The Dark Knight
The long anticipated sequel to the successful reboot of the Batman franchise, Batman Begins, hit theaters this summer with a bang, taking the box office by storm all the way to #2 on the largest grossing films of all time. Most everyone has seen the flick, so I’ll keep the synopsis short. Batman has been busy cleaning up Gotham City and, with Jim Gordon’s help, is close to finishing the mob off once and for all. New District Attorney Harvey Dent has also been on the crusade to clean the city up, and with Batman and Gordon helping, their goal is close to being met. While this goes on, a new adversary, The Joker (Heath Ledger), has been hitting mob banks, leaving a slew of bodies and showing his face at every chance. After striking a deal with the mobsters of Gotham, The Joker starts targeting prominent Gothamites, filling the city with fear. And the rest goes from there—just see it already!
The Dark Knight is probably one of the most hyped and anticipated movies of all time. And nearly lives up to it all. The first film focused on the transformation of Bruce Wayne into Batman. Dark Knight is strictly a Batman affair; though, Bruce Wayne appears frequently throughout, but is usually just being Batman without the mask. With more onscreen Batman, Dark Knight is jammed packed with action. From a purely action standpoint, this is one of the most entertaining films of all time.
As most have heard, Heath’s Joker is simply sublime. This is the Joker we wanted and so much more. He isn’t just playing the part; he is the part. I doubt he’ll get an Oscar for this, but the nomination is almost certainly assured. The Joker walks the line between dark and goofy perfectly for the character. His jokes are always prominent, yet rarely funny in the usual sense. He is the dark, evil, relentless villain we expect him to be, and at the same time fits the comic relief part. The task Heath accomplished with this role is amazing. The creepiest and funniest parts of the film come both from The Joker.
Aaron Eckhart cannot be discredited either. His role as Harvey/Two-Face is perfect. His work in Thank You for Smoking was great, and he fits seamlessly into this role. Two-Face seems ripped from the comics. The look, the character, everything is just right. I was very glad to see the movie fresh, without any leaked pictures of Two-Face. Once you see him, it will shock and amaze you.
Surprisingly, Christian Bale is the weak link here. His Bruce Wayne is good, but his Batman just isn’t what it was last time around. The Bat-voice gets grating, the opening scene has a face-clinching “what the crap was that face?” scene, and just was generally not what he was in Begins. I’m not saying the film suffers from it, but compared to the rest of the cast, Bale just doesn’t match up. Believe me, this criticism is small and doesn’t take away much. Hopefully he’ll tone it down next go.
For the most part, the story is good. The movie comes close to doing what the previous Batman films fell prey to: focusing too much on the villains. The main focus should be Batman, but The Joker and Two-Face (Joker especially) very nearly steal the show. The only reason they don’t is the long runtime of 150 minutes. Very long for a super-hero movie. It probably would have bothered me more if I wasn’t such a Batman fan. Other gripes include a very strange and hard to believe 3D sonar scene near the end that just doesn’t make sense to me; and an end showdown with the Joker that felt slightly anti-climatic. Things done right include: the intricate crime story that never suffers from plot holes, the balls by the writers to do what they want, the really dark tone of the film, the handling of the Joker/Two-Face, the acting by everyone (Oldman, Leger, Eckhart, Caine), a Batman pushed to his limits, and an end scene voice over by Oldman that gives me chills every time I see it.
Overall, The Dark Knight is great; nearly met expectations and wasn’t predictable. In the grand scheme of this years films, it won’t be #1. Wall-E and In Bruges already are in close competition for that spot. And there is just too many good films still to come that will get that spot. As David and I discussed, it doesn’t rank #1 against last year (barely in the top 5); however, The Dark Knight is one heck of a ride. The film is easily the best super-hero movie of all time, and the acting is top notch. If you are left with anything after the film it is the sadness of knowing Heath is no longer with us to do not only another Batman film but also to become one of the greatest actors of our generation, which, if you ask me, he already is. 5 out of 5, 94%, thumbs up, whatever. It is good, but has its flaws.