Christopher Nolan has outdone himself with this one. At 3.30 in the morning, I was tired. Just getting out of it, I've never been so awake.
Perhaps what set this film apart from his other films was that it had a genuine emotional heartbeat. I felt that this was a flaw of Nolan's other films - the vision of emotion was there, but it was hollow. In this I bought it. I felt it, hero and villain alike.
Christian Bale was typically brilliant as Batman, and I felt that Bruce Wayne was more heavily embraced in this final installment. Bale added emotional depth to the character - a plot point that I think went astray in The Dark Knight - picking up from the development made in Batman Begins.
Tom Hardy as Bane was quite simply, terrifying. No longer a dunderhead "enforcer", but one of the criminal masterminds behind "Gotham's Reckoning", coupled with a physical dominance strong enough to send shivers down your spine.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle defied my expectations. Hands up who was not entirely convinced that that girl from the Princess Diaries could handle an intensely physical role like Catwoman. But here I am, hugely impressed. She added immeasurably to the value of the film.
Marion Cotillard fulfilled the role of Miranda Tate admirably, though I suspect this was the most underdeveloped character of the film - though after watching, I can see why.
The unsung hero of The Dark Knight Rises is Michael Caine as Alfred. A heartfelt performance that helps drive the emotional content of the film, helping Nolan sell his most well-rounded film to date. Caine's performance in both presence and absence.
Special mention goes to Joseph Gordon Levitt, who is consistently proving himself to be a big player in the Hollywood game. His role as officer Blake felt like there could've been more, but it may just have come all a bit much. It was a great performance, and Levitt sunk his teeth into role.
If you can, go see this in IMAX. If any film was to sell the format to skeptics, The Dark Knight Rises would be IT. I'm happy Nolan stuck to his guns and shot in 2D. 3D would have been unnecessary.
I suppose at this point, I have to turn my focus on Nolan. If he ever reads this... aspiring filmmaker to filmmaker, I've never been so envious, jealous in all my life. It's a film that leaves me floundering, wondering what I could possibly do to get anywhere near this ballpark. Well done. I think an Oscar Nomination is in order.
From here, I'm not sure what to expect of the future. Does our imagination carry us forward, or do the studios? Time will tell.