Random Thoughts on The Dark Knight Returns Part I

Based on one of the most critically acclaimed Batman stories of all time, The Dark Knight Returns Part I is the latest in a long line of high-quality animated features from DC Comics. Animating a beloved and respected book like The Dark Knight Returns was a huge risk. No matter what, some comic book fans will have a problem with the adaptation. Fanboys are just wired that way. While it’s not perfect, The Dark Knight Returns Part I is a superior animated movie that succeeds more than it fails. Here are some random thoughts on the latest Bats Blu-ray.

Story: For the most part, Frank Miller’s grim-and-gritty story is intact. This is a dark tale of an over-the-hill Batman that comes out of retirement. The world has changed and he’s unsure if his methods are still effective. The script does a good job at creating a bleak (bleaker?) Gotham City and showing Batman’s vulnerabilities. Of course some liberties were taken in translating it to an animated feature. The tone is all there and some parts of the narrative actually work better. The clips from the newscasts and talk shows are much more vibrant. They felt too static to me in print and are much more effective with voice acting.

Speaking of which, the voice acting is quality and helps bring the story to life. Some fans will have an issue with Robocop Peter Weller playing Batman, simply because he’s not Kevin Conroy. If you can get past that then you’ll enjoy a good portrayal of Batman. The supporting cast is great too. I enjoyed the actors that played Carrie Kelly/Robin, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner Jim Gordon.

As a big fan of the book, I’m happy with the script for The Dark Knight Returns Part I.

Animation: It took a while for me to get used to the movie’s art style. Frank Miller’s pencils and Klaus Janson’s inks gave the book a distinct look. It felt artistically dirty, if that makes any sense. The movie looks a bit too clean and loses the semi-abstract feel of the comics. The lines are too straight and everything feels a bit too bright. It’s technically well done, but very different from the source material. After 20 minutes or so, I got used to the art style and appreciated it, but wasn’t completely sold on it.

On the plus side, the animation does a great job of showing how brutal and intimidating Batman can be. The fight scenes are excellent. You really get a feel of the bone-crushing impact of the punches thrown. You can almost taste the fear villains have for Batman.

The mutants, especially the leader, benefitted from the translation to animation. In the comics, they always looked borderline silly to me. In animated form, they looked more intimidating and less ridiculous.

While the art was good, I wanted something grungier, though I understand that the masses probably prefer the techniques used in the movie.

Value: With a run time of 76 minutes, The Dark Knight Returns Part I is inline with other DC animated features. However, I would have preferred getting the whole thing at once. I understand the economics of it all, but from a storytelling standpoint it would have been more enjoyable as a whole. As it stands, the cliffhanger isn’t that dramatic, though I wonder if newcomers will feel that way. As a fan of the comics, I was all, “Wait…I want the rest of it!” which is both good and bad. I’m looking forward to the next installment, but feel somewhat shortchanged by this one.

Conclusion: The Dark Knight Returns Part I is true to the source material in terms of story and a bit different in terms of art style. I was mostly happy with the movie, putting it up there with my favorite comic-book animated-features, though behind the outstanding Batman: Under the Red Hood. I recommend it, but caution fans of the comics to be prepared for the visual changes.

I know that some of you have watched this movie. Kindly share your thoughts on The Dark Knight Returns Part I in the comments section.

Final Fantasy Dimensions (Not) Review After 54 Hours

So I’ve been meaning to write a proper review of Final Fantasy Dimensions for iOS. The problem is that the game is really long and really engrossing. I just started the fourth and final chapter this morning. My game clock at the end of the third chapter was a shade over 54 hours. I’ve maybe spent seven hours grinding to get certain abilities. Aside from a few spots where the random encounter rate was obnoxious, I’ve loved every minute of Final Fantasy Dimensions. Here’s a (not) review (and lots of screens) of three chapters and 54 hours of the game.

Final Fantasy Dimensions’ story is a straightforward JRPG tale. There’s an evil empire. The world is in peril. It’s up to you and your companions to stop the evil empire and make the world safe. What brings the story to life is the surprisingly fun, diverse, and well-written characters. Sol, for example, is your typical overanxious and youthful hero; unlike other games with overanxious and youthful heroes, Sol’s companions have no problem telling him that he’s an idiot. Alba seems like the sassy support character you’ve adventured with in countless games, but her lines are consistently funny and it’s later revealed that she’s much more than she seems. The characters archetypes are familiar to anyone that’s played several JRPGs, but they’re written in a way that makes them stand out and feel fresh.

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The adventure hops back and forth between two parties of four — the Warriors of Light and the Warriors of Darkness. From a storytelling perspective, it keeps things interesting because there are two distinct, but related, adventures happening at the same time. You get to spend a chunk of time with one crew before adventuring with the other. From a gameplay perspective, each team has jobs that are unique to their party. So even though the core gameplay is the same for both, the powers and abilities exclusive to each side makes their respective battles feel distinct.

Fueling the battles is a slick version of the Final Fantasy job system. You can sculpt any character into any type of warrior you want them to be, though each character has stats that are better suited for particular jobs. There’s just a ton of depth and variety with the job system. You can craft a DPS warrior, a tank, a DPS mage, a support character, and any combination you can think of. You can go with straightforward jobs like warrior, black mage, and white mage. Or you can experiment with more esoteric classes like bard, dancer, and ranger. The ability to equip primary abilities and secondary abilities from other jobs your character has studied gives the game a ton of replay value. Old-school JRPG fans will have a blast playing around with the Final Fantasy Dimensions job system.

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Fusion abilities add an extra twist to the customary job system. These abilities are discovered when a character uses an ability while its partner ability is equipped. For example, a white mage that casts “haste” and is armed with the bard’s “agility song” ability will discover the “hastega” fusion ability. The discovery happens randomly, with the only requirements being that one of the abilities has to be used while the other is equipped. This gameplay mechanic gives each character three layers of abilities: the primary abilities native to their active job, the secondary abilities that are chosen, and fusion abilities that permanently stay with the character once they’re learned. It’s another layer of depth and variety on top of a system that’s already deep and diverse.

So I’m digging the story and characters. I’m absolutely loving the gameplay system. When I wrote about the game in Coffee Talk #515, I mentioned that its music is wonderful. Everything is peachy, right? Not quite. I have some minor problems with Final Fantasy Dimensions. There are some stretches where the random encounter rate is annoying as hell. Sometimes the game won’t let you move for two seconds without triggering a random battle. There were a few occasions when I turned the game off because the random battles were pissing me off. The touchscreen d-pad can also be finicky (I’m playing on a 2012 iPad, btw), leading to imprecise movements. A couple of steps in the wrong direction coupled with an annoyingly high random encounter rate makes for some frustrating times in Final Fantasy Dimensions. That said, these issues are easily overlooked because the game excels in so many areas.

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Final Fantasy Dimensions is an absolutely blissful game for old-school JRPG fans. It’s easily my favorite game of 2012 so far (keep in mind that I’m a total mark for the FF job system). When I’m not completely absorbed by the world of FFD, I find myself thinking about longtime Final Fantasy fans that haven’t enjoyed the last few installments in the series. Final Fantasy Dimensions is perfect for them. It offers many of the qualities that people love about the ’90s FF games. Even if the final chapter is utter crap (and I’m positive it won’t be), the 54 hours and three chapters I’ve played of Final Fantasy Dimensions have been delightful. To borrow a line from those old NBA commercials — I love this game!

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What I Learned From HBO’s The Newsroom

Season one of The Newsroom ended last night and I was left satisfied with Aaron Sorkin’s HBO show. Many critics have slammed the show, while many viewers praised it to the heavens. Both sides have their points, but funnily enough those points are being taken to extremes in a way that’s reminiscent of the political climate the show is supposed to be a commentary on. Anyway, here are some random thoughts on The Newsroom. If you’ve watched the show, I’d love to hear your take too.

I Love Sorkin’s Writing: Yes, I know his characters speak in an unrealistic way, but I’m just a fan of condensed dialogue with wit and heart. I love that style and Sorkin is arguably the most commercially successful writer that employs it. It’s the same reason I love Kevin Smith’s writing. To me, they’re two sides of the same coin. One side is unapologetically liberal, while the other is stoned and lewd, but they’re both witty and have heart. You know, I wish I had a coin like that.

Lisa Munn Was Good: While it’s still unbelievable that she’s an economics godess with dual-wielding PhDs, I came to enjoy Olivia Munn’s character. Her awkward charm grew on me. She was fun. Don’t get me wrong — I will still exploit her for traffic and am not a fan of her as a person, but I completely admit that I came to enjoy her performance as Sloan Sabbith.

Sorkin’s Women Are Silly But the Men Are Sillier: I actually argued this a bit with a friend last night. He, and many others, feels that Sorkin writes female characters that are flawed and idiotic. I feel that most of the characters on the show are flawed and idiotic. The women are just honest about it, while the men cover it up with bullsh*t. For all of Will’s bravado and gruffness, he’s a romantic softie that’s overly sensitive. Don comes off as a dick, but he’s also insecure and sensitive. If anything, I preferred that the women were being real. Heart on sleeve baby!!! (You have to picture me saying that the way Chris Jericho says, “Come on baby!!!”)

Retroscopic News is Easy: Many fans of the show point to it as a sterling example of everything that’s wrong with news reporting in America today. There’s a point to that, for sure, but The Newsroom makes reporting the news “right” seem much easier than it actually is. While the fictitious News Night has its share of struggles, there are times when they look like the most brilliant newsmen and newswomen that ever existed. It’s easy to like like a genius on a fictional show that uses last year’s news as plot devices. Anyone can look good through the retroscope. Doing it in real-time is a whole other matter. Some people forget this this is fiction. It’s like when all the kids in the neighborhood saw Gleaming the Cube and became experts on skateboarding. Really, it’s exactly like that.

The Show is Extremely Left Wing: I’m honestly shocked by Newsroom fans that think the show is anything but ultra-liberal. They point to Will’s character being a republican that’s dissatisfied with the tea party and trying to restore balance to The Force the GOP. Uh-huh. I have zero problems with a fictional show being ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative, but let’s not pretend The Newsroom is something it’s not. Sorkin is on the extreme left, but his writing has charmed (fooled?) some people into thinking this show is only slightly left because the protagonist is a conservative. That’s just nonsense. It’s like believing Fox News or MSNBC reports the “proper” version of the news. That kind of stuff can be dangerous, especially in an election year.

Season Two Will Kick Ass: Now that the actors have had a season to get into their characters, I’m sure they’ll be even better in season two. More importantly, the show will have the benefit of an election to cover. It’s similar to how The Daily ShowThe Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live are at their best running up to an election. I can’t wait to see how Sorkin’s team covers the 2012 election through the retroscope. It’ll be fun, witty, and full of heart.

Also, I hope Jim and Maggie stop being weenies and finally get together. Yes, I love to the soap-opera aspects of The Newsroom too.

Random Thoughts on WWE SummerSlam 2012

Last night I was at The Staples Center for WWE SummerSlam 2012. It was a strong show live, but I’m not sure how it came across to fans watching via PPV. What stood out for me was watching Antonio Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli), Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), and CM Punk (Phil). I loved watching these guys wrestle in Ring of Honor. It’s awesome that they’ve gone from performing in bingo halls and high school gymnasiums to wrestling in huge arenas. Here are some random match-by-match thoughts (not a review!) on SummerSlam 2012.

Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella: This dark match was free on TV, YouTube, and Facebook. Before the match started, I asked my friend Jose, “Why is this the dark match? We’re darker than both of these guys!” Seriously though, I found it funny that two European wrestlers were fighting for the U.S. Championship. I found it awesome that Cesaro won. It was a decent match that had Santino deliver his comedy spots and Cesaro get in a few solid moves (though not nearly enough “Very European” uppercuts).

Although he hasn’t gotten to show how incredible he is in the ring on WWE TV, this could be the start of an awesome run for Cesaro. Remember, Bryan Danielson wasn’t given enough time to show off his formidable arsenal on WWE TV for like 18 months. Hopefully things move faster for Cesaro. Dude is very tall, very European, and an outstanding wrestler. Signs point to Cesaro and Christian feuding for the U.S. Championship. The matches should be awesome since both guys are strong workers, but it’s funny Cesaro went from wrestling an Italian to wrestling a Canadian for the U.S. strap.

[Jose and I were trying to work the old Claudio Castagnoli gimmick, shouting, “Heeeeeyyyyyy!!!” for much of Cesaro’s offense. It was funny to approximately five people in the audience.]

Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler: The PPV started off with a great match from two great wrestlers. Jericho can work with anyone. Ziggler has always been fantastic at selling and his offense has gotten much smoother over the last few years. The highlight was Ziggler attempting a Jericho-style pin by putting his foot on Jericho, flexing, and yelling, “Come on baby!!!” A lot of people were surprised that Jericho got the win considering that he’s set to tour with Fozzy shortly. For me, it made sense because he hasn’t won much of anything in his latest WWE run. Dolph will get his eventually, but it was important to give Jericho some credibility considering how much he has lost in 2012.

Since this was the first PPV match, many people expected Ziggler to cash in his “Money in the Bank” suitcase later on in the show. It was a bit disappointing that he didn’t. Storyline-wise, he’s demanding a rematch. It looks like he’ll be sending Jericho on the road with a loss before moving onto his World Heavyweight Championship challenge.

[Naturally, Jose and I spent a large portion of the match screaming, “Ask him!!!” We do that for every match, but it’s especially meaningful during Jericho matches. Both of us have this t-shirt too. For Ziggler, we tried to bring back his old Spirit Squad gimmick by shouting, “Nicky!!!”]

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane: The crowd was hot for this match, with plenty of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” and “No! No! No!” chants. It’s awesome that Danielson is getting over like this, but I fear that his comedy act will restrict him to mid-card status. Things started slowly, with Danielson trying to use distance to keep away from the larger Kane. There were some good near-falls and near-submissions too. I’m happy that Danielson got the rub, but I’m kind of annoyed that it looks like these two will have a few more matches. Most of you know that I’m a big Danielson mark. I want to see him move onto bigger and better things. For my money, he’s the best pure wrestler in WWE today.

[Jose kept using “Shades of (insert wrestler here)” lines. When Danielson went for a flying head butt, Jose said, “Shades of Chris Benoit!!!” Things got quiet in the suite, so I asked, “What? Too soon?!?”]

The Miz vs. Raymond Stereo Rey Mysterio: The crowd was surprisingly flat for this match. I was expecting a bigger reaction since Rey hasn’t been back that long and he’s from SoCal. It was a good match, but it felt more like a SmackDown main event rather than a PPV match. Rey wore a Batman mask…but jobbed like King Tut.

[G4tv Blair Herter was in our suite. He’s pals with The Miz from those Real World / Road Rules Challenge shows. Remember when Miz had those “Hello, I’m Awesome” t-shirts that looked like those stickers you write your name on? Blair had a similar business card…like in 2004. I’m convinced that The Miz stole this idea from Blair.]

Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio: Initially, the crowd was flat for this match, but things picked up in the second half. Personally, I couldn’t get into it. This program should have been over a month ago. More importantly, I just don’t like Sheamus as a face. Yeah, I know he’s doing all those anti-bullying commercials, but he’s much better as a bully. Besides, he stole Del Rio’s car. That’s something a bully would do. The match ended with Sheamus pinning Del Rio while the latter’s foot was on the rope. Sheamus quickly got the foot off the rope so the referee couldn’t see it. That’s more bully-like behavior! Unfortunately, it looks like this program will continue until Ziggler is ready for his shot. I know that Sheamus is pals with Triple H in real life, but I much rather have Ziggler as the World Heavyweight Champion.

[When Sheamus wrestles, Jose and I abuse the world “fella”. We yell things like, “He punched him right in the fella!”, “Oh, a kick to the fella box!”, and, “He’s trying to use the fella-nator!”. When you say those things with a bad Irish accent, it’s hilarious.]

Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. The Prime Time Players: The WWE doesn’t care about tag teams anymore and has conditioned its fans to not care about tag teams, ergo nobody really cared about this match.

[The best thing about R-Truth matches is making fun of his “What’s Up?!?” song. We would randomly rap to the waiters in the suite, “People getting plates, what’s up?!? When you’re clearing our cups, you say what’s up? What’s up?!? What’s up?!?” You can use this stupid song in countless situations.]

CM Punk vs. John Cena vs. The Big Show: The right guy won the match. Cena has gotten to the point where he doesn’t need belts to get over. It would be terrible if Show had the strap. Punk benefits from having the belt way more than the other two. Some dirt sheets are hating on this match, but I thought it was well done. All three did a great job at playing up the “Triple Threat” angle. What really impressed me was that Show worked the entire match. Most triple threats have one wrestler getting tossed out of the ring for a rest period, changing the action to one-on-one for a bit. Cena and Punk had their rest periods. Show — clearly the wrestler with the worst cardio out of the three — never got a chance to rest and did a great job for a long period of time. It’s not something most fans would notice or care about, but it made me respect Show more as a worker.

[Punk is the coverboy for WWE 13. It would have been…awkward if he lost during a THQ-sponsored weekend. During the press event for the game, there were gift bags with either Sheamus or Cena stuffed toys. All the cool kids took the Sheamus bags…because Cena sucks.]

Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H: The dirt sheets are also hating on this match, but it was very good live. It felt intense (until the end) and the storytelling was good. Lesnar kept working Hunter’s arm, while Triple H kept attacking Lesnar’s midsection (remember, he had diverticulitis). I liked this match…except for the placement. The WWE Championship match should have closed the show. The crowd would have went home happy with Punk’s win. Instead, Triple H’s ego demanded that he was the last thing the crowd saw. It was just strange and awkward to have Hunter apologizing while the crowd chanted, “You tapped out!” He also looks like a dweeb for getting his arm broken twice in one year by Lesnar. As for Brock, it was important for him to get the win. Losing to Cena really cut into his “monster” persona. If the Fruity Pebbles guy can beat a supposed MMA badass…it just looks bad.

[Jose made me spit out my drink when Triple H approached a little boy in the audience to say he was sorry. In a gruff Hunter voice, Jose said, “I’m sorry for tapping out little boy.” The Maker’s Mark shot out of my mouth. The match also had plenty of, “Kick him in the intestine!” and, “Punch him in the colon!” chants from Jose and me when Hunter was on offense.]

Anyway, those are my random thoughts on SummerSlam 2012. Let me know what you thought of the results and the show when you have a chance (please)!

Razer BlackShark Review (Video)

Kindly check out this video review of the Razer BlackShark Battlefield 3 gaming headset. This baby features enhanced bass response and a unique aviator style. As RPadholic Iceman pointed out, the BlackShark looks very similar to David Clark headsets used by many helicopter pilots. Some of you will remember this headset from this E3 2012 Razer booth tour. You can see the full specs here.

Overall, I loved the BlackShark’s looks and was impressed by its comfort level. However, there could be some audio issues depending on if you use your headset for certain genres of music and certain types of movies. Also, the price for this stereo headset is up there with competing 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound models.

Check out the review and let me know what you think of the Razer BlackShark (please!).

The Newsroom Episode 6 “Bullies”: Realism At Last!

Review: Realism finally arrives on The Newsroom. In tonight’s episode (“Bullies“), Olivia Munn’s Sloan Sabbith makes a tragic on-air mistake, earning the scorn of viewers, producers, and executives. This is the role she was born for! I kid, I kid. Seriously though, I’m starting to enjoy her character. She’s been getting a lot of screen time in the last two episodes and, as much as it pains me to admit this, she’s doing well.

It was nice to see David Krumholtz playing Will’s psychiatrist (those are the ones that can prescribe drugs, I believe). I enjoyed his performance in Sidewalks of New York and I have to support actors from Queens. Terry Crews was fun as Will’s unwanted bodyguard. I’ve been waiting for this guy to break out. He’s big, he’s great at action, and he’s funny. He caught my eye in The Longest Yard and I’ve been waiting for him to become a star. It’s great that an already star-studded cast (along with Olivia Munn) is getting fantastic complementary performances from minor characters.

The real-world news in this episode was the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. It seemed like an afterthought in relation to Will’s therapy session and his death threat. It’s kind of nuts that Aaron Sorkin can make a nuclear disaster seem secondary to personal shortcomings and interoffice drama. However, a Japanese story gave Sloan time to shine and to established the fact that she’s fluent in Japanese (in addition to having two PhDs). To be fair, she (Olivia, not Sloan) was raised in Tokyo and studied Japanese in school. Realism!

Sam Waterston continues to knock it out of the park as Charlie Skinner. He has another episode-stealing scene in “Bullies”. I’m pretty sure he’s done that for four of the six shows that have aired.

Oh yeah, Don is finally vocalizing his excruciatingly slow realization that Maggie might be into Jim. You’ve had almost a year to figure this out buddy. Get there.

Overall, I enjoyed “Bullies”, but not nearly as much as last week’s “Amen” episode. People that love the show will continue to love it, but this episode isn’t going to change the minds of the The Newsroom’s many detractors. If anything, it’ll give them more mud to sling.

Random Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises (Batman)

Thanks to a bunch of cats called The Avengers, my expectations were lowered for The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s previous Batman movies, but I’ve also had several issues with the way the director has strayed from the comics. With lowered expectations and a love for comic-book purity in mind, I was blown away by The Dark Knight Rises. It’s not as much fun as The Avengers and it’s certainly more about Nolan’s interpretation of Batman than the comic books, but it’s a great superhero movie that wraps up this Batman trilogy nicely. Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on The Dark Knight Rises. (Spoiler warning!)

Bane: Let’s get the bad out of the way first — Bane’s voice sucked. He sounded like Goldmember’s serious younger brother. I love the bad-ass South American character in the comics that’s driven by hate and powered by performance-enhancing drugs (this also describes most MLB players from 1995-2003). This movie’s Bane is very different. There were some aspects of this Bane that I liked. His fight scenes were fierce and he was the guy making things happen throughout the movie. I didn’t like that his mask pumped his body full of painkillers instead of performance enhancers. I also didn’t like the big reveal that he ultimately wasn’t the baddie behind all the machinations. Bane deserves his own stage. This version of Bane was a melange of coolness and annoyances.

Catwoman: Anne Hathaway was perfect as Catwoman. This is the Catwoman that I love in the comics — sultry, powerful, vulnerable, and morally scattered. Hathaway knocked it out of the park. If you like the version of Catwoman made popular by Devin Grayson and currently penned by Judd Winnick then you’ll love Hathaway’s Catwoman. To be completely honest, I also enjoyed that she spent a chunk of the movie riding a motorcycle that required her to stick her ass in the air. There were a lot of people that panned this casting choice going into the film. Many of them will owe Anne Hathaway an apology.

Full Circle: I really enjoyed how the movie used elements of the first two films and wrapped them up. Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins live on in Talia al Ghul and Bane. The truth of Harvey Dent’s inglorious fall is revealed to Gotham. Scarecrow shows up…to be cool and creepy. Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul shows up in a hallucination (or Qui-Gon Jin was using the Force in the wrong movie). The movie ties everything together nicely and works splendidly as a finale.

Surprises: I had no idea that was Matthew Modine playing Deputy Commissioner Foley. Dude got old. In my head, I still see the young kid in Vision Quest. I also didn’t recognize Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Garcia. I think it’s hilarious that the guy that played Bat Manuel was in the last two Batman movies. Bwahahahahahaha!!!

Michael Caine: He was awesome, as expected, but he was also a bit of distraction for me. Since Bane sounded like Goldmember, I kept waiting for him to have a scene with Alfred Pennyworth and address him as “Aushtin Powas Faja”.

Batman: Christian Bale was pretty much the same. He was great at “acting” as the flippant Bruce Wayne. His Batman voice was over-the-top. He brought more physicality to Batman than any other actor that has played the character. After two movies, people have already made up their minds about Bale’s Batman. The third movie isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion. Personally, I like him as Batman, but agree that his voice can cross the line from intimidating to ridiculous.

Catwoman: Let’s take a moment to look at her again. Anne Hathaway is stunning.

Fernet: I love that Fernet Branca played a part in one of Alfred’s big scenes. It’s an under-appreciated digestif in America.

Conclusion: If you look at Nolan’s Batman world on its own then you’ll think that The Dark Knight Rises is an undeniably great superhero movie. The storytelling is fantastic and most of the performance are strong. This 165-minute film moves at a brisk pace thanks to some slick action and clever directing. Staunch comic-book purists will have problems with the way some of the characters were rewritten and Nolan’s interpretation of these characters, which is a shame because they’re missing out on enjoying a perfectly fine film by being overly stringent. While I had more fun with The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises is a better movie on several levels — directing, cinematography, acting, score, etc. As a summer blockbuster, Marvel’s movie wins. As a film, The Dark Knight Rises is superior.