I've been having this discussion with friends as well as others. Succinctly, I like The Dark Knight Rises,
but with a caveat.
The characters in this trilogy, notably Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jim Gordon and Alfred, are not the familiar ones from the comics or even B-TAS. These are Nolan's interpretation of these characters just as Frank Miller departed from the general characterization of those characters with his The Dark Knight Returns
story in the mid '80s. Nolan's characters make choices the comics' or the TAS characters wouldn't make. They behave differently. As such the story unfolds differently than it would in those other versions.
In the comics (particularly in the '70s) Batman wouldn't be a tortured soul looking for a way out, he wouldn't accept blame for a crime he didn't commit, he wouldn't withdraw and be a recluse, and he wouldn't be stupid enough to meet Bane head-on after getting his ass kicked previously. In the comics, and in TAS, Batman would be a lot smarter in how he tackled Bane. That's the essential difference with Nolan's Batman: he's not as smart or forward thinking as the comics or TAS version.
The comics or TAS Alfred would never abandon Bruce, ever. And the comics or TAS Jim Gordon wouldn't be party to such a lie regarding Harvey Dent.
The trilogy works as long as you can accept this different interpretation of the characters. If you can't get past that then you might have issues with this trilogy and the last film.
Batman is a character that has long been open to broad and diverse interpretations. How else could versions such as the Adam West and Shumacher interpretations gain on audience? And since Frank Miller pretty much everyone has been doing a riff on the emotionally scarred and tenuously stable obsessive. The indomitable warrior and great detective and tactician is pretty much forgotten or ignored.
That said Chris Nolan's trilogy is still a noteworthy work if you can look at it for what it's trying to do rather than simply by what it doesn't do. Yes, he could have done this story without Batman. He could have used a cop or a P.I. or some other proactive figure. But he chose to use Batman because no other superhero could really be as easily adapted to this story, and in extent broadens the audience likely to see his story. I also have to say that using a superhero to explore certain issues is admirable as it lends the character and the genre more substance beyond simple escapism. Hell, it's similar to why we love Star Trek
so much, because it dares to reach for more than adventurous escapism.
We can quibble about the execution, but it's still admirable because outside of the comics themselves very few superhero films even dabble with any ideas of substance---certainly not the mainstream characters. The Avengers
is a helluva fun movie, but it's just a roller coaster ride that isn't about anything.
What I do find sad, and this is about all superheroes, is that ever since the deconstruction of the superheroes got going in the '80s is the idea someone has to be psychologically flawed to even contemplate going beyond the norm to do something right.