epic adj1: extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope
1: a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero
2: a work of art (as a novel or drama) that resembles or suggests an epic
Each and every actor in this movies is phenomenal, because it is through their character's journeys that we witness the destruction, the chaos, the pain, and the struggle to rise above those things be it physically or philosophically. Tom Hardy's Bane was everything I could of hoped for, I was thoroughly impressed with every nuance of his portrayal and couldn't ask for a better page to screen translation. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle who is miraculously never once called Catwoman, gives the best live action representation of the character ever, and does it without clawed hands, a whip, cat-like movements, or meowing, instead gives us a smart, capable, and motivated woman who may not be very law abiding but has a strong moral core.
The true standout star, the absolute greatest scene stealer is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's John Blake, who's journey and evolution is just as important and at the center of the narrative as Bruce Wayne's is. I do have to say I highly enjoyed that this is the most comic influenced of Nolan's trilogy, taking ques from or sharing similarities with storylines like The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, Legacy, and No Man's Land, some intentional and others more likely by coincidence. Nolan gave us mind-blowing character reveals, perhaps immensely predicted by many but more then likely complete shocks to a lot of movie-goers.
Now this movie is to be held up as a masterpiece, a history making prime example of cinema, but can not and should not be compared to any other blockbusters such as it's predecessor The Dark Knight or Marvel's current winning superhero achievement The Avengers, because it is a complete different kind of film. Avengers may hold the title of the greatest super-hero movie right now, but The Dark Knight Rises is not a super-hero movie, like what Batman strives to become and succeeds in doing so, it is a modern legend, a mighty tale of a hero's deeds that will transcend time and inspire others not just in the film but also in the real world. My highest praise and endless gratitude to Christopher Nolan for his astonishing achievement, for he has given us something that we never thought was possible, a satisfying ending to Batman crime fighting career, truly something we will never see anywhere else, be it in the comics or a future movie, so that is a major accomplishment in on it self.