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Posted on 7/18/08 08:38 AM
"Where do we begin?"
This is part one of what is to be a three part exploration of The Dark Knight. First--here--I will examine the film in its entirety including what worked and the one thing that didn't. In the proceeding two pieces I will discuss Ledger's evolution from teen heart throb in 10 Things I Hate About You to his unarguably iconic portrayal as the Joker in The Dark Knight. The third piece will be a comparison between my now two favorite films, The Godfather, and the film I am here to discuss. I will explain why other reviews have expressed comparisons between the latter two films and I will, and yes I will very ballsily, make my claim as to which is better and why. *NOTE* Ballsily is now a word, remember kids the key to good writing is style, if your college professor told you that you can't make up words they were wrong.
Now back to your regular programming...
The opening scene, as everyone who is anyone should know by now, takes place at the G.C. Bank. (G.C. means Gotham City for those of you playing the home game). During this scene, which I had seen numerous times thanks to the power of piracy, the audience was in a fit of joy. The laughter fit the off kilter antics of the Joker and his goons. Originally I had anticipate applause when Ledger first pulled back his mask. Instead he received a more pleasing salute--absolute silence. I on the other hand, someone who had anticipated this performance since I learned he had been cast, laughed in my excitement. A term of endearment just as welcome as their silence. My excitement, however, went past Ledger's performance and I was left equally appreciative for Nolan and the rest of his crew, for the beauty of the opening IMAX sequence is and was nothing short of breathtaking.
Progressing onwards, we finally catch up with good 'ol Bruce Wayne. And it is in this jump where I found the only true flaw of the film. The swift scene to scene transitions were something that people felt hurt the Spider-Man franchise upon the release of part trois. In this case the audience seemed so excited for the numerous spotlight performances that they didn't even take notice to the heightened pace of the first hour and a half of the film. To be fair though, the plot ties together nicely in the end thanks to the speedy pacing, even if we are left...hanging.
And in true Nolan brothers' fashion the twists of the story play out rather surprisingly. One moment you think someone is going to die, then they dont, but actually they might have...then someone else dies but are you sure they are really dead. Then magically someone appears again, provides their explanation for their absence and we, as the audience, accept the witty and clever story turns with open arms. Even though we don't always know which direction to aim our open armed affection for the masterpiece that Nolan and his cast & crew have created for us.
Don't let the hype get to you. I went into this completely psyched and was still blown away, but I noticed for many of those just attending to attend the latest midnight opening, that they were blown away from Joker's great disappearing pencil trick all the way through the excellent closing monologue by one of those crafty disappearing and reappearing characters previously mentioned. None of this could have been accomplished without this cast. If one person had been different than those who comprised this marvelous ensemble then The Dark Knight would have been a different beast. Bale's portrayal of Wayne as the troubled hero...or antihero is even more pleasantly troublesome than in Begins. Gyllenhal runs laps around Holmes and makes us actually care that Dawes is torn between Gotham's two "Knights". Oldman, a man who has no belief in the method acting system, seems completely immersed in his role as Gordan and left me personally wishing that my hometown commissioner was as equally noble. Cain as Alfred...well what can be said about the man that hasn't already been said? Honestly. The real shockers are at the hands of Eckhart, who seemed at the height of his acting career and ability in Thank You For Smoking but here has proved that there is more to him than the eccentric political activist, rather he gives us a tragic performance to match any portrayal of Hamlet in my memory. The film really does belong to Ledger. This is sugar coating free. I assure you friends that Ledger's Joker will live on as the next Darth Vader. More on his performance in my next writing piece.
For all its darkness and all its tragic intertwined stories The Dark Knight will leave you with a smile. You will be left with hope. With excitement. And for even those who don't believe in a God you will find yourselves praying that in four more years there will be another Nolan/Bale collaboration. You will leave hurt that Ledger is gone. Hurt that the film is over. But most of all you will leave overjoyed and speechless. What Nolan has done here is not just a movie but a masterwork worthy of being pit against some of the greatest films of all time. And like the "Knight" that Batman has been deemed he will give any film a run for its money. Thank you for your time...and please go see The Dark Knight.
We need to abolish this twelve year box office streak that the Titanic so mockingly holds over all our heads.