After 2005’s Batman Begins, 2008’s stellar The Dark Knight, and director Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception, hopes were high that this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises would not only meet but exceed expectations. I’m sorry to say that this is the moment that many a batboy has dreaded. The Dark Knight Rises is a disaster.

For starters, the dialogue sounds like it was written for a fifth grader, a shock considering Nolan and co-writter/brother Jonathan Nolan’s penchant for heady dialogue, the kind that trades in allusions to the post-9/11 world and dabbles in philosophical discussions about the nature of good and evil not usually found in a typical summertime popcorner. But that’s not what we have here.

In The Dark Knight Rises, the dialogue is a stilted mess. Consider this little snippet by this installment’s chief baddy Bane, played by Tom Hardy: “I am Bane and you are at my mercy. I’m not leaving here until I get what I want. Get to work.” Mamet it’s not. Hell, it’s not even Seuss.

This particular gem is uttered during Bane’s takeover of the Gotham City Stock Exchange, a pivotal moment in The Dark Knight Rises that feels rushed and markedly simplistic in its execution, like a dirty joke told by a hyperactive toddler who only has a basic grasp of the English language and the ins and outs of human reproduction. Compounding this pre-school mess is the utterly half-hearted chase scene that ensues and the disappointing ease with which Batman captures Bane, turns him over to the authorities, and saves Gotham. End credits. It all plays out like a five-minute bedtime story that one would read to a young batfan. And there’s a good reason for that. It is.

The Dark Knight Rises: I Am Bane is a children’s book, and you can find it at stores around the country; it’s available online as well. Two other Dark Knight-related tie-ins have also been released, Batman Versus Catwoman and Batman Versus Bane. Neither are exceptional reads or anything, but if you have an uncontrollable urge to know the plot details to The Dark Knight Rises before its July 20 release, then by all means track them down. While none of these books spoil the entire movie, as a whole they give away plenty of significant details. So look away if you can. I know I couldn’t.

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