The Dark Knight Review
“"I Just Want My Phone Call."”
July 18th, 2008
The most anticipated film in comic book history has nailed just as many good points as expected, and soars far beyond the normal definition on the word 'sequel' as it deals with society's problems being the villain, while the antagonist is simply the unveiler of its faults.
The story is simple: After a year of Joker on the loose and District Attorney Harvey Dent jailing half of Gotham's criminal world, Joker wises up and robs 5 mob banks, and forces the mob's hand in his favor to use anarchy to destroy morality of the city's citizens, though it would only involve the murder of few, and several threats to get Batman to reveal himself so criminals could once again do their business in the darkness of the night.
Heath Ledger (Lords of Dogtown/I'm Not There) IS the reason to fear clowns. While his role as the Joker surpasses Jack's portrayal by a thousand miles, he is still scary, as he is hilarious. Such as walking in on a meeting with the mob and expecting to walk right out having robbed them blind...so to speak. For Joker's philosophy is simple: Gotham is corruptable to the point of ridiculousness, and therefore, simple threats on a few, can twist the minds of many to become the anarchists themselves. Such as: "Kill Collin Reese in 60 minutes or I'll blow up the hospital" vs. "I'll blow up the armed forces base unless you comply with my rules." (the latter I made up for example) Now think about it this way: which will affect the citizens more, and which will not, so what will they do? That is Joker's ideology when it comes to anarchy: 'What act will drive the citizens off the wall faster & more intensely?' Simple as that. Can he bring down the greatest of the city? Is that what he wants to prove he can do? You'll have to see the film. But either way, Ledger delivers a show stopping performance that will leave you breathless, laughing, tense, and craving to see him on screen the entire time! Heath is overall the most entertaining villain to have ever been in a movie! A really excellent final role that will stick with the history of the comics forever...no matter what else comes along in it's future.
Aaron Eckhart (The Black Dahlia) embodies both Harvey Dent, and Two-Face, both of whom are short lived, in regards to how much is done with their characters in THIS movie. I can't reveal the details, though the role was perfect for the story being told. Two-Face is obsessed with avenging the fallen, while Harvey is about busting the bad criminals and throwing away the key. Hmmm. A nice lesson is being taught here: Joker and his few murders to succeed in anarchy, and Two-Face about avenging, both of which seems rather lax when compared to their reps, but gets the point across perfectly. Lesson #1 being: Anarchy = Murder Few, Not Lots, to Demoralize Many. And Lesson #2 being: You are Crazy when Vengeance enters the Picture, But Not by Sheer Random Acts of Terror. Aaron does it perfectly, though the entire concept of his psychological transformation into Two-Face seemed rather far fetched, and based on trivial issues. The death of one. Just like Joker perfecting city wide anarchy with the death of few. Still a great concept that nobody would see coming. Aaron was also an interesting choice for the role, but surprised us, just like Heath did with the Joker.
Christian Bale (The Prestige/Batman Begins/Equilibrium) perfects the dual characters of Bruce Wayne & Batman once again, except this time, he's more confident, and is willing to accept failure, and retirement, when necessary. I can't divulge more. But his toys are fascinating, as is the way he does his business. He does spend more time sleuthing though like his character has a rep for. Christian's the best Batman/Bruce Wayne yet, and he doesn't make it come off as being cheezy. Bale nailed it down to perfection.
Maggie Gyllenhal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, attorney, ex-girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, and new girlfriend of Harvey Dent, which creates a love triangle between her, Harvey, and Bruce. She is much better than Katie in the role, and it's a shame that not much happens with her character either.
Gary Oldman (5th Element/Batman Begins/Harry Potter 3/4/5) gets a larger and more intense role as Jim Gordon, soon promoted to Commissioner in light of...'recent' events. Gary pulls off a greater version of the character, and perfects him as a more sensible guy, unlike his previous portrayal in "Begins," since Jim becomes the main side character in a way, and takes control of the Joker's threats as they are made. Gary surpasses the actor whom portrayed Jim Gordon in the previous franchise by a thousand miles.
Eric Roberts plays new mob boss Salvatore Maroni, who kinda serves as Dent's enemy in the film. He's also Joker's outlet for mayhem, for Joker wouldn't have been able to accomplish anything without Salvatore assisting him. Given that Maroni was, and is a great Batman comic book character, then I predicted that the role would have to have been done some major justice...as Eric provided, though has little screen-time.
Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules/Zulu/Batman Begins) returns as Alfred Pennyworth, a more realistic butler that can accept the fact that Bruce is not invincible, no matter what, rather than always saying something encouraging and supporting. Michael is once again perfect in the role, and adds to the five star acting rating.
Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins/Wanted/The Bucket List/Driving Miss Daisy) returns as Lucius Fox, a cautious businessman of Wayne Enterprises that soups up Batty's arsenal, and takes care of certain "business deals" that need to be completed, but will go as far as to NOT approve of Bruce's strategies to take down the Joker. Morgan was ONCE AGAIN, perfect!!!!!!
Cillian Murphy (Red Eye/Batman Begins) returns as Scarecrow, a drug dealer from a parking garage that gets in a scramble with Batman, and the copy-cat Batmen that want to bring down crime...with machine guns, until Batman shows 'em how to do it right. Cillian's role was so small that it's nearly impossible to analyze the character, and is nearly incomprehensible how I've come to write 4 lines on the guy. Nolan coulda done a much better job with him...now 5.
The car chase in the tunnel with Joker firing a bazooka at the swat van with Harvey Dent in the back is one of the most action packed sequences in the movie, and is the most breathtaking of them. The Tumbler makes a short appearance there, but after major damage transforms into the awesome Batpod. It of course ends with the standoff in the street with Batman & Joker.
As for the highly anticipated interrogation scene between Batman & Joker, it wasn't as nearly as good as the hype surrounding it, and was more about the immediate situation at hand rather than Joker's master scheme, which Joker even admits to not having one. Though portions of his philosophy are revealed. But his escape from the jail is far beyond anything we've ever seen before.
The hospital confrontation scene is really Harvey's fall from grace, and REAL transformation into Two-Face...psychologically speaking. Joker tears him down mentally, and he does it well...while being hilarious at the same time, though the event takes place shortly after Harvey talks with Gordon, in which he was still sane, so that made the jump from sane, to almost insane while talking with Joker, to insane once leaving the hospital seem rater far fetched in regards to how quickly he changes personalities when his brain didn't suffer any damage...just major frustration and vengeance.
A psychological evaluation called the "Prisoner's Dilemma" seems to be the basis of the climax between the 2 ferries. Of course you have an awesome fight with Batman & Joker at a construction site high above the ground, while the 2 ferries in the water debate on whether or not they'll play Joker's game.
The climactic fight scenes with Batman & Joker at the construction site features Batman relying on a new upgrade. It's some kind of sonar imaging that makes everything turn up rather blue in color, which makes for a very startling surprise attack by the Joker. The imaging added a unique spin to it, and was appealing to watch.
Unlike what most critics said, the film did not drag on for another 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Joker's story, but perhaps more like ten. As it seems as the film makers try not to focus on setting up villains for a third, but instead deal with the trio in THIS movie, and leave a POSSIBLE threequel with Batman as the villainous vigilante. But this movie was over in a flash, and full of random events whose possibility to even occur seemed to enrich Henri Ducard's point that Gotham was the most corrupted city the League Of Shadows had ever come across.
The visuals and FX were worth 5 stars. They were as great as what was in trailer, if not better. Fans will love it!!!!!!!!!!
Nolan did a great job at telling the story he wanted told, and he made the whole film feel like we, the audience were just tiny cameras flying about Gotham on 3 particularly bad days. And for that, I give Nolan cheers, but the film seemed anti-climactic, and was more emotional with the Two-Face climax, but his villainous goal even seemed to be based on illogicality completely, as stimulated by mad-dog Joker, who doesn't plan it out, but just does it. And Joker's climax was rather sudden, and without warning. Rather odd, but the whole movie was so fast paced that fans like me were left expecting a much more psychotic ending to the film. But, it was still decent.
However, given that Joker's anarchist plan is based on the downfall of few, and one of them being Harvey Dent, then I'd have expected less trivial reasons for Dent to want revenge against the innocent rather than revenge against the Joker. And given the things that Two-Face does that ties off Joker's plan, then it didn't seem to be that big of a deal for there to be any chance of success on Joker's part. Seeing as Harvey is painted as a hardass when it comes to nabbing criminals, then you wouldn't expect Two-Face to flip his personality and target of hatred so dramatically, and awkwardly enough to the point where the city would ever look down on him, since he never suffered brain damage like in the comics. It got to the point where I didn't get how it was a big deal at all, which ruined the overall purpose of Joker's anarchist agenda in the film for me. And despite that the acting, directing, and visuals were great, this 1 element in the end sequences put the whole point in the film out of whack for me to get it that much. I wish I could say more, but I can't w/out ruining it for you.
Overall, the film was a contemporary tale that could literally take place at anytime, and in any place without warning. Having a simple story like this was great, and it felt much more random and violent like a full blown crime drama than it did a superhero movie, but fans will relish it nonetheless.
Despite my reaction to the evolution of Harvey Dent into Two-Face, I am no exception, for I can identify with Two-Face's fiasco of it being "unfair" and Joker's philosophy of a simple minded and overall selfish society being a terrible one that I too wouldn't mind seeing burned to the ground...just for kicks and giggles. LOL!!! :)