When I saw 'The Dark Knight Rises' I was blown away. The film completely took me by surprise, however not in the way you'd expect. I'd pretty much guessed all the major plot twists in advance, especially John Blake being Robin and inheriting the Batcave. No, the film surprised me due to how much I enjoyed it!
As someone who reads comic-books and loves superheroes I've, surprisingly, never really found Batman that interesting. Not that I don't think he's a good character, I've just never connected with the character and his stories. He's fine with the JLA and I enjoy his supporting characters but not solo Bruce Wayne. I'm probably one of the few people left in the world who haven't seen 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' so I wasn't particularly excited to see 'The Dark Knight Rises'. However I went along anyway and have to say I'm glad I did.
Christopher Nolan crafted a truly great film which didn't dumb itself down to appeal to the usual summer film audience. The film tackled it's themes well and did really make you think. As I've said above I'd pretty much guessed the ending (other than Talia Al Ghul showing up) but the plot was amazing in scope and well-written. Generally the pacing was perfect, although I did wish some scenes were slightly shorter, but that's a small complaint. The effects and cinematography were also done incredibly well helping to create a truly great film.
Even better, unlike many superhero films, all of the actors put in solid performances. Christian Bale was great as Bruce Wayne, as I've heard he is in the other films, although what's up with the Batman voice? I couldn't help but laugh at some scenes ("WHERE IS THE TRIGGER!?"). All of the supporting cast were great, but especially Anne Hathaway. Her performance as Catwoman was brilliant. In fact I don't think I've ever seen a film with Anne Hathaway I haven't liked (this bodes well for Les Miserables).
Although I hate to seem negative, I do have some slight complaints. As I've said above, I didn't particularly enjoy the Batman voice. It was quite distracting in some scenes and I found it hard to understand at times. Also I'd have loved to John Blake wear one of Robin's outfits. Sure the original costume wouldn't have suited the film but a variation on the Nightwing costume would have worked fine. This last complaints has nothing to do with the film and is simply to do with me but all I could see everytime Alfred was on screen was 'A Muppets Christmas Carol'. I left the cinema with 'One More Sleep 'Til Christmas' in my head.
Despite not feeling the same level of anticipation I felt for 'The Avengers' or 'The Amazing Spider-Man', I loved this film! Although I'm not 100% behind the gritty approach to superheroes it allowed the film to tackle it themes in a much stronger way than this years other comic book adaptions, and created an amazing adaption and stand-alone film.
Four and a half stars
On a slightly different note if Warner Brothers don't use John Blake in the 'Justice League' movie they are insane. The 'Man of Steel' teaser looks like it could easily exist in the Nolanverse and they'd already have two characters established before the film (rumoured for 2015). They'd only need to make a Wonder Woman film and the main trio are complete.