23 Reasons To Love The Dark Knight Rises & 1 Not To [Review]

Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

To no one’s surprise The Dark Knight Rises was good. More than that, it was great. It wrapped up the trilogy in probably the best way possible while leaving the door open for future possibilities. So for my review (in no particular order): 23 reasons to love it, 1 reason not to.

There’s probably more if I really thought about it but 23 is no short order. Plus, there’s one thing that’ll probably grind some gears.

As always, spoilers aplenty.

John Blake In The Dark Knight Rises

John Blake

There are a lot of choices Chris Nolan has made with his Batman films that make them stick out, one of the most interesting is his tendency to have the title character share the screen more than you’d think. While Batman Begins is probably the biggest exception of the three Sergent James Gordon is that character who touches Batman and just about every other character and event, an intentional third wheel that keeps all the ends tied together. It worked. We see this in Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, which REALLY worked, and we see it here with police officer John Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

He was that intentional third wheel, touching just about every character, every event, carrying the plot, and connecting all the dots. I mean, one could make an argument that he plays just as big of a role as Batman. And he was great. His own story was interesting, he weaved into the plot organically, never felt forced, and Gordon-Levitt knocked it out of the park.

I look back at the three movies and aside from the obvious (the guy dressed like a bat in an awesome suit with an awesome car kicking all kinds of butt) and James Gordon helped make the first movie, Harvey Dent helped make the second one, and John Blake definitely helped to make this finale.

John Blake wasn’t Robin

So many rumors that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character was going to end up being Robin. And as much as the fanboy in me would have kinda enjoyed seeing Nolan’s interpretation I’m glad it didn’t happen. I mean, given the story it would have been a bit (ok, more than just a bit) much for good-ol-police-officer-off-the-streets to be trained and suited up as Bat’s sidekick. Not to mention that’s kinda what Catwoman was (kinda), and proof that two at once would have been too much is probably in how great Batman and Catwoman ended up working out together as a team.

John Blake was Robin

Well, his name was “Robin” Blake.

I knew it. And so did everyone else. If he wasn’t going to put on the yellow cape John Blake, the random guy all the sudden taking up half the time in the trailers, wasn’t going to just be the random guy all the sudden taking up half the time in the trailers. In the end “Robin” Blake is left knowing Bruce’s secret, directions to the cave, and Wayne Manor. Oh, and he quit being a cop. But still wants to help Gotham. I guess were left to our own reasoning but the set up is pretty obvious, John Blake was never going to be Robin, he was going to be Batman.

Pretty cool.

Talia Al Ghul In Dark Knight Rises

Marion Cotillard was Talia Al Ghul

It probably doesn’t count that I called this considering how unbelievablly obvious it was. If the getting-pretty-big-and-was-just-featued-in-your-most-recent-film foreign actress is seen everywhere online standing on top of camo tumblers in clothes that someone from a foreign land would wear it’s a safe bet she’s not the minor Wayne board member you hope we buy into.

It was actually Talia who climbed out of the prison

It’s turning into a classic move of Nolan’s – “So your really smart and figured out one of the twists, good for you, but did you see THIS coming?!” I didn’t see Rachel dying, didn’t see Harvey Dent dying, and I didn’t see that Talia was actually the kid who climbed out of the prison pit. Excellent twist that made the reveal refreshing. I doubt anyone ever fully trusted Marion Cotillard’s character but the twist was sweet and her ending was poetic (the truck falling down the hole seemed very similar to Ra’s tram falling off the tracks).

Well played.

Bane In The Dark Knight Rises


Bane was awesome, what more can I say? He was huge, he was oddly calm, still, and reserved at times, he was scary and mysterious, and was a completely different type of villain than the Joker while still being pure evil. Tom Hardy absolutely killed it. I think the Talia revelation at the end kinda weakened him a little bit (sooo he’s not crazy smart because someone else planned it all out? He’s just kind the muscle?) but he had already been set up so well with the story and Tom Hardy’s acting that it didn’t take away from anything.

Just like the Joker, if I had ever met Bane in real life (or heck, Tom Hardy dressed up and pretending to be Bane) I would legitimately be scared out of my skull.

Bane Breaking Batmans Back

Bane broke Batman, specifically in the back region

The mid-movie showdown between Bane and Batman might go down as one of my favorite fight scenes ever. Seriously. Here’s a chance to use camera tricks, music, and computer graphics to have the comic book battle of the century and really pull out all the stops – a real Yoda vs. Palpatine opportunity –  and instead we watch, with no music or added effects, a terrorist beat the living crap out of Batman.

And in a split second Bane picked Batman up and broke his back over his knee.

It wasn’t as epic as I had expected, or as I’d been imaging it every since I first read Knightfall, and I was honestly a little let down when watching it for the the first time, but I appreciate the rawness of it now having had time to reflect on it. This is what a Bane vs. Batman battle would have looked like, and it was epic.

Bane’s voice

Bane’s voice is still getting a lot of heat, and to be fair it was hard to understand and I’m not sure I understood everything he said but after having thought about it for awhile, I actually really appreciated it. It was so different and overbearing that it had to of been intentional, I mean these are experts, they can make it sound right if they want to. Yes, it’s unrealistic that Bane is heard so clearly with a sack over his head or in a plane in midair that just exploded but every time he spoke his voice was the loudest most commanding noise and it gave the character extra size for me, he seemed bigger and scarier than he actually was. I even thought to myself, I wonder if he’s supposed to sound this crazy loud and scary to the other characters in the movie or if this is for us? To scare and intimidate us the actual audience members.

For the audible effect it had on me in the theater I actually thought it was pretty cool.

Catoman In Dark Knight Rises


I’ll be honest, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman made me nervous. Nervous that this big of a name usually demands more screen time and I didn’t want to get a Catwoman at the risk of losing any Batman or Bane. This of course was foolishness on my part; Chris Nolan has casted nothing but incredible actors in these films and he did it again in casting Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She was great. Not only did she nail Catwoman but she nailed Selina Kyle. She played the master thief who can’t suppress the fun she has toying with Batman. Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of one liners and she seemed to get the most of them but in the end she killed it. And maybe, just maybe will help us forget the last interpretation.

“What last interpretation?”


Catwoman On The Bat-Pod In Dark Knight Rises

Catwoman riding the Batpod

Um…I’m actually going to leave that one alone…

Holly Robinson In Dark Knight Rises

Holly Robinson

Yeah, Holly Robinson, the little girl prostitute living with Selina Kyle from Batman: Year One was in this movie! And not just as a quick cameo either. The addition wasn’t lost at all on me and was a layer of depth I didn’t expect (which had me wondering, was Selina Kyle a prostitute?). It wasn’t forced at all, a protective ‘hard knock life’ girl living with Selina made sense in the movie and made fans of the books smile I’m sure.

Scarecrow In Dark Knight Rises

Scarecrow’s cameo

It’s not uncommon at all for villains or other character to make quick cameo’s in the comics, especially in situations where the villains are running around everywhere. And seeing the Scarecrow set up shop as the judge in the courtrooms with his suit all tattered up on that big pile of wreckage was one of the most comic book-y moments from the entire series while not being obviously comic book-y.

The Bat In Dark Knight Rises

“The Bat”

I think it goes without saying that the next person in charge of a Batman film has their work cut out for them coming up with vehicles that will beat the ones we’ve seen in this trilogy, and the icing on this cake was of course “The Bat.” It was the biggest stretch of all the vehicles and it breaks my geek heart a little to think that it doesn’t actually exist but it was cool anyways. I mean we get Batman flying around Gotham in a half-helicopter/half-jet Batwing, who doesn’t love that?

Camo Tumblers In Dark Knight Rises

Camo Tumblers

Should I ever become a billionaire (by using the lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) I’ll have a tough decision choosing between black or camo. Modified tumblers in camo – too freaking cool.

More of the Batpod

I don’t know what it is but every time I see that Bat-Pod do the wheel-flip thingy with the tires I turn 10 again and get all giddy. It’s too bad we didn’t see the wall-flip but the wheel-flip thingy done two or three times more than makes up for it.

IMAX Camera On The Set Of Dark Knight Rises


I cannot recommenced seeing these movies in IMAX enough. These films were made for IMAX and missing out on the impressiveness of the format is a shame. It’s not available to everyone and the price difference is more than a buck or two so I understand it’s limitations or tangible shortcomings but the fullness of this movie is only completely seen on an IMAX screen and it was worth every penny for me.

James Gordon In Dark Knight Rises


At this point they’re isn’t too much to say about Gary Oldman’s Gordon that isn’t already known, his skill as an actor seem to be on their own planet and as a character hes the perfect string that connects the unreality of Batman and the reality of Gotham and it’s problems.

This guy might be the most underrated element to all these films that made them so great.

Ra’s Al Ghul & The League Of Shadows

Tying back to Batman Begins through Ra’s Al Ghul and the League Of Shadowns was about as perfect of way to web these movies together and end them as anyone could have constructed. And the icing on the cake is getting to see young Ra’s Al Ghul and the hints of his immortality. I wanted to see the Lazarus Pit and witness Ra’s Al Ghul using it but it’s absence from the film was probably necessary as there was a lot going on already and there were enough hints to Ra’s past to satisfy the fan in me.

And I was reminded again of how great an idea it was to use the League of Shadows in these films, with the scale and scope Chris Nolan was going for it was perfect to use an enemy that is older and bigger than Batman himself.

Anarchy In Dark Knight Rises

Anarchy/No Mans Land

The scale of this movie was incredible. An entire city on lock down for an extension of months being run by a terrorist, albeit impossible probably, was more than just an interesting interpretation from the movie makers but a sort of human experiment. Similar to the boat scene in The Dark Knight the morals and human psyche is acted out in front of us and Chris Nolan seems to never disappoint in those situations.

The scene of the police offers storming the terrorist was especially gripping. You know it’s a movie, you know Bane and his army aren’t real but it was so well done that you can’t help but get lost in the moment.

The Music Of Dark Knight Rises

The Music

I love movie scores/soundtracks and anyone who shares that passion can attest to how great Hans Zimmer’s work has been for these films; like all good trilogy soundtracks each has it’s own uniqueness while combining themes from all three. The Dark Knight Rises especially ventured into musical choices that made it stand out both when I’m listening to in my headphones and cues I noticed during the film. On it’s own it’s stands up and as a whole it fits perfectly.

Does Batman Die In Dark Knight Rises

Batman Died

As I sat in the theater watching Batman tow the nuclear bomb off into the ocean I thought, “Yah know what, this feels right.” In this trilogy Bruce really has been a character of tragedy;  his parents die, his mentor turns out to be a terrorist, his girlfriend dies, Harvey Dent the “White Knight” goes sour and dies, Alfred leaves him, he gets humiliated and broken (literally), and at the end his one-night stand ends up being a master terrorist related to his former mentor. As good as he is at playing the millionaire playboy Bruce has been chased by demons from the very start of this series.

And one of those demons has been sacrifice, which he experienced as a child, was willing to make at the end of The Dark Knight (but it ended up not being enough), and when he was the most needed in this film he stepped up again to sacrifice, righting all the wrong of his life and fulfilling his destiny.

So I was ok with him dying. He was the only one who could save Gotham and making the descision without any hesitation seemed fitting.

He’s a true hero.

Batman Didn’t Die

But he’s Batman.

And Batman is a superhero. So of course he didn’t die.

As Batman is found of doing he figured out the way no one else had thought of; he could be the hero, right all the wrongs, save Gotham, and start fresh all at the same time. Batman’s finale was set up so well that I think the audience would have been just fine with his riding off into the sunset ending, but finding out that he was still alive and had beaten all the odds was the ultimate fist pump to everyone who’s loved the character so much and was excited to see him win again. It’s hope for the character of Bruce, hope for the character of Batman as the mantle was passed on, and hope for the franchise – whatever it’s next incarnation looks like.

At the end of The Dark Knight I kept waiting for Harvey Dent to twitch or start coughing after he fell at the end, I thought, “No. They didn’t really kill him.” But they did. And it was awesome.

And here with Batman I thought, “Wow. They really killed him.” Awesome.

Then, “No! They didn’t really kill him!!” Awesome!!

It’s a classic trope that the hero miraculously lives at the end done extremely well.

Inceptoin In Dark Knight Rises

Wait, maybe Batman did die

Now, this is a stretch I know but stick with me, in the final moments of the film Alfred see’s Bruce and Selina in the French cafe he alluded to earlier and it’s here where we find out Bruce is alive and well. We fist pump and the movie is over.

But…was he really there?

I mean, did Bruce really somehow survive the nuclear bomb (which we knew from earlier had a six mile radius), and if he did could he really swim to shore? Did he really shack up with Selina Kyle the thief he briefly met who robbed him and broke his rule about guns? Alfred never said the name of the cafe, so is it just pure coincidence that Bruce, Selina, and Alfred were all at the same cafe from all the cafes in France at the same time?

Am I suggesting that Alfred imagined it? Or that Chris Nolan pulled an Inception? Probably not; despite it seeming incredible unlikely that this would actually happen it seems even more unlikely that this would be the final “gotcha.”

But it’s a nice little “anything’s possible” kinda nod.

1 Reason Not To Like It: The Nitpicky Stuff

  • Why was Batman so beat up at the start here, seemed fine at the end of The Dark Knight.
  • You really want me to believe Batman’s broken back was healed by another man punching the vertebra back into place (was really hoping for a quick Thomas Elliot cameo by the way)?
  • There’s no way the government would let a terrorist rule a city like that for months on end.
  • Was the League of Shadows really going to nuke themselves? Thousands of years and they’re just going to sacrifice themselves along with Gotham?
  • How did Bane get Batman to the prison all the way across the world so quickly?
  • How did Batman get back to Gotham all the way across the world so quickly?
  • People of Gotham: the nuke went off over the ocean, your saved. For now. Cancer is coming.
  • Batman’s flaming bat-symbol; very cool, but with just hours away from a nuke exploding he spends the time setting that up?
  • Alfred really just leaves?
  • Bane’s mask, which keeps him alive (thought this was cool) starts breaking as Batman beats him up and Talia just plugs it all back in?

Of Nolan’s three Batman films this one seemed to be the most plagued with nitpicky things that even during the movie had my wondering. By NO MEANS did ANY of these take me away from the greatness that was this movie but you can’t escape some of the lack in logic.

And ultimately it’s a superhero comic book movie, so most logic goes out the window, which is why I lumped these nitpicky items into one category – because they’re just that, nitpicky. And anyone who can’t enjoy this movie because of the nitpicky things needs to get over the nitpicky things.

The movie was phenomenal. Hands down a fitting edition and finale to one of the finest comic book movie trilogies ever. What once was a franchise thought to be permanently dead wasn’t just resurrected but inspired the life of movies outside of itself. The scale of the movie was as epic as I had hoped for, the movie fan and comic fan in me left giddy, and like all good endings it was both satisfying and hopeful.

Please Warner Bros. keep this up.


Pros Cons
Everything. Even Bane’s voice. Minor nitpicky things

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  1. Dan Mirsky says:

    Batman didn’t have to swim to shore. Remember when Lucious Fox was having engineers look at “the bat” and they figured out Bruce Wayne had put in an autopilot months ago? I did. And Bruce Wayne didn’t just so happen to be in Italy. Remember how Alfred told him he took a vacation there each year? Bruce purposely went their when he knew alfred was there.

    • Sal says:

      Wow. I never thought about any of those two things. I saw those two parts as flaws in the film, but now the it’s pretty much perfect.

      • Ian says:

        And why would Alfred imagine Wayne with Selina at the café? For him, she’s just that chick who stole the pearl niclace :)

      • Dan Mirsky says:

        Remember when Alfred suggested Selina Kyle and Bruce date while they were figuring out who she was? Plenty of reason to imagine her at the cafe.

    • Grizzleybruin says:

      Small disagreement. . . .there was definitely SOME swimming involved on Bat’s part. If you watch him flying off with the bomb, there’s a shot of him clearly in the cockpit. SO he definitely flew out with a certain distance, then set it on autopilot and jumped out. How did he swim even that distance with all that gear .. . . .same way Iron Man traveled out into the furthest reaches of space and yet managed to involuntary fall back to earth through the portal. ;-)

      • Dan Mirsky says:

        I agree that there was some swimming on Batman’s part, but he could have removed his cape or other parts of his suit while in the air before hitting the water.

  2. First off, let me say that I too loved the movie, and that i agree 100% with all your reasons why, so I don’t need to reiterate them.

    My major problem with the film is that the main plot is pretty much a mash-up of the first two films. Namely, that someone uses a WayneTech device to threaten Gotham. It’s even the daughter of the same guy from last time. The choice Bane gives Gotham’s citizens recalls Joker and the people on the ferries. We already saw the criminals in Arkham/Blackgate busted out in the first film.

    This was more like “The Dark Knight’s Greatest Hits.” A good metaphor is that parts of the film felt like leftovers. Really good leftovers, cooked by a master chef. But still leftovers reheated in the mircrowave.

    I also wouldn’t have hated more emphasis on Bruce’s rise (the second one I mean) and a harsher depiction of the “worst prison on Earth.”

    I just can’t help feeling the film could have been tighter and more elegant in construction. Parts almost felt like first draft place holders that never got ironed out.

    Also, was I the only one who thought, as Batman flew the nuclear bomb to safety, of Adam West saying “Sometimes you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

    But like you said, these are nitpicks, I suppose. The fact is I walked out of the movie smiling like a ten year old. And the smile lasted the whole drive home.

    • Troy says:

      More a mashup of two huge Batman comic storylines “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land”.

  3. Grizzleybruin says:

    Great review John! I’m glad you liked the movie . . . personally, this is my favorite comic book movie now. Yes, even better than TDK (joker’s still my fav character to watch, though). Btw, you know how some annoying fans always take the reviewer’s nitpicks to heart and start explaining away the un-explainable? Well .. . . you brought this on yourself:

    – At the end of Dark Knight, Batman fell off a couple story building . . . . .it made no sense for the fall to kill Dent while Bruce walks away without a scratch. Don’t know if they incorporated Batman’s limp to the Bat-pod at the end of TDK cause they had already decided on him using a cane in part 3, but he clearly sustained lasting injuries taking down Dent (take that, people who though Two face was inconsequential!)
    – Batman’s back: it took the dude 80 days to work back up to normal . . . i’m guessing it wasn’t nerve that was damaged as much as just herniated disk (which, according to Wikipedia, goes away without surgery after about 12 weeks (83 days) for 73% of people.
    – The govt was in the ultimate lose lose situation . . . and the fact that the bomb was set to go off regardless was never relayed to the outside world (or the people of gotham, for that matter) . . . .hence, let’s wait and see where this goes. Not realistic, but explained nonetheless.
    – The League wasn’t going to nuke themselves, but Bane’s & Talia’s exiled group of extremists sure as hell were. As for all the escaped prisoners fighting along side them . . . guess no one bothered to tell them that this was a suicide mission.
    – Travel to prison & back: . . . . You got me. . . .I dunno
    – Cancer post nuke . . . . since the specifics of the fusion bomb were never fully explained . . . even though it gave off radiation, i don’t think there was any enriched uranium involved. Could be wrong, not really my field.
    – Batman’s flaming bat-symbol: Me and my fellow theater goers were so stoked at the call back to the TDK poster . . . .we never bothered with the logistics. . . .ALso, for those keeping track of the Matthew Modine’s character arc, it is after seeing THAT flaming bat that he decides to lead the city’s cops into battle the next day. . . this after asking his wife to answer the door for him in case someone wanted to come hurt him. . .. Atta boy!
    – Alfred leaving was similar to Gordon’s wife and kids leaving: It just saved having to explain what happened to them during the siege. And seeing as Alfred was trying to force Bruce to retire Batman . . . .his gesture clearly wasn’t wasted. Either by Bruce or the movie.
    – Bane’s mask was just a leather harness connecting tubes. When Batman hits him, the cords come loose . . .making the pain unbearable to Bain and finally weakens him until Talia reconnects them. Sure, he didn’t get it in a prison, but he clearly didn’t seek a high tech medical solution. It was so low tech, actually shattering it with punches was out of the question.

  4. Dan says:

    I was so disappointed when bane broke batman’s back. It was not epic at all and didn’t even seem like he broke his back.

    I expected a lot more out of that scene and was really let down. I’d give the movie 3.5 out of 5 because the first 45 minutes was so boring.

    • Dan Mirsky says:

      I feel bad for you as you cannot appreciate the pure awesome of this movie.

    • Debbie says:

      Actually I completely agree with you! And I seriously wish the fan boys would back off a bit!! The first 45 minutes didn’t really heighten the suspense or raise the stakes b/c they hastily tried to slap too much into it. Not too mention while the Bane voice was “scary,” the fact that you could hardly understand him really brought down the plot and Bane overall as a villain. Because of the Mask, You couldn’t really see any expressions in Tom Hardy’s face besides “the intense angry eyes” So you would’ve needed the dialogue to make up for that, but you just couldn’t understand enough of it to make sense of it all. It might be different when I buy it on Blu-ray and can get some subtitles with it, and I might enjoy Bane a little more, but at the theaters I was very underwhelmed by Bane. I kinda of felt like he was a waste of precious screen time and I really didn’t understand his significance until the last 30-45 minutes of the movie.

      Not too mention, I felt like Batman got his back broken very randomly and it happened a little too soon in the film. You don’t really get to see the effects of the wear and tear of trying to snuff Bane out so you don’t detect as much desperation right away. Batman is worn down because of previous encounters which have NOTHING to do with Bane! And while I am not a huge fan of Bane to begin with, I felt like that cheapened his character A LOT! Because you don’t really get to see exactly how intelligent, cunning, and ruthless he really is! I mean when he blew up the stadium it was so Old Hat! Bane should’ve had more style!

      Also, Catwoman never would’ve left Batman to die like that in the comics. Just Saying! They should’ve literally put her to be in a predicament which she wasn’t gonna get out of until it was too late and done and batman was broken. and I get that it was to heighten the mystery and suspense about whether or not Catwoman was a good gal, but it was unnecessary.

      I actually liked most of the prison scenes :-) and most of the 2nd half of the movie in general! I just felt like Gotham wasn’t desperate enough, but I do appreciate that the plot started to deepen and pick up some steam and it finally built up to the ending, which was truly great. But you definitely had to wait for it.

  5. Alice says:

    What bothered me the most was Talia’s death scene. This is an academy award winning actress and she died all melodramatic like a bad soap opera. Plus…why did they waste time WATCHING her die?? precious seconds wasted people…seriously!

    • Uncaringmachine says:

      Ha! My brother, after seeing the movie, said that he thought it looked funny the way she was talking and then suddenly just dropped dead.

  6. Michael says:

    Here’s my own nitpicky crap: why didn’t Bruce just climb the rope to the top of the prison? It was clearly tied to the top somewhere.

    Also, as an Italian I couldn’t let this slide, but Florence is in Italy and not France.

    • Grizzleybruin says:

      Ha! Nice catch!

      Actually, i thought the same thing, so i went back to the trailer that showed a brief glimpse of one of Bruce’s unsuccessful attempts. The rope was actually connected to one of the walls. . . .someone must have climbed up the side opposite to the leap of faith and attached a pulley there so people could try to get to the ledge and attempt their jumps without falling to their deaths.

  7. bgg1175 says:

    The story was the main flaw in the film. There were just too many holes in it, mostly regarding Batman’s come and go injuries.
    One massive flaw I haven’t seen anyone else catch was the fact that Talia sees Bruce alive and well back in Gotham, then Bane brings her with him and later that night Bane is surprise by the fire bat. So Talia doesnt tell him such big news?
    As for the end, its most likely Batman died. And the bat-signal was repaired by cops as a gift to Gordon.

    However, if he survived, he didnt just jump out into the water.
    The Tumblr had an escape mechanism so The Bat most likely wouldve also. And the Toy of The Bat has one as well.
    So if he escaped, he would put the Bat at full speed at about 250 mph and bail at probably 3-4 miles from where the blast would occur and take off, possibly in a vehicle with a small jet engine but lets just say it goes 250-300 mph. By the time the blast occured he would be right about six miles from the blast point.

  8. Tom says:

    The explosion of the bomb would not have contaminated the atmosphere, water or citizens of Gotham. The bomb was created from a nuclear fusion reactor not a fission reactor. A fusion reactor has never been created in real life and is a theoretical clean energy source due to the fact that the products of fusion are generally non radioactive. The importance of the reactor was implicit with the fact that it was the first of its kind and a clean energy source. Fission reactors are the commonly used nuclear energy source that leads to radioactive waste not fusion.


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