Friday, December 19, 2014

The Dark Knight (2008) Review

The negotiations were... hopeless. And short.

So here we are at Christopher Nolan's masterpiece. No. Just no. I don't think it's a masterpiece or even the best Batman movie ever made. I think it's a decent blockbuster flick that goes quite beyond its parameters, but the hype this thing has received is just a tiny bit too much.

The Dark Knight follows right where its' predecessor left off. A new villain named the Joker's in town to prove his anarchistic philosophy on life by playing the city against each other. It's up to Batman, Commissioner Sirius Black and district attorney Harvey Dent(uh-oh) to stop him.

The first hour of the film could easily be condensed into twenty minutes or so. I like the setup(a bunch of criminals hiring the Joker who ends up killing them all), but for the first hour, it plays out like a Bond movie, going to Hong Kong and following a mob band.

It does lead up to the good stuff, but again, it wouldn't have suffered from being condensed.

Christian Bale is fine as Batman. I still don't think he's anywhere close to Michael Keaton's take on the role and for some odd reason, his Bruce Wayne keeps reminding me of Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor, but he's likable enough.

Heath Ledger as the Joker. Here we go. It took me a while to warm up to his performance since he's pretty low-key to be honest. Unlike the classy Jack Nicholson Joker who "makes art", the Ledger version acts more like a guy who's just gone wrong, but he does work more psychology into the role with a non-existent background and the sinister realization that unlike any other villain, there's absolutely no way to tell what he wants unless he says so himself. And even then you don't know.
I loved the scene where he blew up the hospital and the explosion delayed.

Like all characters though, the Joker was a bit too self-aware in my opinion and some of the dialogue ("They'll eat each other." comes to mind) was not something even he would say.

In the end though, I do prefer the more light-hearted Nicholson interpretation since his larger-than-life Joker simply loved to be nuts whereas the Ledger one actually had to work to get there. I think they're both great, but that's my personal choice.

My favorite scene in the film was when no one pushed their respective detonators on the boats. That was such an uplifting message in such a gritty film. A close second was when Fox talked the greedy guy out of blackmailing Bruce Wayne.

The best actor in the film though, was Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face and people really need to talk more about his role. I loved the way he was set up as a flawed human being from the start, not just a goody two-shoes until he got his face burned. The way it happened though, with him losing everything and then pushed over the edge by the Joker was brilliant and perfectly believable. And of course, I love the flipping coin gimmick he has. What a villain and what a step up from Tommy Lee Jones's bizarro Two-Face in Batman Forever.

The rest of the cast is comprised of people we saw in the first movie and they do as stellar a job as they did before. So that's quite alright.

Overall, I think it's the best Batman movie since the 1989 film and would easily beat it too, if it weren't for Nicholson and Keaton. Nevertheless, it does have some flaws in its writing(the afore-mentioned Bond story ultimately goes nowhere) and the film is overlong.
RIP Heath Ledger - your Joker would've been great to see again.
And I bet Harley Quinn would've been in the next one too. Sigh.

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