There was an opportunity here for Nolan to show us another way, to (again) stretch the boundaries of what is possible in a superhero film. Instead, alas, the latter half of The Dark Knight Rises retreats toward conventionality.
At over two hours and forty minutes long, with repeated scenes of bone-crunching violence and a maddeningly unrelenting percussive score by Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises is something of an ordeal to sit through.
Moments are stretched. Every recollection must be illustrated by a flashback. Character motivations shift on a dime, and if you understand even half of what's going on -- not generally, but specifically -- you'll be doing better than most.
Speaking lines they cannot possibly understand, not one actor makes any attempt to be believable. So manufactured and synthetic that they eventually lose all sense of reality, they're like reconstituted orange juice and processed cheese.
A disturbing experience we live through as much as a film we watch, this dazzling conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is more than an exceptional superhero movie, it is masterful filmmaking by any standard.
While director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale's epic of criminality and all-consuming conviction ultimately falls a bit short, their Batman trilogy ends with a suitably thrilling mix of guts and glory.
[Nolan] has made a completely satisfying movie with The Dark Knight Rises, one steeped enough in self-contained mythology to reward hard-core fans while giving less invested viewers a rousing, adroitly executed piece of popcorn entertainment.
"Merely great" feels like the most backhanded of compliments, but when a filmmaker is coming off a one-two punch of pop masterpieces like The Dark Knight and Inception, expectations get invariably raised for what comes next.
For once a melodrama with pulp origins convinces viewers that it can be the modern equivalent to Greek myths or a Jonathan Swift satire. TDKR is that big, that bitter -- a film of grand ambitions and epic achievement.
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.