It is very good. It's somewhat doomed, like Return of the Jedi, by being the third part of a trilogy where the previous chapters were cultural phenomenons and the third one was "just" a well-crafted and enjoyable film. There were no Ewoks or anything, I think, for fans to criticize for years to come, but I think the death of Heath Ledger and the magic of his performance as the Joker left a hole in the series that no one could completely fill. But the movie only suffers from the bar having been set so high. It really was a damn good movie.
Anne Hathaway's Catwoman is great. Sexy (but not oversexed), smart, strong, and cunning, with a warped sense of ethics but not exactly evil. Other than maybe wanting a little more from her, it's everything I could want from Catwoman.
Tom Hardy was quite good as Bane. I find characters whose mouths are covered can sometimes take you out of the reality of the movie. In movies, when you hear a voice but don't see their lips move, we're usually hearing a character's narration. But that's everything Bane says, we never see his lips move. It creates a disconnect for me. I had the same problem with the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man. It doesn't seem to be an issue for everyone, but that took away from it a bit for me. But Tom Hardy bulked up nicely and was entirely believable as someone who could take Batman in a fight, but also the brains and charisma to make big plans and get an army to follow him.
In addition to pulling in elements from the first two movies, The Dark Knight Rises drew on some classic Batman comic books for inspiration. For anyone interested in further reading:
- Knightfall was the first major Bane story and the one every comic fan associates with the character. The first part of Knightfall focuses on Bane and his quest to, as he puts it, "break the Bat," and it is quite exciting. The next two parts are not very good, feature a character (John Paul Valley, aka Azreal) that is widely disliked, and I do not recommend them.
- No Man's Land is a sprawling event that takes place after a massive earthquake decimates Gotham. The damage is so great and the potential repairs so staggeringly expensive that Gotham is evacuated and closed off, but not everyone can get out. And most of its criminals don't want to leave.
- The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comics of all time, and tells the story of an older Bruce Wayne, long retired from costumed crimefighting, forced to don the cape and cowl again when Gotham becomes overrun by both his old nemeses and a new gang.