Dismiss any acclaim you’ve read and/or praise you’ve heard from friends, family, or Batman fans; it doesn’t do The Dark Knight justice. With expert pacing, superior action, and grim chaos, The Dark Knight will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat, frothing at the mouth in excitement, and quaking in amazement.
While most would agree that Batman Begins and Iron Man redefined the comic book genre and established themselves among the best superhero pics, The Dark Knight is far and away the greatest. No other superhero film has made a deeper impact on the world of cinema. Without contest, The Dark Knight is a super summer blockbuster that will withstand the test of time as one of the top action motion pictures to rouse crowds of all types.
Approximately one year after Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) ended both Ra’s Al Ghul’s and Dr. Jonathan Crane’s attempts to terrorize Gotham, Batman remains the symbol of hope, peace, and justice for the grim city. With Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the city’s new “white knight” District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) at his side, the caped crusader fights to fend off a face-painted, sadistic criminal mastermind named The Joker (Heath Ledger). While The Joker seeks to spread chaos, the Dark Knight stops at nothing to ensure Gotham and its citizens safety and order.
Ledger’s Joker is amazing. It’s not like Nicholson’s over-the-top, loony, carnival jester, or even the highly cosmetic, scary, clown stereotype (a la Killer Clowns from Outer Space). Instead, Ledger portrays the type of figure that one would not want to encounter in a dark alley. Heath plays a deeply disturbing, frighteningly creepy, smart, dark, and volatile psychopath.
Believe it or not, Ledger’s Joker bears more semblance to the Saw “joker,” not necessarily in physical appearance, but more so in his merciless, twisted trickery. How The Joker manipulates a prison inmate and two boatloads of people is gut-wrenchingly gluing.
Look at a picture of Ledger way back from A Knight’s Tale, The Patriot, or better yet 10 Things I Hate About You. Not a single soul could have predicted that one day he would play The Joker and arguably match/exceed Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. With Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker, he truly transcends acting. To go from portraying a homosexual cowboy in Brokeback Mountain to one of the most memorable villains of all time is quite an accomplishment.
From the moment you lay eyes on Ledger, you’ll be agog over his performance. Even so, while it is easy to hone in on Ledger’s dynamic turn posthumously, Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Cillian Murphy all mesmerize as well. Eckhart is brilliant, playing the second best villain (next to No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh) to let his actions be determined by the chance flip of a coin. Gyllenhaal pulls off Rachel with more purpose and plausibility than Katie Holmes’ unproductive depiction. Bale retains the honor of “Best Batman,” although he still insists on moving his lips awkwardly when he speaks in his patented, raspy, hero whisper. As for Freeman, Caine, and Murphy, they all produce accordingly and raise the bar for those around them.
With the introductory chapter of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman Begins) under his belt, writer/director Christopher Nolan has returned the Batman series to focusing more on its antagonist(s) rather than protagonist(s). When you think of Batman Begins, you think of a black synthetic Batman suit belonging to Bruce Wayne. When you think of The Dark Knight, you’ll think of the smeared make-up and whiny pedophilic voice of The Joker and the two-headed 1922 Peace Liberty silver dollar of the grossly CGI-deformed Two-Face.
Be that as it may, The Dark Knight is much more expansive than the characters involved. Consider the heroes and villains merely puppets on strings playing out a deeper feud between good and evil. In this battle, ideals are at stake; a city’s future hangs in the balance; and, the most eminent threat is not a single entity, but rather “urban terrorism” in general.
The Dark Knight is a vicious and engrossing tale of order and chaos clashing like bloodied fists. It’s about anticipating the dark before the dawn. Most importantly, it’s about sacrifice for the greater good. It’s visceral, revelatory, and imposing against a bleak backdrop.
To intensify the experience, see The Dark Knight on the IMAX screen; it’ll not only knock your socks off, but also the skin clean off the soles of your feet, exposing raw vulnerable flesh — susceptible to bleeding out onto the theatre floor.
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