After eight long years of solitude, losing the love of his life, and taking the fall for the crimes of politician Harvey Dent, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), is called upon by his old friend Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman)– in the absence of Batman a new crimelord, Bane (Tom Hardy), has set up shop in the sewers of Gotham City. Meanwhile it’s the slinking styles of jewel thief, Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), that really catch the attention of Wayne. Twisting things further it would appear that Bane is working for the League of Shadows, the group that originally trained Bruce Wayne to be the Batman. Their plan appears to still be to destroy Gotham City and take the Batman down as well, but who’s really at the helm of this ship and can their plan even be stopped? It’ll at least take the help of Officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Alfred Pennywise (Michael Caine), but are they already too late? Rounding out the Dark Knight trilogy for Director Christopher Nolan, this latest installment continues the look and feel of the previously established franchise, but this time perhaps even louder, bolder and a bit more bombastic. Let me be quick to say, obviously the fans are going to flock to this regardless if it’s guano or gold (secretly, I think I’ve always wanted to write that for a Batman review). Fortunately, resting comfortably on his laurels, Nolan has created what will most definitely be regarded as gold with a satisfying conclusion neatly tying up plenty of loose ends. And credit is due to the new comers, while Bale, Oldman, Freeman, and Cain have all been living comfortably in the skins of their characters for some time now, Hathaway, Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, and Hardy all do admiral jobs embodying their respective roles. The film does have a handful of problems though, some not worth mentioning here, but most notably is the lack of a really scary villain. Unfortunately, despite all of Hardy’s effort, the character of Bane just doesn’t read as intimidating enough. Thuggish yes, but truly masterminding and pure evil, no—even though he’s apparently born from darkness. This lacking feels in part due to several factors, 1) banal and textbook villain scripting 2) the fact that we can’t really see his expression behind his mask (perhaps Hugo Weaving could or should have coached here) and 3) the effects used to create his “voice” sound a bit too processed for about the first half of the film. Without a villain of note, we’re instead left to watch what feels like half a dozen plots and subplots play out; from a Wall Street subtext, the origins of catwoman, the back story on Ra’s Al Ghul and his spawn, J. Robert Oppenheimer-esque fears of nuclear warfare, thoughts on personal freedoms, to Bruce Wayne’s desire for normalcy and so on; all of which is interesting given the clever mirror of our society and the backdrop of Gotham city, but it is a lot to try and take in, especially given Nolan’s somewhat haphazard sense of timing and storytelling in analepsis and prolepsis. On notes for the score, Hans Zimmer again graces us with his blend of symphonic/techno, although, like Nolan, Zimmer appears to be less interested in the experimental nature we’ve heard in previous installations and much more straightforward in his approach. Bottom line, you’re looking at a loud, busy film, worth seeing in IMAX but go easy on the soda, at 2 hours and 47 minutes of runtime this could be a bladder buster. The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13.