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Inspirational Reads

Review Time: The Dark Knight

July 20, 2008

I was afraid that, when I saw all the promotional posters with the Joker and the "Why so serious?" catchphrase, that we'd get a lot more of the same zany, madcap, crazy, where-does-he-get-all-those-beautiful-toys, Superfriends Joker.

However, as someone put it last night, Jack Nicholson was Jack Nicholson; Heath Ledger was the Joker.

I had heard, going in, that Ledger could be up for a posthumous Oscar and all that. Yeah, yeah, I thought. But, not only did he capture the Joker, he also captured the two levels of the Joker. There's the wise-cracking, smartass Joker, and then there's the nobody crosses me because I'm an insane criminal mastermind who will kill you if you try Joker. Ledger was able to play both parts perfectly.

The best thing was that he didn't dominate the screen and demand everyone's attention. Instead, he sort of slunk onto the screen and then performed, his character growing with each scene, going from an unknown entity to being the creature who held 30 million people in terror within Gotham City.

Here's another thing: there was actual tension built throughout the film. There was constantly a thought of "What next?" Yeah, I could see where things were going and all, but never at any point was I sitting back thinking, "Alright, here we go." There was drama, there was tension, and there were plenty of "Oh wow" moments. I'll just say that Christopher Nolan pulled a couple of excellent bait-and-switch moments.

I think this is the movie that Spider-Man 2 wanted to be. But where Peter Parker is always going to be a whiny little punk, Bruce Wayne is dark and contemplative. Christian Bale has pretty much become my favorite Batman, though I will admit his voice in Batman form is a I guess I was spoiled by Kevin Conroy in animated form for all those years. Still, when Bruce Wayne struggles with himself, it's believable and not pouty.

Aaron Eckhart did an excellent job as Harvy Dent. So as I don't ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it, his performance throughout was spot on, playing the counterpoint to Christian Bale's Batman. The interaction between the two on and off the screen with one another was well-written and well-performed.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gary Oldman are also good in their roles, but I still love that Morgan Freeman watches over all of Wayne Enterprises and still delivers the best comedic line in the movie.

Still, in the end, everything comes down to the Joker and Batman, and the story and the performances do not let the viewer down. As I said before, Bale does an excellent job toeing the line between caped crusader and masked vigilante, both as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Ledger brings to life a terrifying, monstrous Joker and fulfills the hyperbole surrounding his final performance. It's difficult for a movie to live up to all the hype that surrounds it in this day and age, but The Dark Knight does so, delivering an excellent action movie that tickles the fanboy in all of us.

I'll also pop in, here at the end, that I really liked the Watchmen trailer that popped up right before the movie. Clearly, that is the Head of the Class of the previews, and I hope that the movie does not let down. Hopefully, like Batman, it delivers.


Jidai said...

Huh, you really thought Maggie Gyllenhaal was good? I thought she was the weakest part. Indecisive, not very appealing. It seemed like her character and her acting job was flip flopping as much as possible.

As for Watchmen, I'm writing a rant about that...

Before I got though... BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE EVAR!

Jon said...

I'm on my way to see it this afternoon. Can't wait...

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I liked Gyllenhaal in her role. She was supposed to be waffling back and forth and such.

She might have been the weakest part, but for the movie, she didn't need to be Lois Lane. She just needed to be that thing that might have cause Bruce Wayne to take off the mask for good.

Chemgeek said...

Spoiler alert. Do not read this comment if you haven't seen the film.

I just saw it today and I must say, I was very impressed. This is a very good installment of the Batman Institution (though, comparing other installments became an apple-oranges thing long ago, but that's OK).

Before seeing it, I got sick of the Heath Ledger euphoria, but he surpassed my expectations. He was really good. I can't wait to see his next movie.

OK, that was uncalled for. I know. But he did leave an impressive legacy.

Anyways...I also did not like Gyllenhaal. I think it may have been how her part was written. She didn't really do anything except get blown up. She had only a minor role in the action. And, I really don't think she is good looking enough to be Batman's BFF.

I wish the movie had more about Joker's past. Where did he come from and how did he get there? His story about the scars changed, which I realize was the point and it actually made him more freaky by showing how disturbed he really was.

The best thing they did in the movie was keep Batman out of the glamorous spot light. By ending the movie with him as a fugitive was satisfying. We'd love our heroes to have a heroes welcome, but that would not fit for Batman. He must remain in the shadows.

We never found out what happened to Joker. Sadly, due to Ledger's death he will not be in a sequel. I hope there will never be another Joker. We can give Ledger that respect.

Chemgeek said...

In my lengthy post, I forgot to mention, my favorite part of the movie was when Joker made the pencil disappear.

That was when I knew this was Joker.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Oh yes, when he did that thing with the pencil, it was amazing to feel the collective response from the audience. And at that moment, everyone knew that we had the "real" Joker on our hands.

As for Gyllenhaal...I don't think she needed to be hot. Bruce Wayne always has all the arm candy he ever needs (as seen through the film), but she was supposed to have this "girl next door" appeal. At least that's how I saw it, but I'm not the be-all-and-end-all. From that angle, that's why I liked her playing that roll.

McGone said...

Haven't seen it yet... can't read this review... la la la la la fingers in the ears, or eyes, I guess la la la la la.

teamslinger said...

great review, and now I want to see it even more! I knew this movie would be huge, but I had no idea it would be THIS huge.

Strawberry said...

i'm sure he'll have a new love interest...what i had WANTED to say was "i wonder if he's going to have anew love interest in the next one? OR MAYBE RACHEL DIDN'T DIE!" but the friend that posted hadn't see the i didn't want to give anything away
bring on cat woman!

Rider said...

I agree with most of your review, but what did you mean by "this is the movie Spidey 2 wanted to be"? I didn't walk out of that flick thinking Peter Parker should've acted like Bruce Wayne.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I was looking at the whole "do I really want to be a superhero" angle that Spider-Man 2 tried to pull off.

Whereas Dark Knight was deep and brooding, Peter Parker just came off being whiny.