July 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm #1377
I wasn’t sure if I should review this. After all a lot of you have already seen it (while some of you have to wait until next month…stupid WB) but what kind of amateur reviewer would I be if I didn’t review the biggest movie of the year? Although it’s going to be hard to say something that hasn’t already been said by a million people in the last week in newspapers, magazines, tv and online. But what the hell, here we go.
The Dark Knight sucks. Yes, you’ve read that right. It sucks. It’s the worst comic book movie in history….and that’s awesome.
You see The Dark Knight isn’t a comic book movie. Comic book movies are fun action adventure films that tap into your inner child and let you suspend your disbelief. But The Dark Knight is a crime drama, a thriller, a mystery, a film noir, a character study and a morality tale all rolled into one.
Sure, it stars a ninja dressed as a bat, but that’s incidental. This isn’t a story about Batman, it’s a story about the good people of Gotham. Batman is a player in a much larger game orchestrated by the Joker and while the root of everything lies within the comics, Nolan has managed to transcend panels on a page and create a film that would work of you replaced Batman with a Private Investigator or a cop.
Superman The Movie showed that making good comic book movies was possible. The Dark Knight goes a step further and shows that whatever the origin, be it comics or novels, you can make great movies.
The movie isn’t perfect and it’s not the greatest movie of all time as some have tried to label it. But it’s right up there with the great crime dramas in movie history. The comparisons to HEAT are no accident. When Joker and Batman come face to face, you could easily replace them with Pacino and DeNiro and it would be sheer brilliance.
So let’s talk about the performances. I’ll start with Bale. He is a great Batman. It’s as simple as that. before Batman Begins, I would have said my favourite Bruce Wayne was Keaton and my favourite Batman was Conroy. Bale definitely steps up in the Bruce Wayne department and as he is strong as Batman. Unfortunately, his Bat-voice leaves a lot to be desired and is little more than a growling whisper. There is no denying his presence in the suit though and he does well with a thankless job. Remember the complaints about the earlier films? When it was said that the focus was on everyone except Batman? The same is true here, with Dent and Joker sharing the spotlight. That’s not to say that Bale is pushed into the background, far from it. But the story isn’t about him. It’s about the consequences of what he is doing.
Maggie Gyllenhaal has another thankless role, replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. And if Holmes had returned, those who hated the character and the actress would have hated her even more. Gyllenhaal does well in the role, but it’s not a role that lends itself to being popular among fans. In fact, at times her job seems to be to mess with Bruce’s head and his heart and a lot of people won’t like the character for that and if Holmes had been in the role, that dislike may have turned to pure hate.
Gary Oldman is solid as Jim Gordon. He’s the honest cop, the man you can depend on to carry out Dent’s goal sending Gotham’s criminal scum to jail. But he isn’t Harvey Dent. When it comes to a choice between the job and his family, it’s no contest. He’s a human being, and when people say "the good people of Gotham" he’s the man they are talking about. If there were more people like Jim Gordon around, Gotham would be a much better place. Unfortunately that isn’t the case and Gordon has an increasingly large weight to carry on his shoulders, always striving to do the necessary thing even if it doesn’t feel like the right thing. It’s easy to see why Batman trusts him. Oldman had already provided a great performance in Batman Begins and he improves on that in The Dark Knight, holding his own against other fine performances.
Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent is an interesting one. You see I have a problem with it. As Gotham’s "White Knight" he’s great and it’s easy to see why Batman and indeed the rest of Gotham believes in him. He’s all about the cause. But the part I have the problem with is his mental transformation rather than the physical one. I know what Nolan was trying to do, I get it. But I just don’t believe it. Dents fall from grace into the role of Two Face is alright, but it’s the most hard to believe thing in the entire film. However, Echart still manages to give a memorable performance…at least it would have been memorable if it haven’t been for one little problem…Ledger steals the show.
Those who have said that Ledger deserves an Oscar weren’t exaggerating. His performance is first rate and that we won’t get an encore is a huge shame. Ledger is a huge loss to the industry. And that’s all I’m going to say about his death. His performance deserves more than that.
It’s been said that you shouldn’t find the Joker funny. You should find him sick and twisted and only he should find himself funny. I respectfully disagree. You should find the Joker funny…and then you should feel guilty for it. This Joker is hilarious…disturbing, but hilarious. I would love to spend the next 20 paragraphs talking about Ledger’s performance but I’m not going to. You deserve to see it for yourselves. Who are the defining actors to have played the Joker? Romero, Nicholson and Hamill. Each has brought something different to the role, and Ledger seems to channel them all while managing to inject something unique into the character.
There is another character worth mentioning…or a few million of them…I’m talking about "the good people". As I’ve said, this is their story as much as anyone’s. While these people are represented by many faces and they are faced by hard choices, you realise something that wasn’t apparent during Ras Al Ghoul’s plan during the first film – that Gotham is worth saving.
The Dark Knight is definitely the best film to come out this year in any genre and is a landmark film in the long history of comic book adaptations. Chicago doubles for the fictional city of Gotham and the cinematography manages to capture it beautifully. The film still has the same problem as the first when it comes to the up close fight scenes, but is much improved since the first film. At 2 and a half hours, a lot happens in the film but it well paced and never feels like it’s dragging. In fact a part of me wishes it had been longer, not because it needs to be, but because the film leaves you wanting more Batman, more Joker…just more. This film could be 12 hours and I’d want more.
It’s not a perfect film. It’s not a typical comic book film. But it is a great film and I can’t wait to see what else Nolan has up his sleeve for a third installment.
So I’m proud to give The Dark Knight a Final Score of:
9/10July 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm #5133
Nice review, Vadakin. Some origional thoughts in there, which is nice to see considering I have read a good deal of reviews of this film.
I thought it was magic myself, though I am going to see it a second time later this week so I can take it all in.
It’s rewarding to go to the cinema and see films of this quality. It helps you remember why you make films, and what you aspire to.www.seanbreathnach.comSeptember 9, 2008 at 9:23 am #5134
Here’s an interesting review of The Dark Knight from the raindance people:
http://www.raindance.co.uk/site/index.p … 18,0,0,1,0
There’s a lot of things I would agree with in there. And I must say, it lost nothing on the second viewing! Only thing that worries me now is the talk in Hollywood about exploring the dark side of other comic characters such as Superman. I mean, Batman has always been dark. Putting dark sides on other characters for the sake of it is just nonsense and will fail.www.seanbreathnach.com
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