The final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes in the form of The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale reprises his role as Bruce Wayne, and most of the primary cast returns as well, while newcomers Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake) provide fresh characters for the story told in The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR).

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, TDKR quickly catches viewers up, with flashbacks of Harvey Dent’s murderous transformation into Two Face. Since Batman has been held responsible for Dent’s murder, Bruce Wayne has gone into seclusion, rarely being seen, and never venturing out of his mansion. His body bears the results of being a superhero, and he’s not fit to don the suit–at least initially. The story of TDKR takes place almost exclusively in Gotham, when Bane takes control, and threatens to set off a nuclear bomb and destroy the entire city. Without ruining the story, suffice it to say it’s the darkest in the trilogy, and contains enough surprises to keep viewers guessing.

Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, plays the role perfectly, alternating between aloof and endearing simultaneously; she literally reinvents the role, and makes it all her own. Her part is no small one either, as she sets events in motion that affect the entire city of Gotham.

The other new roles, namely Tom Hardy as Bane, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate provide unique and excellently played characters to the series. Bane seems to have a master plan that can’t be foiled, as evidenced by several events during the film, and are quite impressively pulled off.

It’s hard to find many faults in the film, other than perhaps its length; at 2 hours and 44 minutes long, it’s a lengthy film, though it doesn’t feel as long as it is. Fans may bemoan some of the slower parts, but it’s clear that Nolan wanted the story to come first, which it fortunately does. It’s a good story to be told, also. Scenes including Wayne and Alfred are particularly touching, and Michael Caine’s acting must be applauded. If The Dark Knight stood out because of Heath Ledger’s Joker, TDKR stands out with Caine’s Alfred.

There aren’t as many nifty gadgets or technological tools Batman employs in TDKR, but in this movie, that’s a good thing. Though there are scenes with action and destruction, they are–if anything–scaled down, in order to emphasize the story. As always, the story takes precedence in the movie, which only serves to strengthen this film. And though this is a Dark Knight movie, much of the film takes place in broad daylight, allowing the other characters not named Batman to show their chops. Perhaps the only other criticism is with the obviousness of the twist, once it’s revealed. Clues throughout the movie lead directly to the ending, but Nolan keeps viewers from thinking about them too much before they’re distracted by the next big scene.

Sadly, The Dark Knight Rises will forever be attached to the events that occurred in Aurora, Colorado on the morning of its premiere, where twelve people lost their lives, and so many others were injured at the theater while attempting to watch this movie. It will truly be impossible to think about this film without thinking about the events that occurred that day.

Tragedy aside, The Dark Knight Rises is a magnificent film, an epic conclusion to Nolan’s trilogy, and well worth the price of admission.

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown