The Bottom Line: A truly grand finale raises Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to the peak of big-screen comic book adaptations.
The real world threats of terrorism, political anarchy and economic instability make deep incursions into the cinematic comic book domain in The Dark Knight Rises. Big-time Hollywood filmmaking at its most massively accomplished this last installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy makes everything in the rival Marvel universe look thoroughly silly and childish. Entirely enveloping and at times unnerving in a relevant way one would never have imagined, as a cohesive whole this ranks as the best of Nolan's trio, even if it lacks -- how could it not? -- an element as unique as Heath Ledger's immortal turn in The Dark Knight. It's a blockbuster by any standard.
The director daringly pushes the credibility of a Gotham City besieged by nuclear-armed revolutionaries to such an extent that it momentarily seems absurd that a guy in a costume who refuses to kill people could conceivably show up to save the day. This is especially true since Nolan, probably more than any other filmmaker who's ever gotten seriously involved with a superhero character, has gone so far to unmask and debilitate such a figure. But he gets away with it and, unlike some interludes in the previous films, everything here is lucid, to the point and on the mark, richly filling out (especially when seen in the IMAX format) every moment of the 164-minute running time.
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