Movie Reviewed: Dark Knight
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal , Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine
Rated: PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and some menace."
Runtime: 152 min
Studio: Warner Bros.
Do you remember the Batman television show starring Adam West, that was kind of campy and had the word "POW" and "WHAM!" appear on the television screen during the fight segments? Well, we’ve come a long way from that kind of light hearted comic crime fighting. With the new Batman installment The Dark Knight, it seems we’ve gone to the other extreme. It is really dark in this bat cave! Some of the violence was actually uncomfortable, though I realize violence is a key entertainment ingredient in our country. No comic antics here, the tone of this Batman is similar to that of a thriller, or a "life on the street" gritty crime drama. This Dark Knight is strictly jugular.
Of course the passing of 28 year-old Heath Ledger, was a real life event which without question brought some additional spectators to see the star's final act. And what a performance it was, Ledger was so brilliantly creepy as the diabolical Joker who kills for sport. Ledger’s Joker voice, sounds much like a drunk Jack Nicholson and is an icky sound coming from his young face. The Joker costume and character were portrayed in such a wicked fashion that several times during the show I wished that Ledger had starred in a nice, light, romantic comedy before his passing.
Despite the lack of light, The Dark Knight had wonderful sets, special effects (see the Batman fly), wardrobe and one liners. “You'll see, I'll show you, that when the chips are down, these uh... civilized people, they'll eat each other,” warns The Joker in one of his many sinister monologues. The Joker’s running line is “Do you know how I got this scar?” Each time he asks the question, he immediately responds to the inquiry with some sordid tale of violence.
This all-star cast is not wasted: Freeman as the inventor and trusted employee, Lucius Fox (I could write a dissertation about why that character name could use a overhaul); Caine, as trusted caretaker and fatherly confidant Alfred, Christian Bale as a really affecting Batman; and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role of Rachel Dawes was a perfect choice, she brings believability to the plot and character. “Batman Begins” Gary Oldman returns as Lieutenant Jim Gordon and is given significant face time in this star packed drama. Handling the majority of his role with ease, Aaron Eckhart is a curious choice as the “man of the people” Harvey Dent. The Dark Knight cast all gave performances that were solid and engaging and every character has a story that worked.
Christian Bale is an intense Batman who commands respect, and portrays a character who is always fighting. While Batman has an obvious nemesis in the Joker, outside the Batsuit, Bruce Wayne and Dent compete for Dawes love. It seems in this version of Bat tales, there are an awful lot of characters who know the true identity of Gotham’s Batman, but the one person who doesn’t know is the Joker. Because of this, the Joker’s aim is to kill people until Batman reveals himself.
Though it might thrill the masses, there are those who could do without the cold-blooded and senseless killing and psychological battering in The Dark Knight; all of which became intensely tiresome. The buzz on the street is this storyline is a commentary about our war on terrorism. If so, then just like the war, this film is too long? Blame it on the editor, but at least three times this Dark Knight seemed to signal “ending ahead” and then it kept moving.
The stunts, like riding through a shopping mall on a fat-tired Bat cycle and costumes, the Joker really looked crazy, in The Dark Knight lend to some of the thrilling special effects and sharp cinematography connected with the film. Still the question lingers, are the box office records skyrocketing off the charts because of a great film or because of the popularity of The Dark Knight's now deceased, talented young, nemesis?
Flash the batlight skyward for a clue.