Here's a really great discussion from MUBI on RISES and Nolan in general. Worth the read.
I can't escape the impression of this being a bit of a smirking circle-jerk of a discussion, due in part to the talk of the films politics and the casually dismissive tone of things I feel are actually perfectly strong about the film and Nolan's abilities as a filmmaker.
The emphasis on TDKR's political murk is a tired one, and I feel, a largely incorrect one. The fact that the main character in all these films is a masked billionaire thrashing the hell out of people in the dead of night is probably going to upset any attempt to graft a perfectly delineated political agenda upon, and the constant inference that Nolan is directly addressing and/or criticizing the Occupy movement is highly debatable, as it's been outright denied by the man himself (he could absolutely be bullshitting to protect himself, but again, it's debatable).
Concern over economic inequality and entropy has been woven throughout the series since the first film, so it's not like TDKR suddenly adopted a new subject. One character that always pops into my head from TDK is Ramirez. She's not joyfully corrupt like Flass from BB, she's found herself under the thumb of the mob because they found a weak point: her ailing mother and Ramirez's financial inability to keep up with her treatment. She's not just saying this to keep Two-Face from killing her, it's setup in the opening moments of the film in her brief rooftop discussion with Gordon. Then we have the ferry sequence, which makes a broad and hopeful statement about the inherent decency of people (insofar as one is able to buy that). Neither the average citizens or the prisoners are directly inspired by Batman, but it's held (or at least Batman holds it) as proof of concept, that people don't necessarily have to break when you tap dance on their fracture point.
It was a triumph he and Gordon undercut by deceiving the citizens with a false idol, something that was heavily criticized upon that film's initial release by people who rather ridiculously assumed that Nolan was holding up as a proper and moral decision, when his whole career thusfar has been about placing the audience in the subjective lens of his antagonists, who, wouldn't you know it, often suffer from a terribly fractured psychology and are prone to making morally gray decisions that they are on the face of it, certain is the right thing to do.
As Gordon says to Foley in the lead up to the climax of TDKR, "the problem only gets fixed from inside the city", there is no one, external miracle cure all that will save / sustain Gotham from falling apart, but a level of communication, understanding, commonality, and that inherent something, an almost ineffable thing that fear and practicality often keeps just outside of arms length.
I would also like to point out that it seems that the neutron bomb, as it is repeatedly described in the film, was referred to as a "capitalist bomb" by Leonid Brezhnev because while it would annihilate human life, it would leave property generally operable or preserved. In the film the scientist who turns the clean energy device into a bomb is a Russian scientist named Leonid Pavel. Coincidence? I suspect not.
I want to get around to addressing their more direct criticisms of the film and Nolan's skill as a director, but I might have to do that later today if I can.
Edited by JacknifeJohnny - 8/11/12 at 11:08am