The Dark Knight, 2008, USA
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Hetah Ledger & Aaron Eckhart
‘The Dark Knight’ is a portrait of a city that has been pushed to the point of destruction by one man and his strive for nothing more than all out chaos. That man is The Joker, a villain that is a stable of pop culture and an icon of comic book lore, maybe even as much as his arch nemesis, that was before the release of Nolan’s 2008 film though, after which he became something entirely different. Heath Ledger’s tragic death several months before the release created a sense of anticipation that doesn't come around very often, everyone and their dog was excited to see that ‘’Batman movie with Heath Ledger” and I still remember vividly the unanimous praise the film and Ledger’s performance received.
I myself was a big fan of this film at the time and after 6 years and several hundred rewatches I’m still a fan of ‘The Dark Knight.’ This is the kind of film whose power you expect to deteriorate after the buzz and hype has died down, and I’ve heard that is the case for some. For me though, the film is still the amazing spectacle I remembered. Sure, like any other larger than life comic book superhero film, ‘The Dark Knight’ has its fair share of scripting problems, plot choices can be a little confusing, character motivations don’t always make sense and a few scenes here and there become a little convoluted. This is all forgiven though when the films hits its strides and gives us scenes and moments that are head and shoulders above any other action film in the last 10 years. Although it feels weird to say, I’m not the biggest action fan. I will take character and story over action filled set pieces every day of the week and twice on Sunday, which is why all out action blockbusters are not my cup of tea, I find Christopher Nolan to be a filmmaker who finds that right blend of character focus and enthralling action in a mixture that greatly satisfies me (I fucking hate ‘Inception’ though) There isn't an action scene in ‘The Dark Knight’ that I don’t find riveting or immersive. From the brilliant opening where The Joker orchestrates a heist of a mob bank to the final confrontation between Bats and Mister J. The action sequences are both fun and edge-of-your-seat thrilling.
Nolan creates a remarkable atmosphere that drips chaos and danger, a testament to the power of the films antagonist. As good as this film is technically, it wouldn't be anything if not for Heath Ledger and his performance. The story of ‘villain takes over city and only the hero can stop him’ has been done many a time and is as predictable as anything, but the power of Ledger’s character makes you believe that The Joker has the upper hand and it is Batman who is the underdog. This is a remarkable aspect to the film and makes it all the more memorable.
In one of the most unsung and overlooked performances of recent times, Aaron Eckhart portrays Harvey Dent. I really enjoy Dent’s character ark, I love that he is Gotham’s last great hope and ‘’White Knight’’ and the hero that doesn't require a mask. I also like that the prescience of the character opens up a moral conflict for Bruce Wayne and becomes an example of the Joker’s power and destruction. Eckhart excels as Dent, selling the dissension of a confident powerful heroic character to a heart broken sadistic one. This performance would get a lot more praise if it wasn't in a film that featured Heath Ledger acting up a storm.
A bulk of the cast from ‘Batman Begins’ returns, I say a bulk because Katie Holmes has been mercifully replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is as good as usual. Christian Bale returns as the Caped Crusader, while doesn't have same chance to show off his dramatic chops like he did in ‘Begins’ he still does a fine job as both Wayne and the Batman.
I would definitely say that Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ is my favorite action film of the 21st century, not to mention my favorite comic book film of all time. The film is still an exhilarating experience, which boasts an excellent lecture by Mr Ledger in ‘How to lose yourself in a character 101’