Movie Review: The Dark Knight

“Where do we begin? A year ago, these cops and lawyers wouldn’t dare cross any of you. I mean, what happened?” – The Joker

Indeed. Three years ago, these critics and skeptics wouldn’t dare think The Dark Knight would be this good. And why would they? There’s nothing else like it.

And in he came to rock the notions of conventional comic book films.

And in he came to rock the notions of what a comic book film can be.

After attending the midnight screening of TDK, I could feel the effects of the film. It was like getting punched in the gut and having the wind knocked out of you, but in the very best way possible.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been dying for this movie for some time now. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the amount of excitement I had was directly related to the length of time I was waiting for it to be released. This will lead to disappointment 9 out of 10 times. In fact, I think it happened with a little film called Spider-Man 3 last year. In a show of chance that would make Two-Face smile with whatever lips he had left, Christopher Nolan delivered that 1 out of 10 chance.

Let me really start by saying that I loved Batman Begins. I’ve been a huge fan of the character from as far back as I can remember. I grew up with the first four Batman flicks, and as child appreciated them all to a degree. Then I saw Batman Begins, and it completely blew me away. I couldn’t wait to see it again.

They just got it right. The casting, the tone, the characters. It was very clear that Nolan and Goyer had an immense handle on the property they had. This along with Spider-Man 2 are my favorite comic book films. Or should I say, were my two favorite comic book films? In short, TDK makes Batman Begins look like Batman Forever. That’s saying as much as you think it does.

As has been said before by writers much better than myself, not only does TDK live up to its hype, it will make you wonder why your hopes were so low in the first place. I was initially expecting it to be on par with BB, maybe a little better. It’s much better. In BB, the first act is largely existential, with Bruce Wayne trying to find himself and his purpose. The second act is transitional, it mostly delves into how Batman acquires and creates things such as the batcave, batmobile, and suit. Then, in the final act, it somewhat devolves into standard comic-book-film fare. Batman is racing to stop a speeding train, that when it reaches its final destination, will destroy Gotham City. It’s entertaining, but can’t help but feel cliche compared to the seriousness of the first half of the film. TDK, however, forgoes this altogether. It opts to be a crime movie, a la Scorcese or Mann, and it completely succeeds. Because everything is set up from the first film, TDK feels much more well-rounded.

The fact that there’s such an even amount of screen time for each character is another quality that attributes to how well-rounded the film is. You will get to know (Commisioner) Gordon. You will get to know Harvey Dent. They aren’t background characters, they’re front runners, and everyone did a spectacular job.

And Heath Ledger as the Joker…What hasn’t been said? It would be beating a dead horse to talk about how good he is…so I’m going to do it anyway. Holy movie-stealer, Batman! Ledger absolutely owns it. You will watch, you will be scared. And most of all, you will laugh…hysterically.

I’ll be honest. I was one of the many nay-sayers about Heath Ledger’s casting as the most infamous villain of the twentieth century. I mean, 10 Things I Hate About You? Are they serious? I had faith, but in the back of my mind there was definitely a sense of doubt. But the more and more I saw of him, the more and more I heard him, I knew that he wasn’t acting. This wasn’t a paycheck to Ledger. He made it his mission to channel the spirit of a 70-year-old icon, while still making it his own. He was truly gifted, and the film world will never know the undoubtedly great performances he still had in him.

So Christian Bale as Batman, still my favorite actor for the role. A lot of people have qualms about his “Batman voice” but I don’t really mind it. Though, at times it did seem bizarrely nasal. He brings an intense, passionate quality to Batman, that he always seemed to lack on film. Bale is a great actor, and someone I love to watch, but he without a doubt was not the premier performance of the movie. And rightly so.

Yes, it’s two and a half hours long. Some people may wish it to be shorter, but I didn’t see anything that could be cut from the film without detracting from the quality of it. This is an epic film, and epics are long. Go see Hancock if you want something crappy, err, I mean lighter. Speaking of lighter, this is absolutely not a movie your children will enjoy. Sure, they may like to see Batman fight some henchman and whatnot, but this is an adult movie. It’s jam-packed with tragedy and tension. Hell, it might even give me nightmares.

Like I said in my ‘Let’s Put a Smile on That Face’ post, there was a tremendous amount of pressure on this film to transcend what it means to be a comic book film. Boy does it transcend. Not only that, but it’s one more nail in the coffin of the condescending term, “comic book movie.”

10 out of 10.

Why so Serious?

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~ by Alex Stone on July 18, 2008.

One Response to “Movie Review: The Dark Knight”

  1. I completely agree with everything you said…all i have say in addition is for the love of god go see it on IMAX..it will change your life .

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