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.
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.