Mild spoliers ahead.
We went to see it at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on Saturday and I have to say, I was very impressed. I've not been the biggest fan of Nolan's take on the Batman legacy, but by this, the third instalment, I was willing to let go of my reservations and just go with his vision.
The fundamental flaws I perceived in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were these: firstly, trying to turn the Batman mythos into a reality-based, completely believable, The Wire-type universe was too limiting, and secondly that Christian Bale didn't convince me as he was neither a charming Bruce Wayne nor a threatening Batman. Maybe it's the silly voice?
By now Nolan has a very firm grasp on the material, and is able to execute his own take on the mythos with great ease. It's maybe taken his three attempts to get there, but he has arrived, and it was worth the wait. There's an ease and a fluidity in the story-telling now that wasn't there before.
Other elements that annoyed me before are neatly taken care of here. Take Michael Caine for instance. I'm sorry, but Michael Caine is NOT Alfred, he is simply Michael Caine with a serving dish, and acts as a constant reminder that this is no ordinary superhero franchise, it's serious. Thankfully, Caine disappears pretty early on in TDKR, and his purpose is simply to be an emotional cypher, something he does very well.
In fact, the entire cast are on top form here. Even Morgan Freeman has more to do than being just another reminder, like Caine, of how serious this franchise is. Even Bale delivers, despite the silly voice, and his Bruce Wayne-as-reclusive-loner is much more convincing than Bruce Wayne-as-charmless-playboy.
But biggest props of all go to the other "heroes". Tom Hardy is excellent as Bane, emoting with merely his eyes and his neck muscles, and despite the constant comparisons to Heath Ledger's Joker (a wildly different character) comfortably holds his own. He'd also whip the Joker's ass, easy.
However, the whole show was stolen for me by Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, who thankfully is NEVER refered to as "Catwoman", though the word "cat:" is mentioned a couple of times. I have to admit I was very doubtful about the casting choice of Hathaway. Not that I dislike her as an actress, but that I doubted her suitability for the role. I am glad to say I was proven very wrong, and Hathaway delivers in spades. She is slinky and feline, without ever resorting to linking the back of her hand and uttering "meow", and physically a presence to be reckoned with.
I'll definitely be going to see this again, probably in the IMAX to see the stunts in glorious large-screen format, and if there is any kind of a follow up to this film, I hope Hathaway as Selina Kyle has a key role.