The Dark Knight Rises ends Christopher Nolans Batman trilogy and presents the most coherent story arc in a series of superhero films so far. While the Marvel and previous DC efforts have mostly been isolated adventures with a few through lines, Nolan and his collaborators have crafted something a bit more novelistic. This culmination of the trilogy reaps the harvest of seeds sown way back in Batman Begins and (if perhaps only in a subtle and incomplete way) challenges the very notion that “being the superhero” is actually the best thing the protagonist could be doing with his life.
TDKR begins by dealing with the consequences of the previous film. The ending of The Dark Knight, I had interpreted as just a set-up for further adventure, but instead has led to a Gotham with increased police powers and no need for Batman. This victory is hollow for its two architects (Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne) because it’s based on a lie.
They don’t have to fret too long about that though, because (as Selena “Catwoman” Kyle) quips to Bruce: “a storm is coming.” That would be a bulked up Tom Hardy as Bane: a bruiser with a needlessly complicated plan and a weird (but engaging, to me at least) mechanically altered voice. Pretty soon, the Dark Knight returns, but only to face a beat down at Bane’s hands and a Knightfall. Then, Bane isolates Gotham and makes it aNo Man’s Land, that the U.S. government fears to intrude on.
TDKR weaves a lot of elements from various Batman storylines (more than I’ve mentioned above) into a coherent enough for a superhero film whole. There are Nolan twists along the way that are not really surprising if one knows the comic sources, but are still dramatically satisfying. The only quibble with one of them is that Batman’s world’s greatest detective skills are hardly in evidence.
The film isn't without problems. The villain’s plot is pretty convoluted and has some logic flaws,which may bug some people. It is a looonngg movie, and there are some things that could have been trimmed. The Bale scratchy Bat-voice is still in evidence--though I’ve gotten use to it after three films.
It doesn’t offer the “fun” of the Avengers or The Amazing Spider-Man, and it probably isn’t as genre expanding as the film proceeding it, but TDKR delivers on the promise of The Dark Knight by giving a dramatically solid payoff to that film and a strong ending to the series.