From the Wall Street Journal. (Emphasis mine.)
No family retainer has ever been more faithful than Alfred, the butler played by Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, or more frustrated in his efforts to protect his beloved master from harm. Not once but several times in the course of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Alfred implores the angst-ridden Bruce Wayne to move on, get a life and find happiness. His appeals are genuinely moving, inevitably unavailing and beside the point. Gotham City needs Batman. Time Warner needs Batman. The world has waited four years to find out how the Batman saga resolves. And feeling good about life is not what Christian Bale’s Batman wants. This third—and, the director insists, final—installment of Mr. Nolan’s series makes you feel thoroughly miserable about life. It’s spectacular, to be sure, but also remarkable for its all-encompassing gloom. No movie has ever administered more punishment, to its hero or its audience, in the name of mainstream entertainment.