16.9.08

The Dark Knight (2008) Review


The Dark Knight
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts

The hype is true. The new Batman film does show some quality that is sorely missing in other recent movies of its genre (whether one wants to call it a "comic book film" or a mere "Hollywood popcorn movie").

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It's pretty much obvious, but the main plus of the film is the extraordinary performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker, who steals absolutely every scene he's in and takes the film to a whole new level. This is one of the best villains in a long, long time. This Joker is terrifying, sinister, menacing and hilarious sometimes at the same time. You never ever see Heath Ledger on the screen, you only see the definitive Joker – and it's not just the mask. Ledger gives this perverse character a brand new voice, accent, gesture and movements. You don't recognize in those eyes the teen movie star from „A Knight's Tale“, one only sees complete madness and darkness of Batman's most famous foe. Now that's an acting transformation that's very rare these days... something like Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. No wonder Day-Lewis honored the man.
Kudos to the Nolan brothers who have written a tight script that gave every character something meaty to do and stayed true to the Batman mythology. The Joker character is wonderfully written (the „multiple choice“-past is in there, for example, which will delight all those Killing Joke fans), Harvey Dent's arc is the backbone of the story and is done almost flawlessly, Lt.Gordon has finally got a 100% right treatment (didn't like his comic relief side in Batman Begins) and of course Bruce Wayne/Batman is in Christian Bale's safe hands (apart from one flaw that would be later explained).
Aaron Eckhart gives a great performance as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Although he does go a bit over the top in the movie's final act, Eckhart does make us care for the character and thus making his inevitable downfall both realistic and emotional. In many ways is the film a Harvey Dent story that owes plenty to The Long Halloween and it certainly delivers on that aspect. Eckhart's final scene is one of his finest moments and certainly of the movie's highlights. Gary Oldman gets his moment to shine in a vastly improved and a much larger role as one of the rare truly honest characters in the movie. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman do their work admirably as always, Maggie Gyllenhaal, although not that great on the physical side, gives her Rachel Dawes a likeable and more developed side than Katie Holmes' rather shallow depiction in Batman Begins. Eric Roberts in his small role does his best work in the last 20 years (not that that's saying much, I know).
Christopher Nolan's direction is a remarkable accomplishment. His abilites of cross-cutting different scenes and melding them together into one intense thriller sequence are what stands out the most for me. Although I had my doubts that Nolan will try and get into one or two subplots too many, the depiciton of these characters and their stories is balanced quite well. The film does feel in most places like a crime drama more than a superhero movie (Nolan himself acknowleged Michael Mann's masterpiece Heat as his inspiration).
The movie deals with some existential themes that are highly atypical for a Hollywood blockbuster film. The consequences of Batman's actions, his yin-yang relationship with the Joker and the not so moral choices that the characters are forced to make are interesting aspects that give the movie some true depth and dimension. The occasionally criticised ferry scene was in my humble opinion one of the most interesting scenes in the film.
Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard deliver a great score. that increases the tension even more. I especially love the Joker's haunting Jonny Greenwood-like music which creeps every time when shit hits the fan and increases the tension even more. Another stand-out was the perfectly orchestrated Two-Face theme.




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There are some inevitable cheesy scenes here and there, like Harvey Dent's introduction scene or parts of his press conference (cue the hero music, stereotypical audience that is suddenly moved by Harvey's words, „No more dead cops!“ and so on). Gordon's cheesy speech didn't help the end scene at all, quite the contrary.
The last 20 minutes do seem a bit unfocused, with Nolan trying to crank way too much in such a short time. The sonar thing was another Nolan deus ex machina, although not as nearly as unbelievable as the infamous Batman Begins' microwave emitter.
I did prefer Batman Begins' Blade Runner-like atmosphere a bit more. The Narrows and the constant rain depicted Gotham's rotting somewhat better than The Dark Knight's beautiful, but somewhat too clean (Chica)Gotham City.
Christian Bale's Batman voice was all over the place in this one. It worked in scenes like the Maroni interrogation scene where he was supposed to be intimidating, but when he started to talk a bit more it was a bit too much. It didn't bother me as much as some people, but Michael Keaton remains my favorite Batman (although Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne beats very easily every single one before him – his playboy side is especially very amusing).

Otherwise, a Hollywood popcorn film that is finally done in an entertaining and intelligent way. Best Batman movie so far.

9/10

2 komentara:

Lana kaže...

ha čuj, nisam čitala stripove, al ima mi nekih ipak scena kaj su malo pretjerane: 'rendgenski' pogled kroz zgradu, scena izvrtanja na motoru, nagli preobrat Harvey Denta.. no sve u svemu, brz i napet film, vrijedan gledanja.

Lana kaže...

e da, Eric Roberts?? Pa di pobogu??