The Dark Knight Rises – one of the most anticipated movies of the year – has arrived topping the UK box office in its opening weekend. It’s the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy that picks up eight years after it’s forerunner, The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is hiding himself from public view and Batman is disgraced, taking the rap for District Attorney, Harvey Dent’s, murder.

The film opens to a spectacular plane hijack that results in the escape of terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy). Christopher Nolan’s skill at building tension and drama is demonstrated early on as the scene ends before the falling plane hits the ground, making The Dark Knight Rises’ subsequent action all the more impressive, growing in power and scale until the film reaches it’s climax.

When Bane embarks on his first attack at the stock exchange, Batman emerges from hiding. Bane is a credible threat to Batman, who is already in a weakened state. And Hardy’s bulk and stature are enough to demonstrate Bane’s immense physical power. Bane’s face is covered by a voice altering mask that obscures his humanity but Hardy also speaks with focussed pronunciation and gravitas that leave no doubt about Bane’s intent, bringing us one of the most terrifying rivals in the comic book genre to date.

An exceptional performance from Tom Hardy… bringing us one of the most terrifying rivals in the comic book genre to date

With the exception of the relatively under-developed character of Wayne Enterprises board member and love interest, Miranda (Marion Cotillard), the script from the Nolan brothers offers powerful characterisation building on their previous efforts. Wayne feels the impact of the previous film’s events, still in a state of grief and loneliness. Dealing with this internal struggle throughout the film, Wayne spends comparatively little of his time as Batman. This human dimension makes for some of the film’s most powerful scenes and the balance between action and emotion in The Dark Knight Rises feels just right.

The supporting cast is also outstanding. Anne Hathaway is divine as she toys with her male rivals in fierce but eloquent style as the complex and edgy Catwoman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also gives us another strong performance as the honest and insightful cop, following on from his convincing role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Dark, serious and strikingly atmospheric

The Dark Knight Rises is dark, serious and strikingly atmospheric, aided by a fantastic score from Hans Zimmer. Bane’s invasion of the Gotham City football game is the pinnacle of the movie, dramatic tension being built by a beautiful but tense performance of the American national anthem by a young male soloist. This scene alone is worth the entry price and, for it’s sheer atmosphere, is unrivaled in the super-hero genre.

As a final installment, The Dark Knight Rises ties plot threads from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight together neatly, creating a trilogy that fits well together as a whole. If there are any criticisms to made of The Dark Knight Rises, it’s the persistent tying up of loose ends during the film’s last few moments, delivering a large amount of information, much too quickly, which seems to break from the rest of the film’s style and leaves little to the imagination.

The Dark Knight Rises is worthy of the hype that surrounds it. With an outstanding cast and an exceptional performance from Tom Hardy, it’s powerful and compelling. The Dark Knight Rises is strong on story, emotion and atmosphere and a fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy.

VERDICT: ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

For more information, please see the official website

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