All good things must come to an end – and when Batman director Christopher Nolan is at the helm, they end with a bang. The final instalment in “The Dark Knight” trilogy was released last week, to huge avail from film critics.

Christian Bale returns as caped crusader and billionaire philanthropist, Bruce Wayne, in Nolan’s final run-out on the troubled streets of Gotham City. The film begins eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” where Harvey Dent is being worshiped as a hero and Batman/Wayne is in hiding.

However, the film is not specifically based on Batman. The story also focuses on other important characters, namely Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) following their post-Batman era struggles in troubled Gotham.

Gordon-Levitt (aside from Bale’s exemplary performance as the Dark Knight) is a
stand-out performer. He portrays the moral conscience of Gotham City’s people, while epitomizing the fight against lawlessness which Batman left behind eight years ago.

Hathaway also proves an altogether better Catwoman than Halle Berry. She is confident but also vulnerable, with her character’s Old Town upbringing shining through as a defining characteristic. Viewers will come to realise she is not inherently bad – she has just been forced to be.

The main villain is the masked Bane, played by Tom Hardy. While Heath Ledger’s Joker was all about breaking the Batman, Bane is focussed on breaking Gotham’s people.

Hardy delivers a strong performance as an intelligent villain, with the brawn to challenge Batman in any situation. It seems the Dark Knight has met his match.

Without spoiling the plot, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a testament to how far these movies have come since “Batman Begins.” Nolan interweaves stories from all edges of Gotham, creating a fascinating story with twists, turns and those clichéd ‘edge of your seat’ moments.

The dialogue is superb, sometimes showing raw emotion. One line worth noting is from Wayne’s butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), who says to a defeated Wayne: “I won’t bury you. I’ve buried enough members of the Wayne family.” Caine’s performance throughout as the affable butler is nothing short of brilliant.

“The Dark Knight Rises” sets the bar exceptionally high for anyone looking to follow. In Bale there is a flawed hero grasping for order and Bane is the ultimate villain.

The stage is set for a spectacular battle on the streets of Gotham.