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Review: The Dark Knight (2008) PG-13 152min

July 22nd, 2008 by Maxim · 4 Comments · 8,821 Views

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5/5

The Dark Knight (2008)By now everyone knows that The Dark Knight (a.k.a. Batman Begins 2) has been a boxoffice record-setting sequel to the 2005′ Batman Begins. This menacing graphic novel made for screen was directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed the original Batman Begins and written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, the script-writer for Memento (2000) and The Prestige (2006). Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman.

The plot: Batman (Christian Bale) decides that he will have to retire eventually, and he empowers and joins forces with the new Gotham’s District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and his buddy Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) to catch the psychopathic bank roberer known as The Joker (Heath Ledger), while the mob and The Joker plot against them and Joker’s crimes become more and more deadly.

The good: Fantastic performance by Brokeback Mountain and Knight’s Tale star Heath Ledger who tragically passed away in January of 2008 from overdose of prescription medication. This is his best role ever. From his appearance to his body language to deep voice – a performance that can not be matched by any other actor. Certainly, talented actor passed away at the top of his career. The Joker is probably closest to Hannibal Lector in his menacing creativity and understanding of people’s weaknesses. He would always tell stories of how his face was disfigured to his victims right before he kills them. “People always show their true face in the very moment before their death”. Joker loved to see how people tick when they are pushed to the limit. He had the most elaborate plan to create and destroy a hero that even Batman (or the audience) could not see through. “A hero can turn into a villain quite easily. All you need is a little push.”, said The Joker. And push he did. He managed to outwit the police and Batman, who relied on gizmos and his phisical abilities to catch The Joker or otherwise pursue his vigilanty justice. The joker is pure evil, and Ledger’s performance is going to be legendary. Definitely an Oscar candidate.

Also interesting that the association with Harry Potter movie was mentioned by some people – Harry Potter and Voldemort depend on each other to exist, and likewise Batman and The Joker depend on each other to exist and to fulfill their purpose. One cannot exist without the other.

Christian Bale did a good job, but since his character always hides his face behind the mask he is a typical graphic novel hero in an action role. His character is hanging in the balance between being a freak like Joker and righteous protector of the helpless.

Aaron Eckhart was also very good as Gotham’s District Attorney Harvey Dent. We can see him as a regular guy under enormous pressure from public and his life constantly threatened, but he remains focused and strong. When his hero falls from grace and becomes a villain – that transformation is also fascinating to watch. His twisted coin-tossing routine that justifies his killings and revenge is the same as Javier Bardem’s anti-hero No Country For Old Men.

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are basically Q of James Bond: subservant to Batman to provide with him friendly advise and gadgets.

Batman’s and Harvey Dent’s love interest Rachel played by Meggie Gyllenhaal was just that – a love interest with no other purpose – a garden flower.

Sophisticated plot is hard to predict and there’s a lot of suspense in it. Throughout the movie, particularly in the scenes shot inside the skyscraper with glass windows from floor to ceiling, I always felt the vulnerability of people inside them, always kept waiting for something bad to happen with them, or something bad coming through the windows. But The Joker was smarter then I – he had better and cleverer plans for entry and for playing with people’s lives.

Great action sequences! The fights, chases, gun fire, jumps from tall buildings – very well executed. Cars were being crashed and blown up, bullets fly and bounce, explosions are loud. The make-up and costumes have also been exceptional.

A bunch of people gets killed, but even sadistic murders perpetrated by The Joker and off-camera and without much gore – explains the PG-13 rating.

Great dramatic musical score by James Newton Howard (The Interpretor, Atlantis, Liar Liar, Dreamcatcher etc.) and Hans Zimmer (Kung Fu Panda, The Da Vinci Code, Batman Begins, Madagascar, The Last Samurai, The Ring, Black Hawk Down etc). Should be Oscar-nominated!

The bad: Reliance of Batman on gadgets that other people had created for him makes him merely a shadow of a superhero like Iron Man. But unlike Iron Man, he is a tragic figure. The Joker was right – people only liked Batman when they needed him. Once he was no longer needed, they began to hate him as a freak – a similarity with Hellboy. A typical for graphic novels cartoon drama. **Spoiler** The conversion of Harvey Dent into Two-Face was cartoonish and not credible enough. I understand his desire to revenge the death of his friends at the hands of corrupt cops, but the “push” The Joker mentioned was not quite enough to turn the hero into villain who would point a gun at small children.

The summary: This is an unexpectedly good movie. Sophisticated captivating plot, a lot of action and violence, a typical for graphic novels cartoon drama. May be too menacing and dark for young children. One of the best movies of the year.

p.s.

This is the only Batman movie I have seen so far. This one is very impressive. I will have to watch Batman Begins now – if it’s as good as this movie, I’ll be converted into a Batman fan. I saw parts of Batman and Robin and TV but it was painfully boring.

The cast: Bruce Wayne / Batman – Christian Bale | The Joker – Heath Ledger | Harvey Dent / Two-Face – Aaron Eckhart | Alfred Pennyworth – Michael Caine | Rachel Dawes – Maggie Gyllenhaal | Lt. James Gordon – Gary Oldman | Lucius Fox – Morgan Freeman | Salvatore Maroni – Eric Roberts | The Chechen – Ritchie Coster | Mike Engel – Anthony Michael Hall

The credits: Director – Christopher Nolan | Screenplay writers – Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan | Characters by Bob Kane | Producers – Kevin De La Noy, Benjamin Melniker, Thomas Tull, Michael E. Uslan, Jordan Goldberg, Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas | Original Musical Score – James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer | Cinematography – Wally Pfister

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Rated 5/5 on Jul 22 2008
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Tags: Action · Dark comedy · Drama · Fantasy · Movies · Thrillers/Suspense · USA

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 GuyCrap.com // Jul 23, 2008 at 8:15 pm

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    Great review! Spill gave this movie a rating of “Better than Sex” and said it was the best action hero movie they have seen. Alex on Diggnation said similar.

    -GuyCrap.com

  • 2 Ted E. // Aug 20, 2008 at 3:04 pm

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    FYI – A number of critics are comparing Harvey Dent’s coin-tossing to the villian in “No Country For Old Men.” The Harvey Dent character was created way back in 1942 and was using that coin since the beginning. NCFOM was 2007 movie based on a novel written in 2005.

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  • 4 Top 50 films of 2008 | Maxim’s Movie Reviews and Opinions Blog // Dec 30, 2008 at 11:42 pm


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