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The Dark Knight
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy
Director: Christopher Nolan
Scriptwriter: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Composers: Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Rating: PG 13 for action violence and a child in jeopardy
Running Length: 140 minutes
The Dark Knight. This has been the most anticipated of any Batman movie and possibly the most anxiously awaited film of the summer. Even before the tragic and untimely death of Heath Ledger this film was on everyone’s radar. My fear was that regardless if the film was good or bad everyone would heap praise on it simply to honor the memory of Ledger. They would write about his genius as The Joker and not give a fair evaluation based on performance. And it is a hard thing to do, to ridicule someone’s last accomplishment. Especially someone as talented and gifted as Ledger was. So please be aware of this concern as you read my review. I hold by the first law of writing and that is to be honest and when I have to, brutally critical. That is the only way to be fair to those paying hard earned money to see a movie. So now that we are clear and you know where I stand, let me say that Heath Ledger as The Joker could be one of the best performances of his amazing and short lived career. The character made the film and elevated it to heights it could never have reached otherwise. He completely puts to shame any comic book villain before him.
The Joker (Heath Ledger) is one of the most eerie and cunning of all the Batman foes. He takes maniacal and psychotic to extremes. When he shows up in Gotham City and starts knocking over banks it is up to Batman (Christian Bale), Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to stop him. Batman must try and decide if revealing his true identity, which is what The Joker is demanding, will actually be the answer or make matters worse. The problem is no one knows who to trust and who to watch out for and The Jokers killing spree gets deadlier and deadlier. The Dark Knight has every element you need in a film like this. The moodiness, action packed chase scenes, edge of the seat tension and suspense, topped by secondary characters that deliver. The cast is fully loaded with big names that bring solid performances. Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts and others are there for more than just a box office draw. They each play out their role as needed.
This has to be my favorite of all the Batman films mainly in the way it looks and feels. It stays true to the title and is very dark in the tone and theme. Director Christopher Nolan (The Prestige, Memento, Batman Begins) uses a filming style that never seems to stop moving. The scenes with The Joker are done with odd angles and a filtering that captures the essence of the character perfectly. The makeup too helps with the overall package. The white face and scarred, red, smile is rough and ragged and not cleanly applied. This makes The Joker seem more like a sadistic, twisted killer than a comic book villain. That is another thing about the Batman movie that sets it apart from others. All the characters, though able to do things most individuals can’t, are realistic in their design and actions. Absent are the real super powers that make Superman and Spiderman so unbelievable. If I had to pick anything in the movie I didn’t like, and this will probably seem trivial, it was Batman’s voice. Every time he spoke it grated on my nerves and I thought it sounded ridiculous. Sure he needs to sound different than he does as Bruce Wayne but the deep gravely almost on the verge of phlegm overload drove me nuts. But luckily he didn’t say much.
The Dark Knight is rated PG-13 for
intense sequences of violence and some menace. This is not your friendly
neighborhood super movie. Parents should take the darkness of the character
into consideration before taking any of their pre-teen movie fans. I will
that the physical violence and blood shed are kept to a very minimum. They
allow the characters to make the movie tense and exciting without relying
on a lot of blood and gore. But still, there is a crazed nature about The
Joker that might keep a few youngsters up at night. All in all this is
a perfect summer blockbuster and make sure you catch in on an Imax screen
wherever possible. Gotham city truly comes alive in that setting. I give
The Dark Knight 5 out of 5 smiles. It captures the genre, the characters
and the essence of the writing as well as any Comic Book action film I
Matt Mungle (7/14/08)
Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts a daily online talk show along with a weekend radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com
Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions.
Used by Permission.
The first thing you notice is the absence of Danny Elfman’s brighter
“Batman” theme. The second thing is how much this soundtrack resembles
“Backdraft” (Hans Zimmer). The third thing is that you don’t care because
you are now into a Gotham City that questions whether hero’s have clay
feet. A good question, considering the public tends to place anyone who
does a heroic deed on a pedestal. Pedestals can easily be toppled and sometimes
by words rather than deeds.
Copyright 2008 Marie Asner
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