This page has moved to a new address.

< $BlogItemTitle$>

The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 19: The Dark Knight


July 19: The Dark Knight

"When Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent launch an assault on the mob, they let the clown out of the box, the Joker, bent on turning Gotham on itself and bringing any heroes down to his level."
Directed by: Christopher Nolan, Rated: PG-13, 152 minutes

While Batman Begins is a quiet little masterpiece, The Dark Knight is one for the ages. It's an instant classic that fuses both genius film-making and incredible storytelling, all on an epic scale like nothing you've ever seen before. It's the purest of films that ignites something in all of us, whether you're already a fan of The Caped Crusader or not. The Dark Knight is not merely a superhero movie, but a sprawling crime epic that pits the purest of good versus the most chaotic of evil, and puts the battle on a massive stage. Batman Begins is simply the portal to The Dark Knight, and once you pass over the threshold, the movie opens up into an expansive world, inhabited by people just like us, struggling to survive in a world of the corrupt and insane. Everything about The Dark Knight is bigger than before and the heights it reaches are of epic proportions. Even then, it's not just about the action sequences, as the heart of it all consists of incredible performances and a story so simple yet so complex, that sees how badly the world needs a hero like Batman. 

The Dark Knight introduces us to Batman's greatest foe- The Joker. Some can argue that you can't have one without the other, and the movie plays on this idea incredibly well. While Batman is morally good, the Joker is a chaotic evil that simply "wants to watch the world burn". One is driven by the determination to do good, no matter what the cost, while the other is out to destroy everything he can. It's really what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, and the calamity that ensues is both brutal and visceral. Of course, this game is only as good as its players. Heath Ledger gives one of the greatest performances in movie history as The Joker. Everything about him, from his facial tics, to his mannerisms and his voice, become The Killer Clown. Every moment he's on screen, you're enthralled and cannot look away no matter how hard you try. Every line he utters is instantly a classic and is just as memorable as the performance. Unfortunately for Ledger, this performance was his swan song and it leaves you aching for more. The man is the rare breed of talent that comes along once in a lifetime, and The Joker embodies every ounce of it. The only downfall to his acting is the fact that he overshadows the rest of a very large cast. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman but, unlike in Batman Begins, he's more of a man in the suit than the soul behind the cowl. There is not as much focus on his Bruce Wayne alter-ego as there was in the past, but we still are able to see him struggling with the symbol that he created and his search for a replacement that the city can look to in times of darkness. It's in that search that Wayne finds Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Gotham's district attorney whose mission is to rid the streets of crime and bring swift justice for all of those responsible. He's the White Knight of Gotham. Eckhart plays the part beautifully and his inevitable downfall and transformation into the villain Two-Face is not only tragic, but hard to watch. Eckhart is a man who's known for his nice, charismatic, guy roles and seeing him fall from grace is not only different, but a nice change of pace. Returning to all of their roles are Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox), Michael Caine (as Alfred), and Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), each in a bigger part than Batman Begins. Before, each man owned the role, but this time around, they really are the men they play, and are even bigger allies to Batman. 
Brilliance is not enough to describe this Academy Award winning actor. 

The Dark Knight is Christopher Nolan's greatest film, and with a filmography that includes Memento, Inception, and The Prestige, that's saying a lot. Like I said before, the film pushes the boundaries of film-making, combining real sets and live effects with the most minimal amounts of CGI. While Batman Begins felt contained and restricted to what it could do, The Dark Knight breaks out and the city becomes another character in the film. Everything about the movie feels real and tangible, and Nolan truly turns Chicago into Gotham. In this increased scale, Batman and the villains are free to explore (or destroy) the city, and the size of the populous adds a sense of urgency to everything that's going on. Time plays a crucial part in the film, and we're reminded that Batman is simply one man and cannot be everywhere at once, while The Joker, "an agent of chaos", seemingly has the means to do just that. This contrast, in fact, is the perfect example of how easy it is for man to fall to darkness and how Batman's cause is far greater (and harder) than one can imagine. It's this theme that really is center of the story and it's what makes the story so masterful. Every man has a price, and a limit, and The Dark Knight tests every character's strength. How can one man- one symbol, put together everything that falls apart, while maintaining a moral code and keeping everyone safe?

I really, really, love this film and can't recommend it enough. Whenever asked what my favorite movies are, The Dark Knight is always at the top of the list. While I try to remain unbiased toward the film, re-watching it only confirms my feelings. It's as close to perfect as any movie I've seen and takes someone we are all familiar with to new heights and places we could never imagine. With a stellar cast, led by the phenomenal Heath Ledger, an unforgettable score by Hans Zimmer, and set pieces you could only ever imagine, The Dark Knight is the masterpiece Batman deserves. 

The Good:
a story with balls, never relenting on the physical and mental punishment that Batman suffers, and going places you'd think would be taboo for a summer blockbuster
The Better:
the massive scale on which that story is told, incorporating both real settings and effects 
The Best:
Heath Ledger delivering one of the greatest performances in cinematic history

Overall: 9.9/10


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home