Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008)
I wasn’t the first to see this movie and I definitely won’t be the last, but holy crap, did I enjoy it (on IMAX too!). The Dark Knight is a damn near perfect film. Clocking in at about 2.5 hours, no time is wasted. You’re thrown right into things with the very first scene and it does not stop.
To give you a small idea of what the film is about, you’ve got the Joker terrorizing Gotham City and Batman struggling to stop him with the help of newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent and Officer Jim Gordon. Got that? That’s all I’m telling you about the plot.
Everyone is talking about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in this film and for good reason. Forget about Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film. Ledger’s Joker would chew Nicholson’s up and spit him out in a heartbeat. Ledger is your Joker now. When you’re first introduced to him, you’re almost not sure how to feel about the guy. Is he crazy or brilliant? Will he help the mob or fight against them? What is he trying to do? Throughout the film, things build and build as the Joker thrives in the chaos and anarchy that he’s created. As the movie progresses, so does the Joker as a character. You can’t help but laugh at some of his antics, but at the same time there’s this feeling of terror that’s associated with him. He really is insane, but at the same time he seems to be an absolute genius.
When Ledger isn’t stealing every scene he’s in, Christian Bale delivers a decent performance. He’s great as Bruce Wayne, really capturing that billionaire playboy mentality, but as Batman he returns with that throaty growl that we heard in the first film. This time it’s even tougher to understand what he’s saying as he basically grunts at half of his opponents. I can’t imagine how Bale’s throat must have felt after a Batman scene.
While a lot of emphasis has been placed on Heath Ledger, people seem to be skipping right over Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. The character’s campaign slogan which has been used in the enormous marketing campaign for the film, “I Believe in Harvey Dent” couldn’t be more true. You want to believe in this man. You want to see him succeed in cleaning up Gotham City. He’s the hero with a face as they mention in the film. But any good man can have flaws and Dent is no different. The Joker was just too much for him and as we all know, Dent goes off the deep end…or at least halfway in.
The other returning actors are great in their roles. The replacement of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes really didn’t do anything for me. First off, I really don’t thing Gyllenhaal is even the least bit attractive. The family’s looks seem to have all gone to her brother. Also, as I’ve said before, Rachel Dawes is an entirely unnecessary character for this story. Batman can’t have a love life. That’s one of his sacrifices. Plus, he doesn’t need someone to balance him out just yet. He hasn’t reached that point. When he does, you bring in Robin.
Yes, this film is darker than the first, but it’s also so much better. There’s a tremendous feeling of film noir within this movie. You’ve got all the necessary elements and it comes together beautifully. The Dark Knight just works on so many levels that comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike can enjoy it just as much. I can’t imagine that the producers aren’t already planning on the next film, but I have no idea where they will go after this one. They leave Batman in such an interesting place that there are just so many possibilities for what they can do. It’ll be tough to top this film, so I hope that the time and care is taken to really do this franchise justice.
Also, just as a quick note, if you enjoyed this film, I highly recommend reading Batman: The Long Halloween as many of the plot points within the film are taken directly from that book. It’s also a fantastic read.