slysnide

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!!! :)

68 comments

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  • slysnide • 4 years ago

    Wow, I thought this at least eclipsed 70 comments. My second highest commented review. And the #1 most commented is my worst, just a screen rant.

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    • slysnide • 5 years ago

      @CBF: Yeah I remember hearing about that from V2K back in February, that Officials could edit as much as they wanted. Virtually all of my early reviews need to be revised, excluding the one I did for "Zodiac" which was in my first 5 reviews. It was the only one I was able to edit during one of MW's glitches in the system. Do you or fellow former Officials still have that ability despite the title being snatched?

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      • comicbookfan • 5 years ago

        @Sly, Too bad they never made you Official. I think your epic reviews speak for themselves. I thought this review was awesome 2 years ago (almost 3), and we had some great discussions pre-TDK, when I first joined up. You were actually my first friend on MW. But if they had made you part of the Official club, you would be able to Edit your reviews at any time, even to this day. It sucks they only give you guys a 24-hour window to edit a new review.

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        • slysnide • 5 years ago

          I have yet to see beyond 3/4 of the way into the original Superman film. I didn't like it at all as it didn't feature a very intriguing plot or villain. And as you can tell, this review is very outdated, and needs to be revised, though that possibility no longer exists.

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          • dan1 • 5 years ago

            One of the greatest comic book movies ever. The only one I like more then this one is Superman 2. Because of Zod.

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            • slysnide • 7 years ago

              I suppose that makes sense. I actually read that somewhere a long time ago. But I wasn't sure if it was true or not.

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              • jokersmile • 7 years ago

                The Scarecrow was so short lived in TDK because it was the setup to show that he is nothing compared to whats to come.

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                • slysnide • 7 years ago

                  That's interesting. Didn't know that. Makes perfect sense now in regards to the Batman franchise.

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                  • blizzzard • 7 years ago

                    Batman was created from the success of Superman, and look at Superman, Superman was an instance hit, and has just as much hype, story development, cult following as Batman. So when you've got a hit you've got a hit.

                    BlizZzard

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                    • slysnide • 7 years ago

                      I suppose that would work with Joker getting smarter at Arkham. I've saved a poster to my pages of stuff that has Heath Ledger's Joker in a straight Jacket laughing hysterically. But a similar poster, also released last year with the very same background was deemed a fake, and so this one could be too, and Heath may have been photo-shopped in. But I'm not really sure.

                      And if the series was black & white, then it probably was the one from the forties. I never knew that there was one that far back. And so soon after Batman's incarnation too! He must have really taken off in popularity for a show to be picked up that fast!

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                      • blizzzard • 7 years ago

                        Oh, that was right, I remember them all, bonded together, and forgot about them fighting him too, and what I meant by ingenious is that he would have, more time in Arkham, like before, and would be thinking about more ways to cause more chaos in the city, and put all the pieces together about Batman. You didn't say it, I added it, to what you said, and it's more of my agreement with you and then adding my own interpretation.

                        And there is a 43, 46 serial, and a 60's series, but I don't know if it's the 60's one because, the picture I saw was in black and white, not color, but seeing as the Adam West Batman series is the most popular series, then it was probably that one.

                        I'm already forgetting stuff I need to see the movie about 3 more times.

                        BlizZzard

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                        • slysnide • 7 years ago

                          BlizZzard: Scarecrow wasn't trying to help Batman, and those fake Batmen were NOT his henchmen, but they were Batman copycats. Since Bruce said he didn't want to inspire "that" kind of action against criminals, hence why Batman breaks the rifle the fake guy's got. Plus, the fake guy wasn't aiming at Batman, he was aiming at Scarecrow, and even Scarecrow himself douses a fake Batman with fear toxin. As he also says "That's not Batman." And when the tumbler roles in he says "That's more like it."

                          I didn't say that Joker would become more ingenious at Arkham, for he was like that in this movie. He'd just be way more outta whack.

                          And I also recognized that mask that Joker wore, but couldn't remember from where. One series was in the sixties with Ceasar Romero as the Joker, and I've never heard of the forties one, unless you confused it with the sixties one. idk.

                          CBF: You have a good point as well about Scarecrow's depiction, though I already knew that, and was just thinking that he'd still be as crazy as he was when we last saw him in "Begins," and therefore would be more...dressed for the part...so to speak.

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                          • comicbookfan • 7 years ago

                            Good point BlizZ. Thats why we havent seen the intelligent Crane since that Arkham scene in Begins where he is drugged with his own medicine.

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                            • blizzzard • 7 years ago

                              That's what it was called, Fear Toxin, I forgot, I'm too focused on The Dark Knight, right now and CBF I don't think he ever got the anti-toxin, so he would still be affected by Batman and crazy, unless he had an antidote himself.

                              BlizZzard

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                              • comicbookfan • 7 years ago

                                Thanks BlizZz, I didn't know that.

                                And sly~ I would definitely pick up those comics. Thost two are basically the Nolan movies' inspiration, as well as the first two years of Batman in the comics. "The Long Halloween" is especially good, a dark tale, my personal copies of these books are kept in excellent condition. Worth every penny.

                                I'm going to go pick up "Batman: Dark Victory," which is the sequel to "Long Halloween," with the same writer and artist.

                                The depiction of Scarecrow in the first movie conveyed everyone else's perception of him while they were dosed with the fear toxin. So, the deep grumbley Scarecrow voice was just their interpretation of him while drugged. As we saw in the climax to "Begins," when Rachel pegs him with the taser, when he says the line about there's "nothing to fear but fear itself," he is heard with the Scarecrow voice as percieved by the boy, and Rachel's perception (in which she has injected herself with the anti-dote so she is not affected by the fear toxin), in which it is Crane's real voice. Seeing as no one is under his toxin and percieving his voice, I'd say that is the reason we don't get a true Scarecrow performance... just the mask and Crane behind it. But the mask is inclusion enough for me, to be Scarecrow rather than Crane. I still love that potato sack-stitched mask!

                                And thanks for the comments and add, slysnide.

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                                • blizzzard • 7 years ago

                                  They did call him Two Face before when they worked together in the past, and Gordon knew there was corrupt people, but knew he couldn't do anything at his status, nor by himself, and I think the old commissioner was corrupted slightly but now he is commissioner, and can clean up his department, but Gordon is corrupt in the terms of giving batman leeway, and letting batman do want ever he can, like in the interrogation scene, so he's good corrupted, doing whatever it takes to clean up Gotham, like Batman.

                                  I was thinking the joker was going to have about 30 minuets in part 3, but he will probably have a 10 minuet now, with Heath Ledgers death, and probably like Slysnide said, becoming crazier but more ingenious, at Arkham, but I did want more laughter and smiling from the Joker, that's what I like to see from the joker.

                                  And I to, was expecting a more comic book, evil, Scarecrow, with full costume because when he was doused with his own blue flower spray, he was afraid of batman but wanted to kill him, so he wouldn't be sane, wouldn't have henchmen dressed like Batman and, wouldn't be trying to help batman.

                                  ComicBookFan, in the original serial/show of Batman I think 1943, it had the joker wearing a mask, and that mask looks just like the one in The Dark Knight.

                                  BlizZzard

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                                  • slysnide • 7 years ago

                                    Well first let me start this rant by saying yes, CBF (ComicBookFan), I agree with you fully and better understand the concept now. Though I also agree with BlizZzard that I DO NOT want to see "3" featuring more of Two-Face whining about Rachel and bitching about what's fair and unfair. For as I said before, Harvey was warned MULTIPLE TIMES that what he was doing could get him into big trouble, and therefore, he shouldn't be surprised if something bad happened. So to have him base his whole climax with Gordon's family on what's fair, and what's unfair just makes him look like a real panzy to me. I hated it. I mean, HE got HIMSELF involved with that world, and HE took the RISKS and is now threatening to kill the commissioner's family cuz the very things he was warned about happening, happened. I mean I don't like to brag, but I've got plenty of worse problems than a f*cked-up face, which is only a COSMETIC issue and therefore insignificant to me, since I have enough scars to not give a damn about something as trivial as that. So yeah, I DESPERATELY HOPE that "3" won't have more fair vs. unfair bitching by Two-Face.

                                    But yes CBF, it turns out that I missed a lot for some reason, and on my second viewing I caught all the data about how Dent was ticked that Gordon didn't listen to him about the corrupt cops in the M.C.U. And how that was the motivator for his kidnapping the family. (I know, how could I miss that. I feel stupid now). But I also agree that Gordon may not have been TRULY sorry, since they never got along anyway, and Gordon warned him about the risks as well. So he probably just said he was sorry to be nice...like most people do when it comes to people they don't necessarily like that much.

                                    My aunt and her son saw the film this weekend too. The son (my cousin) has been a major Batman fan & fanatic since growing up reading the comics in the '70s, and HE says that the way Two-Face was finished off in this film was like vintage Two-Face "fake deaths" in the comics, in that he was always a hard character to kill, and that he'll be back for "3" if they stick with the motif of the comics. Plus Nolan's policy: "IF THEY DON'T DIE IN THE COMICS, THEN THEY DON'T DIE IN THE MOVIES."

                                    I myself will pick up a copy of "Batman: Year One" and "Batman: The Long Halloween" this weekend, since I've wanted to read them for 3yrs now, and the library doesn't have it, nor can order it, which sucks, but I think after reading it that I'd want to keep it anyway.

                                    The Joker will most likely be in "3" but featured in Arkham, crazier than ever, and may possibly escape, just to show how he filters into the comics, in regards to how in said comics, he's not as ingenious as he was in this movie, and serving hard time in Arkham could account for that, but he'd by all means, NOT be a main character, but would be more along the lines of Scarecrow's role in this movie, which I was highly disappointed about, since his evolution into that character was told in "Begins," so you'd expect to see more Scarecrow than Crane in the sequel, but that didn't happen, which sucks big time.

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                                    • comicbookfan • 7 years ago

                                      Hey, Sly, I finished my official review tonight, so if you get a chance, check it out. I erased that Two-Face topic.

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                                      • comicbookfan • 7 years ago

                                        What does that mean, BliZz?

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                                        • blizzzard • 7 years ago

                                          Also I don't know if people know this, but the mask the joker is wearing; in the bank is the original mask in the B/W Batman show.

                                          BlizZzard

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