDKR!! Well I suppose they wanted as much profit as possible but that seems excessive to me.

          Ha..ha… I knew you’d be happy w/ Cillian in it. I didn’t want to mention him so you’d be pleasantly surprised :)

  13. SPOILERS AHEAD:
    About the ending, personally I agree with Ted here: Batman died, Bruce Wayne lives. The first part is a bit more obvious — Bruce has always wanted to be done with Batman since Harvey Dent showed up, so this is a perfect opportunity for him to stage that. Now the second part (whether Bruce died or lives) is a bit tricky. We can argue all day with what’s technically plausible or not, but the fact that some of the believability factor here are questionable, it becomes less of an issue. To me, it’s more about Bruce’ motives and will to live or to die. He seemed to just want to quit and be done with life, but only after he saves Gotham one last time (that’s the vibe I got from the prison scene). So the question now becomes whether the idea of having Selina in his life (especially after the kiss ;), and being able to pleasantly surprise his best friend (Alfred) are strong enough motives for him to survive. If yes, then, who cares about what’s plausible — he’ll make it alive. And personally, that’s what I’d like to believe.

    • Hello luv! Interesting argument there about motive. I suppose it’s possible that Selina sort of revives his will to live after that kiss, even though he had just been betrayed once again by Miranda who revealed her true colors. I think his motive to survive could be strong enough for him to find a way to survive the blast, again that auto-pilot thing is enough for me to think he *could* escape and possibly having a normal life somewhere else. Of course I’d love to see Bruce coming back to Gotham in the near future to coach his replacement a la Batman Beyond ;)

  14. Generally, I tend to avoid premieres, especially when it comes to big blockbuster releases. The fact that such a tragedy ensued in a midnight show in Colorado only reinforces my dislike of opening weekends.
    This is not to say I will let such a sad event keep me from enjoying this film as I’ve heard it’s quite an experience in the big screen.
    I enjoyed the first two installments of this trilogy even though I didn’t think they were as “fantastic” as the majority seems to think they are. Sure, The Joker performance is the stuff of legend, and Christian Bale has provided the franchise with an indelible new kind of superhero that is conflicted, troubled, scarred, saddened, and yet incredibly generous and brave. Nolan’s work certainly rises above the pack not only in the long tradition of Batman in comics and films, but also when compared to the endless amount of superhero pieces that have clogged several summer seasons in succession.
    Glad to see that the trilogy received a fitting end. Good review Ruth !

    • I hear ya Niels, but I’m not going to let one psycho to change how I live my life. I think he could’ve easily chose another time slot besides midnight showing, but it is indeed a very tragic event. I agree though about not letting what he did alter how you live your life.

      I think the term ‘fantastic’ is subjective really, and as you said, compared to other superhero films, the trilogy certainly stands out above the pack.

      I hope you see this soon, let me know when you have your review up!

  15. Good review Ruth, this is a tough one. It was decent overall but maddeningly incosistent, and you basically know that most people out there are going to be loving on it.

    I like the instances you point out in the “Spoilers” block as sloppy writing. Agreed! I think the scope of the movie is a bit careless as well – self indulgent. This movie badly needed more focus, IMO.

    • Hi Fogs, seems like we’re in agreement about this one. Decent and entertaining but the inconsistencies are just too glaring to overlook. Ha..ha.. yeah, funny how sooo many people defend Nolan, it’s like he’s got voluntary minions to do that for him :D

      I really think if he just took out a few plot points it would’ve been more digestible, though it still doesn’t explain just HOW Bruce could be back so easily to Gotham from that god-knows-where prison! :)

  16. Nice review, Ruth. I rate it 4/5 stars too, but I need to do some rewatch on Batman Begins and perhaps TDKR again if I can. But I agree with you on some sloppy writings there, I noticed the stab did not effect his action.

    I actually thought the pacing was too fast (and you know audience here need subtitles, so it’s quite difficult reading them quickly and at the same time try to make sense it all). I also thought Miranda’s dying act to finally passed away is kind of lame (or cliche/not real).

    But overall, it has some great points!

    • Hi Andina, oh my I can’t imagine trying to read subtitles as you’re watching this movie! Though it might help during the time Bane talks but yeah I’d imagine it be going sooo fast for anyone to read. Oh yeah, I didn’t think Miranda’s dying scene was all that compelling, it seems kind of cliched I agree. So that’s another issue I have w/ this, ahah. I might see it again in a month or so but I don’t know if it’ll change my mind about the movie, unless somehow I just missed certain parts so it wasn’t really a plot hole, but I don’t think that’s the case.

  17. As you read, I loved it! It was a very satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Again for me it may be down to the managed expectation – this was not my must see of the summer (inlike so many others).

    So I kinda came in not sure what to expect and I loved it. The audience also made it for me; it really felt like a community experience.

    As for the Gotham thing, the arrogant NYer in me always associates Gotham with New York anyway so nothing to see there.

    I did question (SPOILER) how he got from the hell hole to Gotham so quickly. I thought he was broke. Anyway, that was so late into the film and I was on such a high my suspended disbelief was in high gear.

    To me it does not matter in the end whether that was real or not. I definitely am of an opinion; but like I said, it was a very satisfying end and left me a happy cinemagoer.

    As for its place in the whole saga? Not sure. I LOVE what critic Mark Kermode said in his review – there is a difference between one’s FAVORITE film in the set versus which one you think is the BEST MADE. (I paraphrase, of course).

    • Hi Iba, oh that’s great that you LOVE this, I enjoyed it too mind you, so I wasn’t knocking it, but I feel that I need to point out the movie as I see it, warts and all, though I know there’ll be people defending ‘em. “…I was on such a high my suspended disbelief was in high gear” I was too but on my way home and the next day I started questioning things that don’t add up and I found more and more of ‘em, so I can’t exactly give it a stellar rating.

      Yes, the Best vs. Favorite always comes to play! For me, my fave is always Batman Begins (despite Katie Holmes!) but I think the best is The Dark Knight.

  18. Awesome review! I didn’t read the spoiler parts because I have yet to see the movie, but I did hear there is a lot of plot holes in this one. I don’t think even if it was very good it would top TDK for me, for one reason – heath Ledger. Joker is simply the best antagonist in Batman and it’s a great shame Nolan couldn’t use him in this one.

    • Thanks Sati. That’s why I hide the spoilery part as I think there’ll be people who hasn’t seen this yet. I think you’re right about The Joker being a big part of what makes TDK so perfect, but there’s also Harvey Dent, so I think after having seen all three now, TDK is the BEST of the three for me.

  19. Yeah, there are SO many set-ups here that I think he just runs out of room and time to properly delve into all the payoffs. There are a lot of interesting ideas that are just not explored as fully was required.

    I love, Ruth, that you loved Hathaway here – and most people seem to be of that opinion – because I really thought her character, with her shifting allegiances, was the most interesting. And while Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave a really good performance……the character was unnecessary. I felt that was a serious problem. His entire presence was built around the Reveal. That was it. Eliminate him and the story doesn’t change fundamentally at all. And I think that shines a light on the fact there are just so many types of viewers Nolan has to appease and, thus, like you say, it’s discombobulating.

    But, I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you and so many others found it as a satisfying conclusion. Honest, I am. And I did enjoy it in quite a few ways. Particularly Hathaway. Who needs an Oscar nom. Which she isn’t going to get.

    • Hi Nick, yeah I think this movie could’ve easily been split into two, now I’m sure lots of the fanboys/girls don’t mind, and neither would WB :)

      I was pleasantly surprised by Anne, I’m not generally a huge fan of hers but hey, fair is fair. She’s GOOD in this one, and there are some emotional moments w/ her that were memorable. Oh I think the Matthew Modine character was unnecessary, but I like John Blake and I think the whole ‘Robin’ thing is intriguing.

      I’m not as enamored w/ this movie as a lot of others do, but like you said, there are plenty to enjoy and I think some performances here do deserve some proper kudos.

  20. Fantastic review! I also have a few problems with the film, but it’s still the best of the trilogy for me. I was able to suspend my disbelief throughout the entire movie, probably because I just accepted that it is a comic-book based film. It’s gritty, sure, but it’s still comic-book fare. Maybe I’m being too soft on Nolan there though.

    Hathaway and Hardy surprised me with just how much they were able to bring to their characters. Hathaway created her own smart and sexy Catwoman, and Hardy was able to give a menacing performance from behind a mask.

    Though the autopilot was fixed, we see Batman flying the craft just a couple of seconds before it explodes. And the stabbing thing bothered me too, which makes me think the end was a dream of Alfred’s or a figment of his imagination. In short, I think Batman perished. But then, who really knows for sure?

    • Thanks Josh. So you think this is the best of the trilogy even w/ the problems you have?? Hmmm, for me, it makes TDK even more compelling as there are practically no plot holes in that one and there’s no silly, one-dimensional character like Foley.

      The more I think about it, I am more convinced that Bruce Wayne lives but he deliberately lets his alter ego Batman perished, at least that’s what he wants people of Gotham to think.

  21. We had, from the first chapter of this saga, deep philosophical discussion about the nature of superheroes. We had emphasis on Bruce Wayne as a man who can be destroyed, here today and gone tomorrow. As a symbol, however, he can create an impact that is bigger than him, that outlasts him… that doesn’t require him to be alive or necessarily present in order to achieve the goal of shaking them out of their apathy. But, from this first chapter, it’s also important to look at the other origins of Bruce Wayne as Batman. He became a vigilante (against the warnings of everyone around him) not solely to help the common good. Bruce Wayne as Batman has NEVER been Clark Kent’s do-gooder Superman. Bruce Wayne, especially in Nolan’s universe, is angry. He’s bitter. He wants sweet revenge, which is constantly contrasted with the concept of justice in the first chapter of Nolan’s saga. Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman in order to save the day; he’s Batman to get his revenge.

  22. a nice review, Ruth. But I can’t find myself to agree with alot of your points. I am glad that you enjoyed the film…and Michael Caine’s acting was some of the best I’ve seen from him in years. I wanted more.

    My issue comes with some of the points you made in the cleverly hid spoiler section. But, I won’t go into them, I did on a few other pages, and it seems that most people did go over some of the stuff here already.

    I really love how Nolan leaves several things up to our imagination. I mean, people still question the reality of Cobb’s world at the end of Inception. LOVE it. He does the same here. Did Bruce Wayne die? Well, yes and no. etc. It’s open for awesome interpretation and debate. I love it.

    Overall, I’m glad you enjoyed the film. A rather fitting conclusion. You’re right. i did like it a lot more than you.

    • It’s ok to disagree, T, I feel that with this movie, a lot of people enjoyed it so much that they don’t mind the flaws. I enjoyed it too, but it’s only fair to point out the shortcomings, no matter how much I respect Nolan and my love for superhero movies.

      I do like the way Nolan leaves things so open-ended, the twist at the end definitely evokes that of Inception. So yeah, a satisfying conclusion, but short of a masterpiece IMO.

  23. With Bane, Nolan has fashioned a villain that’s far different from Heath Ledger’s Joker which was a smart move. While the Joker was far more desirous of watching the world burn, Bane simply wants it to suffer right down to its dying breath. With Tom Hardy, Nolan has found the perfect actor to portray him as he brings to life Bane’s twisted code of ethics and his utter brutality which allows him to batter his helpless opponents with sheer efficiency. Thanks to Hardy, Bane proves to be Batman’s most formidable foe yet.

  24. Pingback: The Dark Knight Rises Review and Musings « The Cinematic Consensus Group

  25. It would have been infinitely more ambiguous if he dies — and I think the film works on a dramatic level, better that way.

    By the way — great images you found there. And the spoiler section: ingenious.

    • Thanks Sam, I just want to protect people who haven’t seen the movie from spoilers, but at the same time I do want those who have to discuss ‘em. So I guess I get to have the cake and eat it too :)

  26. Hi Ruth, finally saw this last night and yours was the first review I had to read. SPOILERS BELOW…

    First of all, great review. I actually loved this movie quite a bit, enough to make it a close second to TDK. That being said, I can understand your reservations. I didn’t notice the music being overly loud, but it did seem that Bane’s dialogue was considerably louder than anyone else. There were a few lines that I had trouble understanding as well.

    Still, I thought he was a terrific villain, and I could just not imagine how Batman and/or Gotham was going to make it out of that mess in one piece.

    I also thought the ending was a bit ambiguous at first, and that Alfred was dreaming of that Florence encounter, but all the signs seem to point to Wayne surviving. As others have stated, the frequent mentions of the autopilot system allude to that being the case.

    My only real qualms came from some weird dialogue exchanges. There was one cop early on that really bugged me for some reason. He was an incredibly minor character and had maybe three lines total, but each one was just forced and unnecessary. I am really nitpicking with that one, but it just felt odd in the scheme of things.

    I’m debating on seeing this again, this time in IMAX. Never done that before, but this was an awesome experience.

    • Hi Eric, yes indeed a close second to TDK but not BETTER than that one IMO. I do like it too, in fact I might see it again in a few weeks. I think they probably make Bane’s voice louder to make up for his mumbling, ahah. Yeah, he is quite a formidable villain, I mean on sheer physicality alone he’s just terrifying.

      Yep, I think Wayne survived. I read the comment from Dirty With Class (Julian) and that confirmed my opinion even more.

      I didn’t remember about the cop, but there was just too much going on to notice every single thing. Btw, if you want to give IMAX a chance, make it this movie, it looks spectacular on that giant screen! :)

  27. ***SPOILERS AHEAD***

    Hi Ruth, watched it last night and liked it but not as much as TDK. I’ll try to see it again later in the week.

    About the spoiler part, I didn’t really notice all those things while watching the movie but now that you mention them, you’re absolutely right!

    About JGL, I do think he is THE Robin, and that he’ll sort of follow in Bruce’s footsteps but I doubt they’ll make a movie (or movies) centered on Robin. I don’t think they’d be bankable.

    I do think Bruce lived and retired. Mainly because Alfred saw him with Selina. Yes, he knew her from the mansion but there was no way he would’ve known there was anything romantic going on between them, right?

    The thing that bugged me the most was the way Miranda/Talia died. That whole bit lacked impact for me because I already knew Miranda was Talia Al Ghul but it was even worse because Marion’s performance near the end was AWFUL. I swear, when she died, i thought she was joking and would say “Gotcha, I’m not dead!”. This is the first time she’s disappointed me.

    I absolutely LOVED the ending, though.

    • Glad you finally saw this Fernando! Nah, I don’t know if I want to see a movie about Robin either, but Batman Beyond has a lot of potential I think, I watched a few episodes of the animated series and I think w/ the right story and cast, it could be a good one.

      Yes, I think the Selina part is the key answer in that scene to indicate that it’s NOT just Alfred’s imagination. Good observation, man, I actually didn’t realize that until someone else mentioned that in the comment. I had thought Bruce lived too, but that piece of info confirmed it more.

      I agree Marion’s performance was awful at the end, that whole dying scene looks so cheesy to me. I usually like her but you’re right, it seems put on.

  28. Pingback: Monday Movies: Fish Story, Being John Malkovich and The Dark Knight Rises « Polychrome Interest

  29. Great review. I watched this for the second time yesterday and i have finally concluded that it is equal to TDK. My review if you are interested, apologies for the plug but it reinforces many of my points.

    http://claratsi.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/superhero-month-review-the-dark-knight-rises-spoiler-free/

    There is little i can fault or would choose to fault in all honesty, perhaps bias but its an excpetional movie in terms of delivering on significant character and real world themes and is very emotional when viewed as a complete arc from begins and batman’s complete story. Nolan clearly decided to complete wayne’s story and it was superbly done so. not many can deliver an epic story and the blockbuster requirements that Nolan can. Bane becomes far more significant on second viewing other than just a brute, and the voice on first viewing was an issue, but i found my ear tuned better second time. and where the story takes gotham is almost medieval and awesome. as you may have guessed, i loved it.

  30. Enjoyed reading your review and quite liked it, although I prefer the previous movie. It didn’t spend enough time on some characters and the romances. Although Bane was menacing the lack of being able to see facial expressions was something I missed. I also imagined the pit to be much darker. Bane called it hell on earth and how he lived in darkness….yet when you see the pit it is pretty light there…plus life down there doesn’t seem too bad at all….

  31. SPOILERS:
    Ok i liked the film but here’s my major beef with the plot. Bane and Thalia al-Ghuls aim was to complete Raz’s work and destroy Gotham and yet they had five months while batman was in the prison, when Miranda Tate had her finger on the button and they never did it!! Why not? Surely the whole giving people hope thing only goes so far? And when it was clear Batman was back and there was going to be war, why the hell didn’t she just do it then!!!!! Can anyone help me on this??

  32. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | LAMBScores: There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Allen, and It’s Going to Get Weird

  33. Pingback: Is The Dark Knight Rises the best film of the year? » Top 10 Films – Film Lists, Reviews, News & Opinion

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