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+.