***BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
How do you top a movie like The Dark Knight? This is a movie that not only smashed box office records, but also seeped into the cultural consciousness in a way that few films can, changing people’s expectations of what superhero flicks can do and lending weight to a genre often dismissed as superficial or purely escapist. According to The Dark Knight Rises, the explosive yet surprisingly sweet conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking blockbuster trilogy, the answer is: apparently, you don’t. Faced with such a daunting task, many directors would have opted for a “bigger is better” approach, as though adding more action, more special effects and more villains can make what is actually a mere repetition of the same story feel fresh. Instead, Nolan finds new creative ground to mine, resulting in a film that seeks to complement, rather than copy, its predecessors. By combining the intimacy of Batman Begins with the ambitious scope and intellectual musings of The Dark Knight, Rises delivers both as a compelling piece of entertainment on its own and a natural extension of previous installments.