After a four-year gap, we have the third film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman, The Dark Knight Rises. This year has already seen Marvel’s Avengers (Assemble), which had a record-breaking box office internationally. The Dark Knight was a very impressive effort, not least because of the late Heath Ledger’s Joker performance. So Nolan had set the bar pretty high for this third film. The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years later. Batman has disappeared because he has been accused of the murder of Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne has become a Howard Hughes-like recluse. Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), an enigmatic mercenary figure, determined to take over Gotham City. We are also introduced to Selina Kyle/ Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), a thief whose motives are a little unclear. Bane seems to be a force of a nature, a character who appears to be unstoppable and when Batman tries, he is physically incapacitated and left to rot in a prison in a mystery country. There are returning characters here: Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred are all back but we also have Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), whose role becomes more pivotal as the film progresses, and Matthew Modine as policeman Foley and Joseph Gordon Leavitt as police detective Blake. So The Dark Knight Rises deals with redemption and whether Batman, with the aid of people like Blake, Gordon and Fox, can help Gotham City rise phoenix-like from the ashes of what Bane has created: a city locked down under his control. Its running time is nearly three hours and I admit before I saw it, this did give me a little cause for concern. But Nolan has managed to craft a tale which is epic, cinematic and which mostly holds your attention. There are still flaws here: the audio for Tom Hardy’s Bane makes it impossible to make out everything he says and sometimes Bale’s gruff Bat-voice can be a little grating. But these are minor quibbles: The Dark Knight Rises feels like a film made by a grown-up, proper filmmaker where everything is there for a reason. It’s impossible not to compare this with The Avengers (Assemble) and, while Marvel’s team film was very enjoyable and a lot of fun, Nolan’s effort feels more like a real cinematic experience. Nolan manages to wrap up the story of Batman on screen with style and panache while leaving things open for further adventures. Both he and Bale have stated publicly that this will be the last Batman film from them but this means, presumably, that there will be a Spider-man-style reboot in about three years, which would be a real shame as Nolan has planted the seeds for a truly intriguing potential future for the character. It’s not perfect, and it’s not quite as well-made as The Dark Knight, but The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy addition to Nolan’s work as well as a great showcase for what can be done on the big screen these days…