The Dark Knight Rises

Judging by the sheer amount of craptacular results dropped into our multiplexes every year, making a good sequel is a hard thing to do. Imagine making an extremely well-received sequel and then attempting to make another one. How many enjoyable "third parts" or so-called "trilogy cappers" can you name, off the top of your head? Toy Story 3 comes to mind ... and little else. Now try to picture the immense pressure on director Christopher Nolan's shoulders.

If fanboyism is a good guideline for judging a movie's merits (spoiler: it isn't), then quotability could be considered a film's biggest strength. The Dark Knight is filled to the brim with highbrow snippets ("This city deserves a better class of criminal", "Hit me!", "Why so serious?" etcetera) and The Dark Knight Rises doesn't disappoint in that department. The Nolan Bros. (could be a winning video game combo) have been able to craft an articulate, intelligent screenplay without having to resort to cheap puns or laughable lines. No "Ice to see you!" to be found anywhere, thankfully.

Granted, the enormous amount of praise heaped on its predecessor was largely directed towards the late Heath Ledger, who created a never less than compelling villain for the ages. Tom Hardy's Bane is impressive and menacing, but he doesn't glue your eyes to the screen. He rarely demands your utmost attention, something The Joker did in every scene.

Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle is the most enjoyable incarnation of the character yet - that's plain heresy, according to Pfeiffer fans. Hathaway has her detractors, but she's never bothered me and she makes for a layered, complex take on the famous figure in the Batman mythos. Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps getting better with each subsequent movie - in a year or two, no one will even remember his turn in Third Rock from the Sun or they will giddily admit it's "an old shame" (even if there's nothing to be ashamed of). Surely one of the most baffling cases of a child star gone right.

This movie boasts superior casting across the board: Marion Cotillard (womanly and classy as always), Morgan Freeman and the incomparable Gary Oldman. Lest we forget, Christian Bale once again proves he's the definition of Batman (without any disrespect to Michael Keaton, who fits like a glove in Tim Burton's Gotham).

The biggest pro about The Dark Knight Rises is its ending. It's perfect, a triumphant way to end the trilogy. The need or hunger for an eventual fourth movie is completely gone.

Chistopher Nolan is fearless. He had every right to deny the world of a third Batman movie, but he took a shot and beat the odds. Uncle Oscar better make sure not to forget him, come February.

Julian De Backer, 25 July 2012