Review of The Dark Knight
Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Four out of Four stars
Leaving the theater, my wife made a confession to me. "This Batman is the first one that I've thought is hot." Indeed, I share her sentiments. No amount of hyperbole I heap upon this movie is enough. I will not try. I will be simple, and direct, and all I need you to do is to follow my directions, very, very carefully.
Go, and, see, this, movie.
Quickly, I will share why you should in a quick Q & A session.
Q: Is Heath Ledger's performance as good as everyone is saying it is?
A: Yes, there will not be a better performance by a male lead this year. He probably won't win the Oscar, but he should. You cannot understand until you see him.
Q: Continuing in the mold of Batman Begins, are certain aspects of the Batman mythos explained in ways that are nearly real-world plausible?
A: Yes, absolutely. Have you ever asked yourself the question how a psychopath like the Joker could amass a legion of followers? The Joker's methods will make it very plain in the first 15 minutes of the film.
Q: Does TDK continue the first film's penchant for eschewing CGI effects for real world stunts?
A: Absolutely, and thank Odin for it. Batman Begins was understated, nearly to a fault. This film brings back the seemingly lost art of real world stunts, and its all the more visceral because of it. What little CGI there is is used perfectly and in no way pulls you out of the action. There is an absolutely jaw dropping truck stunt that simply must be seen to be believed.
Q: Is TDK an action movie?
Q: Is TDK a dark comedy?
A: At moments.
Q: Is TDK a tragedy?
Q: Is TDK a horror film?
Q: Should I take the kids?
A: No. No no no no no no no. No. I have a bag full of no for you here. Nolan spares us in many ways, but don't let any toy tie-ins fool you, you should not take any children 13 or under, or any children sensitive to frightening images. This is a movie that squeezes every bit of PG-13 out of it's overwhelmingly ominous overtones.
Q: Does Heath Ledger's Joker unseat Hannibal Lecter as the greatest cinematic villain of all time?
A: I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I will probably be mocked more profoundly than if I went on IMDB.com and said I didn't understand why The Godfather was so great, but I am going to say yes. I wish I could tell you why without spoiling the film, but I think that coupled with the tragic loss of Ledger, something about this performance is going to resonate very deeply with the zeitgeist of cinema aficionados and casual filmgoers as well. I think the Joker represents the seemingly random chaos of a world increasingly turned upside down and inside out by terrorists that, while professing an agenda, seem content to just hurt the U.S. because they have done it for so long, and because we represent something that they hate, long after they have forgotten why. Their motives seem about as authentic as the Joker's ever changing explanation for his scars.
Q: Is The Dark Knight the best superhero movie ever?
A: Yes. In this golden age of hurculean comic book blockbusters that are (gasp!) good, The Dark Knight stands out as something more transcendent. Dark, yet sprinkled with fleeting hope. Bleak, yet somehow beautiful. The Dark Knight is not a movie. It is art, in the hands of a masterful virtuoso in Chritopher Nolan. These types of movies don't get Oscar nods because the unwashed heathens heap untold millions to see them, but if this movie does not at least get an Oscar nod, I will be greatly disappointed. And yes, I am prepared to be disappointed.
Q: Any parting wisdom for someone planning on seeing this movie?
A: What you have to know, is that for many years, Tim Burton's Batman stood as my favorite film. It's noir-ish yet semi-campy take on the Caped Crusader was my initiation into summer hype, waiting in line to see a movie, owning all the pertinent merchandise, the list could go on and on. I owned several shirts, several toys, and my sixth grade year I spent my free time thinking about how one day, I could be a vigilante. Perhaps I am more excited for this film because, for how much childish nostalgia I harbor for my first Batman experience, I cannot tell you how elated I am to feel this excitement all over again for a film that is more atuned to adult tastes, yet is as unabashedly exciting as any popcorn thriller that has come down the pipes in recent years. Please, just go, and thank me later.
Final Question: Could Batman beat up Superman?
Answer: Yes. Not even close.