Christian Bale in Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight is quite simply the greatest film of its genre. The Nolan brothers have created a superhero movie that works on every level. The Dark Knight does not disappoint.
Taking place one year after Batman Begins, Gotham is now a city of hope. The film features many scenes drenched in sunlight. It was filmed on location in Chicago. The criminals are scared to come out at night. A group of copycat Batmen, inspired by their hero, roam the city to fight crime. A new DA, Harvey Dent, is putting criminals away at a record pace. Bruce Wayne is even considering hanging up his cape. However, The Joker shows up and wants to introduce a little chaos.
The Dark Knight has all of the action and fight scenes required to keep its target audience glued to the screen, but it goes even further. Jonathan and Christopher have written a plot that is more intriguing than any detective story since The Maltese Falcon. They wrote lines of dialogue that are prophetic to the story, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Dent states early on. While others are just plain memorable, "This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object." Joker says, describing his and Batman's relationship.
The Nolan brother's are not just happy with great plot and dialogue. In Batman Begins they shared their views on fear. How it cripples us and how overcoming it sets you free. In The Dark Knight they explore the truth and how it is all about perception. Alfred keeps a secret from Bruce. Batman and Gordon keep a secret from Gotham. An accountant attempts to tell a huge secret. The theme is throughout the movie in different ways.
The cast is amazing. Bale continues to do the best job of any actor playing a superhero. His Batman is not the same person as his Bruce Wayne. They walk and talk like two different people. Eckhart impressed me with Thank You for Smoking and continues to do great work here.
Heath Ledger's performance lives up to the hype. His disappearing pencil trick is one of his first scenes, and most memorable. It sets the tone for who he is. The Joker has long been one of my favorite villains. Most criminals, in comic books, are after money or power. Give Lex Luther everything he wants and he is good to go. The Joker does not want material items, he just wants to have fun. As Alfred describes him, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." Ledger delivers each of his lines in a voice that sounds both confident and lunatic. He enunciates his dialogue to the point that such simple lines as "Evening commissioner." Stay with you. Whereas Tim Burton's Joker movie took a half hour of screen time to give his origin, The Dark Knight does it with a few lines of dialogue.
Everyone is talking about Ledger's performance, and it is just. However, credit for this movie goes to director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan, whom he wrote the screenplay with. Notice how Batman, The Joker and Two Face all have scars. The Nolans pays attention to such details. With The Dark Knight, they have done something that has only been done with the Jason Bourne films. They took a great first film and improved on its sequel.
Heath Ledger in Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight is a great movie, there's no doubt about that, but I'm just a little more reserved in my praise than Eric. The cast is great, however I don't think Ledger is deserving of an Oscar. Yes, he plays a maniac very well, but if he hadn't died, I don't think his name would even be linked to the award. Personally, it seems like Warner Brothers is rather shamelessly using his death to promote their film and build buzz. Bale quite simply, IS Batman. I hated, hated, hated, Tim Burton's pathetic and wretched batman movies and Michael Keaton never was Batman, but a joke. Nolan, as Eric said deserves a world of praise for finally bringing a true Batman franchise to the big screen and Bale deserves equal praise for bring Nolan's vision to life.
One thing that I loved about this sequel over the first is how in this one, Gotham is finally a real city. Batman Begins continued the Tim Burton practice of having Gotham be an unrealistically stylized city that was almost entirely filmed on a set. At long last, Batman is living in the real world. What's even more amazing is that Nolan takes outlandish characters like Batman and the Joker and is able to place them in these realistic locations and still make them work.
Where I'm a little more reserved in my praise is in the storyline and the movies' length. The plot seems very episodic. It's almost like a two-parter shown back-to-back. The Joker is captured twice in the movie and the plot seems split between before he is captured the first time and after. With a running time of 2 and a half-hours, I was getting a little impatient for the end at about the 2-hour mark. I just wish they could have resolved the plot, which is fairly thin to begin with (it's basically just stop the Joker from causing mayhem), a little sooner.
So far this summer has presented a gluttony of super-hero movies and so far the clear winners are Iron Man and The Dark Knight and they compliment each other well. The Dark Knight is heavy, dark and serious while Iron Man is lighter and more fun. While the Dark Knight is a greater artistic achievement, I have to confess I found Iron Man to be more entertaining.
Heath Ledger and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Dark Knight.
I both agree and disagree with each of my brothers. Eric, I agree with you about the memorable dialogue and I think Ledger is deserving of a supporting Oscar nomination. I most emphatically side with Scott about the rather thin plot, it certainly doesn’t belong in the same sentence as The Maltese Falcon. One thing we all seem to agree on is that this is the best Batman movie ever. I even like the way the mask fit Bale’s face better this time around.
Comic Book Movies had become too stylized. This one and Iron Man seem to be leading the genre in a different and positive direction. Or maybe it’s just that these characters fit better in a real environment. Bale’s Batman and Ledger’s Joker are both brilliantly wrought creations. They are real people and also larger-than-life archetypes. Eckhart's Two-Face is the only one that stays completely in Comic Book Land. But that is not a reflection of the performance just his visual appearance.
But this will always be Heath Ledger's last completed movie. His Misfits, if you will. His death, plus the fact that his Joker is one homicidal maniac, is one very big reason why this movie is smashing Box Office records faster than any movie since Titanic. But in the long run it will be his performance that is remembered and he doesn't disappoint. He is completely ON in every single frame, licking his lips, cocking his head and that gleeful cackle.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (2008)