Finally! A second Batman movie that isn’t lousy. Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher both put out an entertaining Batman movie followed by a stinker. Christopher Nolan has followed Batman Begins with The Dark Knight, an intense, fast-paced, incredible movie. The villains in this movie are the Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two Face, A.K.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Heath Ledger is fantastic and fully embodies the roll. The ability to take an iconic roll and make it his is rare and his death is a great loss to Hollywood.
Unlike the Tim Burton movie where Batman appears fully formed and we see the beginnings of the Joker, in the Nolan series we see the beginnings of Batman and the Joker appears fully formed. The Joker gives various stories of his background, but they conflict. This Joker is just plain evil. And scary. Nicholson’s Joker was sociopathically evil, but Ledger’s Joker is sadistically evil. The difference being, a sociopath kills without caring, a sadist enjoys inflicting pain and death. Both seem a far cry from Caesar Romero’s simply greedy Joker from the TV show.
Going into the show, it’s good to remember the last scene of Batman Begins. Lt. Gordon (Gary Oldman) warns of escalation. He fears Batman has upped the ante, and there will be an even bigger response from the bad guys. Things escalate quickly in The Dark Knight. The body count is astounding. The writing is fantastic. The screws keep tightening and everything that happens, appears a natural result of what just took place. Even surprises. In fact, what I thought was the end of the movie was only the beginning of act 3. And the screws got still tighter.
I tend to not be fond of over-the-top death plans such as the killing parade in Burton’s Batman. Even the nerve-gas vapor of Nolan’s Batman Begins pushes the limits. In The Dark Knight, there is mass chaos, but it’s pulled off in a completely believable way. Not to say there aren’t some over-the-top events; it is a comic book movie.
Two worldviews collide with Batman and Joker. Batman believes in the innate goodness of people. The Joker is out to prove people are rotten inside, and revels in bringing that rottenness out. Both are proven right.
Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhlemed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.We each have good and bad, and too many times we let situations dictate which way we go, when we should always strive to do the right thing. Harvey Dent experiences a traumatic event and he decides to give up and relinquish his decisions to chance. He becomes Two Face. Sometimes though, it’s hard to know what the right thing is. Batman makes hard choices. People get torqued. He is willing to make the sacrifice of his reputation and to live with his choices. A true hero.
- Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago
The only minor complaints about the movie: The Dark Knight didn’t have as much humor as Batman Begins. With this much tension, a few laughs would have improved the overall experience. Also, much of the fighting is so quickly cut and is so closely shot that the audience can’t really tell what is going on. I know this is real popular, but I’m not a fan of this style. It is very visceral, but it seems like a cheap way to avoid choreographing a real fight scene.
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox is great. He’s not in the film a lot, but he really carries scenes he’s in. Maggie Gyllenhaal as the new Rachel Daws is much better. The Dark Knight is one fantastic move experience.
The Shelf has a really good review.
Batman, Movie Review