Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Warning: There's no spoilers in this review, so my wife (who hasn't seen the film yet) can read it if she wants :-)

My score:
12
out of
12
I was joking with my friend Matt last night as we sat watching ads in the cinema before The Dark Knight started, that I could not be a film reviewer. The reason? I get too involved in the movie. And this held true as, after the film had ended, I felt two powerful emotions: satisfaction at seeing a great movie, and tension (I realised I had been clenching my fists for the last 30 minutes or so of the film).

Overall, the feel of the film is dark and menacing (it's not a film for kids), there are sinister and intense scenes, and although there's not much (if any) gory violence there is implied violence. So, with that in mind, here's my review...

The Hype
The Dark Knight is easily the best film I've seen this year. Amazingly, it lives up to the pre-release hype:

  • a cast including an Aussie (Heath Ledger) as one of the film's demented villains, the charismatic actor Christian Bale, and charming but edgier Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal, along with the under-rated Gary Oldman
  • the tragic death of Heath Ledger earlier this year (regardless of what I think of him as an actor or a person), and early reviews suggesting a post-humous Oscar for his role as the Joker
  • Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan and his brother on script duties (ala the excellent The Prestige)
  • 2 1/2 hour length - I'm getting my money's worth!
  • some of the action sequences were shot in IMAX, which underlines the fact that this movie must have had a seemingly limitless budget (actually around $150 million according to "The Numbers" website, of which it made back $155 million in opening weekend tickets in the US alone)

Even though the film clocks in at over 2 hours, it never eases up on intensity. There's barely a wasted minute; there's a lot of main characters and they are all developed well, leaving just enough screen time for Batman, who is acted to perfection by Christian Bale.

The Joker
The action sequences don't dominate the film - in fact, it's Heath Ledger's Joker which almost dominates the film, and each time he was on screen in his white make-up and sinister smile, I felt creeped out. Interestingly, he's the only character that I can think of in recent movies that does not always tell the truth on screen, and his motivations, history and thoughts are never fully explained (adding to the general creepiness). Christopher Nolan admits he was influenced by the Joker's earliest appearance in Batman lore in the 1940's in this December interview in the LA Times.

I'm sure that if Heath Ledger were still around, his Joker would be making an appearance in future Batman flicks.

The Story
The movie is set in modern times and it's not a stretch to imagine it really happening (apart from Batman's amazing gadgets!). Gotham City (parts of which were filmed in Chicago) has changed from the original Batman Begins in that Batman has been cleaning up crime, aided by a less corupt police force headed by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and a new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

Bruce Wayne's old flame Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is attracted to the "white knight" Harvey Dent, and Batman contemplates a day when he will no longer be needed and his future with Rachel. Into this scene comes the Joker, seemingly intent on causing chaos and threatening to kill innocents until Batman hands himself over to the police, turning Gotham City against Batman.

I've read plenty of reviews on The Dark Knight and have yet to come across a valid bad one. I highly recommend this movie!

Links: Box office data from "The Numbers" http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2008/BATM2.php, IMDb page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468569/

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2 Responses to "Movie Review: The Dark Knight"

Leigh said... Monday, August 25, 2008 3:13:00 PM

Finally got to see it myself thanks to a surprise baby sitter. Pretty good, huh? Found it a film with strangely Christian message for those with ears to hear... yeah, I know, lots of violence (watch my pencil disappear was hilarious as well as disturbing), but I'm thinking more the whole 'don't put your trust in man, because he'll let you down eventually' thing. Could this work as a Hez film review?

Thomas said... Tuesday, August 26, 2008 2:21:00 PM

Hmmm, never really thought of the film's message that way (but now you mention it...)

What's a Hez movie review?

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