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

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"Upset the established order... and everything becomes chaos! I'm an agent of chaos."

  • Jul 7, 2009
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, Hollywood was completely unaware that adults really loved Batman too.  With that, Joel Shucmacher gave us Batman Forever.  And yes, it was a little more geared toward kids than the other two, but that's not the reason why Batman Forever got mixed results from fans who enjoyed the first two.  Batman and Robin was such a monumental disaster that they had to put things on hold for Batman.  Would we ever get another one?  Turns out, we would.  Director Christopher Nolan stepped up to the helm and decided to reboot the franchise. 

Christopher Nolan?  The guy who did Memento and Insomnia?  THIS guy was going to restart the Batman franchise?  It was easy to be skeptical because it was something that Nolan hadn't exactly tackled.  But he did have a lot of talent as a writer and director--especially with Memento, which is a huge cult classic.  And Nolan turned out better than we expected.  Comic book fans were happy that someone was sticking closer to the the Batman mythos (particularly the idea that Batman does not kill).  Not to mention we got that dark and gritty Batman that many had come to be associated with.  Batman Begins was a smash hit.  So what was for an encore?  Well, The Dark Knight.  And what made The Dark Knight special?  So special that it spent 4 weeks at number one during the summer at the box office and that it nearly knocked Titanic off the number one spot for highest grossing domestic film?  A couple of things.  One of which is truly that Christopher Nolan understands Batman and the Joker as characters.  Along those lines Heath Ledger does a bang up job in what is perhaps his finest role.  In fact, seeing The Dark Knight only serves as a reminder of the potential we lost.  Heath Ledger could've gone far. 

Perhaps another thing that makes The Dark Knight special is that it actually reached across fanbases.  People who didn't normally enjoy Batman suddenly liked The Dark Knight.  Part of that is because Christopher Nolan wanted a more down to earth and gritty Batman movie than what we got from the Tim Burton films and especially the Joel Schumacher.

The Dark Knight opens with a bank robbery.  A bunch of "clowns" have gotten together to pull off this heist.  There will be at least five people splitting the shares.... well... six shares if you count the guy who planned the job: The Joker.  So why do they call him The Joker?  Well, some have heard that he wears clown makeup to scare people.  You know, war paint.  

Everything in the bank heist is going well until the criminals discover that The Joker has given them orders to start killing off one another as they serve their usefulness.  These instances happen until the Joker himself is the only man standing.  Everything worked out so well that he managed to trick all his henchmen into killing them.  He then exits by telling the bank manager, "I believe that whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger!"  It is our first introduction to The Joker in the film and it shows just how maniacal he is.  His make up is fairly gritty when compared to Tim Burton's first Batman film.  It makes the Joker a more realistic and, on the whole, more frightening figure.

After this, we then see how things have served since Batman has been in gotham.  There are some criminals who are scared to go out at night.  Gordon insists on reminding people that he's out there by using the Bat Signal (but they never actually call it the Bat Signal, that was perhaps a little too cheesy for Christopher Nolan).  A detective asks him how come he never shows up.  "Hopefully," Gordon says, "because he's busy."  The moment this line is pitched, we see that Batman often is busy dealing with the underbelly of Gotham.  Not only that, but it appears others have been inspired by Batman.  There are some people who like to dress up as him and engage in their own form of vigilantism.  A form Batman does not approve of and makes it clear when he shows up to bust a drug ring.  Scarecrow from Batman Begins shows up, but he stays there for all of two minutes.  

The toll being Batman takes on Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is all too apparent when he see him asleep in a board room meeting.  It also leaves his body battered and bruised most nights.  Alfred (Michael Caine) insists that Wayne needs to know his limits.  "Batman has no limits," he reminds Alfred. 

While Batman makes the streets of gotham safe during the night, there's another man at work during the day.  His name is Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and along with Gordon (Gary Oldman) he's fighting the mob and corruption inside the Gotham Police.  If Batman is The Dark Knight, then Harvey Dent is certainly the White Knight.  Dent's actions have garnared lots of attention.  From Wayne's old flame Rachel (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal)) to Wayne himself.  Harvey Dent seems like the man who will be able to bring Gotham to justice.  He impresses Bruce Wayne because he can do it without a mask.  And Harvey Dent makes a strong case in a scene where he says that Batman can't take up the mantel forever... that he couldn't possibly do it forever.  In one of Dent's (and the film's) best lines he reminds Bruce and Rachel: "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."  

Meanwhile the mob still isn't giving up in their conquest for power.  They think they've got everything figured out by hiding their millions away, and one of the best members of the mob going back to Hong Kong (because the Chinese won't turn in one of their own) and is far from Dent's jurisdiction.  As The Joker is quick to remind them, Batman knows no jurisdiction.  The mob doesn't listen and essentially refuses the Joker's help.  But when Batman actually DOES make Lao squeal, and Dent is able to put a good portion of the mob away, they decide that turning to The Joker probably is the best.  There's only one problem... they don't understand The Joker.  And Joker's methods are a lot more extreme.  If Batman doesn't take off his mask and turn himself in... people will die.  And the Joker is a man of his word. 

To say The Dark Knight is a dark movie might be an understatement.  It's definitely a darker Batman movie.  It's not exactly made for kids.  At least not a kid of say... nine years old.  For years The Joker has been a frightening character in comic books.  He is often labeled as one of the greatest villains of all time.  The Dark Knight shows why the Joker is. 

More than anything else, The Dark Knight is a character study.  And perhaps one of the better studies of good versus evil.  There are three central characters in the movie.  There is of course, Batman himself.  Who represents the good.  Who tries to make things right and just.  Then there is the Joker who represents all that is evil.  The Joker refers to himself as an agent of chaos because he as no rules.  He's a dog chasing cars.  He wouldn't know what to do with one if he caught it.  He'd just do things. 

The Dark Knight throws something else into the Good versus Evil mythos.  The Joker, while definitely being evil, also believes that everyone has a breaking point.  He's so sure of this that he spends a great deal of the movie testing both Batman and Harvey Dent.  To see just where they're breaking point it.  Batman shows the Joker he won't be subjected to corruption, even as he keeps losing those close to him.  But what about Harvey Dent?  This is the third part that not many movies jump into.  Harvey Dent represents those who CAN fall.  While his change comes off as a little sudden, it is still a nice trait to the movie as a whole.  Thus, when you watch The Dark Knight, you're also getting a movie that can be a little thought provoking, while being entertaining.  

All the performances are also kind of nice as well.  You have Christian Bale who is Wayne and Batman.  And yes, he still has that voice when he dawns the suit.  In fact, here's a Youtube video spoofing that voice right now. 

Aaron Eckhart does an unbelievably fantastic job as Dent.  He's charismatic in a way that you want him to be.  He plays the perfect politician.  And when he ultimately turns to evil he does just as commanding of a performance. 

The real star of the show, however, is Heath Ledger.  As the Joker he changes his voice to get into character.  While he provides plenty of dark comedy he is also fairly terrifying just the same.  When it was first announced that Ledger would play the Joker, everyone was a little nervous.  When Christopher Nolan was asked why he selected Ledger he replied, "Because he's fearless."  After watching the performance perhaps you'll come away thinking Ledger was fearless as well.

Here's that "magic trick," where most of us realized that Ledger was a great Joker, but also showcases just how brutal The Joker can be.  And yet at the same time it's a scene that has a bit of dark humor to it.

Don't try the magic trick at home... otherwise you might turn out like this guy:

The movie can run a little long, but there's also a lot to pay attention to.  The Dark Knight is not a movie you'll absorb everything from just by watching it once.  You'll probably find yourself having to watch it again just to pick up on things.  Almost every scene has a little something that is worth keeping in mind as the movie progresses.  It's easy to miss something the first time.  So much so that some have complained the story is too convoluted and makes no sense.  It does make sense... if you're willing to grasp small sections as well as the big picture.  So you may have to see it again just to grasp everything.  Regardless of that, it's still worth watching once more just for the fun of it all. 

Then you can head on over to Youtube and watch a bunch of nice videos that both spoof and have fun with the film.  Such as this nifty spoof trailer:

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September 13, 2010
whoa. How did I miss this?! fantastic!
More The Dark Knight reviews
review by . July 26, 2012
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review by . November 29, 2010
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review by . September 12, 2008
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … 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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