Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review: "The Dark Knight"

My head actually exploded several times as I watched The Dark Knight.
Seriously, so much has been written about this movie already, I don't have a whole lot to add. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is simply the best comic book movie ever made, hands down. It's intense, smart, grim and astonishing in its scope.
New DA, Harvey "Two Face" Dent (Aaron Eckhardt) has vowed to rid Gotham of Organized Crime. Gotham's criminals, living in fear of Batman, have gone underground. That is until the mysterious Joker shows up, wreaking havoc wherever he goes. The Joker wants to kill Batman (natch) and give the city back to the thugs. There are the usual assortment of good and bad guys (and some who walk the line between). Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman, steely-jawed righteousness at the fore. Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman also reprise their roles from Batman Begins and Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over for Katie Holmes (thank goodness) as Batty's childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes. But as everyone knows, this movie is all about Heath Ledger's Joker.
Ledger isn't just good - he's astoundingly brilliant. He totally re-invents the character and it's doubly sad that we'll likely never see another performance from a young man on the brink of true super stardom (unless Gilliam is able to pull off the impossible and complete The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus). It's the kind of performance every actor hopes to give one day.
And by the way, no slouches themselves, the rest of the cast - all solid and wonderful (Aaron Eckhardt's painfully good as Two-Face), but the movie is simply electric whenever Ledger is on screen. Everything from his super-creepy smeared make-up to his posture and incessant lip-licking and corn-yellow teeth, create the most frightening Joker ever. Ledger completely inhabits the role and you have no doubt that the Joker is truly bat-shiat insane.
The Dark Knight is unlike any other superhero movie ever made and plays more like a great, violent crime drama with extraordinary characters, than a Batman movie. But a Batman movie it most certainly is. I missed the bat-cave (it'll be back when Wayne Manor, destroyed at the end of Batman Begins, is rebuilt for the third movie), but there are some very cool new gadgets (and one thing that made the whole theatre go "Woah!"). ***** (Five Stars)

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