there are few points of comparison between your The Dark Knight Rises and Batman & Robin. But Christopher Nolan's epic and Joel Schumacher's epic fail do share something: scenes the place you fully feel the love between Bruce Wayne and his ever-faithful butler Alfred.
Needless to say, Nolan's are a somewhat more understated. But they are the center with the film, in the film with heart - possibly not the very first virtue you associate with the bedazzling Brit.
Nevertheless, gruff, gritty and gothic although it is, TDKR would bring a lump in your throat that is not popcorn-related. Its chief summer challenger Avengers Assemble might have bigger zingers, but it really is one thing Whedon missed: emotional engagement; an authentic feeling of jeopardy; deepening human drama. (OK, three things.)
Meanwhile, additionally, it breaks from the Nolan norm in enabling to grips with key, charismatic characters who aren't all blokes.
But before we permit the cat out your bag, you want to make something clear: this is a Batman movie that's exactly about Batman. The place that the previous chapter ceded the spotlight to Heath Ledger's movie-thieving Joker, this shifts it back to Bruce as they faces his toughest mission yet: retirement.
"There's nothing around to me," he mopes, eight years into self-exile following your dark night he took the rap for DA Harvey Dent's crimes.
Holed up in a rebuilt Wayne Manor and empty, this is the most adrift we've seen the on screen. (He's going grey, too.) Weighing a return to action against taking a new path, Bruce and Alfred debate Batman's future in tense, tender exchanges. You're hooked, as well as the fighting hasn't even started.
After the Bondian skyjack opening already familiar to Imax viewers of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Nolan goes smaller than average noiry, a case of stolen pearls opening the entrance to deadlier misdemeanours. Before long, the movie's massive.
The director with the exceptional co-writer/younger sib Jonathan have cooked up their most ambitious scheme yet, bunging faith, idealism, social revolution (via Charles Dickens!) and also a combustible crisis that could backbone a full season of 24 into the blender.
Because scale and stakes balloon, Nolan maintains taut control; contrary the storytelling coheres sharper compared to the Dark Knight. The lies in holding fast to what he - and we - care most about: the fee to some (Bat)man's body and soul. On this occasion, it's painfully personal.
Lest this sound itchily introspective, rest assured: there exists a ridiculous level of cool shit here. "Boy, you have to get a show tonight," drools a fat copper since the Bat-pod burns back onto Gotham's streets, new tricks up its wheels.
Ladies rumbling return with the Tumbler(s), plus magnificent flying machine The Bat. Fanciful but functional, the latter's a winged symbol of notebook computer about Nolan's Bat-verse: the intelligently heightened realism that lets us purchase the understanding of a town enslaved with a half-naked muscle-man in an S&M mask. Specially when he's played by Tom Hardy, whose Bane is usually a virile combination of brawn, brains and Brian Blessed (those filtered vocals proving mostly legible).
A lttle bit camp? Wait till you observe the fists of fury he lays on Bats inside film's smarting centrepiece.
Additional new recruit through the costumed canon, Anne Hathaway's cat-burglar Selina Kyle (never termed as Catwoman, unless our ears deceive us), also strays from kitsch. She's a bundle of spiky fun though - not much of a tragic misfit a la Michelle Pfeiffer, but a wily grifter nuanced enough in Hathaway's hands not to ever look like she's just there to incorporate a sexual frisson. Though she does that, too.
The top to the toe, it is really an ace ensemble, not a soul forgettable whether or not on screen for seconds occasionally (hello, Matthew Modine). Joseph Gordon-Levitt essays solid, un-dull decency as honest cop John Blake, while Bruce's holy trinity of father figures - Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and moist-eyed Michael Caine - are in their warmest and sagest.
And Christian Bale? Never more susceptible, likeable or ready to get his gloves dirty, pushing to new emotional depths for his final Gotham go-around.
And yes, it is The End, a resounding resolution for what Batman Begins begun. Threads from that film are picked up, lengthened and strengthened, bringing a staunch integrity - in most sense - towards the overall arc.
Is it perfect? Aspect in some clunky catch-up exposition near the start, a cringey log-fire love scene and moments where Hans Zimmer's score nearly foghorns the actors away from the screen along with the answer's no.
A much bigger question: would it be on the internet for using the Dark Knight? Not quite. The Joker from the pack still gives part two the extra edge. But there is however no shame in coming second to Nolan's Michael Mann with masks masterpiece.
And in lieu of replaying it in your mind, you can be busy agog at Wally Pfister's cinematography (the harsh fantastic thing about the location under snow); the seamless interweave of genres (police thriller, disaster movie, psychodrama); how Nolan implies brutality without riling the censor; or perhaps the equally sly way he slips in possibly controversial components from the Bat-mythos without risking outrage.
Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The past Stand, Blade: Trinity… third time's the harm for superhero movies. But not on Nolan's watch.