Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart
Director: Christopher Nolan
There is no doubt that THE DARK KNIGHT is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year. This is the third collaboration between Christian Bale, Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan after the successful BATMAN BEGINS and the brilliant THE PRESTIGE. BATMAN BEGINS proved to the audience that a superhero movie could be approached intelligently without surrendering to over the top action sequences and predictable plots. The first movie was firmly grounded in reality and the villains were menacing and evil without being camp. This was the trap that the four BATMAN movies from 1989 – 1997 fell into, where all the villains seemed to be firmly attached to the comic and pantomime portrayal from the 1960’s TV series. Thankfully, there is no sign of this in the 21st century version, as Batman is a brooding character who has more going on behind his eyes than you would like to know. While Bruce Wayne/Batman might be able to contain whatever anguish he is going through, his nemeses do the opposite and unleash their bitter and twisted schemes by causing mayhem, death and destruction. So the big question that everybody is asking is can Christopher Nolan repeat and expand on BATMAN BEGINS?
Gotham City has a new champion in the fight for justice with the mysterious Batman (Christian Bale). Unfortunately, vigilante gangs dressed up in Batman outfits have also seen fit to stop the criminals themselves. Batman does not condone these gangs putting themselves in harms way, as he believes he is the only one that can put an end to the criminal element in Gotham. Never considering that this crime-fighting side of his life is going to be a permanent thing, the only way he can get back together with his beloved Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is to hang up his cowl. Before he can do that, Bruce must find someone to take over his fight against crime. That someone is the new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who is relentless in locking up the criminal element and he seems to be doing a better job than Batman is. The only thing that prevents Bruce from retiring Batman is the dilemma that Rachel is going out with Harvey Dent and Bruce knows but does not want to admit that Rachel might not leave Harvey to go back to Bruce.
While all this is going on, The Joker (Heath Ledger) is taking some bold strides getting the mobs attention, which when it comes to mobs own money, is very easy indeed. In fact, with Harvey Dent closing in on the mob, the mob ignores the white face painted freak’s offer to keep their money safe, for which The Joker’s commission would be half the mob’s money. Instead the mob goes with a corrupt Japanese businessman and they ignore The Joker’s warning that the Japanese businessman will rat them out if he is caught. The mob eventually joins up with The Joker. To prove to everyone that there is a new force to be reckoned with, The Joker goes on a rampage of death and destruction, the likes of which the civilians of Gotham City have never seen before. To prove that no one can stop him, The Joker goes after the top ranking members of the judicial and police force, leaving those in law and order in a state of confusion. As no one is able to second guess what The Joker could be planning next, can the combined forces of Harvey Dent, Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman stop the twisted cold-hearted killer?
With a running time of two and a half hours, this is one of those movies that does not drag its feet at any point in the story. With multiple coherent storylines and twists in the tale that will keep the viewer second guessing, Christopher Nolan’s script, co-written with David S Goyer and co-scriptwriter Jonathan Nolan, have produced an entertaining story that does not disappoint. It was a clever idea to let The Joker run rampant, whose exploits will disgust and enthral you in equal measure, and concentrate instead on fleshing out Harvey Dent’s character, and making him into a kind of Batman character that does not need a mask to fight crime. The casting of Aaron Eckhart in this role is an inspired bit of casting and so is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Rachel Dawes. Without doubt, though, Heath Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker is frightening and exciting in equal measure. In fact, I would be surprised if he does not get an Oscar nod early next year.
Overall, THE DARK KNIGHT is a wild roller coaster ride that will surprise you, excite you, shock and amaze you. What THE BOURNE trilogy have done to shake up action thrillers is what THE DARK KNIGHT will do to the superhero movie genre. If you only see one movie in the cinema this year, it should be THE DARK KNIGHT, and then go and see it again for a second time.