IF you thought Heath Ledger’s Joker was intimidating in the last Batman film, just wait until you see Bane.

Tom Hardy’s performance as the enigmatic terrorist in The Dark Knight Rises might not quite be able to top the late actor’s role as a psychotic crimelord.

But as a villain, Bane is much more cold, calculated and terrifying. Hardy is unrecognisable as the hulking masked foe.

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) now lives in self-imposed exile.

He is still haunted after his alter-ego Batman took the rap for District Attorney Harvey Dent’s crimes, destroying his hero reputation.

But when Bane orchestrates a huge terrorist plot that hits Wayne directly and brings Gotham City to its knees, Batman is compelled to come out of hiding.

Director Christopher Nolan promised an epic conclusion to his trilogy - and he meant it.

Expect gladiatorial scale combat between police and criminals and widespread destruction while Batman swaps the road for the skies with ‘The Bat’.

The ensemble cast return on fine form including Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox and Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth.

Nolan also seems to juggle the extended cast with ease as well as sneaking in a couple of cameo appearances.

Anne Hathaway is superb as the slinky jewel thief Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his mark as the idealistic cop John Blake.

Completing his trilogy, Nolan has accomplished a great body of work with the final film tying together the strands and themes from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight He even finds room to put in a few nods to the comic book fans and hints for where the Batman saga will go next.

The Dark Knight Rises leaves little to criticise but a sequence in which Batman is trapped seems to tie the story down.

And you are left with the impression that there is a little bit of studio interference with the ending.

But go along with the ride and you will leave the cinema stunned.

On a final note, it is really worth seeing The Dark Knight Rises at an IMAX cinema to really do it justice.

Nolan shot 70 minutes of the film in an IMAX camera which filled the 26.3m wide by 18.7m high screen at the Odeon Printworks. The format proved an absolute spectacle.