Epic scope and vision.

If you’ve got the time and the attention span, try watching these three films back-to-back. It will take you a few hours and lots of popcorn, but that’s when you get a sense of the sheer scope of what director Christopher Nolan attempted with this trilogy.

It’s epic all right. Not only in terms of the scale and technological achievements, but the luscious cinematography, excellent characterisation and broody feel.

He set out to craft a body of work that will stand the test of time and it captures not only the comic book character as reimagined by Frank Miller, but also understands the importance of symbolism, drawing on imagery from the comic books to underscore Batman’s use of symbols.

Gotham is also re-created throughout the three films as a thoroughly modern city, mired in corruption and greed. The detailed sets of the film are peopled by very real characters who evolve over the three films in a very credible way.

The first film – Batman Begins – is the set-up for the character, explaining from the beginning how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) becomes Batman and introduces all the favoured characters like the ever-loyal Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and policeman Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).

Getting under the skin of this very human superhero, Bale broods less than Michael Keaton, but isn’t as camp as Val Kilmer and creates a believably flawed and moody character.

The second film – The Dark Knight – is the best, not least because of the stellar performance from Heath Ledger as the Joker. In addition to being a complex superhero film, it also works as a clever crime thriller and Ledger inhabits the psychopathic character in a disturbingly real way.

In contrast, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhard) is the shining knight, but he, too, turns out to have his flaws when pushed too far by the Joker, setting up the denouement of the third film, which is set eight years after the second film.

Tom Hardy’s Bane is a seriously ruthless opponent for the long, dark winter of Batman’s discontent, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a welcome ray of hope (and a potential successor to Bale’s Batman) as policeman, John Blake.

Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle has the best lines, while Marion Cottilard’s Miranda Tait helps to confuse matters a great deal.

The third film takes a bit too long to get to the point. It is dark and gets bogged down in its own importance, but it is satisfying when you watch it in conjunction with the first two films.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Now this is more like it. This box set not only has three discs of extra features, but also a little booklet of graphic art if you get the “special edition”. Pictures and drawings of set and costume design are interspersed with photographs taken on the film set of various characters.

The three discs vary in content – the first one only contains one extended feature titled The Journey Begins, while the second one has the most stuff. The Gotham News Network clips are the full version of the news insert we see on the TV in the background of several of The Dark Knight scenes. The features on creating specific scenes explore the technology used to film the trilogy and the different gorgeous designs of the Joker cards are also explored.

The third disc contains a short feature on the Bat Mobile and a print campaign art gallery which is just that, and rather boring, but it does make me wonder what’s on the Blu-Ray discs.

The behind-the-scenes feature on ending the filmic character is very poignant, as everyone talks about how they felt the need to honour the character. – Theresa Smith