Theatrical Review: The Dark Knight

It’s been about a year since The Batman made his debut in Gotham City and in that time, crime has gone down and imitators to Batman have sprung up, much to Batman’s own consternation. Organized crime has had it though, and realizes that they need to turn to a new method to combat against this mysterious vigilante and so they turn to a new type of a criminal, a madman who’s been making himself known called The Joker. In the Gotham City heirarchy, another new figure is making himself known, new District Attorney Harvey Dent, also inspired by The Batman to take a tough stance on crime, vowing to clean-up the city. And now, all of these forces converge…

A very simplified take on what The Dark Knight is about to be sure, but to go further would just be wrong, as this movie, is as multi-layered as it gets, and I’d hate to spoil that for anyone. It’s complex, but not hard to follow, and long, but expertly paced so it never feels long. Technically proficient in the extremes, incredibly well acted and edited, this is one comic book movie that transcends the term “comic book movie” and could stand well with films like The Departed, Zodiac, Training Day or Heat. And so far, it gets my pick as the best movie that I’ve seen this year…

Christopher Nolan is again at the helm as he was for Batman Begins and Nolan’s dictate for these movies has been to keep it as real as he can and that’s just not confined to effects work, but character motivations and story and story flow. And what he does here, oh man, what he does here is buck every trend that most other comic book movies have and creates something that stands above all the rest.

Nolan’s set pieces in this are worthy of guys like Scorcese or DePalma and he’s willing to intercut various actions at once within them, really giving this a lot of subtext. He has high opera type of scenes, but they just don’t feel the same as they might in another comic book movie, and by that, sets a new standard that these movies should follow, a maturity that raises them above just being “another comic book movie” and something that can stand with the very best of “legitimate” drama and action films.

And yet, it’s all so true to just what Batman is in the comics… it’s about as perfect a combination as it gets.

As he did with Batman Begins, Nolan has assembled the best possible acting talent for this film, Christian Bale reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are all back as well. Joining the cast this time though are the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and taking over the part of Rachel Dawes is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who (and this is a moot point) is probably the weakest part of this group (I think Katie Holmes actually had just a little more intensity to this). You’ve even got guys like Eric Roberts, Michael Jai White and Tiny Lister in some pretty cool parts in the film. Highest marks go to Ledger though, and really all of the hype around his performance is entirely justified, he’s just an incredible joy to watch here. I’ve also got to give Aaron Eckhart extremely high marks. But really, this cast behaves more as an ensemble than anything else, everybody gets their moment and they all work really well together.

I just cannot heap enough praise on this film and so far, it seems like it just might be the biggest crowd-pleaser of the year as well, and that’s rare for a movie like this, intelligent to the extremes and yet delivering the type of big action that you expect from a summer “blockbuster.”

So do not miss this one, it delivers the goods and look magnificent on the big screen. Hell, I’m hoping to get a chance to see it again within the next few weeks. It’s just that good. As I said above, for me, so far, the best movie of the year and obviously, highly, highly recommended…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

20. July 2008 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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