Into The Dark Knight
Two years ago news was announced that The Dark Knight starring Christen Bale and Health Ledger would be hitting movie screens on July 18, 2008. Ever since then I have waited with anticipation and eagerness to see the next installment of Christopher Nolan’s take on the legendary DC Comics Character.
The First film in my opinion was the best Batman film ever (until now, but more on that in a second). Telling the origin of Batman and Bruce Wanye’s journey from tragic victim to a dark hero over coming his own fears was outstanding and showed that there was more life now more then ever to the caped crusader. With a cast that preformed to near perfection and a plot that though at times was “eh” (3rd act mostly) it still pushed forward with it’s dark realism and with that final shot of the Joker’s calling card it left me like a good film should, wanting more.
Thankfully the first film was a huge success so of course a sequel was a no brainier. With the theme of “escalation” the next tale needed a villain like The Joker to push Batman and Gotham to it’s breaking point, but who to play the clown prince of crime? Enter Heath Ledger (R.I.P), I remember when I first heard the news that he had been cast as The Joker, and I must admit I was skeptical. No one knew what kind of mind Nolan was thinking up for the character and though I knew Ledger was a great actor I just didn’t know if he could pull it off, but I trusted Nolan (I mean he didn’t do so bad the first time around) and waited.
Thanks to the Joker viral games the first picture of the mad man himself was released, a grungy looking close up at a face covered in white make up with smeared red lipstick and two scares on his right and let cheeks, I knew this was nothing any Joker fan had seen before.
Story plot was scarce leading up to the films release (not a bad thing at all) but one thing was unanimous from the beginning to end, Health’s Joker was going to send a chill down your spine and leave a lasting impression. With that, viral’s, trailers and all the story plot’s that were slowly leaking out, the excitement for this film was indescribable.
So there I sat in a dark theater (sold out by the way) at midnight on July 17, 2008 seeing what would become one of the best films I have ever seen.
If the first film was about fear and over coming it, the second is about hope. Unflinching hope that these characters can save Gotham and stop the madness that awaits to over whelm the city. We see this hope trough three point of views, Batman, Harvey Dent and Gordon.
Batman knows that the city needs a hero with a face, not a symbol. He sees Dent as that hero and is setting thing’s up so that Harvey can take over and Bruce can find peace in knowing that his city is safe.
Dent believes in Gotham. So much in fact that he gives every part of him self in to capturing and ending crime in the city. But Dent is still wary on who to trust.
Gordon is just a good cop in a really bad place, trying to do his best to stop all of this before it leads to the eventual conclusion of sorrow and darkness.
The three ideals of hope come together in some beautiful story telling from a great script by Christopher Nolan and his brother Johnathan Nolan. There is a tragic air to all the main three characters that no matter how hard they try things will just keep getting worse, and mainly that is in part to the Joker.
The Joker is a force of nature in the film, unrelenting and psychopathic. With no real motive in sight, his only goal seems to systematically take apart the lives of all in his way and throw Gotham into complete chaos. The scenes with him are chilling and most memorable are the “pencil trick” scene and the hospital scene with Harvey. But the best part is even though Joker is a psycho he knows what he’s doing. He plays characters against one another and his trick’s are classic and make him the threat that he truly is.
One great/tragic thing is that the trio were actually making a difference in Gotham until Joker comes in and introduces anarchy. Batman had helped Gordon bring in the mob, Dent was ready to put them away for good and the city had a ray of hope. But as with the underlying theme of the film, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, everything falls apart.
In the middle is Bruce’s continued torment of being Batman . His unflinching duty to Gotham almost blinds him to the truth of what must be done to truly save it, and watching it unfold is one of the greatest thing’s about the film. His talks with Alfred are a highlight and scenes with Fox and Maroni are some of the best in the film.
The dynamic between Joker and Batman is perfect. Joker sees Batman as a challenge, something he can toy with endlessly because he knows he can’t be corrupted and he won’t kill. Those two thing’s most out of everything fuel the Jokers motives to his madness, to see Batman crack. All the scenes with the two are the most amazing to watch and take this film to a whole new level, especially the finale between the two.
Rachel returns in this one, a lot more present then in the last film but over all there is only a couple of scenes where she affected anything of importance, most notably the setting up of the third act. The love triangle with her Bruce and Harvey really isn’t a love triangle at all, it’s just that Rachel knows that Bruce will always need to be Batman and decides to move on with her life and Bruce has trouble accepting that, which lead to some touching moments in the film.
Out of everyone though the most tragic story here is Harvey Dent. At the beginning he had everything, won the DA of Gotham, had the mob on the run and the woman he loved. But then slowly it all gets taken away and in the end your left with a character who has nothing to lose and nothing to gain. Leaving every choice to the only thing he can trust, chance. The fall of Harvey into Two-face makes you feel it, you care about this character and you almost enjoy his quest for revenge at the end.
Some of the thing’s that plagued Batman Begins (some of the dialog, the 3rd act) were not any where near this film. There were some parts of the film that felt rushed and pushed in I will admit, but they were so few and far between that it didn’t hurt. By the end you’re satisfied and ,like the last film, wanting more.
Real quick about the ending, in my opinion one of the greatest endings of all time. I couldn’t imagine anything else to round out this story better and make it very interesting if they make further sequels.
I have to start with what is in my opinion and a lot of other people’s the best in the film, Heath Ledgers portrayal of the Joker. I have never seen an actor before get himself so much into the role that you can’t even see the actor anymore, all you see is Joker. The little thing’s are what make this performance really shine, the way he moves, talks, licks his lips, his stair, everything. It shows how great of an actor Heath was and the world is a little more empty with out him in it. But what has left here on film will leave you breathless.
Christian Bale once again dons the cowl as Bruce Wayne / Batman. The scenes with Batman he has perfected and also nailed the voice and attitude, seeing him in action really is a thrill and keeps your eyes glued to the screen. But it’s what’s going on in his head that’s the real gold. The way he portrays Bruce is leaps and bounds over Batman Begins and it shows and the audience benefits from it.
Aaron Eckhart does a really good job. He takes Harvey and turns him into a really likable guy you can trust then at the end turns it on it’s head and his darker side is unleashed. You can tell Aaron had fun with the Two-Face scenes because they are up there with the best in the whole movie.
Gary Oldman had a lot to do in the movie and made Gordon a total bad ass. He’s right up there with Eckhart’s preformence and is one of the best characters in the film.
Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over duty as Rachel this time out, and was it worth it. For the few scenes she does have they are great and make the character strong and more likable.
Michael Caine is the calm in the storm for the film. The way he plays Alfred keeps a perfect match of calmness and humor and watching him have fun with the role is a true delight.
Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox and does well for what he has. Other then the middle and end he doesn’t do to much but just enough and it feels right.
The rest of the cast does great, can’t really think of a weak spot .
The film is stunning, best way to put it. In oder to describe it you would have to just see the movie. The look and feel of Chicago fit Gotham like a glove and it shows on the screen especially in IMAX. The scenes shot with the IMAX camera are really, really good and man are they great to look at. And the shot’s of Hong Kong are breath taking as well.
This is a great film. Notice I say film and not comic book film. It’s a crime drama, and never let’s up for a second. With it’s amazing cast and compelling story that keeps you going until the very last frame this film is easily the best of the year if not one of the best in the last 10 years. Nolan and crew deserve the acclaim and recognition because he created a masterpiece of a film.
A Dark Knight never looked so bright.