JT Film Review

65 – The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Christopher Nolan

Cast – Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhall, Morgan Freeman, Chin Han

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— follows Batman Begins

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After the success of The Dark Knight (it brought in over a billion dollars, one of only four movies ever to do that) it looks like Nolan will be getting free reign in Hollywood, for a while at least. I guess it depends on how well Inception does. As it is now, though, The Dark Knight and Chrisopher Nolan are Warner Brothers pride and joy.

The Dark Knight is the sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins, which set a new standard for moody and atmospheric superhero movies. While Batman Begins was visually dark and muddy, Nolan looked to Heat for the visual tone of The Dark Knight, precise blues and high contrast blacks. This concept goes somewhat to the plot as well. The plot takes place over not too long a time, and is focused more or less on a single crime spree, while Batman Begins focuses on the genesis of Batman and involved more characters. This is both a saving grace and a curse, but more on that later.

Heath Ledger (RIP) has of course recieved much praise for his performance as The Joker. Suffice it to say that he would deserve any and all praise possible. He has created one of the most original, creepy, and wonderful characters ever put on film. Enough about that.

The movie certainly suceeds in its attempt to make a more realistic superhero movie. Nolan shot the movie in Chicago, and as a stand-in for Gotham it works wonderfully in this context. However if you are looking for the Gothic mood and dark lines of the traditional Gotham City arhitecture, then you are in for a disappointment. Indeed, The Dark Knight breaks quite a few of the more traditional Batman rules in its attempt to be more realistic. This is pretty much fine, however I couldn’t help feeling that the realism of the setting clashed (or at least didn’t quite mesh) with the rather fantastic characters of The Joker and especially Two-Face. I really only noticed this on second or third viewing though, and if I watched it that many times it can’t be that bad.

The acting in the movie is uniformly good. I (and the rest of the world) have already mentioned Ledger’s beyond excellent portrayal of The Joker, but Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Christian Bale, etc. all deserve praise. Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhal can be a bit over the top at times, reminding me of the type of acting one can get on the afternoon soaps, but they are solid enough that any real complaint is just nitpicking.

Any real problem I have with the movie is toward the style. Batman Begins was essentially an adventure movie, had fairly quick and sporadic editing, muddy tones, etc., all of which are hallmarks of Nolan to some degree. Here he copied Heat, a movie that was methodical, cold, and (I think) almost boring and over rated. So in some parts I found The Dark Knight to be almost going through the motions, doing its best to keep the story going as it builds up to a very impressing climax. A prime example of this is a sequence set in Tokyo. It was a cool sequence, but felt like filler.

OVERALL

The Dark Knight is a good movie. Too many people have been treating it like the Second Coming, so in that sense it is over-rated. It has flaws, to be sure, but it also Heath Ledger in one of films best performances ever. The idea of a realistic superhero movie is great, and the execution of that idea is good here. Definitely recommended.

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TRAILER

“The Dark Knight” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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November 23, 2009 - Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Superhero, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , ,

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