Michael Douglas and Matt Damon at the Behind the Candelabra party in Cannes (Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
How good is The Dark Knight Rises?
What's 164 minutes and 27 seconds long, inspired by Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities and one week away from you? It's the most eagerly awaited film of the year. Especially now everyone's seen Prometheus.
A few days ago, The Dark Knight Rises screened to 40 to 50 lucky fanboys in the US. Guess what? They lost their minds. Some were "speechless", some were "in tears", everyone gave Christopher Nolan's final Batman blockbuster a "STANDING OVATION" when the credits rolled.
25 Great films coming your way in 2012
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But fanboys, especially the ones with blogs, are an excitable bunch of scamps. So while we wait for critics to give their verdict on the movie - an IMAX screening broke down this week, gah -let's sift through the nerd-drool and see what we can actually learn from the post-screening buzz.
"I will say some fans will find certain aspects controversial," wrote cinemagoer Vince Peluso intriguingly on Facebook, suggesting perhaps that Nolan has deviated from the comic-book Knightfall, where Batman has his most infamous encounter with masked mega-villain Bane.
With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan promised to deliver "a unified statement, a real ending, a true conclusion." And this, apparently, involves an epic 20-minute final battle scene that - unlike the dark, confusing fight scenes in Batman Begins - is lensed in clear, crunching slo-mo that shows off every punishing blow.
"The last 20 minutes with Batman and Bane are some of the finest fight scenes I've ever seen in a superhero movie," buzzed comic-book blog SuperHeroHype's writer 'KnightOfTheFall'. "It's an ending that presents opportunity for thought for sure," added fan Tom McAuliffe, who described the film as a "risky/tough story well told".
Taking place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Nolan's film sees Christian Bale's Batman emerging from retirement to save Gotham from Anne Hathaway's Catwoman and Tom Hardy's Bane. Interestingly, praise for Hardy's hulking genius was actually not quite as rabid as you'd imagine. "I think the Joker is far more iconic than Bane, with more memorable quotes," wrote McAuliffe and 'KnightOfTheFall' agreed that he was "nowhere near as impressive as Joker" but "an excellent choice for a bad guy".
"Christian Bale has reportedly been given the chance to flex his acting skills as much as his muscles..."
What's particularly encouragingly is that everyone seemed to like Hathaway's Catwoman, with viewer Zach Pinucus calling her "funny and tough". But what of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Gotham cop John Blake? Could he really be Robin in disguise? Not according to SuperHeroHype. "JGL is not robin nor does he appear in the suit," claims 'KnightOfTheFall'.
Great to hear that, fresh from his Oscar-winning turn in The Fighter, Christian Bale has reportedly been given the chance to flex his acting skills as much as his muscles in his last ever performance as Batman. According to fanboy theShape, "There's less 'fake Bruce' and more 'real Bruce' in this one compared to TDK, if people get what I'm saying. Bale gets to show his chops more." Worth bearing in mind here that, after the traumatic events of the last film, Bruce Wayne is now the disguise and Batman is now the 'real Bruce'...
One last gulp of good news is that something kind of annoying about The Dark Knight - Batman sounding like he's been gargling broken glass and gravel - has been fixed. "I especially loved his bat voice this time around," wrote SuperHeroHype blogger 'Scoop'.
That, though, is just about all we know for now. A ridiculous, record-threatening box-office seems guaranteed: expect it to squash The Amazing Spider-Man but, without the extra push from 3D, maybe not quite manage to smack The Avengers off its cash mountain.
And, just as with The Return Of The King, could this trilogy-capper even be the one that finally wins Nolan an Oscar? Be back here in one week's time and we'll let you know...
Below: 25 Great films coming your way in 2012