Review: The Dark Knight
PLOT: Gotham City has learned to accept Batman as some kind of hero, yet many have doubts. And while the mob seems to have the biggest problem with the guy, they soon have someone that may make their lives easier. A strange and diabolical bank robber known as The Joker is in town, and he is planting his mayhem all around. This is bad news for Batman, and especially bad news for a few citizens attempting to protect the streets dressed as the Caped Crusader. But there is hope for Gotham, and he doesnít wear a bat suit. Harvey Dent is the new District Attorney and he has plans to clean up this once beloved city. But the sociopath with clown make-up is ready to offer up a Ďbetter class of criminalí, and you can bet there is going to be a war or two.
I can think of quite a few descriptions for THE DARK KNIGHT. But truthfully, it is very difficult to describe how the film went above and beyond my expectations. Christopher Nolanís latest is a near masterpiece that is smothered in atmosphere, and delivers all the thrills youíd expect and more. First off, while BATMAN BEGINS reawakened the comic book hero, the latest chapter offers up the best BatmanÖ ever. Nolan introduces a brand new character that he brilliantly shoots around, he surrounds the dark buildings with shades of blue and sweeps through the streets and alley ways. That character is Gotham City. Okay, this is not the first time weíve seen his Gotham. But this time around it feels more alive and it seems to be closing in on the good and the bad, as criminal activity takes over what may have once been a beautiful, bustling city. It is so splendidly photographed, that every shot of this majestic land brings us closer and closer into their world. This is by far, his most daring and ambitious film. In fact, this is one of the few superhero film that is absolutely Oscar worthy. This is as good of a Best Picture as any film could be.
As far as the plot is concerned, I think it would be better for you to know as little as possible. There is a very strong and effective story with a wonderfully written script by Christopher and his brother Jonathan. They give each and every character a real reason to exist. The dialogue is surprisingly smart, as are the people that live and breathe in this world of mayhem. And that mayhem, is mostly created by a nasty little character called The Joker. If youíve seen the trailers for the film, it wonít surprise you that Heath Ledger is great in the role. But he is more than great, he is absolutely frightening and brilliant. His work here is beyond what I though possible for the role. There is a moment he shares with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) where both players are so right on, it is pure movie magic. This is not just a case of a sad tale of an actor who passed away, so letís praise his performance. It is just plain and simpleÖ he is astounding. And that would be true even if he had been around to enjoy the success. Yet it is a tragedy that he will not.
As for the rest of the cast, I would hate to see the wonderful Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent not receive the accolades he deserves. Iíve always thought he was a terrific actor, but he really delivers in TDK. Harvey Dent is a true hero in a mob infested world. He is a man for the people that wants to save his beloved city. Aaron approaches his character with such an honest and sincere performance. As he begins to let the violence and hate seep through him, he undergoes his transformation. In many ways, he is probably the most relatable character in the film. One of the things that makes The Dark Knight the classic it is destined to become, is the perfect casting of both Echkart and Ledger. Both characters give the film a quality that seldom is as well expressed as it is here. A superhero flick can only be as good as its villain, and they donít get any better than this.
Obviously, I canít go without saying how important Christian Bale is as Batman. It is such a pleasure to see an actor of his caliber playing a role like this. But Maggie Gyllenhaal is also a major improvement over Katie Holmes. I donít dislike Ms. Holmes as a actress, in fact, I find her quite charming. But Gyllenhaal comes across as a stronger, and more believable heroine. It seems as though in 2008, Hollywood has finally figured out how to make the leading ladies in hero movies right. Whether it is Maggie or Gwyneth Paltrow in IRONMAN, or Liv Tyler in THE INCREDIBLE HULK, it is nice to see strong performances that donít just consist of hiding in a corner and shrieking.
Aside from those Iíve mentioned, I also have to say that both Gary Oldman and Eric Roberts are a welcome addition. It was nice to see Oldman grow from the first film and it is even nicer to see the guy go against type again, as a non-quirky, oddball free character. He is one of the very best actors of any generation. How wonderful it is to see him as a regular part of the Batman mythology. And as for Roberts, if this guy isnít one of the worlds must under-appreciated actors, I donít know who is. His role as Gotham City mob boss Salvatore Maroni, is one of the most clever casting choices as of late. He is smarmy and corrupt, but no less human. He seriously underplays it and comes out the better for it. Iím guessing Christopher Nolan really is just a fantastic director that knows how to work with actors and make them even better.