The Dark Knight (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Christian Bale/Bruce Wayne/Batman
Heath Ledger/The Joker
Aaron Eckhart/Harvey Dent/Two-Face
The city of Gotham is on the eve of a severe trashing! A new breed of criminal has immigrated there and by new breed, I mean THE JOKER (Ledger), a totally insane and proficient whack-job when it comes to crime, murder and chaos (i.e. somebody I should I invite to my next shin-dig).
The Caped Crusader (Bale) and Lt Gordon (Oldman) team up with Gotham's Golden Boy, D.A. Harvey Dent (Heckart) in the attempt to bring the clown and his posse of loonies down.
You either die a hero or you live long enough to see
yourself become the villain. – Harvey Dent
I was huge a fan of
BATMAN BEGINS, and although pumped for this follow up, I can’t really say that I got sucked into its hype vacuum. Not that it wasn’t well oiled or ever present, it’s just my new thing as a filmgoer and a dude that runs a movie website/shares his opinions about films (Yeah, my opinion, I’m no critic). I now try to avoid watching clips, reading reports while overlooking “hype” - that way my expectations are not messed with AND I don’t get anything spoiled. So I plunged into THE DARK KNIGHT’s cave, glad to be there but fairly neutral as to what I thought I would get out of it – I then came out of there BAT-OWNED!
And I thought BATMAN BEGINS was as grounded of a Batman flick I would ever tango and cash with… silly f*cking me! As I was witnessing TDK’s opening “heist sequence” which SCREAMED Michael Mann or even Scorsese in terms of tone and style, I knew that I was in for something special. I read somewhere that Christopher Nolan name dropped the Pacino/De Niro crime gem HEAT as an influence on this one and you can’t have a better description of TDK’s vibe. A comic book opus set within a to the grit universe. One that would look ”Lazy Boy” cozy striving for an Oscar alongside any of the high brow movies that are usually in competition at the Academy Awards. What Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have done here is bring BATMAN and his world to an uber realistic level. Some will dig that approach, others won’t – I dug – so I could care less about the others.
Every card THE DARK KNIGHT held (wild card and Jokers included) was slammed down hard in an uncompromising and earnest fashion starting with the characters, their inner workings and relationships. I so got attached to the folks in this film (If I could, I’d vote for Harvey Dent in a second!). The casting was bang on, the characterization layered enough to affect and the performances/chemistry amazing. I was particularly clawed deep by the love triangle at work. It was not black or white in execution - but grey – much like in real “shitty” life – hence mucho credible and affecting. The same went for the Bruce Wayne/Batman tight-rope act as to his inner havoc. This sequel took it further and Bale nailed it again! I was touched by his “to be or not to be” interior monologue throughout which itself helped accentuate the riveting main theme of the picture: the thin line that lies between a vigilante hero and a criminal.
Gratefully, that daring reach for realism within such “out there” source material didn’t stop there, it spread out on the whole lot. Gotham City looked like an authentic metropolis on this round (in Batman Begins – hints of “comic book” where abound). The busy yet fairly uncomplicated plot line played it down to earth as well when it came to its tale of cops, mobsters, psychos and corruption. And the gripping “what ifs” were answered as frankly as possible. What if, some broheem dressed up like a bat would take justice into his own hands? How would “his” life be? How would society react to him? How would the scum bags adapt/evolve? Some of the answers took me aback yet they were logical when I stopped and thought about them. But nothing compared to the ultimate “what if”: The Joker.
What if The Joker truly lived? Not in a cartoonish way a la old Batman TV show (Kapow) or Jack Nicholson’s bang on display in Burton’s take. How would he be FOR REAL? Think about it for a moment. Pour yourself a drink. Sip that shit. Call an Ex and tell him/her that they sucked in bed. Break something that’s resting on your desk just cause you can. Now give me your answer. Whatever it is, it would most likely parallel what the late Heath Ledger did with the role: he’d be a BONAFIDA PSYCHOPATH with chaos on the fritz, a dead heart, warped reason behind his madness and eccentricities in his every step.
I won’t say that Ledger stole the show cause everybody owned and then some here. But he definitely brought in all kinds of menacing fun via his untamed, volatile and intimidating performance. I never thought much of the Joker character period… until now. GOOD SHITE LEDGER! Action wise; saying that my jaw dropped to the ground to lick on some 5 day old Pop Corn is an understatement. Nolan outdid himself in terms of the scope (the money was onscreen man)and execution of his stunt heavy scenarios. In addition, man was I content to see one of my main peeves with Batman Begins rectified here: the hand to hand fights. In the first film, they were hard to see - communicated by tightly cut close shots. Here we got more wide and medium shots, edited in a slacker fashion. It was swell to witness Batman do them fancy martial arts move that I’m sure Mr. Bale trained really hard for – Awesome!
Add to all that a genius choice of shots, gorgeous cinematography (I got off on them areal and often overhead shots of the city landscapes), sharp dialogue, a delicious mean streak that has yet to be matched in any cinematic Batman adaptation, an unraveling of events that was always on the move and some gnarly and somewhat back handing plot turns and you get one of the best comic movies of all time. Any peeves with this Bat-Boy? Nothing critical. Personally, I wished some of the “off-screen” violence was kept onscreen. It would’ve added to the film’s punch. I guess that’s the price you pay for that a good old PG-13. Finally, one subplot (having to do with Batman and the law) felt too rushed for me to fully buy into it. I doubt such a huge decison would be made so fast.
Frankly though, them boo-boos didn’t even come close to corrupting this incredible movie going experience. THE DARK KNIGHT earned comic book adaptations an all new respect. Easily one of the best films of the year so far and definitely the BEST comic book adaptation since Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN.
Now I have to ask... WHY SO SERIOUS?
Although the flick was grim and brutal, it wasn’t too graphic. Two Face's GROSS damaged half-mug, bullets wounds and self inflicted surgery aside, everything else was communicated via suggestion and then cut-ways. Bugh…
Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) once more excelled in emanating the complexities and darkness of the character while remaining sympathetic. Was it me or was he LESS buff than in Batman Begins though. Somebody skimped on the weight room. When director Christopher Nolan was asked why he picked Heath Ledger to play The Joker, he answered: Because he's fearless. And was he ever!
Ledger’s risky, feral, inventive, and scary however funny in a macabre way performance kicked some serious ass. The voice, the tongue tick, the physicality - WOW! Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent/Two-Face) is THAT guy. If he plays a good guy, you can’t help but love him for it. If he plays a bad guy, you love to love to hate to love him. Here he plays both. HE ROCKED!
Michael Caine (Alfred) once more gave us the goods as Bruce’s “Father figure” while Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel) did a fine job stepping in Katie Holmes’ shoes (she played the role in Batman Begins). But being in the minority that actually enjoyed Holmes in the part, I kinda missed her here. The great Gary Oldman thankfully had more to do here as Lt. James Gordon and likeable was the word. Nice to see him play a good guy! Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) played Morgan Freeman once again. What I can I say – it works!
T & A
Us gents who dig dames got Na and Da. The ladies got some quick Bale shirtless loving.
This was the biggest film Nolan ever tackled in terms of scale and coin and I am happy to put out that the man aced it and then some! Pacing was tight, shot compositions flowed easy, the areal work was outstanding and the action sequences were well shot and edited tight for maximum whoop. Nolan, the hookers are on me!
James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer’s potent score maximized the many emotional currents of the picture while triggering fanboy goose bumps now and again (well in me anyways). Splendid!
Forget comic books for a second, as an action/crime/drama alone, THE DARK KNIGHT was a superior effort on every plane. And toss BATMAN, THE JOKER and TWO-FACE into the mix - all played for real - managing to WORK within such a grounded setting - and you get a superhero film to be reckoned with. It hasn’t been done like this before! Yup, THE DARK KNIGHT has raised the comic to screen bar to an all new height. THANK YOU!
The"The Long Halloween", "The Killing Joke" and "The Man Who Laughs" comic books influencde the film’s storyline.
Matt Damon was Christopher Nolan's first choice to play Harvey Dent but Damon THANKFULLY said NO DICE.
Heath Ledger was the youngest actor to ever play the Joker. In an interview before his death, he said that The Joker in TDK was his fav role so far. Heath ledger died of an accidental prescription drugs overdose. RIP
Look out for Cillian Murphy making a brief comeback as The Scarecrow.
VISIT THE OFFICIAL THE DARK KNIGHT SITE HERE