#386/#103 The Dark Knight
A new villain calling himself the Joker (Heath Ledger) has begun terrorising the streets of Gotham, seeking to undo all the good achieved by the combined efforts of Batman (Christian Bale), Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). What seems like an annoyance at first, soon becomes a deadly threat to the city as the Joker causes corruption and chaos in his wake.
What is there left to say about this film? Batman Begins raised the bar for all following Batman movies and the Dark Knight just leapt right over it setting its own new bar. Nolan and Co stepped it up a notch in this one and showed just how film making should be done. This isn’t just a great superhero film, it’s a great film regardless of genre. It showed that a film can have mass appeal without resorting to the lowest common denominator and that films could still be smart.
All of the things I mentioned in my Batman Begins review which made the overall product fantastic (the stunts, cinematography, music etc) are all back with a vengeance. CGI is sparingly used and practical effects dominate the screen. The returning cast of Bale, Caine, Freeman and Oldman, who now has a greater impact and presence in this film, all perform wonderfully while Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker will go down in history as one of the all time great performances.
I was among his many naysayers when it was first announced he would be playing the part but he shut us all up very quickly. I enjoyed Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the original Tim Burton Batman but that was just Nicholson ramping up his crazy levels rather than playing the Joker. Ledger’s Joker is my generations Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader; it’s an iconic role that will never be forgotten. Mark Hamill’s Joker might be my favourite overall Joker, but Ledger is definitely my favourite live action portrayal.
The only problems I have with the film, and they are minor, are Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart. Eckhart is a wonderful Harvey Dent throughout the majority of the movie but I just don’t think he pulled off a very convincing Two-face. He plays Gotham’s white knight so well that I just have difficultly believing his sudden character shift. Gyllenhaal similarly was fine in her role, leaving much more of an impression that Katie Holmes, but I still feel Rachel was a fairly mediocre character from the beginning and any reliable actress could have filled the role. I have no clue how this could have been fixed but it is what it is.
As I say, these grips are minor when compared to the overall awesome which is the rest of the film and it deserves all of the praise it recieves. I don’t see this movie being overshadowed anytime soon. 5/5