(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 clichés, 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.)
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 … more
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 … more
Wow, what a summer. Its only halfway over and already I've been treated to two incredible super hero films, The Incredible Hulk [Theatrical Release] and the masterpiece Iron Man (Special Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] which, to me, is one of the top three super hero films of all time along side the likes of Spider-Man 2 (Widescreen Special Edition) and Batman Begins (Widescreen Edition). From deeper then expected films like Wall-E [Theatrical Release] to the resurrection of the Indiana Jones franchise … more
We've all been there. Sitting in the theater regretting spending $9 on a movie based on a childhood superhero. Thankfully, The Dark Knight is not one of those superhero movies. Christopher Nolan, the man behind movies like Memento and Batman Begins, took Batman and Gotham city to a place that most superhero movies dare to go. Reality. Nolan made The Dark Knight gritty, realistic, and... well dark. This wasn't just a popcorn movie, this wasn't just a superhero movie, this was … more
The sequel to the 2005 Batman Begins is even better than its predecessor. Much different than the earlier comical Batman series, this one is much darker, much tragic, and portrays the Batman that you read in comic books. Batman with his fears and values refuses to cross the line that all the villains cross. He uses his head to combat villains. He tries to prevent bad things from happening to others that he has experienced himself. He's an icon of yin … more
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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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.