The Dark Knight
- Christopher Nolan
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, July 28, 2008
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is still battling Gotham Cityís criminals while living in a fancy penthouse with loyal butler Alfred (Michael Caine). Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) is now running his enterprise while continuing to perfect his gadgets and Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) has been working with him thoroughly, with the intention of putting the cityís entire mafia behind bars. Newly appointed D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who is dating Bruceís childhood friend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), also joins forces with them, but the unexpected appearance of a dangerous figure known as The Joker (Heath Ledger) comes into the picture and threatens to make all their work pointless.
Christopher Nolan directed from a screenplay he wrote along with his brother Jonathan, based on a story also developed by David S. Goyer. The approach they took with this sequel, having established Batmanís origins in their previous collaboration, was of studying what would become of a city with a night vigilante working outside the law that had to come face-to-face with a nemesis that would have to up his ante to provide a ying to his yang; all of this set in a world where everyone is driven by fear and in which criminals have taken advantage of it. Itís a task of epic proportions, one that the director handles with impeccable expertise, taking an unlikely genre to the roughest of realities.
The Dark Knight is ultimately a hell of an entertaining movie, filled with dark undertones that stay with you even after the credits have rolled. It appears at first that the movie is all about Batman dealing with the Joker, a megalomaniac psychopath with no apparent motives other than creating chaos; but thereís a subtle symbiosis between their interaction that implicates a third character, the promising savior that is Harvey Dent, and whose ramifications slowly unravel until they start to become tangible and give way to the poignant and tragic finale. Thatís where the real arc lays, one that gives the entire movie a new and more intricate meaning.
The Jokerís agenda is complex, and he continually surprises everyone around him, including us, with his genius plans and heartless behavior. But thatís exactly what he wants to challenge. Are his acts really inhuman? Is he the only one capable of showing such an unmerciful side? What is it that makes us tick? How far could we go? At one point he calls Batman a freak, just like him, and it makes us wonder. His rants and allusions are far-fetched, but sadly contain a touch of truth; problem is he needs to prove them by delving into radical anarchy and needs, wants, someone to stand up to him.
Without giving anything away I can simply say that there are plenty of brilliant set-pieces that border on being unbearably tense and in which characters are placed in impossible situations with different degrees of implications. The fact that such a complicated movie with so many threads makes complete sense and feels like one whole, clean package is one of many reasons to applaud Nolan and be thankful for his undeniable talent.
Equally apt is the way he handles the action scenes, with cinematographer Wally Pfister firmly on his side to provide as big a spectacle as such a story deserves. Many of these sequences were filmed in IMAX format, a complicated task that requires moving a huge and very heavy camera around. Having seen the movie in both its IMAX and 35mm formats I can only say the effort was well worth it; if you can, opt for the former (the truck scene alone is a wowzer). The visual display is breath-taking and only enhanced by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmerís remarkably ambitious score and the top-of-the art special effects.
Minor quibbles: Batmanís costume voice can come off a tad ridiculous at times, and Dentís eventual makeup is, I donít know, cartoon-y. Neither of these issues have any lasting or diminishing effect, but theyíre there and thereís no way around íem.
The cast is flawless. The centerpiece performance belongs to Heath Ledger, who infamously passed away before the movieís release and didnít live to see his creation join the ranks as one of the most unforgettable villains that have ever graced the big screen. His work goes beyond a gimmick, giving every manner, eye-roll, line reading or body movement a specific meaning. Itís outstanding and an instant classic. That said, heís not the only one delivering the goods, for Aaron Eckhartís work, although not as showy, is just as good. Iíve always admired him and Iím glad he was given the opportunity to show what heís got in a big-budget extravaganza; remarkable work from top to bottom. Christian Bale is excellent once again, as are Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and especially Gary Oldman; while Maggie Gyllenhaal proves to be a welcomed replacement for Katie Holmes. Eric Roberts, Cillian Murphy and Anthony Michael Hall also appear, joining a big ensemble of supporting players that are all up to the task.
ďWhy so serious?Ē
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Other reviews of The Dark Knight (2008): Groucho