Critics have angered Batman fans online (Warner Bros)

User comments have been suspended on reviews of The Dark Knight Rises on the popular after fans bombarded film critics with abuse.

The owners of the review aggregate site found they were struggling to cope with the number of abusive messages.

The site's editor-in-chief, Matt Atchity, told Associated Press that this was the first time in its history that action had to be taken in response to extreme fan reactions.

He said: "The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether. It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn't even seen."

Anticipation of Christopher Nolan's final chapter in the Batman series has reached fever pitch, with several reviews being criticised for including spoilers for the plot.

Nolans' previous two Batman films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, accrued a passionate fan following and many reacted viciously to negative comments.

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Nick Pinkerton of the Village Voice attracted fans' ire with their negative reviews of the film, which Lemire branded "nonsensical".

AP managing editor Lou Ferrara said: "As a movie writer and critic, Christy gives her opinion and we expect people will agree with some of her reviews and disagree with others.

"It's unfortunate when the conversation turns ugly".

Atchity said the site was considering a change to the Facebook commenting system, in an attempt to cut down on anonymous posts and thus cause commentators to consider their entries. The majority of other review aggregate sites do not allow commenting.

Atchity admitted he was worried about a similar reaction to the release of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings follow-up, The Hobbit, which has a similarly energetic fan following.

He said: "There are a lot of options on the table. We may do away with comments completely or get to a place where comments are only activated after a movie opens."

The Dark Knight Rises has a current Rottentomatoes rating of 87 percent.

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