The Dark Knight

Not only did I watch this film in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises, I also had it on my list as a favorite to re-watch this summer. So I was excited to revisit this for the third time right after Batman Begins. Enjoy part two of these back-to-back reviews.

Bottom Line: Serious for a reason.

“Why so serious?” –Heath Ledger as the Joker

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Morgan Freeman, Ron Dean

I have yet to see a film that delivers the superhero genre more successfully than 2008’s THE DARK KNIGHT. From beginning to end, the actioner uses cinematography, performances, visuals, and dialogue to its advantage. While watching it, you could mentally envision it as a graphic novel that converts shots to panels in the most meticulous ways possible, without cartoon-y, SCOTT PILGRIM-ish visuals. This is a serious followup to BATMAN BEGINS. So serious that the Joker’s infamous line, “Why so serious?”, is unanswerable.

This time around, Batman (Christian Bale) returns, pitted against a madman known only as the “Joker” (Heath Ledger). He’s a less explained villain than in BATMAN BEGINS, but that provides a mysterious mentality to his character. The Joker has a plan to publicly defame and then insidiously kill the Batman, whilst simultaneously terrorizing the city of Gotham and targeting the city’s district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and his girlfriend, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes).

“I believe that what doesn’t kill you, simply makes you…stranger.” –Heath Ledger as the Joker

THE DARK KNIGHT–aside from its stunning visuals and sound effects, and a perfect script–is a show of performances. Actually, it’s a show of one performance in particular. Sure, Bale, Freeman, Caine, and Oldman all reprised their roles sturdily, but the one who truly drops jaws is Heath Ledger (R.I.P). His lines are the top-notch combination of witty and maniacal, and somehow never cheesy. Anyone who has read at least one of his appearances in the “Batman” comic book series, knows that this is exactly how Bob Kane intended the Joker to be. I’m a big Jack Nicholson fan, so I really enjoyed his performance as the Joker in 1989’s BATMAN, but Ledger seems to make his performance look like garbage.

“If you’re good at something never do it for free.” –Heath Ledger as the Joker

THE DARK KNIGHT is, in fact, a sequel to BATMAN BEGINS, but it works quite well as a work of its own as well. Those who saw the 2005 prelude understand the motivation of the Caped Crusader, but the same character is portrayed quite well here without a single ray of light shed upon back story. The film, as far as I can see, is also flawless and overwhelmingly spectacular in every veritable respect. For that, I give it a well-deserved A+.

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20 thoughts on “The Dark Knight

  1. One of the best sequels and the best superhero movie yet. Also, one of my absolute favorite movies ever. I love it to death, have seen it countless times and could see it many more. Heath Ledger was perfection. I like Bale as Batman but I can’t get over how awful his Batvoice is.

  2. This is probably the best superhero ever made and made me totally forget Joel Schumacher’s awful version. Heath Ledger is great as the Joker, and the other actors are great too. I can’t understand how this was snubbed for Best Picture and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was. Good review.

    • I agree, Benjamin Button wasn’t BP worthy. Decent, but not mind blowing like this. However, I’d have to say it’d be a shame if The Dark Knight had won BP (after a supposed nomination of course) that year. My favorite film, Slumdog Millionaire, was released in 2008!

    • I actually have a friend who has MEMORIZED just about every line Heath Ledger delivers in this movie. Crazy, I know, but it’s so funny listening to him recite the Joker’s lines. His laugh even sounds like the laugh from a less creepy Joker. He’s definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen this century. Had I the time (and the brain power), I would try to do the same as him and try to memorize Ledger’s script. He definitely could have had a PLETHORA of great roles if he hadn’t parished.

  3. I didn’t know you were one of those Dark Knight lovers. Haha

    After recently seeing the two films back to back again myself, this one has grown on me a bit, but Batman Begins is still my favorite.

    There was just too much going on in this film. Two Face was underused, the trip to China and the bombs on the boats parts felt like padding, Maggie G was awful, and the cell phone sonar computer was silly.

    But, we can’t all like the same things.

    • There are actually very, very many who prefer The Dark Knight to Batman Begins, but you’re actually not alone if you find Batman Begins more pleasing. I was pretty shocked when I skimming through “Movie Guide 2012”, and happened to read Leonard Maltin’s review of The Dark Knight and compared it to that of Batman Begins. I think he gave TDK two stars out of four and BB 3.5 out of four, but I may be wrong. Then I started to find more negative reviews of The Dark Knight, most of which said even Heath Ledger couldn’t save the film, so I guess I can see your point of view.

      But, as you said, we can’t agree on everything. πŸ™‚

  4. I will be watching this within the next week before I see The Dark Knight Rises on Friday in IMAX at 8am in the morning. Yes, I can’t believe there’s a showing that early either. Nice review as always.

    • And thank you! So you’ve ordered your ticket already? I’ll anticipate your review. I guess we’re all excited for this one. For all I know, I’ll have it all set up and everything to see TDKR at the “ghetto theater” near me, a day or two after it’s released, and there will be people leaving because it’s sold out before I can even enter. Maybe it won’t be that crazy, but I’m guessing it’ll be almost as popular as The Avengers was.

      Have fun at the IMAX showing, Mark. I think the last time I saw an IMAX movie was in ’08 or ’09, when I saw U23D in Canada. Since I’m acrophobic, I would never dare to put myself in the theater for a superhero movie. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see Anne Hathaway as the Catwoman. Hopefully she’ll be as good as Michelle Pfeiffer and not as God-awful as Halle Berry.

      I guess it’s time for me to shut up, haha. πŸ™‚ Clearly I’m excited (but who isn’t?)

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