Just re-watched this edit, some... oh gosh, close to 10 years later. Time really flies! My original review is still up, and on re-reading it I'm a bit surprised at how much I loved it. I definitely don't feel the same way as I did then. That said, I do think it's a strong improvement over the original. Bear in mind, this review is written is with the caveat that The Dark Knight Rises is, at it's core, a bad movie. Certain scenes would need to be entirely re-shot and re-written to fix it, so any kind of edit is only smoothing out the rough patches.
In brief- edit quality is quite good, barring a couple of sharp cuts here and there. Smart choices are made to streamline the narrative & villain motivations, which better emphasizes the good elements of the movie. Unfortunately, in the process some interesting ideas are lost. That said, it's much easier to watch than the original, so I would recommend this as a replacement the next time you watch the trilogy.
I thought that the smartest choices were made around Bane and Talia- I found Bane's portrayal as a terrorist/freedom fighter interesting in the original movie, but let down by the decision to almost retcon him into a goon. NJVC simplifies Bane's portrayal, which makes his motivations much clearer and the final reveal less confusing. Removing Talia's relationship with Bruce was a stroke of genius; I was absolutely amazed at how unnecessary it was. I did feel that the final 'sinking in the knife' speech to Bruce was a bit overlong in the new context, but that's a nitpick. Now, Bruce + Selina is the only romance in the movie, and it works great. They actually have a solid chemistry that was lost in the clutter of the original cut.
Another major change was making Wayne die at the end. I don't love this choice. The original cut was in part about the fact that the Batman was no longer a useful solution to Gotham's problems, and had become little more than Bruce's addiction. His arc was supposed to be about learning to lead a heroic life as Bruce, without the crutch of the Batman, though the original doesn't quite make it work. I don't know if it's possible to fix that, so I can see why NJVC chose to go against it by canonizing Blake as the new Batman. Unfortunately, a decent chunk of it remains (especially in the first act) which makes for an awkward experience when combined with the new ending. As mentioned, I liked the Cat/Bat romance in this edit, and now that it lacks a conclusion both Selina and the romance feel pointless. In this case, I prefer the original ending.
There are a ton of other smaller cuts as well- mostly minor stuff, detective Blake isn't named Robin anymore (thank god), Bane's little interaction with the boy singer on the football field, and a number of corny jokes and one liners. These usually work, but one that didn't was the removal of a little scene when Batman first appears- where an older cop tells a younger cop to 'watch this'. I thought it was a cute scene, but also, in the moment it weakens the reveal of Batman's return. I think the most obvious misstep of this edit though was it's removal of police/military cowardice & incompetence. Notably, the coward police chief subplot is removed as well as the scene where the military blocks a bus full of children from fleeing the island, even after it's too late to stop the bomb. Any kind of negative portrayal of US combat organizations is nearly unheard of in blockbusters, so it's a shame to see these elements taken out.
I still do prefer this edit to the original. Pacing is vastly improved, and again, the choices around Bane and Talia are huge improvements. However, it's not perfect, and I think it's a shame that it got as much positive acclaim as it did, as I fear that it prevented other editors from taking a crack at this film.
Njvc has taken an ambitious project and tried to fix some of the issues Dark Knight Rises had. I think many agree this movie was trying to tackle too much, but also at the same time there were missed tones. I did not like the fact Bruce Wayne would have retired for 8 years and though I really liked Tom Hardy's performance as Bane and thought Bane was a great character, the character contradicted itself in the sense is a terrorist? Freedom fighter? Then Bane was demoted to common goon (and not mastermind) under Talia's control, a let down for many.
In njvc's edit, the effort and cuts are good. I think there is quite a bit of improvement in the story and the pacing, but ultimately as much as I had hoped for this fan edit would fix the movie (and I was skeptical it could be saved given the reliance on source material), it is due to the source material that the movie could not be saved. I do recommend watching this cut, it is an improvement and the ending is bold, but it is not enough to be the movie we had hoped, wanted, and maybe hoped to deserve? :)
Well done though njvc, I look forward to your next edits! The editor's skills are not in question, the movie is seemless, even changes in dialogue go unnoticed. To the untrained eye, I don't think you can tell this was an edit and I do recommend watching this cut and for the viewer to make their own opinion if this is the movie they really wanted to see. Thanks njvc!