The Dark Knight Rises ★★★★★

Wow. Simply wow.

Christopher Nolan promised a fitting end to his Batman trilogy, and boy, he did not disappoint. The film, on so many levels, simultaneously inspires, awes, overwhelms, answers questions, ask more questions, leaves doors wide open while slamming some firmly shut.

In reviews I read before I watched the film, and since, I've seen people criticise the film, the ending, the premise, and largely, the main villain - Bane. One of the reasons I expect this is, is because they can't help but compare Bane to the Joker, the nemesis in The Dark Knight. While the Joker does stand out as the 'better' villain, what people are struggling to understand is that they are two completely different characters and type of bad guy - the Joker a chaotic, unhinged madman whose main purpose in life is to cause anarchy; Bane, a one-man army, capable of punching through a brick wall with ease and more. Trying to compare the two would be trying to compare Superman and Batman - often done, but never a clear winner.

Take this from Hardy (Bane) himself: "The Joker didn’t care - He just wanted to see the world burn, and he was a master of chaos and destruction, unscrupulous and crazy. Bane is not that guy. There is a very meticulous and calculated way about Bane. There is a huge orchestration of organization to his ambition. He is also a physical threat to Batman. There is nothing vague about Bane. No jokes. He’s a very clean, clear villain.” When you see the film, you'll see exactly what he's talking about.

One complaint I do I have is that after the film, his character isn't as memorable as the Joker was, but that may be more so because of Heath Ledger's untimely demise. Another low point is his face mask, and as such, the effect on the understanding of Bane's voice. Although I understood everything he said, I know others who really did struggle, and that is a shame when you know that the Bane character is intelligent, planning, and very well spoken. This is evident in Hardy's portrayal of him, but just not very clear to everyone.

The introduction of Selina Kyle/Catwoman is a great addition, and brings some light-hearted relief to an overall sombre film. She has some great one-liners, and although the name 'Catwoman' is never spoken, you clearly know who she is, thanks to the visor-cum-ears she wears. And Anne Hathaway in the part... Puurrrr-fect.

Of course, not forgetting the main man himself, Bale brings his best performance yet as the older, wiser, weaker Bruce Wayne and Batman. This time, we see a more emotional aspect of Bruce Wayne, beaten and broken eight years after TDK, cowering in the shadows, paying for a crime he didn't commit.

Definitely a character-driven film, the piece really makes you feel every minute of the 2 hour, 45 minute spectacle, but for all the right reasons. The usual suspects of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are resplendent in their roles, especially Caine, and the new additions of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard are perfect for the roles they were cast, and leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

Driving that character development is an amazing score by the ever-excellent Hans Zimmer and is helped by the great cinematography from Wally Pfister.

Although admittedly the weaker of the three but a fitting conclusion, it clearly shows how good the other two were for this to pale in parts in comparison. The Dark Knight Rises is a great film, and is a must-see for fans and non-fans alike.