I've been reading people's thoughts about the movie on a few message boards and blogs. While most seem to like it or at least think it's pretty good, there seem to be a lot of people who had problems with some parts of the plot. I haven't really dug into a lot of the specific points they are making because I just don't think they matter all that much in relation to the plot as a whole or to the themes of the movie. Frankly, I think it's just a lot of nitpicking by people who were expecting something different than what they were given.
Anyway, I wanted to point you toward this excellent post that was tweeted via The Bitter Script Reader, who I recommend you follow and check out his site. It talks about why the movie worked despite whatever issues with the plot there may be. Here come the spoilers:
That said, a lot of people really didn't like it and multiple bloggers have laid down their case either for or against on various blogs and sites around the Internet. One of the reasons I've decided to write this is that despite the many flaws of the film, I still found it to be an enthralling and entertaining experience. And so have many others. Why?
I actually think there's a great lesson for filmmakers here, one that even the best directors and writers continually fail at. I believe it's what separates great films from good ones; memorable films from forgotten ones.
Why did I like The Dark Knight Rises so much, despite it's logic flaws, despite those things that have already been pointed out by other writers/reviewers? Why can I forgive those things? Because unlike most movies these days, The Dark Knight Rises made me feel. I connected with it on emotional level. I was left reeling when Gotham was turned upside down. I felt a collective sense of hitting bottom, wondering "how can they come back from this?"
Now of course, you're probably saying, "Well, yeah, that's what everyone wants." But for me, it's less about what I "want" and more about what I "felt." I felt it. This movie about a man dressed as a bat connected with me on an emotional level. I don't fully know why and choose not to dissect it, but it represents and executes what, in my opinion, movies are all about: that feeling of being a little kid and looking up at a giant screen and seeing a hero right there before your eyes.
That was my experience as well. I felt every emotion the film was trying to make me feel. It's certainly possible that problems with the plot can force you to not feel things. But I just wasn't even close to being pulled out of the story by issues with the plot. The only thing I question is the ending, but I only question whether it could have been made even better by doing something like this:
And at the end, when I thought Batman had died, I not only felt loss, but I felt...okay with it. I'd like to pretend that Alfred's sighting of Bruce is really nothing more than a vision, than an idea that, while dead, perhaps Bruce has now gone to a better place, free of his demons, free of the weight he carried with him. I'd like to think that part wasn't real, that it wasn't part of some trick to make you go "Whup, look!" I'd like to think that Nolan is smarter than that. He has too much power. He could have done whatever he wanted. I very much doubt he would have tacked on a happy ending because the studio made him. (Funny enough, I was just discussing with my wife and we both thought that Alfred was going to look up, smile, but that we wouldn't cut to what he was seeing, that we would have been left wondering...in many ways, that would have been better.) I think Batman died saving the citizens of Gotham from one of the worst things imaginable -- that he gave them "everything."
I'm sure many people will speak to the moment of realization that the auto-pilot was always working as a clue to saying "Oh, he must have jumped out (or something)." I'd take the opposite look at it: that, in fact, the auto-pilot did work, but that Batman knew he couldn't leave something like that to chance. That the only way to ensure that Gotham was safe was to do it himself, as he always had before. And that having done that, having returned and become the hero, Bruce Wayne is now in a better place. Alfred's "sighting" was just a vision, a hope, a belief that, perhaps Bruce has finally found peace.
This does kind of speak to Nolan's style across the rest of his career. If you want to think of the ending in this way I'm ok with that. But I don't think Nolan was trying to suggest Alfred was just fantasizing. Granted, Alfred does put it in those terms early on in the movie. But I just think it was too direct to have Fox be told that the autopilot was fixed. I'm content leaving it at face value, at least for now.