DVD Release Date: December 4, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: July 20, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language)
Genre: Superhero/Action/Adventure/Crime/Sequel
Run Time: 164 min.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Michael Caine, Matthew Modine

Considering just how thoroughly unhinged—and completely terrifying—the scene-stealing Joker was in 2008’s The Dark Knight, it’s hard imagining an even more formidable foe for everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader.

But with the mumbling, muzzled madman Bane (Tom Hardy, Inception), director Christopher Nolan has delivered just that in the final chapter of his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. With a major axe to grind against Gotham and the well-to-do people who inhabit it, such as billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale, The Fighter), Bane may not be quite as fun to watch as the Joker, but he’s got some serious brute strength nonetheless.

Where the Joker and other Batman rogues deliciously prattled on, Bane is the sort of criminal who prefers to be seen rather than heard. Particularly challenged in the enunciation department, 90 percent of Hardy's lines register as barely intelligible. But don’t let the fact that you can’t understand him frustrate you. Nolan makes sure a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and you know in the first few minutes that things aren’t looking good for Gotham, let alone Batman.

Speaking of Bruce/Batman, he’s gone a bit "Howard Hughes" for the past eight years. Since the murder of Gotham’s pride and joy, supposed “white knight” Harvey Dent, was pinned on him, he has stopped shaving and bathing, hobbling around aimlessly with a cane. Naturally, trusty butler Alfred (Michael Caine, The Prestige) can’t bear to see him so miserable, so he encourages Bruce to embrace a normal civilian life and retire the rubber suit - not to mention that pesky sense of responsibility - for good. But since Bruce hasn’t gotten over the murder of his beloved Rachel, he doesn’t think any of that’s possible.

Back in Gotham City, local law enforcement is selling a message of peace to residents, but underground, there’s a decidedly sinister “Occupy Gotham” plot happening thanks to Bane and his equally impassioned cronies. Determined to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots and ultimately give the power back to the people, Bane’s first order of business is to fix the stock market, which has a pretty dramatic impact on Bruce Wayne.

Yes, believe it or not, the billionaire is now feeling the effects of the recession in a major way when his identity is stolen, bad trades are executed, and Wayne Enterprise’s funds are completely depleted. It’s here where you get a very clear sense of the contemporary social issues on Nolan’s mind as The Dark Knight Rises’ tone grows more ominous by the moment.