It is widely expected to be one of the year's highest grossing films, with some critics suggesting that director Christopher Nolan may be in the running for awards season glory. Now the first reactions are in from a select group of bloggers and fans who have seen The Dark Knight Rises, and they are overwhelmingly positive.
The 40 to 50 people who saw a screening in the US last week were told not to publish reviews until the day before the film's official release on 20 July. Some, however, took to Twitter, Facebook and internet forums to express their enthusiasm, though many posts were later removed without explanation.
"The Dark Knight Rises has just finished screening for the press and critics, receiving a STANDING OVATION!!!" wrote "YouTube reviewer" Lauren Hiestand (@nickcarterroxs) on Twitter. Another fan, Tom McAuliffe (@tommcauliffe) added: "So much awesome … can't wait to see it again. And again. And 9 out of 10 for me. I'd put Amazing Spider-Man at a 7.5 and Avengers at an 8.5."
On Facebook, cinemagoer Vince Peluso wrote: "Wow quite speechless at the moment … It was everything I wanted it to be. Some fans will find certain aspects controversial, but in my eyes everything in the film fit the overall scheme of this instalment and the series in general, and Nolan really couldn't have made it any more epic."
Another, unnamed, fan wrote on Facebook: "I myself cried twice, once out of sadness and once out of pure, geeky uncontrollable happiness."
On the reader forum for the Superhero Hype blog, "Scoop" wrote: "I think Bale gives his best performance as Batman and as Bruce Wayne in this one. He was terrific. And I especially loved his bat voice this time around."
While those who have seen the film so far appear to be largely from the fanboy sector of the blogosphere, the early reaction suggests Nolan may have another hit on his hands following the critical successes of 2005's Batman Begins and 2008's The Dark Knight. The final instalment of the trilogy once again stars Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon. New arrivals include Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Gotham cop John Blake. The film's events take place eight years after those of The Dark Knight, with Batman emerging from retirement to face a new threat to his beloved city.