After leaving ‘Batman Begins’ with a cliff-hanger foreshadowing the rise of The Joker, Nolan was tasked with out-doing himself. ‘The Dark Knight’ has done exactly that. Christopher Nolan teamed up with brother Jonathan Nolan to write the screenplay and with an all-star cast in his control, Nolan has raised the bar for a superhero genre film.
‘The Dark Knight’ begins months after ‘Batman Begins’, with order seemingly being slowly restored to Gotham slowly by the Batman/ Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Unknown to Gotham a new threat is rising and slowly taking charge from the mobs. The Joker (played to perfection by the late great Heath Ledger) seems to know how to counter act Batman’s sense of justice with his own sense of chaos. While Batman is ‘The Dark Knight’ of Gotham there seems to be a white knight presented in the form of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Not only is Harvey Dent attracting the attention of the mob but has also attracting Rachael Dawes (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).
‘The Dark Knight’ is not about the origin of The Joker but more about the arc of Harvey Dent and his turn to Two-Face. We also have the return of characters of Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine).
Christian Bale proves to be an amazing Bruce Wayne and Batman, able to create dual identities. The major buzz on this film was Heath Ledger’s performance as The Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. I had been a huge Jack Nicholson fan in 1989’s Tim Burton’s Batman. Ledger did something unbelievable in ‘The Dark Knight’, he actually became The Joker. While The Joker is the main attraction in The Dark Knight he does not dominate the screen time. Harvey Dent is what the story is mainly concerned about. While Heath Ledger deserved the much praise for his role as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart should be commended for his portrayal as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Eckhart is able to show how the once good Harvey Dent was able to spiral down in to Two-Face.
One of my complaints on the original Batman series is how they did not play the relationship of Batman and Gordon. Gary Oldman is the true vision on how Lieutenant Gordon should be presented in a Batman film. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are brilliant as Lucius Fox and Alfred Pennyworth respectfully. Morgan Freeman being excellently cast as Bruce’s supplier for his latest gadgets and has a moment to shine near the end of the film. While Alfred continues to be the only true father figure in Bruce’s life. Maggie Gyllenhaal for me seemed like the only weak point in this film. I never understood why Bruce would like her if all she did was push him away.
What I loved about this film is the many memorable scenes. To start a film with a heist so ingenious like the one The Joker pulls just sets up the tempo of the film. The one scene stealing moment is the interrogation between Batman and The Joker. That one scene basically sums up their relationship from every comic book and TV show. That one scene was the true Batman/Joker which was lacking in 1989’s Batman. The Design for both The Joker and Two-Face were also something to behold.
As much talk of Nolan trying to ground Batman into reality it seemed that he would have trouble with The Joker’s pasty white skin and Harvey Dent’s deformed face into Two-face, yet he was able to ground these villains into reality. Two-Face was seemed the most realistic vision anyone can ever come close to. While The Joker was something that was untrue to the comics yet it worked. There was no doubt that this was The Joker, instead of having a permanent smile produced by drop of a chemical waste, it was changed to a Glasgow smile and wears make up to hide his real face. The Final scene with The Joker is one to behold though. I cannot stop enjoying his final lines and puts in perspective his view on Batman and why he won’t kill him.
There’s not that much to complain about ‘The Dark Knight’. Bale’s voice for Batman does get a little annoying after a while. There are some points where I can’t understand him, but that does not hurt the movie that much. The fact that there is no solid ending and begs for more is bit much. It leaves the story open waiting for the final chapter. The film is not truly perfect but it is the closest any film has come to date. ‘The Dark Knight’ comes highly recommended.