Is The Dark Knight Rises the best film of the year?

As everyone begins to think of their top 10 films of the year, how many lists will put Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in first place?

It is that time of the year for the ultimate top 10 list. As film critics and bloggers frantically try to catch the last few films released in 2012, top 10 lists across the internet will appear to declare the winner of Best Film of 2012. But what film will frequent the majority of lists? And what film will come out on top? Top 10 Films predicts The Dark Knight Rises will inevitably feature strongly in “best of” lists of the year. Why? Even if it lacked the enduring qualities (in large part to the absence of Heath Ledger’s The Joker) of The Dark Knight it is undeniably memorable and iconic – the great superhero, the stars, the big name director, the conclusion to one of Hollywood’s greatest trilogies.

Box office figures alone show it was one of the most frequented cinematic experiences of the year. Indeed, the worldwide box office comes in at more than one billion dollars. But also, most importantly, it is a very good addition to the genre.

Looking around the internet it’s clear the film is widely loved. Chris Sawin of Examiner.com was glowing in his assessment, saying: “The Dark Knight Rises is final in the best of ways. It is overflowing with explosive action, features passionate performances from every part of the cast, and is just completely and totally engrossing from beginning to end.” Famed Chicago Sun Times film critic Roger Ebert might have said it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight but credited it for its “sensational second half” while Jeffrey M. Anderson of the San Francisco Examiner said the film was, like its predecessor, something very special: “[Nolan] has tapped into something more powerful. This king-size summer epic takes on a noble cause, one that many great movies before it have tackled. It addresses the darkness in everyday life, acknowledges the pain, and fights back.”

“Nolan’s trademark action sequences are particularly impressive – the mixture of realism and fantasy colliding with seemingly effortless ease as the director’s camera sweeps across cityscapes and multi-lane highways with feverish yet controlled grace.”Top 10 Films full review of The Dark Knight Rises can be found here.

Pete Travers of Rolling Stone singled out Christian Bale for praise, saying the actor provides a “hypnotic, haunting performance”, adding the film is “potent and provocative”. MaryAnn Johanson of Flick Filosopher couldn’t pick just one actor, praising the entire cast by calling the ensemble “extraordinary” and adding that they carry “a weight of tragic, unavoidable destiny with them throughout”. She adds definitively: “This is a beast of a film… a beast that has us all in its red and rageful glare.” Time magazine’s Richard Corliss was more pointed in his praise, saying The Dark Knight Rises might just be “the best, most troubling, assured and enthralling of all the superhero movies.” Elsewhere, UK film magazine Total Film gave the film not one five out of five review but two!

Tom Fordy of The Hollywood News said the film was a “triumphant conclusion – the result of intelligent and well-structured storytelling.” He adds, “Nolan must have always known the direction his version of Batman was going, which like most great stories has a clear beginning, middle and end. It’s already one of Hollywood’s finest trilogies, and is guaranteed to leave you wanting more.”

“Like the film’s chief villain Bane, the concluding part of this finely-tuned trilogy, is loud, bold and earth-shatteringly epic.”Top 10 Films full review of The Dark Knight Rises can be found here.

Film bloggers were equally impressed. Ruth at Flixchatter simply said “WHOA”, Dan at Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews said “it’s exactly what you could want in a summer blockbuster”, and Max at Impassioned Cinema said it was a “very entertaining ending to a fine trilogy.”

Terrence, the Focused Filmographer, couldn’t give the film enough praise, highlighting the “amazing visuals, cool technology (bat-gadget galore), nail-biting fighting sequences, [and] weighted drama” which makes for an “impressive” conclusion to the trilogy. Tom Clift said “The Dark Knight Rises is a grand third act to a cinematic saga that takes place on a scale that can only be described as colossal”, Aiden at Cut The Crap Movie Reviews said “The Dark Knight Rises is as satisfying and invigorating as they come. As the final entry in the series, it’s the perfect swan song to one of the greatest trilogies ever put to film.” while Stevee Taylor of Cinematic Paradox added that “Christopher Nolan’s ability to make these wonderful spectacles that fill up a cinema is something beyond my comprehension”.

“The characters live and breathe with equal shades of light and dark, the action sequences are stylish, energetic and inspired, and the story motors along with enough twists and turns to keep audiences on their toes.”Top 10 Films full review of The Dark Knight Rises can be found here.

Meanwhile, Rodney at Fernby Films highlighted the strong technical aspects of the film. “From a production standpoint there’s almost no faulting this film,” he said. “Every aspect of it, from the cinematographer (Wally Pfister, who should snag an Oscar nom next year, if not the win) to the sound design and editing (brilliant work, lads) is exemplary and near-faultless.” Elsewhere, Raghav of Ticker Talks Film said “The Dark Knight Rises was two hours forty minutes of pure entertainment”, while Craig at Craig’s Cinematic Critique said the film was “compelling and jaw-dropping”.

Sam at Duke and the Movies summed the film by saying: “The dexterous Christopher Nolan has managed to create a stirring and scintillating epic that captures our immediate attention, challenges our constantly evolving imagination, and questions even the far corners of our vast intellect.”

Does that answer the question? Maybe. The film is obviously well-liked but will top 10 list-makers find better films to populate their top 10s with?

Do you think The Dark Knight Rises is the best film of 2012? If it isn’t what is your favourite film of the year?

The Dark Knight Rises is released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download from 3rd December

See why I think The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best films of 2012 by clicking here.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. amy Reply

    I could be a popular pick depending on how mainstream/highbrow/etc is the list owner, some may pick The Avengers considering how popular the movie was. I personally enjoyed Avengers much more, but from all the films I’ve watched this year… at the moment, I haven’t picked a clear #1

    :(

  2. Rodney Reply

    If you base the success of a film on the review it recieves, I’m inclined to lean more towards The Avengers as the “best film” of 2012 – although I haven’t seen ALL the films released this year (and probably never will, which is why I rarely write lists about a years worth of films!) I’d be interested to see how things work out come Oscar time; it’s a fair bet that Moonrise Kingdom will come in for some glory, and perhaps Looper as well…

    It’s interesting that of the top 10 rated films of 2012 as read on Rotten Tomatoes, aside from Findin Nemo, I’ve not seen or heard of any of them….

  3. Louise Reply

    It’s in my top 5 for sure. But 3 or 4. It doesn’t beat Skyfall which absolutely blew me away and gets better on repeated viewings. In terms of fun summer blockbusters I think The Avengers has the edge. And for sheer, unbridled joy nothing beats The Muppets.

  4. Jaina Reply

    All I know is that this year, it’ll be tough for me to pick out a #1, what with Avengers and TDKR fighting for that spot in my head. Picking a top 10 is going to be tricky this year.

  5. Pete Reply

    I think it’s my number one. Three viewings in and I still love 98% of it! I’ve only considered maybe two or three films to be worthy of 5 stars this year and this is one of them! Perfect end to a brilliant trilogy!

  6. Dan Reply

    @Pete: Good to hear at least one person thinks it’s the best film of the year. I also thought it was a great ending to the trilogy. I don’t feel in a position to say it’s my number one – I need to see a few more 2012 movies to say that. However, the abuse spat at me from Twitter after I tweeted “Is The Dark Knight Rises the best film of the year?” would suggest two things: 1) that it categorically is not; and 2) that it is so far from being number one the mere suggestion of it being the best is both a damning indication of one’s reduced level of intelligence, and tellingly reveals one’s total lack of film knowledge and inability to see any other film released within the year. Apparently.

    Imagine what might happen if I lost the “Is” and question mark and tweeted: The Dark Knight Rises IS the best film of the year!

  7. Dan Reply

    @Amy: I think you’re right. The Avengers will be up there too but I know a number of people who weren’t as overjoyed by the film as popular opinion might seem to have it.

    @Rodney: Same here. I struggle to write end-of-year lists in December because I feel it’ll take me at least six months of the following year to see enough new films to merit listing the ten best.

    @Louise: Good to hear. It is definitely in my top 5 as well.

    @Jaina: I’d be very interested to find out what comes out top! Can TDKR beat The Avengers? :)

  8. Chris Reply

    The Dark Knight Rises probably is the best super hero film of 2012. It tops that category for me.

    Top 10 lists, my favorite new movie of the year is the Kenneth Lonergan directed “Margaret”

  9. The Focused Filmographer Reply

    A great write up for a great movie. Whether or not it’s #1 of 2012 will be a debate for many, I believe.

    I loved it (thank you for the shout out btw), but I still liked The Avengers more. Now, had TDKR been greater than The Dark Knight, I might have been singing a different tune.

  10. Dan Grant Reply

    I disagree with you 100% but it’s a well written article. Nice job.

  11. filmdrivel Reply

    Yes.

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