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The superhero film, The Dark Knight Rises, is the final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman series that launched with Batman Begins (2005) and was followed by The Dark Knight (2008).

"Bat fans" will not be disappointed with this project as it is chock full of unbelievable explosions, frenetic chases, and larger-than-life characters inflamed with their causes, bent on destroying Gotham City with the most diabolic and chilling procedures.

The story begins with Batman aka Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) existing in exile after claiming responsibilities for the crimes of the District Attorney Harvey Dent in order to protect his reputation.

He hasn't been seen for eight years, but in the early moments of the film, we learn about Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) a ruthless character who invades Bruce Wayne's home. Her actions are devious yet obscure her true desires. She serves as a Catwoman-like character.

Batman's faithful butler and friend is Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine.)

The operator of Wayne Enterprises (Morgan Freeman) functions as a supplier for Bruce Wayne's need for an endless parade of armaments and weird vehicles. The bone tired Commissioner Gordon of the Gotham City Police Department (Gary Oldman) is weary of trying to clean up the city but continues to make an effort.

The big dog in this fight is Bane, played by Tom Hardy.

A terrorist, monstrous hulk of a person, he wears a black muzzle-like breathing mask covered with bullet shaped looking teeth, making it almost impossible to understand what he says. This persona echoes James Earl Jones garbling through his Dark Vader disguise.

Bane's character is menacing, and his fight scenes are so realistically designed one wonders if Bruce Wayne will survive the mauling he gets from Bane. Mr. Hardy gained 30 pounds for this role giving him a gargantuan image.

Leading Bruce out of retirement is John Blake (Joseph Gordon) a member of the Gotham City Police Department who senses trouble is on the horizon and evokes the idealism that Commissioner Gordon and Bruce once had.

When not racing around in numerous trucks and police cars, the film offers special samplings from their motor pool.

In an early sequence, viewers are treated to Anne Hathaway racing along in her Bat-Pod – a streamlined motorcycle. Then there is the vehicle called the "Bat," a combination of three different military aircraft that flies in at crucial moments and takes out the enemy with a menu of armaments.

The big star is the new Tumbler – a combination Humvee and Lamborghini equipped with a rocket launcher that comes in handy in tight spots. It gets lots of screen time.

Filming began in May of 2011, ended in November and took place in Jodphur, India, London and Nottingham England, Glasgow, Scotland, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Get all your refreshments together before you sit down, as you don't want to miss the rapid pacing with which the story unfolds.

It was a monumental effort to bring this final epic to the screen, and Christopher Nolan deserves the kudos he's bound to receive.

It's fun to consider that the masters of the epic form of film – David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind) and David Lean (Laurence of Arabia) might look at this work from above and say, "Well done, Mr. Nolan! Well done!"

The Dark Knight Rises opens Friday, July 20th in wide release.

Click here to view the film's trailer.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.

Photos ©2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment

Editor's Note: Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims, their families and the entire Colorado community today.

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