Dark Knight

July 22, 2008 by  

The last few summers have been laced with superhero movies. We’ve been inundated with your Spidermans, your Supermans, your Iron Mans, and your Hulks…and get ready for the train to keep rolling–”Watchman” (a DIFFERENT kind of superhero story) is coming out next March.

But it seems as though all of those films were leading up to this, the most anticipated superhero flick possibly in the history of film mainly because of one tragic fact: one of the cast members ultimately died from the intensity of his role. Guess who? Answer at the end of the show. Yes, we all know the ill-fated Heath Ledger will cast a tragic cloud over this film, which is a pity. But on a positive side, he provides the most ambitious and outstanding role of his career, as the Joker. Nicholson, tip your cap.

Now how about the film? Well, with the hype surrounding pretty much every film this summer, this one certainly took the cake. But finally we have one that lived up to it. “The Dark Knight” is a movie that deserves to be recognized as more than just a comic book movie, but as a great narrative about being a hero, the glory AND the tragedy. What you have to sacrifice, which is what “The Dark Knight” surrounds itself with in theme. Everyone has a price to pay.

Everyone, that is, but the Joker. The Joker, comic book’s most devilish anarchist with no real regard for human life (not even his own), used to be more stylized and powerful (Nicholson’s Joker in 1989’s “Batman”). But in this case, Christopher Nolan offers a more stripped down, and homicidal maniac version of the Joker. The kind of Joker that Frank Miller and Alan Moore envisioned decades ago. This kind of Joker is the scariest type of villain because he doesn’t want or need anything. As one character in the film says about these kind of people, “They just want to watch the world burn.”

The film looks and feels as big as it was advertised, and there are some absolutely breathtaking sequences involving our beloved city. The storyline of the film is just as big, but not over the top and awkward the way “Spiderman 3? was (could we really follow all those plot lines?). Here, Nolan , his brother, and co-writer David S. Goyer (”Blade”, “Dark City”) paint a masterpiece of narrative, involving very credible subplots that include Bruce Wayne’s former squeeze and the always likable Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Wayne’s own personal demons are understandably pushed aside as most of his woes have been covered brilliantly in “Batman Begins”–and we finally really see the actual Batman emerge as a prominent character rather than just a cool looking dude in a suit who beats up bad guys. Batman has to sacrifice as well, to be a hero.

There are not too many scenes in which you can relax–there is so much action going on that it sometimes feels like a roller coaster. But there is never a moment where the story is betraying your intellect, nor is there a point where you feel like the filmmakers are just showing off their big budget special effects. It is easily the fastest two and a half hours I’ve spent in a theatre.

Ledger will most likely get an Oscar nomination out of this, and I think that’s a bit cynical now. It’s not Hollywood’s fault that he wouldn’t be around for the award ceremony but it is part of an institution that he obviously couldn’t handle. I’ve seen actors play much more intense roles and LIVE (think of his co-star, Christian Bale, in “The Machinist”). However, he does realistically deserve consideration. His part in the film is probably the most rewarding; he’s not only maniacal and pathetic and skin-crawlingly creepy–he’s also hilarious and he’s a total scene stealer.

But in all honesty, this film deserves at least a Best Screenplay nomination. It’s simply one of the best written films I’ve seen from a big studio in quite a while. It’s a shame this will be only noted as “the best comic book film of all time”, which would be an appropriate annotation, because it’s so much more than that. It looks deep into the human soul, and wretches out the best and worst of us all.

And I haven’t even gotten into Harvey Dent’s story. But you know, I think it’s important not to give too much away. But let’s say his isn’t disappointing whatsoever. And ultimately, lends more to the theme as well. Consider his name, “Two Face” Harvey Dent, and how the two faces of a coin, and two sides of a story, good and evil are two sides–you get the picture.

This is what big blockbusters are meant to do. Deliver and go beyond. Unlike “Hancock” and “The Incredible Hulk” which still relied on style and aesthetics rather than a deep narrative, “The Dark Knight” gave us what we were looking for.

And that’s heroic.

My rating: :grin:

Family value: Unless your boys are over the age of 12 and/or can handle some intense moments, I would say skip this and take them to see “Get Smart”. Use discretion. But treat yourself to it!


One Response to “Dark Knight”

  1. shawn on July 28th, 2008 9:19 pm

    Goyer wrote the story with Nolan, but the screenplay was by Nolan and his brother Jonathan. (who also screenwrote The Prestige and Memento)

    I think that Goyer is a good screenwriter, but has a more “out there” feel than Jonathan and Chris. The human element in this one was, I think, their doing more than Goyer.

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