Movie power rankings: Liam Neeson rumors push ‘Dark Knight Rises’ back to No. 1

Just what is Christopher Nolan planning for “The Dark Knight Rises”? How far ahead was he plotting his Batman trilogy? We reported a few months ago that Liam Neeson was headed to the film’s set. Movie buffs from Coast City to Smallville assumed he was there to reprise his “Batman Begins” role as R’as al Ghul, the menacing, charismatic villain who helped train a young Bruce Wayne. Neeson claims that even he doesn’t know the context of his brief shoot (he was only on set an hour and a half), but that’s the worst excuse for a denial in movie history. In the comics, Ra’s al Ghul is virtually immortal, was connected to Bane (played by Tom Hardy in “Dark Knight Rises”) and is obsessed with making Batman his heir (not to mention the whole Bruce Wayne being the father of his grandchild thing). His return, however brief, would spell an excellent closure to Nolan’s Batman saga.

As for the rest of this week’s list… 

January 25, 2012

1. “The Dark Knight Rises” (Last week: No. 2)

Nolan is secretive enough to lead his own League of Assassins, but that’s a good thing for a movie that will hopefully hold as many surprises as “Dark Knight Rises” appears to. For now, let’s all just enjoy the imaginary versions of “DKR” in our heads.

2. “The Hangover Part III” (Last week: Not ranked)

All the Wolf Pack members are coming back and they’d better be worth what Universal is reportedly paying them.

3. “The Hobbit” (Last week: No. 11)

“Lost” and “Real Steel” star Evangeline Lilly discusses playing a Elf warrior created just for the film. How do you say “hot” in Elvish?

4. “Hunger Games” (Last week: No. 4)

Besides tweens getting shot in the head with arrows and what-not, “Hunger Games” will also feature some futuristic fashions, previewed extensively here.

5. Untitled Tom Cruise sci-fi film (Last week: Not ranked)

When Tom Cruise walks the post-apocalyptic Earth, he walks with the some of the hottest upcoming actresses in the world.

6. “The Crow” (Last week: Not ranked)

After winning its day in court and numerous changes behind and in front of the camera, the long-delayed remake/reboot is finally (?) ready to roll with a new director. Fire it up!

7. “Hugo” (Last week: Not ranked)

Martin Scorsese’s 3D family film scores eleven Oscar nominations.

8. “Man of Steel” (Last week: Not ranked)

New photos of Superman Henry Cavill and the news of the addition of a certain Smallville citizen are among the latest dispatches from Metropolis.

9. “Evil Dead” (Last week: Not ranked)

Lily Collins is out. Who do you want to see play a female Ash?

10. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Last week: Not ranked)

Ben Stiller’s already set for the remake of the fantasy-comedy, and now “Bridesmaids” star Kristen Wiig may be joining. can you imagine a better comic duo?

11. “The Avengers” (Last week: No. 4)

New images of the action figure line make the Marvel superheroes’ toys look pretty spectacular.

12. “The Woman in Black” (Last week: Not ranked)

The promotional effort for Daniel Radcliffe’s upcoming post-“Harry Potter” horror film is ramping up. Team Radcliffe.

13. “The Artist” (Last week: No. 15)

It may not have been nominated for as many Oscars as “Hugo,” but scuttlebutt sez that the French silent is the film to beat.

14. “Rango” (Last week: Not ranked)

A likely shoo-in for the animation Oscar, the Johnny Depp ‘toon is heading back to theaters.

15. “Extremely Loud and incredibly Close” (Last week: Not ranked)

DO call it a comeback. A few days ago, Stephen Daldry’s 9/11 drama — largely panned by critics — was all but written off as a major player in the awards season. Surprise!

Movie Power Rankings appears weekly on HitFix. See the previous installment’s rankings here

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