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Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Dark Knight, 2008 - Movie Review

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman
Running Time: 152 minutes

Score: 9.5 / 10
This review is from me!

It’s 11:30pm and we’re just back from the super duper preview showing of The Dark Knight at the Fact in Liverpool. I’ll try not to spoil things

Initial thoughts – it is as good as you have heard.

The Nolan brothers have struck absolute dynamite with their script. Everything about it is brilliant and they do one of the best things any writer / director can do. They don’t treat the audience like kids. This is one long, twisted journey through the devastation one messed up man can do to an entire city.

As they pushed Heath Ledger to market the movie so much, I’ll deal with his performance first. Heath Ledger is not in this movie. He channels The Joker so all you see on screen is the maniac who tells a joke and no one laughs. Even when not on screen the Joker is there manipulating everyone and everything to show the frailty of the human spirit. When he is on screen he stalks and tumbles around everyone and you never know what will happen next. His magic trick is not one the kids will want to know. It is sad we will never see him act again.

Aaron Eckhart portrays the wonderfully tragic Harvey Dent as the saviour of Gotham City. You buy into his character and see why Bruce Wayne and James Gordan believe in him. As to what happens to him, well if you are a fan of the comic you’ll know his destiny, but it doesn’t make it any less chilling when it happens. I would love to see Eckhart as Hal Jordon or Steve Rogers.

Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are all as wonderful as they always are. We see more of Gordon’s passion to save the city, learn more of Alfred’s past in the British Army and see why Lucius Fox is one of Wayne’s most trusted advisors.

Most reviews have said this is Ledger’s film and The Joker is a brilliant screen villain. Everything he should have always been is there. However, the film is called The Dark Knight for a reason.

Christian Bale is the Batman and Batman is the greatest one there is. Bale fills the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman with ease. Wayne is in ascendance when he sees a chance to take off the mask when Dent cleans up the city and Bale portrays this so subtly yet so well, but Batman is always there pushing through the façade. We see more and more of the Bat as the film progresses and he is not always in costume. By the end of the movie he is pretty much all there is. You get to see Bruce Wayne’s vast intellect and huge fortune at work to get things done and this is what is really good about the movie. We see the Dark Knight Detective actually do detective work to track down the mysterious Joker. He questions suspects, investigates crime scenes and uses gadgets that could exist if you were a billionaire crime fighter. Batman always has a plan and can improvise brilliantly when things are not quite what they seem. We see someone who is fully capable of taking down a being such as Superman.

This is very much the Batman from the comics. There is a reason for the change in costume (which includes a sly dig at all previous Batman movies), we see the Batman with white eyes as in the comic and there is even a kind of mini Brother Eye that he uses to track down the Joker.

The film itself is superb. Many of the effects were done on camera so there is not too much CGI to pull you out of the film. It’s 152 minutes but they fly by and there is one point when you think it is near the end and you so want it to continue that when it does you have a great big smile on your face. Gotham City is not as big a character as we see in Batman Begins, but that could be due to Batman having cleaned it up some in the interim.

So many good bits in the film. Batmanuel as the Mayor, the genesis of the Bat Pod (which was in the first movie), the homage to the Michael Keaton / Jack Nicholson showdown. Bruce Wayne taking down the bad guys with ease. Batman leaping into the fray and taking down a Swat team before they realise it, the return of Scarecrow, the Joker getting into people’s minds and getting them to do whatever he wants. Harvey Dent flipping his lucky coin. There was one point when Batman is on top of a building listening into the phone network that you half expect Superman to land and see if he needs any help. The ending could also show the seeds which bring about Batgirl. I could go on.

The bad points. Well it would have been a 10 but there are a couple of small points which jar. Not much but they are there and are mainly due to the editing. One is when Batman leaps out of the Penthouse to save Rachel he leaves the Joker with a room full of very rich hostages, yet it then cuts to a few minutes after that and nothing is mentioned as to what happened. That and the aforementioned lack of character in Gotham itself. Small points I know, but they jarred nonetheless.

It richly deserves all the Oscar nominations it should get – screenplay should be the main one along with Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for Bale and Ledger.

People will ask is it a good comic book movie. Iron Man was a great comic book movie. The Dark Knight is simply a great movie. It has moved beyond the comic book movies and is standing shoulder to shoulder with the all time classics.

Discuss in the forum.


Paul said...

great review, but i hate to buck to global trend but i came away from this film with a sense of great disappointment. ok, maybe great is a tad strong, i'll settle for mild.

when the film started it was like looking over someone's shoulder and joining in mid-conversation, after that i felt i was catching up all the way through.

ok, so Bats was back to his hardest best, loved the punches he was lashing out to everyone. solid. but then he opened his croaky mouth! i just wanted to pat him on the back so he'd cough up that furball. Bale as Bats is good, Bale as Wayne is better - maybe they should split the role like the personality?

The Joker? sound. Oscar worthy? nah, if he wasnt dead blah blah blah (but against other Oscar nom's i'm sure he'll stand out).

the storyline was very wandering, to the point whereby i happily went to the loo in the middle of the film (and i never do that!) knowing that when i came back it'd be either still plodding along or onto something equally benign. Dont get me wrong, i love the Bats, hence my disappointment. where will they go from here? The proper Dark Knight Returns perhaps? with the final lets-smack-the-guy-in-the-cloak fight?

i bloody hope so!

Live for films said...

Some good points there Paul. I think the looking over someone's shoulder feeling came down to the editing. Some odd editing choices throughout the film. As for the voice, I dug it.