The Dark Knight (2008)

With The Dark Knight Rises releasing in less than two months, I figured the best way to get more hits would be to actually have a Dark Knight review up, and my old one went into far greater detail than a new one of mine would, so here it is:

The Dark Knight begins around six months after the events in Batman Begins, with Batman (Christian Bale) finally taking care of most of the criminal trash from Begins.  There’s a new District Attorney in town by the name of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and he’s being proclaimed as Gotham City’s white knight, bound and determined to clean up the police force and the streets.  The newest terror enveloping the city comes in the form of a killer clown, a rampaging murderous criminal that pisses off the established mafia as much as he terrifies the citizenry.  The Joker (Heath Ledger) has been waging a humanistic war on the morality of Batman’s vigilantism, while further plunging the city into a desperate state of decay.  Or I could just describe it as “Batman.  The Joker.  Two-Face.  It’s not Batman Forever.” and that should be enough to give even the most jaded fanboy a shiver of anticipation.

What director Christopher Nolan crafts in two and a half hours is, in a word, breathtaking.  He gives us amazing action sequences and thoughtful meditations on what makes a hero a hero.  Some of those meditations might actually be too thoughtful for the megaplex crowd, since most comic book blockbusters aren’t really known for being too cerebral.  As well, it’s not the most colourful of movies, and while I appreciate the dark look and tones of the film, it makes for some confusing and occasionally muddled fight scenes (thankfully viewing it on Blu-Ray cleans it all up).

Christian Bale continues to be able to deliver two separate and believable performances as both Batman and his secret identity, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.  Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the part of Rachel Dawes that Katie Holmes previously portrayed, and well, it’s essentially a damsel-in-distress role, what with Rachel becoming the girlfriend of Harvey Dent and the transformation of Dent into Two-Face looming over the whole relationship.  I really hope no one is spoiled by the fact that Harvey Dent actually turns into Two-Face, and oh by the way, Aaron Eckhart deserves some high praise as well for the grey areas he put into his portrayal of Dent / Two-Face.  He’s transformed but he doesn’t suddenly become insane, just righteously pissed off.

Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox are two supporting players you never have to worry about and they performed admirably well, hitting all the right notes for their father figure character types.  Speaking of father figures, Gary Oldman is even more perfect as Jim Gordon than he was in Begins, and I don’t think enough things are being said about his performance since most of the audience only wants to see the freak show.

If you’re wondering whether or not the advance billing for Heath Ledger’s performance lives up to the product on the screen, well no matter how amazing you thought it may be, it will most likely surpass those levels.  Ledger’s fearless portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime is one of the most nerve-twitching, eye-catching, depraved and darkly hilarious acting displays in recent memory.  The previous year had Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, and even Chigurh would be a little off-put by Ledger’s Joker.  There is little doubt in my mind that come next March, Heath Ledger will be awarded a posthumous Oscar for his part in The Dark Knight (and of course he was).

I’ve tried not to get myself all excited for movies these days, as too many disappointments have dampened many of my old fanboy tendencies.  The Dark Knight was the one exception, and I have to say that it lived up to the hype.  As an old school comic book fan and as a movie czar, I can appreciate it on both levels.  Christopher Nolan could spend the rest of his career making Batman movies and I doubt that I’d ever be disappointed by them.

5 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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