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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

Ever since it was first announced that the Joker would be appearing in the new Batman film, The Dark Knight, I have been highly anticipating the movie’s release. To me, you can’t have a great hero without a great villain. That’s why Spider-Man and Batman are my two favorite superheroes of all time. Because when it comes to rogue galleries, no one else compares. And of these rogues, the Joker is one of my favorites.

Needless to say, I had some pretty high expectations for The Dark Knight—expectations that only grew after seeing the previews, reading the reviews and hearing about Heath Ledger’s (RIP) Oscar-worthy performance. In fact, I had such high expectations for the movie that a part of me was afraid to watch The Dark Knight, for fear of being let down. Of course, that wasn’t enough to prevent me from going to the theatre…and being completely blown away. Basically everything you’ve heard about The Dark Knight being the best comic book adaptation ever or the best movie of 2008—well it’s true. The Dark Knight is just that good and then some…

For starters, The Dark Knight is the most realistic take that I’ve ever seen for a comic book movie. Heck, I wouldn’t even describe The Dark Knight as a comic book movie. Take away the batsuit and the Joker’s face paint, and it’s like watching an epic crime drama, complete with mobsters, corrupt policemen, power plays and so on. And like an epic crime drama, the plot is sophisticated, the action is intense—and surprisingly violent—and the emotion is incredibly visceral.

As far as the Joker, Heath’s performance is every bit as good as people say it is and one of the best Joker interpretations that I’ve ever seen. My only complaint—there just wasn’t enough of the Joker in the film. As far as the rest of the cast, Bale, Caine, Freeman, and Oldman don’t disappoint in their returning roles, so the pressure was on Maggie Gyllenhaal who did a much better job with Rachel Dawes than Katie Holmes did, while Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent aka Two-Face, was excellent and one of the movie’s major surprises. Another surprise was the thought-provoking questions The Dark Knight asks about good, evil and what it means to be a hero, as well as the shocking turn of events at the end of the film which explains the movie’s title while also hinting at the direction the filmmakers may pursue in the next Batman film.

In closing, The Dark Knight not only lived up to my lofty expectations, but it shattered them, far surpassing any of the previous Batman films, and setting a new standard in filmmaking that is going to be hard to top...

NOTE: Supposedly the trailer for the movie adaptation of one of the greatest graphic novels ever in Watchmen was supposed to run in front of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately our theatre must not have gotten that memo, so there was no trailer. Thankfully that's what the internet is for :) So to view the excellent trailer, click HERE or watch the video below:


Jebus said...

I'm glad so many people out there are liking this film, but I was pretty disappointed. Ledger is great as the Joker but Two Face was ridiculously under utilised and Batman in this one was just atrocious. Ledger made a crap film watchable but he doesn't deserve an Oscar for it.

I feel Nolan pulled too many punches with the script, editing and muted violence. I'll go se it at IMAX and maybe I'll like it better but I came out of the cinema very sad and disappointed.

Robert said...

Wow! You're one of the few that I've heard that didn't enjoy the movie, but everyone is entitled to their opinion :) Personally, I thought Two-Face was the most developed character in the movie and if anyone was underutilized, it was the Joker himself. The one thing about Batman that annoyed me was his 'voice', but it makes sense that he would do that to protect his identity...

As far as pulling punches, yes there are moments that the director could have taken it further, but considering that the movie is PG-13 and that Batman is regarded as family-fare, the filmmakers definitely pushed the envelope and The Dark Knight is far and away edgier & grittier than any previous Batman film. And perhaps they'll take it even further with the next release :)

I've never seen a movie at an IMAX theatre, so if you do check it out, let us know how it looks!

SQT said...

Wow, I'm surprised Jebus didn't love this movie-- but then I guess there's no such thing as something that will appeal to everyone.

Personally I thought it was awesome. I put a review up on my main blog and couldn't recommend it enough.

RobB said...

I was blown away and stunned by THE DARK KNIGHT. I'll be doing a long review on my blog this week.

Robert said...

Nice review Theresa :) Rob, I'll be looking out for yours later this week.

To be honest, I wasn't even planning on saying anything about the movie, but after I watched it, I had to write something. It's not a real review though, because there's just too much to analyze and if I went down that path, I would probably still be writing down my thoughts ;)

Jebus said...

I found it quite interesting that they really played up the point that Batman was honourable and refuses to kill criminals yet he's more than happy to allow Ra's Al Ghul and his henchmen to die in the previous film. Not saving someone is still murder. Although that script was by the Evil Mr Goyer so we can forgive them that. :-P

I think I will enjoy it a second time around now that I know not to think it will be totally awesome, but I'm still disappointed overall. Many reviewers seem to be glossing over some pretty big errors in judgement (in my opinion) by the Nolan brothers and are simply lauding it for all the good parts.

The PG-13 rating thing annoys me somewhat as the idea of cinema is to tell a tale and tell it well, not pander to a classification board. But I guess in the end it is still a business. In Oz we have the MA15+ or even just M15 rating which would have served it much better. The cartoon movie/collection, The Gotham Knight, had more blood and violence than this film and it is the lead-up to The Dark Knight!

I have to say the music was awesome in this one, much better than Batman Begins. I especially loved the Joker's theme and how it would start up a good while before he came on screen so you just knew he was up to no good and would be popping up shortly.

Does anyone really think what Ledger did was so remarkable? I enjoyed his performance but I still think many an actor could have done it just as well.

Robert said...

Jebus, even though The Dark Knight is a sequel to Batman Begins, and I enjoyed the various references to the previous film, I like to think of The Dark Knight as a completely separate movie. So what happened then is not as important as what's happening now. At least in my book, because I didn't really like Batman Begins that much ;)

Yeah, I was surprised by how bloody and violent Gotham Knight was, but you can get away with a little more in animation than you can in a real-life movie...

I loved the music too! It was subtle, yet perfectly suited to what was happening onscreen.

As far as Heath's performance, I really think it was that good. To compare, I loved Jack Nicholson's turn as the Joker, but he's kind of played those roles before in The Shining, The Witches of Eastwick, etc. In Heath's case, the role of Joker is so completely different from anything else that he's done before, and the fact that it's almost impossible to recognize him as Heath Ledger...that's what makes his performance special. I'm not saying no one else could ever play the Joker like that, but it would take a really special actor...

movie junkie said...

i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted...

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