When Christopher Nolan delivered his fantastically gritty reboot 'Batman Begins' in 2005, he reignited interest into a waning franchise. Seven years on, with his legacy already cemented, Nolan has yet again delivered a triumphant film - the culmination of one of the greatest film trilogies to ever have been created. Spoiler-free review follows.
'The Dark Knight Rises' begins eight years after the events of 'The Dark Knight', Harvey Dent's actions covered up and his death used for political gain. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a handicapped recluse, while his alter-ego Batman is effectively banished, having been accused of Dent's murder. Wayne's situation soon changes as the masked villain Bane (Tom Hardy) appears, an ominous threat to his beloved city.
Bane's villainy is reminiscent of The Joker (although opting against Heath Ledger's level of intensity) while the undercurrent of uprising echoes the Nolan's first venture into Batman territory. The scope here however is far greater, not just in terms of the immersive and lengthy IMAX experience, but we become more familiar with the relative scale and huge importance of Gotham in this cinematic universe.
The imposing Bane is Batman's strongest foe yet - in more than one sense, and partly thanks to the scale of his destruction. For Batman, in particular, his task is overwhelming, having to battle on all fronts, even against those closest to him. He has his small support, with gutsy police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) being a new and helpful addition to his entourage.
The cast members are uniformly impressive, typically excelling with whatever they are given to do, although Hardy is undoubtedly constricted by his mask. The unexpectedly stand-out performance comes from Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, a thief who becomes much more. Her performance and Michael Caine's as Wayne's butler, Alfred, provide a much needed emotional core to the film - amongst all the action set pieces and dialogue-driven plot.
The script is not one of the Nolan brothers' finest, with the expository dialogue noticeable and moments of humour proving more distracting than providing comic relief. Similarly, the political and economic statements feel more forced than they have done previously. Their skill has come in weaving together the fate of the main characters, with a genuine sense of peril as the film reaches its conclusion, aided by yet another rousing soundtrack from Hans Zimmer.
At two hours and forty five minutes, 'The Dark Knight Rises' takes its viewer on quite a journey. But what an epic journey it is. 'The Dark Knight Rises' arguably is not the most enjoyable of Nolan's Batman trilogy but its increased scale and drama make this film a fitting end to a stellar series.
'The Dark Knight Rises' is in UK cinemas today through Warner Bros.