I am guessing compared to most of the reviews that will be written about The Dark Knight, this one could end up being misconstrued as the one that smashes the film. I want to make sure that doesn't happen by addressing it right here and now. There is something I want you all to remember as you read the rest of this review. The Dark Knight is very, very good. It is a movie that builds upon the wonderful re-start that Batman Begins began a few years ago.
The Dark Knight has great performances by some great actors. The action scenes are remarkable at times. Specifically, when Batman makes a harrowing, unauthorized extradition of a criminal in a foreign country, you will forget just how impossible it all is because of the imaginative nature and beauty the scenes and the action. Where the final scenes of Batman Begins were a bit corny, The Dark Knight lets no such goofiness creep in.
That lack of goofiness, in a large part, is due to the performance of Heath Ledger. Ledger's performance is very good. He was probably even better than Jack Nicholson from Tim Burton's 1989 iteration of Batman, but let's be serious. Can you give an actor an Oscar for playing a role that at this point in pop culture is just an amalgamation of all the performances that have preceded it? While I will try not to disparage the memory of a very good actor, if you start to hear his name and the word Oscar in the same sentence, I fear that this might just be an overreaction to the sadness related to his young death.
The story itself was also very good. We were presented with more than just your average hero storyline. Good and evil were blurred lines and the fickle nature of a city with a masked crusader was handled beautifully. And just when you thought you couldn't be any more disillusioned with humanity, they were given an opportunity to implode, and instead the citizenry of Gotham rose to the occasion. Trust me when I tell you the movie's story arcs were well thought out.
Unfortunately, it wasn't paced nearly as well as it could have been. At 150 minutes the film felt like 150 minutes. That is not a good thing. The movie had at least three moments that could have been considered suitable endings. But Christopher Nolan wasn't able to quite pull it off perfectly with his multi-pronged storyline. What we are left with is a good movie that tends to plod along occasionally in its own self-impressed manner, not wanting to act like an action-based comic book movie and maintain even the slightest bit of popcorn feeling with a tidy ending.
You see why I wrote that first paragraph? I feel like I just trashed the movie. I want to reiterate just how good this movie is. I just don't want to let the negatives get overlooked or the movie's quality level get overstated. Expectations are important in the relationship between movies and viewers. As I said, this movie is a welcome addition to the Batman franchise, but based on some of the reviews I have read so far, I think the movie is turning out to be a bit overrated. It is either because Batman is such a valuable franchise, or it is an unnecessarily forced tribute to Heath Ledger who died before the movie could hit theaters.
Just know that when you watch The Dark Knight, you will enjoy it immensely, but upon a second screening I think you might feel that it could have been perfect and wasn't.