The Dark Knight Rises
The story picks up eight years after The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is memorized as a hero and Batman has disappeared because of Bruce Wayne vegetating in his house all day until out of the blue, acts of terrorism are committed by a group of mercenaries led by Bane. Wayne revives Batman to fight them but soon finds out that he's up against something he can't fight alone.
Nolan's Batman movies are variations on a theme. In Batman Begins, Wayne has to grow into the role of Batman and fight any enemy that also utilizes fear. In The Dark Knight, Wayne has to deal with the implications Batman has on his personal life and fight an enemy that is the polar opposite of himself. In The Dark Knight Rises, Wayne has to bring back this role he abandoned and fight an enemy that is stronger than himself. In terms of the movie, everything is bigger than in the previous films, the scale of events is much larger, it's more “epic”, as some would call it.
I think The Dark Knight Rises was bad. There are of course good aspects to it. Catwoman for once has been a very positive surprise, but then again I wasn't looking forward to seeing her at all. Anne Hathaway did very well in portraying the classical character in a fashion way more appropriate than the Michelle Pfeiffer dominatrix bullshit from Batman Returns. Gary Oldman played James Gordon very well again and Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps on demonstrating that he can play pretty much every role you throw at him. I also liked the Batwing way more than I suspected beforehand, the Crane mini-role was just as awesome as the Bane signature move, it was nice that they had a pulling-a-Batman-on-Batman joke in it and still I didn't like the movie. Why is that?
In terms of the movie as such, there were things that were mildly annoying. There's not really much dialogue in the film but rather taking turns with uninterrupted monologues that always consist of deep, meaningful speeches. Except for a handful of one-liners. It's written like a theater play. There's also some aspects that are left out that would contribute to the story and the characters, especially the part where Bruce Wayne enters Manhattan and they don't show the cool clever way he did that, not even for a few seconds. Then there's the epicness-thing. The chanting and the infamous scene in the football-stadium come off way too corny for my taste and are so very cinematic and dramatic that it jumps right into your face.
Highlight this portion to read my further complaints that contain massive spoilers:
It's ok to not reveal the antagonist's motivation until the end of the movie, and it's also fine to have a tie-in with the predecessors, but the whole act about “finishing my fathers work” was very weak. The film focuses so much on presenting Bane as the main villain to distract you from Talia that after this huge buildup, it's very underwhelming to learn that he does it just to serve Talia. Now that she's the main antagonist, there's not enough time to make her an interesting character other than the few hasty attempts of presenting her as tough and devoted. Why do these shadow people want to blow up Gotham again? That movie came out several years ago!
Why make the whole thing with “Robin” and him becoming his possible successor so terribly obvious? You get the idea as soon as he stands in front of the waterfall, they shouldn't have used that last bit with him entering the cave. The audience is not stupid, you don't have to explain it in details.
What was the motivation behind becoming Batman again? When he revived Batman, Bane hadn't done anything worse than ruining the stock market for that day.
The worst scene was probably the open onslaught between the police and Bane's people like in a medieval battle instead of taking cover and shooting. Why would they do that?
And then, most importantly: Having Bane literally break Batman is what the character was made for and makes perfect sense. This should have been the highlight of the movie, Bane turning the all powerful Batman that beats the shit out of everyone else into a wreck. It puts the protagonist in a completely new situation and introduces a surprising, sharp contrast to how we know the character. It's a great thing to do but it doesn't work at all because Christopher Nolan started off the film with him already being broken and out of business. There's no sharp contrast because of that, it diminishes the effect that this turning point would have had otherwise. If the story had been that Batman has been active outside public awareness in the meantime, kicks ass as always, then Bane breaks him, the depression sets in, he decides to return after a while and then revives his alter ego, it would have worked way better than seeing him “rise” two times in the same movie. Thus, the potentially most important moment of the film looses it's impact and that's a shame.
What pretty much ruined the movie for me though was something different. This just isn't much of a Batman movie. And by that I don't even mean the subjectively very short screentime that the caped crusader himself had, which is absolutely the case.
I've said this already in regards to Batman comics that revolve around aliens, time travel, parallel dimensions, magic and all that bullshit: Batman should be about a man that fights street crime with his devotion, physical training and detective skills and uses a certain imagery to induce fear. That's it. With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan tries to make this grand scale epic about war and riots and a society collapsing while the last few good men try to fight against the oppressors bla bla bla, mixes in some obvious imagery about overcoming obstacles and then trows Batman into it for a few moments as if he didn't feel like making a Batman movie but he still has to use that character so the studio will be ok with it. It looses complete track of what Batman is about. The Dark Knight still had the mafia and a maniac criminal with a theme in it and it was fine. The Dark Knight Rises feels like a movie about the police and social unrest and three times, Batman shows up as well. I long for a grimdark realistic Batman movie where he saves a lady from muggers, fights the Falcone family and spends time in the Batcave investigating leads in ways the police can't.
The Dark Knight Rises makes a bunch of mistakes in terms of storytelling and exaggerates the spectacle a little too much, but what really messed the movie up in my book was the lack of defining Batman elements in it. Of course it's not a terrible film and many people will like it, but when I go to see a Batman movie I want to see The Goddamn Batman doing what The Goddamn Batman usually does. Batman Begins had that and The Dark Knight as well. This one doesn't, making it the weakest part of the trilogy in my eyes. The “epicness” bored me. I can not recommend watching it.