When you finish watching Christopher Nolan's final installment of his Batman trilogy, aka "Dark Knight Rises", you definitely won't be asking that incessant question: "But how...?" Unlike any other superhero flick, everything makes perfect sense.


In fact, it makes so much sense, even those who wondered what the hell "Inception" was about will even have those questions answered. Because clearly Nolan was experimenting on his narrative with "Inception" as he prepared for "Dark Knight Rises".


Christian Bale returns as a Batman in hiding and as a recluse Bruce Wayne. The death of Harvey Dent in "Dark Knight" has Gotham City pissed off at him; comfortable to label him a murderous criminal rather than a hero - kind of like the original Green Hornet.

His loyal butler Alfred (Michael Caine returns with an outstanding heartfelt performance) is trying to get him to get out of stately Wayne Manor and forget about serving the city and forget about his Batman persona. But during the eight years since Dents' demise, Gotham City police have clamped down on organized crime and the city is nearly Edenic. Nearly.


Two things occur that stir the crime-fighter juices: he encounters a shockingly efficient and attractive burglar in Wayne Manor and a major nemesis has emerged daring to destroy the city.


Anne Hathaway is Seline Kyle who moonlights as a cat burglar. though she never identifies herself as such, she is Catwoman. Furthermore, she had the gall and the savvy to rob Wayne Manor right underneath Bruce Wayne's nose.


Underneath the city a master villain named Bane (Tom Hardy) who made a daring mid-air escape from US Marshals so that he could wreak havoc on Gotham City. Why? Well that's one of the nifty closures in the second half of the film.

The first half is neatly packaged introducing new characters such as officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who was an orphan who identifies with the orphanage in which he was raised that was funded by the Wayne Foundation. Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) who is a wealthy investor who has partnered with Wayne Inc to develop a safe and sustainable fusion energy source.


Gary Oldman returns as police commissioner Jim Gordon who has kept quiet about Harvey Dent's turning to crime prior to his death. Under Gordon is a weasel of a deputy commissioner (Matthew Modine) looking to nail Batman and claim glory. Catwoman also has an assistant; Holly Robinson (Juno Temple) is a sniveling petty thief and colleague.


All these characters are intertwined in a dark past that will lead to an explosive collision. A collision that tests the mettle of Batman.


And this is when you realize that Chris Nolan's "Inception" was a test run on storytelling. Many people left "Inception" scratching their heads wondering what was present, past, real or a dream. With "Dark Knight Rises" Nolan leaves no stone unturned.

In the end, everything makes sense from the very beginning ["Batman Begins"] through to the end of this two hour forty-five minute epic. The best part is Nolan shot about half the film in IMAX format sans the 3D. The only gaff was the Darth Vader-like voice synthesizer bane uses to speak. It is - at times - so garbled it's difficult to understand what the heck he's saying.


The female characters match the strength of the men with Anne Hathaway turning in a much more effective performance than most expected. Marion Cotillard gives us the delicate strength she projects in most of her film characters. Gordon-Levitt was... well just as good as he has been.. a steady believable talent.


That's all that can be said about the film other than the nifty little twists in the last 30-minutes.


"Dark Knight Rises" will go down as the film makers superhero with the most complex, yet well defined, characters ever brought to the BIG screen. It's going to make a ton of money!   -- GEOFF BURTON