Saturday, July 19, 2008

REVIEW: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
Just Watched:
The Dark Knight

My Rating:
5 Stars


My sister and I trekked on over to the theater 30 minutes early this morning to watch the latest installment in the new Batman series in an empty theater.

Yeah, that's right. I watched the Dark Knight with literally 4 other folks in the theater. We came for the 10:00 AM matinee show. And since I didn't know what to expect crowd-wise, we showed up over a half hour early. Turned out there wasn't a rush. I have no idea why not. Given the rating, it's pretty obvious that I thought this movie was a grand slam.

I just love how Nolan's vision of Batman brings a greater sense of realism to a world of fantasy. In "Batman Begins," it is realistically explained to us how & why a billionaire orphan decided to create a persona in which he dresses up in a bat suit and fights crime. Unlike Superman or Spiderman, you come to believe that Batman could actually exist. "The Dark Knight" furthers this realism, as Bruce Wayne is beginning to fatigue in his quest of turning fear onto those who prey upon the fearful. And in the midst of the realism, real life issues can be examined in morality play fashion with greater credibility & more dynamism. The implications of the Dark Knight could be unpacked and applied to America's War on Terror, or the drug war, or fighting crime in general. In that sense, the latest Batman movie could be considered didactic. That made it an enriching experience for me.

The Joker
An Amused Terrorist
Heath Ledger's death is even more heart-breaking to me now. He stole this show. Much like Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean" or Doc Holiday in "Tombstone," Ledger's portrayal of The Joker dominated every scene that he was in. His performance was that good.

I'm not going to make a stake in the "Ledger vs. Nicholson" debate, but I will say this... Nicholson's Joker was more of a "King of Kings" type of Mob Boss -- the one who was crazier & willing to go to greater lengths than the other bosses, but he was still just a mob boss. Ledger's Joker, however, is different. Ledger's Joker is a terrorist. He is a sadist in that he delights in inflicting pain. But, as an odd twist, he is even more a masochist in that he seemingly takes more delight in receiving pain. He loves to mock the idea of civilization itself, so his terrorist activities are aimed at disrupting order & perceptions of security.

The senses of humor are different, too. Nicholson's Joker seemed to try to win you over -- it was as if deep down he wanted you to like him in his own twisted way. Ledger's Joker is different. He doesn't want to be liked; he wants to be feared. And his sense of humor reminds me very much of Andy Kaufman's. When you watched Kaufman perform, sometimes you got the impression that his jokes were only for himself: that his elaborate acts were designed to amuse Andy primarily, and maybe the audience indirectly. That's what the Joker's humor is like in "The Dark Knight."

I don't understand why Heath Ledger wouldn't be up for an Oscar nomination. His performance is just so good.

The rest of the film is so outstanding, as well. The musical score is inspiring & makes your hair stand up. The cinematography is eye-catching, and each scene is full. Although, having tripped to Chicago recently, it is a little difficult to not see Chicago (where TDK was filmed) and imagine Gotham City -- so much of Chicago is recognizable. If I had one other complaint, it would be that Maggie Gyllenhaal just didn't fit in the role of Rachel Dawes; the disconnect from her to Katie Holmes is distracting. Nevertheless, I'm willing to overlook these minor defects and enjoy how great this show was.

I don't want this series to end. I want Nolan & Bale to keep making more and more Batman movies. The two that they have made have been pitch perfect, and I don't think I can get enough. 5 Stars.


Jordan said...

Apparently you got lucky because this movie set opening weekend records for sales. I need to come see premiers in your town..

Chad Billy-Steve Pknicholson said...

I guess Floridians have no taste for such high-brow movies like TDK. Ha. I agree with you, iii. That was a recommendable movie.