I was going to write out a whole review of The Dark Knight Rises. I had even started writing it out in a notebook (I got to two and a half pages, and still wasn't finished). But here's the problem. Since seeing it last Tuesday, I've called into question my opinions of the film. And no, not because I've listened to reviews of it that disagree with my initial grade (I thought it was the best of the trilogy immediately after watching it), but because I went back and watched the first two Nolan!Batman films - and that's when my opinion changed.
Call it revisionist history; I always felt that The Dark Knight felt like a really long movie, like they stiched two different stories together. Don't get me wrong - I really liked The Dark Knight, but I felt that it had too many flaws to be really a "great" movie or "greatest movie of all time".
This is why I felt that The Dark Knight Rises was a superior movie. It proceeded along the plot in a timely manner, and didn't feel too long (despite being actually longer in length). But then, as I said - I re-watched The Dark Knight recently, and I saw it in a different light. It didn't feel as before that Nolan was stitching together two stories (that of The Joker and Two-Face). It felt like a fairly cohesive story that worked quite well.
So all that's really changed is my opinion on which movie is better - and that is, The Dark Knight is better. That's not to say that The Dark Knight Rises is a poor movie - on the contrary, it's very good. I think I enjoyed Bane as a villain more than The Joker. However, I enjoyed The Joker as a character more than Bane. It's quite an interesting dilemma.
Suffice it to say, if you haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises, you should. I also urge you to NOT compare it to The Dark Knight if you hold it up on a pedestal. In all likelihood it's in your best interests to avoid watching either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight before watching Rises. Trust me, it stands very well on its own (despite its flaws).