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The second film in Christopher Nolan's Batman film trilogy released in 2008.

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"Either You Die a Hero or You Live Long Enough to Become a Villain!"

  • Jul 18, 2008
(4.5 *'s) Everything is in place. When a comic book action movie gets tipsy between the fortunes of good and evil, and one forgets the good guys are supposed to prevail, then you have a real comic adventure. As tangible a menace as we could ever hope for (here played formidably by the late Heath Ledger), the Joker's every appearance rarely lets up with shock and surprise. For these reasons, `The Dark Knight' is destined to become (along with `Spiderman 2') one of the greatest comic adventures ever made.

Excellent performances, an intelligent script, and tension to match the riveting action, render `Batman Begins,' the acclaimed start-up, as just that--a beginning. The only real fault I can find here is a resolution that lingers too long. Too many winded speeches, while important and illuminating, take out some of the dramatic tension delivered in the movie's first two acts. What the screenwriters accomplished in effective sound bites, turns the movie slightly too ponderous toward the end. More a plus than a minus, though, just when you think the movie's over, it ain't over yet.

The film wastes no time as Joker's clown-faced warriors hand glide across pulleys to rob a bank. Treachery is in their ranks as the Joker has them kill themselves off "so there will be less to split the share." The bills have been marked, however, and a would-be client of millionaire Bruce Wayne has them tracing it to an accountant from Hong Kong. The Bourne element doesn't last too long, but once we're planted back at Gotham, the mob, the Joker, and the foreign gangsters, all have a stake in the bank money. But as we're about to see, the Joker isn't after the city's money, he's after its soul. "Madness is like gravity," he chortles. Actions speak louder than words; however, for surely it is chaos he covets.

"A hero with a face" (at least for now) Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is Gotham's District Attorney, a stalwart force to bring criminals to justice, jeopardizing his own life for the city's welfare. The Joker will have none of it and breaks up a local crime meeting to instill a greater resolve among the crime syndicate. With a menacing video, he threatens to kill targeted innocents unless the Batman is unmasked. At Dent's side is fellow attorney and love interest, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal), one with a keen sense of every situation and a steely resolve. Constantly threatening the lives of key law-and-order figures: The mayor, a judge, Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman), Rachel, and Harvey, the Joker makes a relentless and suspenseful shell game creating endless tension throughout the movie. Whether dealing with individuals or groups, The Joker leaves burdening choices testing the nerves of the entire city.

Heath Ledger is simply masterful. Ledger restored the creepy, sinister menace as the Joker was originally intended. It's hard to compare him with Jack Nicholson. Nicholson gave us great entertainment, giving us both the Joker's malice and laughter. His romp was admirable, but I have to give Ledger the edge. His laughter and jokes only send chills up one's spine. Indicative of his talent, it's at those knifepoint moments when the Joker shares three separate stories about his indelible smile that Ledger's magic works the best. When the Joker asks his interrogator, "How many of your friends have I killed?" I thought I was listening to the Devil's voice in `The Exorcist'. Rumors of a posthumous Oscar nomination are not token gestures.

Christian Bale is slightly eclipsed, but he still brings a quiet, brooding appearance as he did previously. Second honors, rather, should go to Eckhart who adds so much. As a multi-faceted actor, he does good and evil with tremendous skill. Gyllenhaal, who's had her fine moments, really delivers a truly round and believable Rachel as if someone forgot to tell her the movie had comic strip origins. Michael Caine is a perfect Alfred, and Morgan Freeman plays Lucius Fox, the second Alfred of Wayne enterprises without seeming extraneous. None of the supporting players seem to falter, either.

Screenwriters Jonathan and Christopher Nolan do a great job, except where I've indicated, but some of the plot points are going to lose some children [including me] along the way, and although they limit the clich├ęs, they're even smarter to make them count. Both Nolan and editor, Lee Smith, deserve loads of credit for what they've created. If they tightened up and hadn't gotten so ponderously philosophical near the end, they could have made a perfect film. Here they come awfully close.

(Although I'm from nearby Chicago, they transform the Windy City nicely enough to make us forget where the mayhem is actually transpiring.)

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August 14, 2010
I really respect your fluid, insightful reviews, Woopak, but I particularly enjoy it when we're on the same page for taste. I'm narrowing down Christopher Nolan and David Lynch as among my top echelon, very favorite directors. Besides the two superb classics you've mentioned, I really enjoyed and admired 'The Prestige'!
August 14, 2010
You know I loved this movie. This may be my fave Nolan movie after "Memento". Glad you moved your review here, JP!
More The Dark Knight reviews
review by . July 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****    In "Batman Begins", Christopher Nolan brought an entirely new vision - a much darker vision - of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to the screen. We witnessed his origins and his even further beginnings as a crime fighter for the scum-infested city of Gotham. The same motive has driven the Batman to keep on fighting for the city all the way into this next chapter of the Caped Crusader's legacy. "The Dark Knight" begins with a heist involving the psychopath donning …
review by . November 29, 2010
This is one of the best comic book movies ever made. I like the 1989 Batman film better and I always will, but I can't really compare the two because this is great in its own way and will go down as its own creation, and defnitely as a great one.      This is a comic book movie for everyone, and marketing to children had little to nothing to do with anything. This is a movie strictly for adults, and even people who don't like comic book movies can find something they …
review by . March 27, 2011
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I love it when a filmmaker takes a well-known character and gives him a reinventing makeover. Director Martin Campbell found success twice giving James Bond the badly-needed breath of new life, first in Goldeneye and again in 2005's outstanding Casino Royale. It was also in 2005 that Christopher Nolan, best known for his cult indie film Memento, accomplished this same feat with Batman. Batman needed it. I admit I've always been fascinated with the Caped Crusader. But the movies tore him from his …
review by . February 21, 2011
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Christopher Nolan Does it again
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review by . July 18, 2010
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This movie was by far the best batman movie that has been made yet. The acting was really good on all points but Heath Ledger totally took center stage as the joker. Everything from his facial expressions to his voice and the way he moved was absolutely perfect! I was also surprisingly impressed with the costumes. The joker costume was perfect, it really looked more like the costume from the comic books than previous jokers did. And the batsuit was actually kind of sexy looking, it lacked the hard …
review by . July 07, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The Batman franchise got off to a great start in the 1980's when Tim Burton directed the first film.  Despite upsetting comicbook fans and pleasing other comic book fans at the same time, the movie was a monumental success.  Unfortunately problems arose afterwards.  While Batman Returns was not a flop by any means it was a lot darker and sexualized.  So much so that Warner Bros. gave Tim Burton the boot because they wanted a more kid friendly Batman.  See, at this time, …
review by . December 20, 2008
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Rarely has a film left me speechless, much less a comic book inspired film. Christopher Nolan's rendition of the DC comic character has. "THE DARK KNIGHT" may well be the best comic book film I have ever seen. Christopher Nolan, along with Jonathan Nolan has crafted a screenplay of nearly unbelievable proportions. The duo has taken the "Batman" mythos and has turned it into their own; what results is a film that captures the essence of the comic book and combines it to a …
review by . September 12, 2008
Finally, after what seems like an eternity of buzz, waiting, hype, and tragedy, what could easily be the biggest movie of 2008 is upon us: Christopher Nolan's second installment in his re-imagining of DC Comics' Batman, The Dark Knight. Does this mammoth two-and-a-half-hour superhero magnum opus live up to expectations? The simple answer is yes. With The Dark Knight Nolan has crafted what may be the greatest superhero film to date. In a summer where Marvel blew the doors wide open with the …
review by . December 19, 2008
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Batman takes flight...
Three years have passed since audiences thrilled to the exploits of the Caped Crusader in Batman Begins and now writer/director Christopher Nolan (Insomnia and The Prestige) brings us the second chapter in the unfolding Batman saga. Rather than creating a sequel that relies entirely on action, Nolan has decided to go another route. The Dark Knight is even more intense, violent and psychologically complex than its predecessor.             …
review by . August 29, 2009
The Dark Knight
By now, The Dark Knight is known to be the best of the best when it comes to super hero movies as well as Heath Ledger's final Oscar winning performance.  What some people fail to realize about Christopher Nolan's masterpiece is that it is also the best crime drama of the decade.  Forget that Batman is in this movie for a second.  Without him you have a movie that focuses on the Mob, dirty cops, inner city politics and a mad man watching all of this unravel as he adds his own breed …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #35
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


The Dark Knight is a 2008 American superhero film co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is a sequel to Batman Begins. Christian Bale reprises the lead role. Batman's primary conflicts in the film include his fight against his arch-nemesis the Joker and his strained friendship with district attorney Harvey Dent. For his conception of the film, Nolan was inspired by the Joker's first two appearances in the comics and Batman: The Long Halloween. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago, as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The director used an IMAX camera to film six major action sequences, including the Joker's first appearance in the film. The Batsuit was redesigned, with a cowl allowing Bale to move his head.

The film was released on July 18, 2008 in North America, and on July 21, 2008 in the United Kingdom. During its opening weekend, the movie brought in over $155 million, breaking nearly every box office record.
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Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Release Date: July 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: December 9, 2008
Runtime: 152 minutes
Studio: Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Studios
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