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The 25 Best Movies Of Summer 2012

8. The Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Josh Pence

With staggering ambition comes the occasional misstep, and Christopher Nolan's third, and final, Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises certainly has its fair share of slip-ups. While being swept away in every stirring, visceral, and emotionally resonant moment, audiences can't help but succumb to Nolan's magic, but take a few post-viewing steps back and the film's script begs a large number of questions.

Here are a few: How could they end Bane's (Tom Hardy) story-line with such an anticlimactic punch line? How in Sam hell did Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) manage to restore his broken-down body, with its cartilage-less knees, to walk properly, let alone fight an army of bad guys? And how could Batman's customized airplane get away from that nuclear bomb's three-mile blast radius?

Taking such logical questions into consideration, it's inevitable to label The Dark Knight Rises an inferior follow-up to Nolan's 2008 masterwork The Dark Knight. But here's the thing: Even with those flaws, The Dark Knight Rises is still superior to any summer blockbuster in recent memory.

With the odds against him, post-Heath Ledger and mountains' worth of piled-up expectations, Nolan relied upon his dazzling visual sense and command of high-stakes emotion to put together a satisfying conclusion to arguably the greatest big screen trilogy of all time (don't act like The Dark Knight Rises isn't superior to The Godfather Part III). And as far as comic book movies go, we'll take an imperfect showstopper of this caliber over formulaic efforts like The Amazing Spider-Man any day.

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