Hard to Articulate
A few hours after seeing this movie, it's still difficult to come to a comprehensive verdict. I know it was amazing, but to articulate all the ways it was would lead to an excessively long review. I'll keep it spoiler free and try to summarise as best as possible.
I'll start with the cast. It says a lot that many cast members are absent for a large part of the film, as it jumps from character to character, yet each actor, particularly Gary Oldman and Michael Caine, created such an impact, and left such a tangible impression. Special praise to Hathaway and Hardy for being completely new characters, yet completely suited to the story. To the comments on Bane's blandness as a villian, let me tell you this: his role in the story and film fits so perfectly that to imagine any other type of conclusion would be nigh impossible. For every bit of the Joker's impulsive nihilism, Bane gives a carefully constructed and technically intricate course of action. He is a different type of monster, and in every way that the Joker was threatening-his smile, words and actions, Bane employs a different arsenal to grip the audience-melodrama, violence and a stinging social commentary on modern issues. Indeed, the film's social awareness amazed and enthralled me. It was something that now seems unavoidable, but nobody was expecting. Bale, as the broken Bruce Wayne has never been so perfectly haunted. The inclusion of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character provided a nice measure for the character of Bruce Wayne, and gave perspective to his motivations. And needless to say, never has there been such a perfect, stirring and rousing depiction of Batman. Even better than The Dark Knight, this film essentially gives us the most perfect characterisation of Batman both in and outside of comics. It's quite simply amazing.
As a comic book movie, this film might leave fans wanting. But any enjoyer of cinema, from the hardcore to the occasional, will find something to enjoy in this movie. Nolan forgoes the comic book aspect for the realism and gritty contemporary setting. Comparisons to The Avengers will inevitably surface, but it's like comparing the merits of Tarantino vs Kubrick. Both make extraordinarily good films, yet they set out to different things. The Avengers was an immensely satisfying popcorn superhero trope. The Dark Knight Rises breaks down the very notion of the superhero, reconstructing it with the framework of our social context. Quite simply, both work, but TDKR goes deeper than any 'comic book' film has ever gone, or I dare say, ever will. Setting aside Toy Story, Chris Nolan has simply created the most fully realised, intrinsic trilogy of films I can think of. Be sure to sound off in the comments if you disagree, but I found upon viewing all three in the same day that as a whole, complete trilogy, each film worked beautifully of the others. In particular, as a conclusion to the series, this film worked as the best case scenario, then some. Playing on the audiences expectation, Nolan uses these expectations to subvert the audience and entirely reshape their perspective within the first forty minutes. The character work is engrossing, the plot direction and content is utterly brilliant, and most importantly, it feels like a Batman story. The Nolan brothers and David S Goyer feel like they have a better handle on the character than all but the most classic of Batman scribes. And while much of their work is based on these stories, their appropriation of plot elements and their selection of source material succeeds in differentiating the trilogy.
Not to be lost amid the dramatic tension and characterisation, the visual spectacle of this film has progressed since Dark Knight. Each Nolan film has had a different Gotham, in my opinion, to match the tone and pace of the story. Seeing as how Gotham remains at the core of the story, never has it felt so fully realised, or so beautifully presented. The city truly rings alive, and its the little things that make it feel so real. The sense of place is astonishing, and Nolan fully capitilises on this to service the characters and plot. The action of the film is also treated likewise. Never gimmicky or cheap, TDKR succeeds as an action movie on its own level, while never lessening the effect of such set pieces. They are well placed, and the divergent story lines helped keep things moving, with each plot line being utilised to allow the others to breath. For those who fear their precious ass-kickery will be overlooked, fear not. Two words to ease your tension: The Bat.
The direction of the film, by Chris Nolan, if you haven't already guessed, is on par, if not above, the quality of the previous two films. By quality, I don't mean camera work or scripting, but this film is so ambitious, that I can't recall the last summer movie that was even half so ambitious. Nolan's juggling of the individual elements into a cohesive whole is quite frankly, astonishing. He really goes all out, and his love for the source material and characters permeates every scene of the film, whether through his loving treatment of the characters or his unforgiving trials. Either way, both Whedon and Nolan share at least one thing in common: their love of the characters. Ultimately, it's why both these films are so successful, in their own ways. Ultimately, it's what will always separate this trilogy.
in conclusion, TDKR may be the most divisive Nolan entry into the Batman franchise, but it is arguably the most ambitious, thoughtful and important Batman film ever made. Yes, more important than The Dark Knight. While the trilogy, as a whole, examines every aspect of Batman and Bruce Wayne, TDKR holds the most thematic weight. Without it, we can almost completely miss the point. While I was content with only two films only 5 hours ago, this film has not only radically altered my view of the Batman films, but my entire cinematic landscape. The Dark Knight Rises is a thoroughly engaging presentation of Batman, and a perfect representation of his legacy. As I'm reviewing this at a comic book review site, I will say that this trilogy, in my opinion, is the greatest Batman story I've ever seen or read. Important for so many reasons, especially with concern to our own society, TDKR will be remembered for years to come, whether for good or bad, as a career defining work from Christopher Nolan, and a genre defining piece of cinema. All but impeccable.
Sound off in the comments of PM me with some feedback. It would be great to hear what you all thought of the film, review or anything I mentioned above. Hope you all enjoy(ed) it.