Movie Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT
THE DARK KNIGHT
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.
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Opens July 18, 2008
Runtime: 2 hr. 32 min.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace
Genres: Comic-Book Superhero Film, Crime Drama, Fantasy, Crime
Christopher Nolan's follow up to Batman Begins carry such weighty and mature themes that it makes all the other superhero films seem childish by comparison. The Dark Knight is a tightly scripted thriller of a crime drama that's as dark as it is engrossing. Nolan's film feels more like a Michael Mann film than a comic book film, it's urban it's gritty and it winds you up like a top. Freed of having to deal with the origin story, Nolan is allowed to hit the road running right from the start. Nolan's comfort level with large action sequences, such as thrilling car chase about halfway through the film and his ability to film fight sequences better this time around, we can actually see what's happening now, make it much more enjoyable journey. The Dark Knight also benefits from having a much more expansive and epic feel than Batman Begins. Everything feels bigger this time around; the city, the story, the themes. The scripting also feels much tighter as well, we get less comic book sounding dialogue and more naturalistic debates about the concepts of good and evil. To say that this script might have more bubbling underneath the surface would be a bit of an understatement. There are plenty of real world issues being address here so it goes without saying that this is a complex multilayer film that will make you use your mind as much as your eyes and ears. While some may complain about the movie long run time, 2 hours and 32 minutes, it never becomes an issue as the film is so tightly edited that there's hardly a moment that isn't important, needless to say you should probably make sure to get your bathroom breaks out of the way beforehand. Nolan's work is superb for sure but his cast just makes his job so much easier. First off, Heath Ledger is just perfect as the Joker. He's captures everything the character has been in either animated or comic form that's been lacking in previous incarnations. I for one was never a huge fan of Jack Nicholson's take in Tim Burton's original Batman because it was more about Jack than about the character. As a Batman fan, mostly from the fabulous Bruce Timm produced Animated Series from the 90's, Nicholson's take seemed off, it was fun for what it was but it never captured the embodiment of the character. In The Dark Knight, Ledger hits every note right, giving the character the proper feel of a manic psychotic with a joke in his heart. The Joker feels more like an unleashed force of nature than a character. He is anarchy incarnate. In some way or form his character always has the upper hand all the while making the heroes just as complicit and responsible for every evil deed he commits. The fact that his motives and back story are pretty much non existence gives his character an even more sinister feel. The hype about his performance isn't an over exaggeration, every time he's on screen he demands your attention and doesn't release it until he's gone. Ledger's work is truly amazing to watch but so is the rest of the cast who answered the bell just as readily. Christian Bale again shows why he's my favorite actor to don the cowl. His work here is just as complex and textured as Ledger's. His character grapples with the meaning of his personal crusade and the general cost it tolls on people around him. Bale gets more time this go around as Bruce Wayne and he clearly enjoys playing that part of the persona as much as his alter ego. Bale and Ledger share a couple of great scenes which for me where the highlights of the entire film. Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent is equally impressive which, like Ledger, captures the real spirit of the character. Eckhart plays the part of civic hero on a mission but you can sense something more wicked simmering beneath his persona. His character's tale is perfectly set up even if it feels a tad truncated near the end it doesn't take detract from its tragic conclusion. Maggie Gyllenhaal thankfully takes over the role of Rachel Dawes and does more in less time with the character than Katie Holmes did in the previous film. Gyllenhaal feel more organic, even if its light script wise, in the role than Holmes ever did, so much so that I wish there were a way to go back and replace her in Batman Begins. Gary Oldman might be lost in the shuffle with all the bigger roles being played so well but his work as Jim Gordon is on par with any of the headliners. Even going back to Batman Begins and more so here, Oldman just is Gordon and it's a performance that can easily be lost but his nuances and speech inflections are so perfect it hard not to enjoy it. Michael Caine once again adds his fatherly charm to Alfred. Caine and Bale's interactions come across so naturalistic that you'd think they'd really known each other for decades. In a movie this large someone has to be short changed and along with Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman has even smaller role than the first go around but he does make the most of what he's given. Also in a very small role Eric Roberts has a lot of fun as crime boss Salvatore Maroni, giving him a great sense of slime mixed with criminal honor. If you haven't gotten the point by now, Christopher Nolan and the cast pretty much hit it out of the park here. A slight warning though, this film is pretty brutal and it really pushes the PG-13 limits throughout. This is a comic book movie in name only and it doesn't pander to younger audience instead it asks you to think about what's being presented. If you are looking for something light and fluffy this is not the movie for you. The Dark Knight is rousing success, one that feels incomplete and screaming for a sequel, let just hope Nolan and company return to finish this impressive story.
Bluray quality; Video is grade A across the board with the scenes that were shot in IMAX really showcasing how impressive the HD video is; Sound is display quality, working in perfect unison with the visuals.
I was hand-selected to be a member of Blu-ray Elite, a beta program from Warner Home Video which has graciously sent me this free Blu-ray disc.