So it's really long at 2h44m, and it definitely does feel it, especially in the middle section. The last reel is where it really gets going but by then you're like fuck, I have a bladder the size of a football, I have a headache and i'm exhausted because i've already watched the movie for 2 hours before we even get to the end reel. The pace just really drops in the middle section, not that there aren't some good scenes, but still.
So I didn't like how it was eight years later and basically everyone from the last movies is tired and depressed. Gordon gets shot and spends half the film sitting in a hospital bed, though JGL as Blake does a fine job at taking over his role as detective. Meanwhile Alfred spends basically the whole film crying to Bruce about how he won't bury him. I'm not even joking, I think he starts crying in every scene he's in. I don't know what happened to the dependable guy we saw before, I guess even he had enough, but it was a really weird dynamic for me.
And Bruce starts off the movie as a Howard Hughes type recluse, and then shaves his beard and puts on a mechanical leg brace thing and he's basically back to normal. Also when Bane breaks his back and puts him in the prison, how in the fuck is he able to walk again? Apparently you can fix a broken back by doing a few pushups, who knew?
So as for what I did like, I really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake. He does a really good job, he's enthusiastic (a "hothead") and interesting as a character, and we spend a lot of time with him. They spend a lot of time setting up the whole 'next guy to take on the mantle' thing, and his first name which he doesn't use is revealed to be Robin. I think he would make a great Robin for what it's worth, although as this is the last in this series we probably won't see him. Even though I would like to see him try that role, i'm happy enough with it being heavily hinted at rather than explicitly shown.
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was good, she looks good in the suit and she says and does all the right stuff... She just wasn't amazing as her, there was something missing. She didn't totally embody the role for my money, the casting was a little off. She just doesn't quite have that sense of danger oozing from every pore like she should. She also could have put in a bit more work at the gym, she was slim and lean rather than toned and aggressive. Again, she was good but not stellar.
So Bane. Bane is a bit of an issue with the movie, not least because of the stupid voice-muffling face mask. Seriously, how many characters in these damn movies have ridiculous voices? Anyway, I think he was...good, but he's just not that interesting. He's intimidating for sure, and brutal yet calculating. All that is good, but he just isn't as interesting a character as someone like the Joker. Obviously it doesn't help that most of his face is covered in the mask, he has to do his acting through stage presence and kind of exaggerated eye and eyebrow movements. He just doesn't have that much of an arc, though they tried to do some stuff with his backstory through flashbacks etc. I liked when his mask got damaged and he lost his cool, started frantically wrecking shit, trying to get at Batman before he ran out of magic gas or whatever. I wish they would have actually explained what the deal was with that, it's never even mentioned.
As for his plan, it is not as scary or exciting as Joker's in TDK. Joker is like "come nightfall, the city is mine". Bane is like "so we've got this nuke that will go off... in five months". It's not as immediate obviously, and that definitely reduces it's impact. Joker is wrecking shit up, starts blowing up hospitals, judges, Harvey and Rachel etc.. You don't know where to turn. I feel like Joker's methods of chaos and inciting panic among the populace, the city turning on itself in a mad scramble was way more exciting and tense than what happens here, where Bane comes in with an army of prisoners, and basically occupies the city for five months. They ransack the city, and it's like scenes from WW2 Stalingrad or something, but by definition it isn't as exciting. Sure I guess Bane wants the city to feel hope before he crushes it or something, but it doesn't work for me.
So you've got the comparison with the previous film, as it being the most like it in terms of a big crazy villain and 'epic' shit going on, but the film also hearkens back a lot to Batman Begins. I guess that was a decision to kind of bring it all back around, to a kind of circular theme, make it feel like a bookended series. But the thing is that it involves a lot of plot and backstory and flashbacks etc that i'm not really sure were needed. Did we really need to have Bruce climb out of a big hole in the ground again? And all the revelations about Talia Al Ghul etc, and Bane finshing off what Ra's Al Ghul started, were kind of... I don't know, it was interesting but it sure took up a lot of running time. Kind of saps the energy of the film.
I don't know, it's a good movie but it's quite burdened by it's own storytelling weight, the need to wrap everything up and link it back to the first film, and the slow middle. It sounds like i'm being really negative, it is a good movie, it's just not great. It's very dark and heavy, but doesn't pull off the danger and excitement as well as The Dark Knight did.
I also have a couple of nitpicks, like what happened to Bane? He gets blasted by Catwoman on the Batpod and then they don't even show whether he's dead or what. And the scene where Lucius Fox finds out that the autopilot on the Bat was functional. Was that necessary? Batman sacrificing himself for the city because there's no other way is heroic. But doing it because you're emo and want to kill yourself is pretty stupid imo.