" The Dark Knight is not just a movie you watch; it's a film you absorb. Every scene has a reason, every character a purpose, and everybody involved had a passion. "
Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Brothers
Tagline: Why So Serious?
Release Date: July 18, 2008
With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as the Joker, who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces the Dark Knight ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante. A must-see piece of film-making ensues.MY TAKE
“At the end of Batman Begins,” says director Christopher Nolan, “we hinted at the threat of escalation – that in going after the city’s crime cartels and attacking their interests, Batman could provoke an even greater response from the criminal community and now that has come to pass. There are some very negative consequences of his crusade brewing in Gotham City.”
“Escalation” is too tame a word to describe what has transpired in Gotham since the events in Batman Begins. Batman has done his best to eliminate crime, and while some consider him a hero, others believe he is doing more harm than good. The mob is unwilling to surrender, and as a last resort they turn to a man they don’t fully understand – The Joker. The stakes have been raised, the atmosphere darkened, and the movie experience deepened.
Masterfully blending action, great performances, and a gripping story, Nolan has created a dark world and slowly exposed its warts. It’s bleak. It’s sadistic. Joy does not abound. But what do you expect when a self-described “agent of chaos” wants to desperately prove that deep down, everybody is just as sick as he?
The Dark Knight is not just a movie you watch; it’s a film you absorb. Every scene has a reason, every character a purpose, and everybody involved had a passion. It’s a story that slowly simmers through its story and character development, and bubbles to a boil via the Joker’s psychotic desperation until it eventually explodes into a fire of chaos.
Typically when I check my watch during a movie it’s because I’m wondering how much longer until it’s over. During The Dark Knight I checked it out of fear that time was running out. Two hours in, I dreaded the end of this tunnel. I knew there were only 20-30 minutes left, but I wanted more. I don’t mean to be overdramatic, but I wasn’t ready for this world to end. I wanted to know what The Joker would say next, what Batman would do in response, and what the consequences would be.
“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
One of the reasons The Dark Knight is even better than its predecessor is Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. You relish every minute he’s on-screen, and you long for his return while he’s absent. It’s hard to verbally describe how powerful the character is, so I’ll just be blunt about it – he’s easily the best superhero villain I’ve ever seen portrayed on screen.
The beauty of Heath Ledger’s performance is that he so completely disappears into the character that you don’t have time to think about the fact that you’re watching Ledger’s final full cinematic performance.
He’s unrecognizable. If I had just crawled out from under a rock and walked into the screening I wouldn’t have realized who it was. Ledger is The Joker.
He’s a ticking time bomb who has no qualms in making a point no matter the method. Every time he’s on screen we expect anything can happen. Whether it actually happens or not isn’t the point. The film manages to create terror without being overly explicit in its visual revelation of it. The scariest thing about The Joker isn’t always in what he does but in what we fear he might do.
“You either die a hero … or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Another reason The Dark Knight surpasses Batman Begins is the excellent performance of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Dent is a very compelling character in contrast to The Joker. While The Joker is simply set on destruction, Dent has a complete story arc. Viewed as “the White Knight” by the citizens of Gotham, Dent is the noble District Attorney who wants to bring down organized crime. He’s bold and fearless, filled with hope and optimism. You can’t help but admire the guy and then feel for him as you watch the path down which he heads.
My only “issue” with the film is whether or not Christopher Nolan has outdone himself. Everything comes together so well that I fear he might not be able to create a follow-up that will match what he’s delivered here. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about the guy it’s not to doubt him. He has a handle on the franchise, and he knows exactly what he’s doing. I don’t know if he’ll be able to “top” The Dark Knight, but I do know that I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Nolan concludes, “For me, Batman has an enduring appeal and endless fascination because he is a relatable character. He is referred to as a superhero, but actually he is a self-invented superhero. And I think the fantasy of a man who, through sheer will and self-discipline, has turned himself into more than just a man, into a heroic figure … that’s just a very compelling myth.”
A very compelling myth whose essence Nolan has perfectly captured and turned into a very compelling movie franchise.
ODDS & ENDS
- Keep an eye out for Cillian Murphy’s brief return as the Scarecrow.
- Keep another eye out for a brief scene where the Joker appears without makeup.
- Nolan shot six major action sequences with IMAX cameras, becoming the first director to use the large-format cameras to film even a portion of a traditional feature film.
- In casting the part of The Joker, Nolan says that the defining quality he was looking for “was fearlessness. I needed a phenomenal actor, but he also had to be someone unafraid of taking on such an iconic role. Heath created something entirely original. It’s stunning, it’s captivating … it’s going to blow people away.”
- Christian Bale is in 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe who is in American Gangster with Josh Brolin who was in Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace, The Dark Knight does indeed produce an atmosphere that is dark and bleak, and often violent, but it's not very bloody and much of the violence is off-screen. It may be a little too dark and not "fun enough" for those under the age of eight. Also, there isn't much profanity (one or two instances each of a**, d**n, h*ll).