The Dark Knight
Same Bat-Channel, no Bat-spoilers!
As a preamble, I haven’t seen the likes of The Dark Knight’s marketing blitzkrieg since the insidious campaign of Godzilla in ’98. Every thing that could have a batman logo on it did. With Heath Ledger’s performance and death as a talking point, not only did the movie have the industry’s spotlight, it also had the mainstream news media covering it. Fortunately for us, the Dark Knight lives up to about 90% of the hype.
The Dark Knight follows immediately from the end of Batman begins, Wayne Manor is still being rebuilt, Batman is still figuring out how to fight crime and Bruce (Bale) is still pining over Rachel (Gyllenhaal). Lt. Gordon (Oldman) is trying to keep Batman in the loop of police work but there is pressure for Gordon to cut ties and arrest him.
Meanwhile, a new villain has been hired by the mob to reinstall their rule of the streets that has been regained by the police and Batman. Unfortunately for the mob, they unleash a monster that they could never hope to control, the Joker. On the other side of the law, a new ambitious district attorney, Harvey Dent, is going after the mob with extraordinary vigor and seems to be reining them in.
The story is a great continuation from the first film, maintaining a somber atmosphere and keeping the characters from getting too over the top. The film has a sense of gravity which guides it deftly through introducing new characters and plotline without becoming too full of itself.
Christian Bale continues to be a great Batman, though his Batman voice is markedly more gruff and deep in this film. The rest of the returning cast fit like a comfy pair of slippers – playing it consistent and predictable. Though Maggie Gyllenhaal thinks she’s a great actor and bashed Katie Holmes, she doesn’t play the part any better than Holmes did and looked like she didn’t sleep for more than an hour before shooting. Her sullen face and deep eye bags really take away from the vivaciousness of the character. Aaron Eckhart plays the D.A. Harvey Dent and the disfigured, coin flipping vigilante Two-face. His performance wasn’t as solid as I would have hoped, but being a secondary character had it limitations. There is one really lame involving him where it looked like their budget ran out and had to patch some effects together on the cheap.
I can’t write a review without talking about Heath Ledger, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. His portrayal of the Joker draws from the many personalities and performances the character has been given over the years: He’s manic like the Cesar Romero version, theatrical like the Jack Nicholson version, and as ruthless as his portrayals in the comics. Ledger plays the Joker in every way he should be played but something fell flat. His Joker didn’t seem to be enjoying the mayhem - he just went about business as usual. Almost everyone says Ledger should win an Academy Award for his performance and I guess he will but I don’t know if he deserves it.
In conclusion, this is a great sequel that equals the original. It’s dark story provides a great contrast to the good that Batman and Dent try achieve. In the end, there comes a choice, Lt. Gordon must choose the fate of our hero and we are left hoping he made the right one.
p.s. If there is another film in this series I would hope they do one based on the series Knightfall, which would really cap of the trilogy with a bang.