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The Dark Knight Rises (5 stars)

Christopher Nolan’s epic conclusion to his Batman trilogy is set to be the blockbuster of the year

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The Dark Knight Rises

If, as was rumoured, Christopher Nolan was initially reluctant to make a third Batman film, you wouldn’t know it from The Dark Knight Rises. Drawing from plotlines from both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it feels like it was always meant to be a trilogy. The late Heath Ledger’s The Joker may be absent, but there’s enough here to position Nolan’s latest as the blockbuster of 2012, crushing Prometheus and The Avengers with one leather-gloved fist.

Set eight years on from The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is in self-imposed exile, with Batman still wanted for the death of former district attorney Harvey Dent. Only when jewel thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) enters his life is he drawn back into Gotham City, soon to be held to ransom by masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy). Unquestionably, such a bare outline does no justice to a complex, dense and highly topical story; from stock-market hold-ups to sustainable energy sources, Gotham has never seemed so relevant.

Of the newcomers, Hathaway – as acerbic as she is acrobatic – steals it as Kyle (the name ‘catwoman’ is never used). But Nolan’s Inception stars Marion Cotillard (as a philanthropist) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as an idealistic cop) add considerably to a franchise that also ensures veterans Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman aren’t forgotten. Hardy, despite being hampered by a facial apparatus that unfortunately masks a lot of his florid dialogue, is nevertheless a commanding physical presence; his brawls with Batman are brutal slug-fests fans will love.

The IMAX scenes, from the mid-air heist that opens the film to a series of city-wide explosions that see a football pitch demolish mid-game, are as spectacular as you’d want. But what is really glorious is how Nolan, aided by a terrific, soul-searching turn by Bale, keeps the focus on Wayne’s flawed, pain-soaked hero. Emotional, epic and entertaining, this is the end you’ve been waiting for.

General release from Fri 20 Jul.

The Dark Knight Rises - Official Trailer #3 [HD]

The Dark Knight Rises

  • 5 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 164 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Christopher Nolan
  • Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
  • UK release: 20 July 2012

Eight years after The Dark Knight, Batman (Bale) is in exile, wanted for the death of an attorney. But when jewel thief Selina Kyle (Hathaway) draws him back to Gotham City he is held to ransom by masked terrorist Bane (Hardy). Emotional, epic and set to be the blockbuster of the year.

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