Film Reviews

THE DARK KNIGHT

By • Jul 20th, 2008 •

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Elevates the genre. Ledger triumphs and I loved the bromance between Batman/Wayne and Harvey Dent. Why Maggie Gyllenhaal?

THE DARK KNIGHT lives up to its hype and triumphs. Heath Ledger as The Joker gives us a psycho-philosophical understanding of his ideology (and makes sense of it). With his lizard tongue echoing that of Seth Brundle, he galvanizes the screen. You long for more of him. Thankfully, director/co-writer Christopher Nolan allows us the pleasure of seeing The Joker as a fully-realized character, instead of a…well, a cruel cosmetic joke. The Joker is not a victim of a nutty anti-aging cream.

There is nothing “comic book” about THE DARK KNIGHT. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), appearing slighter than his iconic buffed Patrick Bateman, is still lovesick over DA Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who refuses to marry a billionaire who moonlights as Gotham City’s savior. Instead, Rachel is dating rising star D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who is also madly in love with her. Maybe they both love Rachel because she doesn’t comb her hair or have any sex appeal.

Neither Bruce or Harvey have any chemistry with worn-out Rachel, but their scenes together are hot-tempered with flattery, devotion to joint principles (always a good opening to a seduction), and long stares. I’m sure this was Nolan’s intention, though done on the “down-low”. It reminded me of the Judah/Messala relationship in BEN-HUR.

More to a finer point on this is The Joker’s acknowledged admiration for Batman. Cleverly, he has a different sad story for each person explaining why his face looks like it does. Because, let’s “face” it, does it really matter?

Batman has other villains to fight. Mainly a mob boss (Eric Roberts), who has teamed up with a Hong Kong crime-entrepreneur (Chin Han) to steal billions of dollars. When their operation is foiled by the Big B, there is only one man who guarantees to kill their nemesis – The Joker.

For me, Rachel is a killjoy, Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is an unnecessary distraction, and does Wayne really still need to employ Arthur’s butler, Hobson (Michael Caine)? How about Wayne giving old Alfred a duel promotion to majordomo of the household and the title of Batman’s aide-de-camp?

Because of Dent’s unrealistic, obsessive love for Rachel, he will become Harvey Two-Face. The only person who is not role-playing is The Joker!

I love everything Christian Bale does. As one of the great actors working today, he understands that THE DARK KNIGHT has moved away from the “comic book” genre. This is a fully realized thriller.

Batman has evolved. He now has extraterrestrial eyesight and flies around. The only thing holding Batman back is he can’t kill the bad guys! Maybe its time for Batman to start using lethal force.

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