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

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Chaos Curses the Caped Crusader

  • Jul 18, 2008
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Everyone seems to think the greatest strength of "The Dark Knight" is that it surpasses the "Batman" comic book origins. I think it's the greatest weakness. I thought "Batman" was supposed to be a comic book, an ongoing story that could only exist in outlandish DC Comic magazines. Director Christopher Nolan has made the entire concept too realistic, pretty much to the point of making a man dressed in a bat suit seem silly. It's an entertaining movie, no question, but it certainly isn't the "Batman" film I wanted to see; it's all melancholy and anger with almost no sense of fun. The filmmakers didn't even bother to create their own Gotham City, relying instead on the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago. This is the kind of film where I want an unrealistic city skyline with gothic architecture stretching hundreds of stories up. I want that because that's where Batman truly belongs.

Despite the appearance of the Joker, "The Dark Knight" is not a remake of Tim Burton's (much better) 1989 version of "Batman." Nolan has started an entirely new film franchise, beginning in 2005 with "Batman Begins," another entertaining but vastly overrated film. "The Dark Knight" continues to delve deeply into a completely rewritten Bruce Wayne; while he still broods over the wrongs of the past, he also thinks long and hard about the future, how the public perceives him and whether or not there's a point to what he's doing. While many perceive him as Gotham's hero, many more perceive him as a masked vigilante that does much more harm than good. The film revolves around the idea that a fine line exists between good and evil, one that Wayne threatens to cross every time his alter ego searches for crime to fight. Christian Bale's strong performance as the Caped Crusader makes this inner struggle perfectly clear.

The basic plot involves Batman teaming up with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to put a stop to organized crime in Gotham City. Their attempts prove successful, but at a heavy price--a new criminal mastermind is slowly but surely rising to power, and what's worse, he's using all three men as pawns in a twisted scheme to plunge Gotham into chaos. He's known only as the Joker (the late Heath Ledger), a makeup-wearing lunatic with greasy green hair and a custom purple-colored suit. He occasionally tells stories about how his face ended up so scarred, although I have no good reason to take the word of a homicidal maniac. For all I know, he cut up his own face while his abusive father had absolutely nothing to do with it.

I'm sure a lot will be said about Ledger's next to last performance; many have already predicted an Oscar nomination. Indeed, he captured the Joker's insanity perfectly, with his messy makeup and bizarre voice and demonic cackles. What he did not capture, however, was the Joker's sillier side, the side that gleefully made use of electrocuting joy buzzers and phony flowers that squirt acid instead of water. This character is basically supposed to be a homicidal goofball. In "The Dark Knight," he's just a crazy, unsympathetic clown with a bad face. This Joker is incomplete, although I blame the director for that more than I blame Ledger.

Besides the Joker, Harvey Dent is the most significant side character, and this is only partly because of whom he ends up becoming; many consider him more of a hero than Batman, a white knight in a city infested with crime. But even though he wants to do the city good, something lurks deep within him, something darker and less trusting. He says he relies on chance, but the reality is that he makes his own luck, and this is something the Joker seems eager to expose and exploit. Dent has fallen in love with Assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), once Bruce Wayne's love interest. Both she and Dent begin the film as strong characters that hold true to what they believe in. At one point or another, both are unsure about how they feel and are forced to make difficult decisions. To delve any further would give away too much, but rest assured it plays into the idea of what makes a genuine hero and what makes a vengeful vigilante. As Dent says during a very crucial restaurant scene, "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

If only these ideas were explored in a film that was true to its origins. "The Dark Knight" is a fascinating crime drama, but it's not a comic book, and that's the biggest problem. Batman and the Joker are very unrealistic characters, and yet they're stuck in a film that looks, feels, and unfolds in a very realistic way. None of this is helped by heavy-handed commentaries on morality and heroism; while they do add depth and complexity to the story, they occasionally weigh the story down. Still, the cinematography is wonderful, the action is satisfying, and many of the actors are perfectly suited for a superhero film, such as Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. I'll go ahead and give it four stars. But don't ever expect me to consider it a masterpiece--in my mind, that distinction stays with Tim Burton's original film.

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review by . July 26, 2012
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**** 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 …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … 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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