My rating  for The Dark Knight Rises- four out of five stars

So let’s start with the obvious: has geek god Chris Nolan (blessed be his name) delivered a worthy conclusion to the Batman trilogy he started seven years ago? Yes and no.

Yes, because in true Nolan fashion, The Dark Knight Rises is filled with compelling characters, astonishing set pieces and some deeply moving moments. Cliched as it sounds, it truly is an epic conclusion to the story of the Batman.

No, because it could have been at least 20 minutes shorter, some of the monologues are terribly sanctimonious and cliched, and most of all, there are some Bane-sized holes in the plot. A comprehensive summary of the plot issues has already been done by SlashFilm (spoiler alert), so I won’t be dwelling too much on them here. But I must say this: in the wake of the horrific events of Aurora, the bleak, fractured world desperately in need of a hero that is portrayed here seems even more vivid and real.

Christian often found himself wondering about the movie’s plot holes.  ©Warner Brothers 

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is nearly at the end of his tether. Batman’s name is blackened, his body failing him, his one true love sacrificed to the madness of the Joker (the late Heath Ledger). But with the entrance of the mysterious Bane (Tom Hardy), he leaps back into action with nary a care for his physical limits. As faithful manservant Alfred (Michael Caine) puts it: “You see only one end to your journey”.

The Dark Knight Rises has a splendid mix of players from the tried and tested (Bale, Caine and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox) to the fresh and new, above all Anne Hathaway’s  hugely impressive Catwoman. Her Selina Kyle is all sweetness and light one minute, bold and assertive the next. In one fell stroke, Hathaway has comprehensively redeemed the on-screen image of the feline thief after Halle Berry’s horror show, aided by some ass kicking and a skintight outfit that leaves nothing to the imagination.

Anne Hathway wonders how many fanboys she can leave a drooling wreck. ©Warner Brothers

A hallmark of Nolan’s Batman movies has been the outstanding villains: the Caped Crusader has always faced worthy adversaries, and Tom Hardy’s Bane is no exception. An imposing and plain terrifying presence, with a destructive ability to match the Joker’s, Bane attacks Batman on every front and leaves him ultimately broken. Their first confrontation is especially sharp and brutal, with their duel turning into a knock down, drag out brawl. In echoes of the No Man’s Land and Knightfall storylines from the comics (and bear in mind what happened in print), Bane’s machinations leave Gotham on the brink. But his strange, strangled accent often makes it difficult to make out what Bane is saying, especially when it is further muffled by the mask.

Batman and Bane duke it out.  ©Warner Brothers

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as everyman cop Blake is probably the weakest of the new players, burdened by clunky dialogue (“I still believe in the Batman, even if you don’t), a self-righteous persona and a contrived, cringeworthy final reveal about his character. As @syzzlyn pointed out, the movie could have done perfectly fine without Blake, though he may come to play a key role in future Batman movies, if any. But you may want to keep an eye out for Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate, a woman who knows more than she is letting on.

All in all, The Dark Knight Rises falls just short of The Dark Knight, which still leaves it somewhere between very good and great. It is a testament to Nolan’s storytelling abilities that it takes a full hour – ponderous as it often is – before Batman finally makes his appearance, and when he does, it’s a sight worth waiting for.  The set pieces are astonishing and the tense finale races towards an inevitable conclusion that will bring tears to your eyes. Superman director Richard Donner aside, I daresay that no other director  has adapted a comic book character as successfully as Nolan has. So for all the faults of the movie, Nolan deserves nothing but thanks for services to geekdom and awesomeness.

What did you think of The Dark Knight Rises?