"THE Dark Knight Rises" is the last of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which debuted in Chinese mainland cinemas on Monday.
In the trilogy, Nolan keeps the basic Batman story of a rich boy who witnesses his parents being murdered, and then resolves to become a crime-fighter. But Nolan is also interested in exploring human nature through his characters, which adds more dimensions to the often single-layered superheroes and villains seen in Hollywood films.
"The Dark Knight Rises" picks up eight years after "The Dark Knight," which ended with Harvey Dent dying while Batman vanished into reclusion because he was no longer needed on the streets of Gotham.
It starts with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) catching Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) stealing from his safe, which sets up a chain of events that put Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in danger. This brings Batman out of retirement and back to the streets. And, of course, he's got a lot of new cool gadgets and weapons to help him stop the villains.
Eventually Batman confronts the fearsome Bane (Tom Hardy), who is determined to destroy Gotham at all costs. Bane is rather different from Heath Ledger's Joker, who was more a force for chaos for his own amusement. Bane is pure evil and is much more calculating and ruthless than the Joker.
Much of the film's emotional core comes from Nolan's insistence on focusing as much attention on Wayne as possible. Bale excels as both Wayne and Batman, which creates a powerful connection with the audience. You feel Wayne and Batman's pain.
Known as a master of visuals, Nolan, who also directed "Inception" and "The Prestige," doesn't disappoint in "The Dark Knight Rises." The opening hijacking sequence is one of the most eye-opening of its kind in the history of filmmaking in terms of the idea, set up, action, scale, and image quality.
Nolan has stated in the past his preference for the IMAX format over 3D technology, which he considers a fad and a waste of money. He filmed more than one hour of the 165-minute film in IMAX.
Audiences around the world have flocked to cinemas to see "The Dark Knight Rises," even though there was speculation people would stay away after the mass shooting incident during a Batman screening left 12 dead on July 20 in Aurora, Colorado.
"The Dark Knight Rises" has already earned more than US$900 million worldwide and this figure will rise once the film finishes its run in China.
It will be interesting to see how the film does come awards season. "The Dark Knight" was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two - Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger and Best Sound Editing.
"The Dark Knight Rises" is rare for a superhero flick in that it will more than satisfy hard-core Batman fans while it is also likely to impress casual viewers.