The Dark Knight (2008) ***1/2

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2hr 32min
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Genre: Drama
Language: English

Holy Hollywood – The Best Batman Yet!

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

What’s good about the new Batman movie The Dark Knight? — most everything. What’s great about it? — Heath Ledger’s riveting performance as the Joker (more on that shortly).

This is not simply a summer blockbuster. It is simply a great film which is a thrill ride, a rollercoaster of highs and lows from the opening scene to the prophetic final one. The only criticism being a few plot points which take a bit of blind acceptance.

The movie opens with an action packed bank heist, just the first of many exhilarating set pieces to follow. Here we are introduced to the Joker and we immediately learn this is no colorful, comic book character. This Joker is evil incarnate. Ledger’s take on this character will become legendary. We are strapped in our seats when he’s on screen and can’t wait for his return when he’s not. His spooky, Halloween-like appearance with green hair, white face and red scarred mouth is something to behold. He is both risible and horrific at the same time. He isn’t pretty, but we never tire of seeing that face! The mannerisms and speaking pattern Ledger uses are mesmerizing. He has created a unique type of character, one which has not been seen on screen before. In an early scene we gasp and laugh at the same time as the Joker performs a magic trick by making a pencil disappear in a most hideous way. I did say spooky! Much has been said and written about this role since Ledger’s untimely death. The hype for once has been warranted. There should be an Oscar nod for Ledger, albeit it posthumously.

Late in the movie, the Joker tells Batman, “In their last moments, people show who they really are.” Who they really are is one of many themes presented in The Dark Knight. The duality of the Joker, Batman (Christian Bale) and the D.A. of Gotham City, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) comprises the psychological triangle present in the film. Each character has another side of him and all these sides are on display here. Through these characters the themes of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, terrorism, surveillance and making choices are explored. The Dark Knight is as much a psychological thriller as it is a non-stop action film.

Christian Bale once again embodies the role of Batman as he did in Batman Begins. He is easily the best Batman of all — and by far! He is best at portraying his angst in not knowing how far his role as Gotham City’s vigilante should extend. He, like the Joker, has a dark, distressing side, often teetering on the brink of immorality. Batman is an extremely complex soul and the most interesting superhero imaginable. Aaron Eckhart reaches new heights with his performance as Harvey Dent, “The White Knight” of Gotham City. He is, of course, the final figure in the psychological triumvirate. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, former girlfriend of Bruce Wayne and current flame of Harvey Dent. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman round out a fine supporting cast in this well acted movie.

The direction by Christopher Nolan is top notch. He moves the action along and makes us think and ponder the actions of the characters as we slowly begin to identify with some of them. Nolan’s previous films, Memento, The Prestige and Batman Begins were the appetizers for The Dark Knight — which becomes the delicious main course. This is a film of grand scope wrapped in a jumbo container of popcorn.

The plot, at times is a bit complicated, but hang on, because it won’t be long before the Joker will pop out of his box and you’ll be laughing and squirming and shuddering, and maybe, even as I was — rooting for him to live!

A former teacher of English Literature, Paul J. Cassese taught in the NYC school system for more than thirty years. Paul enjoyed taking the wonderful film courses of Richard Brown and Scott Siegel, and is excited about his new role as an online film reviewer. Going to the movies has been a passion of Paul’s since boyhood. Paul thanks his dad for passing that on to him.

Comments

e leviton said on July 22, 2008

 

After reading your critique, i may be persuaded to see although not my usual or favorite genre. My curiosity has been aroused due to your well-written film-critique! If only the movie is as fine as your writing, i’ll be happy. Will let you know.

Amirany said on December 5, 2012

 

After all the hoopla and price-gouging of the Movie Masters Joker frigue comes the REAL DEAL, a right aerial’s item. The Movie Masters Joker is cool in its own right, but this 1/6 scale DC Preside over Joker blows it out of the water. $89 is no pocket change but then over again, one must pay $40-$50 at eBay to get the Movie Masters Joker if they can’t find it in stores, which is usually the case. And I’m no expert on action frigue values, but I don’t reckon one must be to conclude that this DC Preside over Joker will end up life a lot more valuable in the prospect than the Movie Masters Joker. In terms of detail, there is simply no comparison. This Joker even has real shoelaces, and his clothes are of a high-quality fabric. There are many cool extras accessories like a gun, knife and playing cards. I just watched the trailer for The Dark Knight over again and I’m amazed as to how this frigue looks exactly like Heath Ledger’s Joker. As tempting as it is to take it out of the box, I’d strongly recommend not doing so and keeping it mint. The accessories can be lost pretty easily as they’re so small and besides, a frigue of this value is probably better off not opened anyway (it can be very proudly showed inside the box due to the brilliant packaging). All in all, a splendid for any fan of The Batman franchise/Joker/Heath Ledger.

Seniors, speak up! Let us know what you think.

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