The Dark Knight Rises is Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated conclusion to his unique take on the Batman universe. Being a large fan of the comics, I didn't have high hopes for it. I felt too many liberties looked like they were being taken with the character and backstory of Bane, and I wasn't looking forward to seeing Catwoman at all, considering the fact that I can't stand the character or Anne Hathaway. I always thought that Nolan was limiting himself by having his Batman universe be so realistic, as certain villains were then unable to be used (Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, etc.) I didn't enjoy Batman Begins very much, but I did love The Dark Knight. (I will say, however, that I felt people praised it a bit more than it deserved just because of Heath Ledger's tragic death. And I felt Two-Face's character became a lot less interesting because of the decision to drop the multiple personality disorder I've grown fond of in the comics.)
But this film kicked ass. Let me just say that I'm glad the rumor's about the Riddler being the villain weren't true (he's my favorite Batman villain, but Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio were rumored to play him and I would have hated either men in the role.) Bane's new costume looks way better in action than I thought it would, and thank the lord, because Catwoman's role is kept minimal. (Trust me, her character is just as bland and uninteresting on the screen as she is on the page.) Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Caine really stole the movie, however. Sir Michael Caine nearly had me tearing up at certain points. The fight scenes are another thing that stood out. They were some of the most well choreographed fight scenes I've seen in a long, long while. The animosity of Bane is so beautifully portrayed, one can't help but wish they were as badass. As with any movie, though, there are some things I would've changed.
(MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW)
I loved that they stayed true to the comics in some parts. I was smiling like a lunatic when the film recreated the famous Breaking of the Bat. I was also relieved that Talia came in to thwart the previous allegation that Bane was the son of Ra's Al Ghul. It was a nice thing to do, as it really threw a bone to the real fans of the comics. Average moviegoers might find it an absurd plot twist, though.
I also wish that Joseph Gordon Levitt's character would've ended up becoming Azrael, as that is the character that originally took up the mantle of the Bat after Bane broke his back. Azrael was also a member of the Gotham City Police Department beforehand as well. The fact that they had his legal name be "Robin" felt a little ridiculous to me, but I suppose using any of the actual names from the comics would've spoiled the surprise at the end. But Joseph Gordon-Levitt was phenomenal.
I also am disappointed that Black Mask didn't make the cameo I heard he was rumored to make, as I kept waiting for it the whole film. But again, I think that was for the best, as it would've given Catwoman more to do, and I would not have enjoyed that very much. A certain Jonathan Crane makes a cameo that almost more than made up for the absence of Sionis, though.
As for the ending, I wished they had just let Bruce Wayne die. Honestly, it's the last of the trilogy, you don't need to keep the main character alive, and you really made me think you had some balls by having him sacrifice himself. Of course, that wouldn't have sat well with a lot of others. And I'm also not sure that Catwoman and Batman should have been together at the end. They're relationship has always been kind of rocky.
But the decisions that were made were made, and I want more. It's really bittersweet. Each film in the Dark Knight trilogy improved upon the others, and even though trying to do a sequel or spinoff would most likely just fail miserably, I can't deny that I'd pay money to go see either one. Batman and Robin together in that dark, gritty universe would be awesome, as would a Nightwing spinoff.
All in all… what a movie. I am pleasantly surprised. And I sure as hell deserve to be after how much of a letdown the new Spidey was.