As I'm combing through these reviews it's safe to say that Christopher Nolan has not only met the high expectations of fans and critics, but more importantly conquered the curse of the third film in a franchise. Which is something that eluded films like Godfather 3, Alien 3, Superman III, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Toy Story 3, just to name a few.
Few blockbusters have borne so heavy a burden of audience expectation as Christopher Nolan's final Batman caper, and the filmmaker steps up to the occasion with a cataclysmic vision of Gotham City under siege in "The Dark Knight Rises." Running an exhilarating, exhausting 164 minutes, Nolan's trilogy-capping epic sends Batman to a literal pit of despair, restoring him to the core of a legend that questions, and powerfully affirms, the need for heroism in a fallen world. If it never quite matches the brilliance of 2008's "The Dark Knight," this hugely ambitious action-drama nonetheless retains the moral urgency and serious-minded pulp instincts that have made the Warners franchise a beacon of integrity in an increasingly comicbook-driven Hollywood universe. Global B.O. domination awaits.
The Hollywood Reporter - SPOILERS!
The real world threats of terrorism, political anarchy and economic instability make deep incursions into the cinematic comic book domain in The Dark Knight Rises. Big-time Hollywood filmmaking at its most massively accomplished, this last installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy makes everything in the rival Marvel universe look thoroughly silly and childish. Entirely enveloping and at times unnerving in a relevant way one would never have imagined, as a cohesive whole this ranks as the best of Nolan's trio, even if it lacks -- how could it not? -- an element as unique as Heath Ledger's immortal turn in The Dark Knight. It's a blockbuster by any standard.The director daringly pushes the credibility of a Gotham City besieged by nuclear-armed revolutionaries to such an extent that it momentarily seems absurd that a guy in a costume who refuses to kill people could conceivably show up to save the day. This is especially true since Nolan, probably more than any other filmmaker who's ever gotten seriously involved with a superhero character, has gone so far to unmask and debilitate such a figure. But he gets away with it and, unlike some interludes in the previous films, everything here is lucid, to the point and on the mark, richly filling out (especially when seen in the IMAX format) every moment of the 164-minute running time.
The film has several exciting action set-pieces, many of which utilize the aerial vehicle The Bat, but none of which provoke the kind of jaw-dropping reaction that the truck flip did in The Dark Knight. Still, there are enough brawls, chases, and stuff going boom to satisfy hungry action fans. The battle in the streets pitting Bane’s army against Batman and the GCPD is quite a sight to behold in IMAX. Speaking of which, far more of this film was shot in IMAX than The Dark Knight, but the transitions here between full screen IMAX and the almost “letterbox” effect of regular film can be jarring. That said, IMAX really is the best way to watch this movie.The aforementioned gripes aside, director Christopher Nolan and his team have delivered the grandest, most emotional and superheroic chapter in their Batman saga. The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting emotional and narrative conclusion to this particular interpretation of the enduring story of Bruce Wayne the man and Batman the legend.
In a season filled with big movies that somehow ask even bigger questions, “The Dark Knight Rises” feels like the superego to its competition’s id. An action opus that manages at to be both viscerally and intellectually engaging, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated third Batman film comes full circle, examining both the Dark Knight and the society that produced him without sacrificing any of the sweeping thrills for which the series is known. A literate, thoughtful and invigorating finale, “The Dark Knight Rises” delivers everything audiences ask for and then some, albeit in fewer of the ways that they might expect.If, as Badass Digest argues, “The Avengers” “defeated irony and cynicism,” then “The Dark Knight Rises” feels like the rock-bottom, lowest-point examination of ourselves which provides the substance to make Joss Whedon’s optimistic vision endure. Because Nolan’s film is a reminder that superheroes aren’t merely a frivolous distraction, or even a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but an embodiment of our best selves – or at least what we want our best selves to be. A cinematic, cultural and personal triumph, “The Dark Knight Rises” is emotionally inspiring, aesthetically significant and critically important for America itself – as a mirror of both sober reflection and resilient hope.