I saw The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX last night. Here are my spoiler-free thoughts...
What a great film! And, way to see it if you are able to get to an IMAX theater, as about 72 minutes total out of the 2 hrs 45 min run time has been filmed with IMAX cameras. Nolan and his filming crew (more so Nolan, really, as he is the 'face' of these Batman films, production wise) are strongly opposed to 3D but favor the IMAX format, as it's a larger canvas for them to display their work on. It worked well with The Dark Knight 'key' sequences, and it works well here, and never feels over used.
The 'old crew' is back: Michael Caine as Alfred, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne (and of course Batman), Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman as Gordon. New faces include Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake (with a role more important than a random cop...), Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy as Bane.
Bane. First of all, let me say that I saw the 'prologue' (opening plane sequence) with Mission Impossible 4, and I'm glad that they 'cleaned up' his voice a bit. It's still a bit tricky to understand at times, but you get most of what he says. Just...pay extra attention when he's on screen and talks is all. And speaking of sound, Batman still does 'the Bat voice' but it's not as noticeable or 'promnient' as it was in The Dark Knight.
Bane is Batman's most dangerous opponent yet. While the Joker played tricks and questioned Batman's ethics, Bane pushes him to the limit...most definitely physically. And what he intends to do...well, the stakes are much higher than in The Dark Knight.
There are lots of great fight sequences, vehicular action and a bunch of eye candy on the screen. Wayne Manor is now rebuilt (I'm guessing it was still being constructed during The Dark Knight, hence the whole thing with Wayne being in a penthouse. And that includes 'improvements' in the foundation) (Batcave!). Plus we get a new vehicle, which "...isn't a car.."
Nolan did not hold anything back for a fourth film. This is (according to him) the last in his series. There will be other Batman films someday, no doubt.
I thought the trilogy was wrapped up quite well. This movie was about as good as The Dark Knight, and if you enjoyed that and Batman Begins, you'll most likely enjoy this one too. As with most movies, and series finales, not everyone will enjoy the ending.