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If you’ve been living under a rock (I almost said “in a cave” but stopped myself) for the past 18 hours, 24-year-old James Holmes dyed his hair red, called himself The Joker and shot up a Colorado midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises after filling it full of homemade tear gas for reasons police are still trying to determine, but are looking more and more like because he’s goddamn crazy and felt like it. 12 people are dead and 59 injured making it the largest theater shooting in U.S. history. (Silver lining: The three-month-old baby is already discharged from the hospital and home safe, questions about what the fuck it was even doing there in the first place aside.) A few hours later, I saw The Dark Knight Rises and walked out alive without narrowly escaping a massacre, so I feel kind of shitty getting ready to complain about The Dark Knight being better on my little titty picture and dick joke site while others could only be so lucky. So my condolences to the friends and families of the victims, and my even deeper condolences because The Onion nailed it and America isn’t going to learn dick from this tragedy. I’d dedicate this review to my fellow Bat-fans lost today, but that would be horribly egotistical and a slap in the face to their memory. I’m just some douche spouting off on the Internet.

Rest in Peace.

WARNING: Spoilers will abound below, but I’m pretty sure I’m not taking that big of a gamble on most of you seeing this thing within the next 72 hours, you little nerdbombers, you.

The Shit That Worked:
– Let me immediately start off by saying Anne Hathaway fucking killed it as Catwoman. There was a ton of hate out there about her being able to nail the role, and she pulled it off in spades. Yes, there will always be a special place in my boner-heart for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman just like there’s a special place in my nerd-heart for the first Tim Burton Batman. Sometimes you just gotta try something new.
– Tom Hardy as Bane. There was no possible way he could match the lightning-in-a-bottle performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker, but he’s pretty fucking hardcore in this thing (Save the out of nowhere crying at the end when he suddenly has a heart of gold and then turns that shit right off.) and, even better, talks like Sean Connery in a Darth Vader mask.
– The first fight between Batman and Bane. Not only is it a worthy homage to its source material, but you just see this thing going south right off the.. bat (I’ll go drown myself in the tub now.) thanks to Tom Hardy’s performance and sheer bulk for this role.

The Shit That Kinda Worked:
– Basically the whole movie in general. It’s a mashing together of The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities where Batman ironically suffers a fate Christopher Nolan set out to avoid in Batman Begins: He’s the weakest character. You really aren’t that invested in Bruce Wayne like you are in Begins or The Dark Knight because he’s essentially going through the motions. “Okay, guess, I’ll come back, fight this Bane douche. Ah, fuck, he’s really strong. My back! Never mind, it’s all better because some guy in a medieval prison touched it, I dunno. And now I’m saving the city because apparently I just had to punch Bane in the mask? And, boom, that’s all done. Hey, Catwoman, let’s go bang in Italy. Roll credits!” Batman never really has any iconic “Batman moments” like driving the Batmobile right the fuck over a cop car, dropping Eric Roberts off a fire escape after punching his way through a strip club, or being behind the door in the interrogation room with The Joker the whole time. A scene by the way, that they basically reused when Batman is pummeling Bane yelling, “Who’s the Trigger Man? Who is it? Where is it?” Because that shit worked out so well the first time. Bruce never has any profound character changes that resonate and is apparently half-Wolverine. “All my bones and cartilage are shit? Ah, well, I’ll just tie a strap around my knee. Hey, look at that!”
– The two big things you thought were going to happen happened. Marion Cotillard was really Talia al Ghul, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt turned out to be Robin and the new Batman at the same time. Although, both happened with admittedly neat little twists.
– Christopher Nolan didn’t want to mention The Joker at all out of respect for Heath Ledger, but the whole movie was about Harvey Dent who.. created himself?

The Shit That Shat:
– A bunch of people died last night.
– This fuckhead said it’s because we don’t let kids pray in school.
– An armed 70-year-old stopped two teenage robbers at an Internet cafe, so clearly that means anyone could’ve done the same thing in a darkened theater with a face full of tear gas and screaming people running for the exits because everyone knows crossfire is a liberal myth.
– Nobody’s supposed to “politicize” this tragedy right now even though right now is the exact fucking time to politicize it. God forbid we have a serious debate in this country about making it harder for people to buy insanely and unnecessarily powerful firearms, particularly the mentally ill, because while you’re waiting a few extra days for your tenth assault rifle, that “nigger socialist president” might show up at your doorstep and force you to not go bankrupt from the outrageous cost of health care and then you can’t refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of secret Muslims or however the saying goes. DON’T TREAD ON ME.
– The hype. Part of this is marketing and fanboy fever (Guilty.), but another part is Nolan who knew it’d be a massive (and ultimately impossible) challenge to make a better film than The Dark Knight yet openly set out to pull it off and claimed he did. Did he break the mold for Batman films and try something unorthodox? Absolutely, for better or worse. Although, I kind of hoped part of that would be going balls to the walls and having Bruce Wayne’s Batman die in battle with Bane which Nolan did tease us with, but I will say I was relieved it wasn’t in some cliche, flying a bomb off into the sunset death you saw coming a mile away.
– Where the hell was Alfred during the last hour and 45 minutes?
– The original plan for this movie was to have Heath Ledger’s Joker return.
– The whole “clean slate” thing. Seriously?
– I want to see what happens with Joseph Gordon-Batman.
– And, last nerd-gripe, I promise, you can’t lay the ground work for Damien and then go, “Oh, by the way, we’re done with these and Warner Bros. is doing a reboot. PEACE.”

It might seem like I’m ragging on The Dark Knight Rises, even though I feel it’s the weakest of the trilogy which is still light years beyond most comic book movies, but I definitely recommend seeing it because there are lot of outside factors that could be affecting my judgment. 1. I could barely sleep last night in anticipation of taking a day off to see a new Batman movie. I was like a kid on Christmas eve. My dad took me to see Burton’s Batman in the theater when I was nine which showed me a whole new world to a character I only knew from a campy 60s show. I’ve been hooked ever since. 2. I woke up and found out about the Colorado massacre, and no joke, I literally sat in the theater the whole time eyeing everyone with suspicion. It’s 70-80 degrees here, and a dude walked in with a jacket, sat down and reached into his pocket and I just about shrieked and pissed myself. So perhaps living in irrational fear for my life might have dampened my enjoyment level because, yes, I’m a gaping pussy.

Now for the big question: Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Avengers? I honestly went into this thing expected it to mop the floor with The Avengers, but now that I’ve seen both, it’s hard to compare the two. Granted, Dark Knight Rises is the better-made, more intelligent film by far and The Avengers is dumb, summer schlock, it’s fun dumb, summer schlock which outside of Catwoman, TDKR was lacking. So, yes, the two are comic book movies by definition, they’re two completely different sub-genres, so you’re back to apples and oranges. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you pull a cop-out.

3.5 out of 5 Bat-nipples.

Photo: Warner Bros.