Posted on 7/22/08 12:04 AM
[center]"Any man can have one really bad day and end up just like me."
Joker, The Killing Joke
"Gotham City? Maybe it's all I deserve, now. Maybe it's just my time in Hell."
Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman: Year One
Marge - There's a man here who says he can help you.
Homer - Is it Batman?
Marge - He's a scientist.
Homer - Batman's a scientist.
Marge - It's not Batman!
The Simpsons, Marge vs. the Monorail S4Ep12
Before I begin this review, let me say if you are like me and you have been thrilled about catching this movie since watching Batman Begins in 2005, I will not be like other major movie reviewers (e.g. Peter Travlers, Owen Gleiberman) who spilled waaaay too much. Let me be blunt. Don't read the rest of this review, just go see this movie now. Explaining too much about it might ruin the experience. Whether you need some justification about seeing it? some winner or wiener, 20 star rating, cockamamie percentage kind of confirmation then let me state this, "THIS MOVIE IS GREAT? get away from this review, get your ass to the movie plex, and watch "The Dark Knight!"
For the rest of you that are still reading this, you are one of two people. A. You have already watched this movie and now you are wanting to know my thoughts. Thank You. Or B. You are ignoring my previous statement and you are going to read ahead anyway. I still thank you, but state, "You are one crazy mutha' 'ucker"
So as some of you may know? and a lot of you do not, I worked at a movie theatre for over four years of my life. I have watched a lot of these films thanks to my very good friends in the management there.
It's Wednesday night and I walk into the my old work place, seeing some familiar faces and saying hi and shooting the breeze here and there. Ultimately, I'm holding my inner hysteria as I'm minutes away from seeing a film I have been dying to catch since last summer. My nerves are almost shot. My mind is wondering loosely in and out because of the three hours of Batman: the Animated Series that I was watching prior to arriving at the cinema.
[center]"Quick, pull yourself together, Michael!"
The trailers begin to roll. I get awestruck and start to drool a bit when the Watchmen trailer rolls. Then it hit me, like a five hundred ton whale made of lead and steal. This is it, The Dark Knight!
Picking up almost a scene right after Batman Begins finishes, The Dark Knight doesn't waste any time re-explaining. Which is great! For the two and a half hour run time I don't think I could sit twenty minuets longer while they give us a recap. I love Batman, but seriously, just watch the first fucking film! We are instantly introduced to the man with the ruby smile. And if you caught "I am Legend" at the IMAX this last winter, this opening scene isn't anything new. For everyone else we are quickly shown how awesomely sadistic Heath Ledger plays the Joker. In contrary to this character, he is not a silly jokester with pranks and gags. He is one sick mother! He makes Michael Haneke's Paul and Peter from Funny Games look like Seth and Evan from Superbad. The plot unfolds as if it were directly ripped out of a Grant Morrison or Jeph Loeb Batman comic. The Joker is at the bottom of the list in the crime world and he's looking to take his place as its rightful king in Gotham. Among the crime bosses and the hundreds of Arkham Asylum escapees the city is a vile cesspool. Only one man can clean up this scum and his name is Dent. Thought I was going to say Batman, right? Aaron Eckhart plays District Attorney Harvey Dent and he is showing that he has more leverage than a costume vigilante. In the same regard that Harvey Dent wants to take out crime, the Joker is wanting to take him out. In the reaches of his sick malicious brain the Joker is also seeking to reveal the dark knight's (Christian Bale) true identity, and eliminate Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The Joker works a cruel system of bartering with the lives of Gotham. The caped crusader of Gotham, Batman, is the only one that can stop the Joker and his macabre lust for death and carnage.
The first thing that struck me right away about this movie was, "Boy, this is a really bleak movie!" That is absolutely wonderful! I hate gooey, feel-good, unrealistic trite crap in my action movies. An interesting difference is felt between this movie and Batman Begins. Where BB is a lot of back story on who Bruce Wayne is; TDK seems to focus more on others around Bruce Wayne. Christopher Nolan doesn't skip a beat in his direction on the film. Filming in the city of Chicago, Nolan gives life to Gotham with a sea of sky scrapers and dismal street alleys. Along with the writing between him and his brother, Jonathan Nolan , they both construct this absolutely dark movie very well. This is one of the few movie plots where I felt the hero is up against a lot and really doesn't have a 'Detective Comics 27'-chance in a room full of comic book nerds. In the same stature as the great serials of the 1940's there's a lot of moments where I was cursing the story, saying, "No, this can't be how this happens!" I was encaptured by every second of this movie. The scenes with Ledger were unbelievably terrifying. I couldn't even think what this film would be like without his horrifying interpretation of the Joker. Even though Nicholson's creation for the role in the Tim Burton's version is iconic; any kind of performance in that same fashion would have completely hindered the execution of this movie. I know Ledger used the comic books: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Killing Joke as a character study for his role. I could easily sense both of these comics in his performance. Ledger in some senses, does steal the show. Though, he is very much reinforced by some other great performances. Christian Bale portrays the fantastic and charismatic Bruce Wayne. Supporting roles from Morgan Freemen as Lucius Fox and Michael Cain as Alfred were more crucial to the action than previously. Aaron Eckhart, The tall, dark, and handsome, Harvey Dent makes for some perfect dynamic tension to the story. A bit of fresh air in contrary to the lack of, from the previous movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal puts life into the role of Rachel Dawes. One of my favorite actors, Gary Oldman, is quite enjoyable as the Lieutenant Jim Gordon. Nolan, along with a magnificent cast make this movie absolutely remarkable.
More so than anything, The Dark Knight is phenomenal. I highly believe it should and WILL be held in the same leagues as The Empire Strikes Back and A Clockwork Orange. There is no doubt about it; this is one of the darkest and best Batman films to date!