That isn’t a fair question at all.
All three Nolan Batman movies work together. It’s an epic in the truest definition of the word.
There’s the shocking beginning, the smart and speedy middle, and the harrowing conclusion. And these movies both break the rules and follow them to a capital T.
Had DKR been the movie before DK, you’d hear the same complaints. “Nolan couldn’t keep up with himself.” “There’s no way he could have reached the impossibly high bar he set for himself with the last movie.” “This chapter is too Hollywood.”
The problem isn’t Nolan. It’s human perception. And we’re wired to look for discrepancies. Molded and trained to criticism.
Seeing as DKR hasn’t even released yet, I’m not going to spoil anything. Instead, I’ll say that it relies heavily on the stories told in the preceding movies. Although all movies could work independently, they are so much stronger as a unit. There are, as far as I can look, no lose ends dangling from the end of this story because of the last movie. Every shot seems painstakingly thought out, and every tiny conclusion has a firm basis in one of the many central themes and story arcs from the entire saga.
No, it isn’t flawless, but only because nothing is flawless.
Besides, flaws are what makes things truly beautiful.
Anyone can argue until their last breath that one of the movies is better than the others, or the end wasn’t what they wanted. But expecting anything is the true mistake, not Nolan’s.
You can’t look at the movies individually, because even if they’re all telling the same story, they really aren’t. DKR is the conclusion, taking the pieces of the first two chapters and conforming them into a crescendo of light, color, and fire. That is the purpose of this movie. To take what has been done, make it rise, explode, and end.
The second movie wasn’t given the same task, and therefor can’t be rated on the same scale.
So as people keep asking me if it was the best one, or if it holds a candle to its predecessors, I can only tell them that the more I reflect, the more I love it. Because it made me realize what a wonderfully complicated yet elegantly simple story it has all become. And for that, I love this trilogy.