THE third film in any movie series, let alone one based on a comic book superhero, almost always fails to live up to the hype created by its predecessors.
Think of Spiderman, X-Men and even the previous Batman series.
By the third instalment, the movie-makers are out of ideas with characters and actors that have run out of steam.
The Dark Knight Rises, thankfully, is not like those other films.
Epic has been a word thrown around to describe Rises ever since the first trailer went out, and it's certainly not out of place.
Director Christopher Nolan's third and final trip to Gotham City goes out with guns blazing.
The stunning conclusion to the series feels as fresh and exciting now as it was the first time almost seven years ago with the 2005 series reboot Batman Begins.
Rises is the Batman film you weren't expecting.
This is a war film at its very core.
It brings the trilogy full circle yet stands alone as its own fantastic entry into the series, providing the perfect ending for Bat fans. It's definitely the most emotional of the series.
The story picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.
Batman hasn't been seen since the night he assumed the blame for the death of Harvey Dent, AKA Two-Face.
While it brought about hope for the city and crushed organised crime in its wake, it has all been based on a lie, and it's obviously taken its toll on the film's key characters.
Everything changes, though, with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar, and the emergence of Bane.
This is where Christian Bale takes the movie as his own. It's his best performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
He's done so well in the past portraying the anger and guilt one could expect over the death of his parents, but now with the stakes even higher, Bale rises (no pun intended) to meet the challenge.
This is a Bruce Wayne/Batman never before seen on screen, and it's great.
Tom Hardy's much-anticipated role as Bane did not disappoint. He had a Darth Vader quality to him through his voice, his presence and his brutality.
Hardy's acting can almost be referred to as miming with a voiceover, but he does it very well.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle is the film's wildcard.
While not as scene stealing as it was hoped she would be, she will win over many fans with her performance.
Two other standouts are Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Michael Caine as Alfred.
Both characters are obviously weary from the events of the past film.
Caine, in particular, gives some of his most emotive scenes with Bale as Wayne.
The action should satisfy any fan of the genre.
As previously mentioned, Rises is a war movie, and spectacular aerial scenes and massive street brawls will have viewers on the edge of their seats.
The movie's only fault lies in its pacing. There is rarely a chance to slow down and savour the many moments.
At two hours and 45 minutes, there is a lot to get through.
While it's hard to say goodbye to Nolan and his Batman world, this is the perfect way to do it. Rises brings the
trilogy full circle and stands on its own as a more-than-satisfying ending.
Fans of the comics may see some of the twists and turns coming, but that won't stop them holding back a tear or two as the credits roll.
Rises rounds out what would have to be the best superhero movie trilogy, and one of the best series in recent cinema.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
- Stars: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
- Director: Christopher Nolan
- Rating: M
- Verdict: Four out of five stars
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