I have to admit the first time I saw the Dark Knight Rises I wasn’t keen on the film. In truth when I watched it I was bored. I felt like Bane was just a poorer version of The Joker trying to make the world descend into chaos.
On having seen it again though, I do appreciate that it is a good film. It’s better than Batman Begins, but not as a good as The Dark Knight. One of the reasons I don’t think it is as a good is because it relies heavily on what happened in the first two films. You can watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as stand-alone films and not be confused.
As far as I remember the only references made in the second film to what happens in the first film is a short comment by Alfred about the manor needing to be rebuilt, and Cillian Murphy making a brief cameo, neither of which affects the plot.
If you watched the Dark Knight Rises without having seen the other two films you wouldn’t understand many of the references and the true nature of the villain and their origins wouldn’t have as much of an impact. I was bored because the films just goes over old ground without bringing very many new ideas.
What I do really like about this film though is how many of the secondary characters have a much more prominent role and show that they don’t need to be Batman to be a hero. I know that one of the major criticisms of the film is that there isn’t very much screen time for Batman. Not being a Batman fan this didn’t bother me much, though I will admit I was excited in the same way the older police officer was when Batman gunned down a tunnel on his motorcycle.
This lack of Batman though meant it was easier for Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordan-Levitt to be the heroes in the meanwhile by being decent police officers. One of the things I was never keen on was the level of corruption within the justice system in Gotham: I know it is the reason why the city needs Batman, because he isn’t corruptible, but having to watch Oldman, and in this film Gordan-Levitt as well, struggle trying to be a decent cop just doing their job was tough. Seeing them getting to step up and prove themselves because even Batman wasn’t there any more to save them was well worth it.
So I’m not the biggest fan of the film, and much of that is because it relies far too much on what was good about its predecessors, but it does have some merits, and it is a good end to the Nolan Trilogy.