Well, I’ve arrived to this point in my Christopher Nolan marathon. The Dark Knight. I was so excited to finally get here since I haven’t seen this film in forever. I could go and say some long paragraph beating around the bush with this film but I just can’t do that. This film is truly amazing. The greatest comic book film ever created but it’s so much more than that. I even go so far as to saying this film isn’t a comic book film at all. While Batman Begins was an origin story, this film is a gangster crime epic and a damn great one at that.
The Dark Knight picks up about a year after Batman Begins, organized crime is at an all time high in Gotham City as a new player has entered, the mysterious Joker (Heath Ledger). As Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) is looking into this new threat in Gotham, The Joker has his own agenda. He wants to instill a new form of terror in the city. With the help of Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and newly appointed district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman hopes to end the Joker’s reign of terror and the Joker begins to take an interest in toying with Batman while at the same time looking to become a prominent crime lord in the city of Gotham.
I’m going to get the obvious one off the bat (you know this is a pun) and say that Heath Ledger gives in my humble opinion the greatest movie villain performance ever put on film. I seriously kept having to remind myself that Heath Ledger was underneath all of that make-up. He is absolutely pure brilliance in this film. It’s so tragic that he passed away after this film because he was truly one of the best talents working and I know he had so much more in him. RIP Mr. Ledger and thank you for your impeccable craft. Back to the character of the Joker though, my goodness. It is such a brilliant character. I love the Joker, he’s one of my favorite villains and has been since the Batman animated series. This character however is such a unique and different take on the character that it just feels so fresh. He’s not a man with a plan as he states a few times in the film but he enjoys the terror. As Alfred (Michael Caine) states, “some men just want to watch the world burn”. I love that this character wasn’t some over the top villain who wanted to take over the world but he was a man who just wanted to show that even the best and most morally good people can fall from grace and turn into what the Joker is. It’s a strange thing to say that I can actually see where the Joker’s motivation is and understand him. Truly one of the greatest film characters ever.
Heath Ledger obviously steals the show but a villain is only as good as it’s hero and Christian Bale owns this role. He is a force to be reckoned with and his scene with the Joker in the interrogation room will always go down as one of the best and most tense scenes between two characters ever. Seeing Batman struggling to figure out the Joker adds so much stakes to the film and creates a finale that is both amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. Michael Caine as Alfred has a lot of witty lines in this movie and adds a ton of laughs to the film. Him and Christian Bale have such a fantastic back and forth and you feel the father/son bond these two characters share. Gary Oldman as James Gordon was awesome and has a really fantastic character arc that brings a lot of emotion. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s love interest and now that I’ve seen both this and Batman Begins back to back, Gyllenhaal was the better Rachel. That’s probably due to her being in one of the most gut-wrenching and surprising scenes of the film. Rachel isn’t just the romantic interest of Bruce but is actually dating DA Harvey Dent. Aaron Eckhart probably gives his best performance here as Dent and while I won’t ruin here where his character arc goes, if you’re a Batman fan and know the characters then you know what I’m talking about. Truly fantastic.
Christopher Nolan directs this movie like no other. The action is bombastic and intense. The opening bank heist scene is very reminiscent of the film Heat and to go along with the theme of this review, has the best character introduction ever. My personal favorite action scene in the film is definitely the Tumblr car chase with the Joker in a huge truck. When Batman flips the truck, my mouth drops every time. Knowing that Nolan actually flipped the truck and most of the big stunts in this film were actually practical, you realize just how talented and dedicated to the art of film this man is.
While the action is of course fantastic, this film has a ton of just great scenes. The Joker’s magic trick still makes me laugh hysterically acting as the characters true official introduction in the film and what a way to introduce him. The Hospital scene is so intense without a real lick of action. I could go on and on but you’re getting the idea.
This film rocks. I kept saying “the best thing and best that” so it’s only fitting to end this review with this statement. This is one of the best films ever made. It is iconic, intense and honestly should of been nominated back in 09 at the Oscars for best picture. It’s the reason why we now have ten best picture nominations as opposed to five. This film has changed the film industry and films have been trying to replicate it ever since it’s release. While there are films that have definitely gotten this formula down, no film will ever come close to the brilliance that is The Dark Knight.
Up Next: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)