Christopher Nolan had a vision; forget everything you have ever seen on any screen about Batman and look at this. He wanted to give us a Dark Knight that could exist in the real world and he succeeded. Batman Begins took us deeper into the origins of our hero than any film adaptation ever had before and it broke the normal pattern by using villains only comic and cartoon fans were familiar with. The Dark Knight followed this up by giving us a Joker so twisted that he actually explained to his victims why he was messed up. He took Batman to the very edge of his own beliefs in an attempt to break him spiritually and mentally. Bruce Wayne somehow manages to save the city, but in the process he lost just about everything else. Now things will get darker than they ever have, and the man has to ask himself what is left to give when he has already given everything to the city. The Dark Knight Rises takes Batman back to his roots once more as he faces his greatest challenge ever.

Bane did not grow up in the streets, he never learned the “no snitching” rule.

AFTER THE LAUGHTER Eight years have passed since the Joker got his last laugh. Two-Face died trying to kill Gordon’s son but he was made into a hero while Batman took the fall. Just like Batman said, it was what the city needed because organized crime is a thing of the past and the streets of Gotham are for the most part, safe again. Of course this could never last in Gotham. Roland Daggett enlists the help of Bane in his bid to take over Wayne Enterprises. Things quickly jump gears and go from bad to game over as Bane strengthens his grip on the city. With no police and no Batman, Gotham is literally paralyzed by fear. This time, there is no one to save them.

Don't care how you swing it, putting Catwoman in a men's prison is foul.

THE BAT, THE CAT AND THAT MAN NEEDS A HAT! Let’s get this out of the way right now and say no, Tom Hardy does not outperform Heath Ledger. The Joker still has the best single performance in this trilogy. However, in this film, we have several other characters giving amazing performances. Everyone, myself included, counted Anne Hathaway out and said she could never be Catwoman. Not only does she pull off a role that (I think) would make Frank Miller proud, she outdoes Michelle Pfeiffer by having less style but way more substance. Bane, I both loved and hated. His voice was difficult to understand at times due to the stupid mask but he still outdid Joker in terms of his actions. I am trying hard not to spoil too much but let me say that Bane owned this movie up until the final minutes. Aside from the voice, the only thing that bugged me was the way he kept snapping necks. It just looked silly to me. On to Mr. Bale, who still winds up being comic relief every time Batman gets angry. There was more Bruce Wayne in this movie than either of the last two and even when he was being pathetic, he pulled off that Wayne smoothness with ease. His scenes with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) are always memorable and that was no different this time around. His interaction with Selina Kyle was also cool because no matter what he was saying it wound up sounding like he was trying to get in her pants. Michael Caine gave his best Alfred performance of the trilogy; truly solidifying his father figure role over Wayne. His refusal to see his “son” destroy himself was poignant and definitely affected how Batman behaved. Surprises came in the form of Miranda and Blake (Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, respectively), and I really need to leave it at that to not spoil. I have to say that there was very little to dislike in terms of acting and that speaks volumes for a film in this day and age.

Dammit, it doesn't fit anymore.

BENEATH THE CAPE AND COWL Sometimes you have to see something more than once to really get the whole picture and that was the case for me in this series. Batman is a character whose very persona is steeped in theatrics and special effects. His rogues gallery is full of larger than life, inhuman monsters that could have their own CGI budget if they were to be on screen. Nolan instead chose to somewhat dumb things down and keep the story as realistic as possible. In comics, Ra’s al Ghul uses a naturally occurring fluid in what he has called The Lazarus Pits which have allowed him to live for over 600 years. Nolan’s version is confirmed as having died in Batman Begins. Scarecrow uses fear inducing hallucinogenic drugs and there was nothing that needed to be changed there. Joker always had an abnormally wide grin where you could see all of his teeth; Nolan instead chose to have his character cut from ear to ear, which naturally would give off a similar look (and make him drool a lot). Bane traditionally used a steroid-like drug called Venom which turned the 6’2”, 225-pound man into a 6’8”, 300 plus-pound monster. Nolan’s Bane is a normal man with intense physical conditioning  and extensive martial arts training. So while the movie has plenty of special effects, they are mainly pyrotechnics, unusual vehicles and a small amount of digital effects by today’s standards. More than usual, there was no reason for 3D and the movie is not presented that way. The rooting in reality is much appreciated by this moviegoer because Nolan gave us this fantastic vision of a dystopia that could exist in real life.

Only thing that's on my mind is who gon' run this town tonight.

HOLY SOUNDTRACK, BATMAN! I could kiss Hans Zimmer right now. Video may have killed the radio star, but this man brings your ears back to life with his amazing orchestral scores. Having done the entire series, you will notice similar music from the earlier films, but it is nothing less than welcome. Batman has not had music this good since the Animated Series of the nineties and when you hear this music, you know it is Batman. With classic themes like that for the Terminator or Star Wars, you are not mistaking Zimmer’s Batman score for anything else.

Not gonna meow, but I will whip your ass into cat scratch fever.

I am hearing so many people say that they are going back to watch the first two movies again. Personally, I am going to wait until I can watch all three at once. Batman is my second favorite hero with only a certain webhead being ahead of him. The Dark Knight Rises gives nods to the previous movies, even replaying scenes from start to finish. Nolan told his own story, but there are clearly bits and pieces of established Batman tales peppered in. A certain scene is taken directly from the Knightfall story that I really did not think would be used. I am glad that I was though because it made the story that much more powerful. I said that Bane was not better than the Joker as a movie villain, but his grand scheme was greater in scope and his actions definitely outshined the clown prince. What Bane did to the people of Gotham, the city of Gotham and the Batman himself is beyond what I have seen in any film in recent memory. Combining  that with the overall acting and the action in this film and you have not only the best film of this trilogy, but the single best live action Batman movie to date. With the series “ended,” (let’s see how much money it makes), one realizes this is not your dad’s Batman; it’s not even your Batman. It’s the Batman that we needed. These are the movies we needed amongst a sea of unimaginative crap.  If this is truly the end of Nolan’s Batman then I pity the next director that tries to pick it handle the cape and cowl; they have enormous shoes to fill.

That's right, double logo fool!