Batmania Part 10: ‘The Dark Knight’

I had a lot riding on this movie.

In Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan proved that Batman’s story is worth telling.  Previous films had infused either style (Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns) or camp (Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin), but none had really established character development or believable writing.  Batman Begins raised the bar not just for Batman, but for all superhero films.  (Iron Man passed, Spider-Man 3 failed.)

Nolan set such a high standard for himself with The Dark Knight.  And prior to seeing the film, I told myself that if it’s almost as good as Batman Begins, I’d be satisfied.

I am happy to report that The Dark Knight is just as good–if not better–than Batman Begins.

My review will keep plot details to a minimum; I loved watching this movie because I purposely stayed away from reviews, news, buzz and hype relating to the film.  I hope you’ll appreciate that I’ll do the same.

What’s it about? Gotham City’s a safer place thanks to Batman, but also Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).  The bad guys don’t like the stranglehold these three have on organized crime and are forced to use extreme measures in order to maintain their operations.

Enter the Joker (Heath Ledger).  Nobody knows who he really is or where he came from.  But he’s crazy.  And oh, so evil.  He wants to tear Gotham City apart.  And, if things don’t improve for themselves, the mafia just might let him.

What’s good about it? Where Batman Begins established Batman as a character, The Dark Knight establishes Gotham City.  We dig deep into the politics of the city.  We see the struggle of Gordon against corruption in his own police force.  We see the legal red tape Dent and assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) must fight to clean up Gotham’s streets.  Things are messy.  Things are not what they seem.  And things are never black and white.

Backing up Nolan’s expert direction is a phenomenal cast.  Ledger’s Joker is like nothing I’ve ever seen before–he is absolutely frightening.  This is a performance that will stick with you.  Whereas Jack Nicholson’s Joker is a scenery-chewing villain, Ledger’s Joker is truly bipolar, switching from manic to maniacal, often within seconds of each other.

Gyllenhall, replacing Katie Holmes (who played Rachel Dawes in the first film), brings a much-needed spark to what essentially was a throwaway part in the first film.  This time Rachel is less of the token damsel in distress but an integral part of the story.  Eckhart is also great as Havey Dent–he crackles with charisma.

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine as Alfred have less screen time than in the first film, but that is expected, seeing how we already know who and what they are.

Bale, as Bruce Wayne/Batman, also has plenty of screen time but less development, for the same reason as Freeman and Caine’s characters.

What’s bad about it? At two-and-a-half hours, The Dark Knight may feel a little long (because it is), but not to the point where you want the movie to end (because you don’t).  And it’s a hard PG-13; leave the kids at home.

Perfect for: anyone looking for an excellent movie, comic book-themed or otherwise.

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One Response to “Batmania Part 10: ‘The Dark Knight’”

  1. movie buff Says:

    i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted…

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