The Dark Knight Rises
Direction: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy
The third and reportedly final part in Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise offers what one has come to expect from the revamped series: a full-on pop-culture spectacle, awe-inspiring set pieces and loads of techno razzle-dazzle.
Even so, we are ultimately left with the feeling that The Dark Knight Rises falls short of its potential. This time around, the Batverse is over-cluttered with new characters; the last-minute revelation of one more super-villain taxes credulity, and the dramatic structure loses some of its snap as it unravels.
Taking place eight years after our last encounter with the caped crusader, the film springs immediately into action, with a scarily intense skyjacking.
Meanwhile back in Gotham City, the reclusive Bruce Wayne/Batman (Bale) is forced out of self-imposed exile when a new threat surfaces in the form of a merciless terrorist (Hardy, barely recognisable behind a muzzle-like mask). Motivated as much by a desire to exact revenge as by wonky political ambition, the baddie aims to wrest control of the city, even if it means blowing it to smithereens with a nuclear device.
It's now time for the fanboys to rejoice, for our superhero finally dons his cape and cowl to wage a one-man war against the arch-foe.
There's also a lot to do for the police commissioner (Gary Oldman), besides the costumed crime-fighter's ever-affable butler (Michael Caine) and his inventor cohort (Morgan Freeman).
Among the raft of fresh recruits is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an idealistic young cop and Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard as a philanthropist with an agenda of her own.
It's Anne Hathaway, however, who's the standout from the sprawling ensemble, as a furtive cat burglar who shares a love-hate relationship with Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego.
Pitched at a hectic pace, maverick British filmmaker Nolan, whose credits include Memento (2001) and Inception (2010) directs the action interludes with astonishing proficiency. An extended sequence in a cavernous pit where Batman is left to die fails to ratchet up the tension, though. To be fair, even at a running time of 164 minutes, viewers are unlikely to become bored.
The Bat-brigade as well as Christopher Nolan zealots will doubtless go batty over The Dark Knight Rises.