It’s easy at the end of the year to shower praise on the awards bait, the heart-wrenching stories about triumphs of the human spirit, and become cynical toward the movies that held everyone’s attention six months earlier. “Those are just blockbusters.” “It’s all about the entertainment.” “They don’t have to be smart.” In the midst of the important films of the season, we can be quick to cast off any affection we had for what came earlier in the year. One of the films that suffered most from that bitter hindsight was “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Throughout the press cycle of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan maintained that he took each of his Batman movies on as individual efforts, not letting any hypothetical future for the franchise obscure his vision, but “The Dark Knight Rises” leads us to believe otherwise. What Nolan and his cast delivered after four years was the conclusion of a trilogy. Symmetrical yet unexpected, “The Dark Knight Trilogy” plays like a smartly planned and expertly executed three-act epic.
When thinking back on all of the films of 2012 — which incidentally ended up being a great year for movies — nothing could compare to the scale and the ambition of “The Dark Knight Rises.” “The Avengers” comes to mind as a suitable comparison, but the structure of Marvel’s universe was built upon a much different endgame. Each installment of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” explored a new piece of the Bruce Wayne puzzle without giving us a final answer to what all of the crime-fighting meant to the man. Each Marvel movie focused on telling a self-contained story that could set up each hero for the predestined team-up. Nolan’s films examined different aspects of Batman’s and Bruce Wayne’s existence on a march to an ultimate conclusion, his legacy.
If you think about it long enough, you can pick any movie apart, find faults in every scene, character motivation, or line of dialogue to fill a dozen “Honest Trailers.” That kind of scrutiny, while valid, can squeeze every ounce of fun out of a big, ambitious film (See: “Prometheus”), but when generations look back on Nolan’s Batman, they won’t remember snarky tweets or parody videos. They’ll only have an epic retelling of one of our greatest heroes.
What do you think was the #1 movie of 2012? Sound off in the comments!