In this instalment Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy comes to an end, leaving behind a legacy near impossible to be so masterfully re-told. Batman's final outing in Gotham brings to light the complexity of Bruce Wayne's (Christian Bale) character; forever riddled with the murder of his parents and entangled with memories of witnessing his loved ones die before his eyes. 8 years following the end of The Dark Knight, Bruce finds himself hidden away in a re-built Wayne Manor, the cape and mask un-used since the demise of Harvey Dent almost a decade previous. Blamed for Dent's death, Batman has no place in Gotham any more.
Following suit from Heath Ledger's Joker, Bane, Rises' main antagonist (played by Tom Hardy) provides the villainous muscle that so many hoped would wipe the floor with Batman's seemingly invincible strengths set. Hardy gives Bane the exterior to match such an insanely power driven character, a steely face grill branding the villain devoid of empathy or indeed emotion. Further additions to the character roster include Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway (but not once referred to as 'Catwoman'). Hathaway's mystique gives Batman's newest ally more reason for male movie-goers to attend, even without the explosions! Gary Oldman masterfully returns as Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, with fellow returners Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman brilliantly reprising their roles as Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox respectively. Rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is also another character to look out for; one which provides an intriguing and engaging narrative strand to the film.
Only major stirrings in Gotham can truly bring Wayne back as Batman, and a villain such as Bane matches that criteria. Be ready for 'shit's going down now, son' moments, as Bale once again dons the cape to become the Dark Knight. Many have questioned the script that would be needed in order for Rises to match that of its immediate predecessor, and Nolan's ultimatum as whole film delivers on every level. Twists and turns continue to surprise the audience, and even the most certain of facts addressed in the movie can be looked upon as sceptical - due to such unpredictable story telling. The road is hard for Wayne's Batman, as nothing is easy in the Gotham run by Bane and his militant army. Bale's character however continues to bounce back in what proves to be the Dark Knight's most challenging test so far.
The soundtrack in Rises is rich and memorable, encapsulating the identity of Gotham's caped crusader and adding to the intensity of copious action-packed set-pieces. The visuals go hand in hand with that of the audio, where by the use of CGI is masterful - while not feeling too overdone. Also be ready for gadgets galore, as Freeman's Lucius Fox provides Wayne with more of what was delivered in Rises' predecessors.
Although not as gruesome in terms of violence as the previous instalment, Rises is undoubtedly the darkest the series has to offer. A real urgency for Batman to return is present in this one, and the implications of him being able to do so or not justify the film's shadowy outlook. The audience know that the legend has to end somewhere, which makes it all the more fitting that Bruce Wayne should end the trilogy with the greatest of adversaries to match.
The film's opening sequence, which involves flying at altitude, may require viewers to gawp in amazement. Be advised however to quickly transform that gawp into a grin, as the rest will be yet to follow!
So, how will the story end for Bruce Wayne? It's time to find out for yourself...