Finding out about the 'Dark Knight'

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Holy Q&A -- How did you know I wanted to ask that?

1. What is the running time of "The Dark Knight Rises"?

It's 2 hours and 44 minutes. That doesn't count commercials or previews, so plan your popcorn and restroom runs accordingly.

2. Will I be lost if I haven't seen "Batman Begins" or "The Dark Knight"?

Maybe a little, especially about why and how the billionaire Bruce Wayne became Batman and Batman's early encounters with the character Ra's Al Ghul, first played by Liam Neeson. You absolutely can appreciate the third of three films but it will be a far more satisfying experience if you can watch the first two movies.

3. What is the movie rated?

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.

4. Is it in 3-D?

No. Director Christopher Nolan is not a fan of 3-D, which can be too small scale and intimate. He likes to shoot on film, especially with IMAX cameras, to make his characters appear larger than life and his skylines or vistas vast, especially for this project. Mr. Nolan also wanted to be stylistically consistent with the first two movies.

5. Should I try to see it in IMAX?

Yes, if you can spare the extra couple of bucks.

6. Will I be able to recognize Pittsburgh?

Yes and no. No effort is made to disguise Heinz Field and you may spot a few signs for businesses that signal Downtown but Pittsburgh is one of the cities playing Gotham. The exterior of Mellon Institute in Oakland, for instance, is Gotham's City Hall. So don't look for the sort of money shots -- you know, the view after bursting out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel -- that should be in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" come September.

7. I had trouble understanding actor Tom Hardy in the six-minute prologue released in December. Will I have a better time in the movie?

Yes. Whether the sound was re-recorded, cleaned up or both, Mr. Hardy is easier to understand. His voice has a bit of an echo, to account for the mask (which delivers pain medication to his character of Bane). He wears it virtually throughout the movie.

8. Will images of the late Heath Ledger turn up in any way?

No. "I felt very strongly that the Joker was off limits. I don't want to trivialize a tragedy like that by explaining it away in some fashion," Mr. Nolan told Entertainment Weekly magazine. "I made the choice, immediately, that talking about the Joker was off the table. It's just the way I feel about it, based on my relationship with Heath. Other people might have handled it differently. But that's what felt right to me."

9. Is "The Dark Knight Rises" a good comic-book movie or just a good movie, period?

Both. It deserves to be nominated for best picture by Oscar voters. The omission of "The Dark Knight" for the top Academy Awards (picture, director, screenplay) prompted the expansion of best picture contenders to 10. Now it's anywhere from five to 10.

10. Any truth to the rumors about the death of key characters or appearance of others from the comic books?

We won't even joke about such speculation, as David Letterman did during Anne Hathaway's appearance last week and Morgan Freeman's on Monday. See the movie early and avoid spoilers, friends or reviewers who are excitable Batman blabbermouths.

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