For me, the movie wasn't fun because I basically found a lot of the story to be half-assed to a degree. I felt like Nolan barely skimmed the surface of the subjects he was trying to cover in TDKR. For example, the Robin subplot felt tedious even though JGL was solid. If Nolan really wanted to him to be Robin, he should have actually put him in the final act of the film. Instead, we get the equivalent of a striptease with no payoff. The final shot of the film did nothing for me. If Nolan was going to try to put Robin in the film, he should've had the balls to go all the way with the idea, and not just put his toe in the water like an amateur storyteller. It was Nolan trying to have his cake and eat it too after he'd said he never wanted to do a Robin storyline in his films. Well, he went and did it, but he did a pretty weak version. And he had the perfect moment to actually have Robin emerge after Batman disappears: after the explosions and Batman is in exile.
Which segues into another part that was skimmed: the post-disaster Gotham. What exactly was going on with Gotham in those 2 or 3 months after Bane blew up the stadium and bridges? I have no fucking clue because the movie never bothers to explore what happens. We follow the cops, Batman, John Blake, but not the city. That's something I found lacking that I enjoyed about the Dark Knight. Nolan actually made Gotham feel like a real city whereas in this, it's merely a backdrop. It just felt like it cut from Bane blowing up the bridges to Batman in the prison, and then we fast forward to the ending. It completely wastes the situation. And I mostly blame it on Nolan fumbling around with the first hour and a half of the film. He had all these espionage sub-stories happening that it hurt the rest of the film because he didn't have the time to smell the roses. I would've loved to have seen what happened to Gotham after the disaster, but instead it just becomes an excuse to have the battle between the cops and terrorists/inmates, which for me wasn't really all that exciting to watch.
When I was talking about the movie not being fun, it wasn't because it lacked one-liners, jokes, etc. I don't need that in a Batman film, but what I do want is proper attention to detail. I want to get lost in the story. That's fun to me. With TDKR, I was constantly aware of all the plot mechanics. There were scenes that were literally just to spoon feed information to either the audience or another character (basically all the Gordon scenes in the hospital where JGL runs in to tell him what's happening), or I noticed a common problem with Nolan: he has to always explain the theme of his film through a character. I kind of can't stand that. It was annoying when they did it in Batman Begins, it was annoying in the Dark Knight (when they're all talking about the theme of the movie over dinner in the restaurant), and it's still annoying when they have Alfred or Catwoman talk to Batman about what the movie's about. For me, it's clumsy writing. It's what you're not supposed to do, but Nolan is obsessed with doing that. Why? I have no idea. Maybe he thinks the audience won't get the message unless somebody explains it for us. I really wish he would stop it though. It's a terrible habit.
I couldn't care less whether or not Nolan deviated from the DC universe or changed characters to suit his story. You're supposed to do that as a filmmaker. The problem was that I found his choices to be prosaic. The film lacked depth because it kept insisting that it had depth. I felt as if the film kept hammering at me, "Look, I may be a film about a guy in a cape, but I have depth! Look, there are terrorists destroying a city! Doesn't that remind you of 9/11?!" And yes, it did, but at the same time, Nolan had nothing interesting to say about terrorism, or about what it's like to live in fear of people who are bent on destroying your society. I'm all for comics and adaptations to speak about the time we're living in, but please have something to say about it instead of just borrowing a situation like that for entertainment's sake. That's not smart filmmaking to me. It's as if all Nolan had to say was, "Terrorists are bad people." Again, that seems to be a problem I have with Nolan in that he spends too much time trying to construct a complex plot when deep down, there's not really a whole lot going on in the movie. When Bane goes to the stock market exchange to wreak havoc, it's actually really disappointing to see it was just to make Wayne stock plummet. You'd think somebody in the League would want to just make the whole market crash and still find a way to take control of Wayne Enterprises. But again, it felt so petty once you find out what that whole scenario was for.
The twists were also telegraphed, such as the Talia Al Ghul twist. It would have been more interesting if it came sooner than at the end. She was essentially a plot device disguised as a character. There was no real depth to her as a villain because most of the time she's playing a boring businesswoman named Miranda Tate, which harkens back to my complaint that Nolan half-assed a lot of stories and characters in this film. He gave us the weakest versions of Robin and Talia Al Ghul. Maybe because he thought Bane was so interesting that he didn't need to explore Talia, but I I found him to be a redundant character. Most of his scenes felt the same.
One more thing that bothers me, which again ties back to my assertion that Nolan didn't follow through on his ideas: the scene where Bane reads Gordon's letter to the public. Were we supposed to believe that everyone who saw that on TV actually believed Bane? What was supposed to be the dramatic impact of that moment? The man had a few scraps of paper. He had no real proof. I mean, we live in a time of internet rumors and hearsay, we're a savvy bunch now. Would everyone actually believe what Bane had to say at that point? He may as well have been reading Gordon's diary to a couple of students at lunch time. I found that moment to be really sloppy. It had no dramatic impact because in the end, that moment had no real effect on the rest of the story because Bane would've attacked the prison anyway. It changed nothing in the story. Levitt was mad at Gordon for a scene, but then it's all good. And it doesn't seem to bother other people (which goes back to my point about Nolan not focusing on Gotham at all -- we don't know how it affects people in the city). I just feel Nolan missed something crucial here. Imagine the scene where Bane's people are going after Gordon in the hospital. Now imagine, that instead of the badass "Gordon kills em" moment, what if his men were able to break in the room? Now, what if those men weren't there to kill Gordon but to capture him, and they do. Now the scene with Bane reading the note has more power because guess who's on his knees next to him... Gordon. And Gordon is the one guy who could confirm the letter for the whole city. And he does (let's say Bane threatens the life of a cop or something). And Gordon tells the truth. Nolan could've even upped the ante and had Bane kill Gordon right after his confession... or instead, he lets all the inmates kill Gordon out of revenge of the Dent Act. Now that's drama. That's how you milk a scene for all its worth. And that's why I didn't really enjoy the Dark Knight Rises. I'm glad you guys really dug it. I respect everybody who loves the movie, and you're not going to get any guff from me. I just simply didn't enjoy it and those are my reasons.
I could go on and on with my problems with the film, but I think you guys can get where I'm coming from. I really wanted to enjoy this film. I bought my tickets a week in advance to see it on IMAX. I was giddy that day... But alas, I simply couldn't enjoy it like I wish I had. I did enjoy certain things about the film like Catwoman. I thought Anne Hathaway did a bang-up job and I think they actually wrote her better than the other characters. She had a real personality whereas other characters like Matthew Modine's Captain were just so one note. Even Bane felt one note to me. I wasn't really impressed by what he did in the film or the performance. I also did really enjoy the fake trials held by the Scarecrow. That was something I felt was straight out of a Batman panel.