Chris Nolan has already set the bar for superhero movies really damn high, and he has once again set it higher. I'll try to avoid spoilers, so this will be brief. Bane is a wonderfully frightening villain who really tests Batman's limits, both physical and mental. This is also an older Batman, who has shut himself inside his mansion for years, and walks with a cane. But now he has to overcome his pain (emotional and physical) and come out of retirement. Oh yeah, the theme of this movie is pain, and it's played very well.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (who is never actually explicitly called Catwoman) is pretty good, although I think her character was underdeveloped. Mostly it's a movie for the regulars to shine--Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and a surprisingly larger role for Joseph Gorden Levitt as Detective Blake. Which reminds me--I love the ending. Not to give away details, but it wraps stuff up neatly while still leaving it wide open for a sequel. I get the sense that Nolan is done with the series, but someone willing to stick to the sensibility could still carry it forward.
Now for the things that have bugged me all through the series, and continue here. First and foremost, I've said before that I miss Tim Burton's sense of fun in his Batman movies (I don't, however, miss Joel Schumacher's sense of crap-tacularity.) I think what I loved most about Heath Ledger's Joker was that for all the menace he portrayed there was a nasty sense of humor behind it. There's no humor in the rest of Nolan's Batman world. Second, I never liked the Batman growl Christain Bale did. I understand part of the disguise would be changing his voice, but I just didn't like his Batman voice.
And finally, one thing to note about this movie is it's really an epic. It takes place over several months (about half a year, in fact,) and that's kind of surprising for a superhero movie. We're used to maybe an extended origins sequence, but the main battle takes place in a compressed time period. Not here, and that took some getting used to.
Well, that's it. More a collection of random thoughts than a coherent review. But I'm sure there are thousands of reviews out on the Internets now, so I don't feel the need to contribute yet another one.
Running Time: 164 minutes
My Total Minutes: 292,029