On the recommendation of my buddy Geoff (and pretty much every movie review website out there), I saw the Dark Knight this weekend, and I am pleased to report that it is not only an awesome movie, but that it stays in step nicely with Batman Begins, and succeeds in taking the action / drama to an entirely new level.
Dark Knight officially has my stamp of approval, so if you happened to be waiting for me to endorse the movie before seeing it yourself (and let’s face it, who wasn’t?), you’re now good to go.
There were a few things I thought that were worth mentioning, aside from how excellent the movie is. I won’t go into great depth, since I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, so you won’t read any spoilers here.
First of all, and on a more somber note: Heath Ledger. It’s such a shame that the man is gone, as he really seemed to have been starting to find his groove as an actor. I liked him in 10 Things I Hate About You, and I felt that he gave a strong performance in Brokeback Mountain as well (yes, I saw it – at the theater, no less). But all that stuff pales in comparison to Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, which brings a feeling of terror to the movie that I really don’t think would not have been possible with a different actor. If there’s any one ‘dark’ element of Dark Knight, it’s there because of the Joker, and it is better because of it.
There are so many angles to Ledger’s Joker, it’s hard to sum up the act without revealing too much about the film. On the whole, not much time is spent on the back story of the Joker, but I like it that way – instead of having a moment of insight where you rationalize why the Joker does what he does, you instead share the same feeling of dread the rest of the movie’s protagonists feel as they try to cope with the ever-growing chaos he inflicts on Gotham. Indeed, we learn more about the Joker from Ledger’s performance, and it makes the character much deeper then it ever could have been with cut-scenes and flashbacks. The Joker was Heath Ledger’s finest performance, and he deserves recognition for it.
That’s not to say that the other members of the cast didn’t do their jobs well, including the film’s lead, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Aaron Eckhart (Gotham’s new D.A), and returning cast Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine. Each and every one of the cast did an amazing job with Dark Knight. And without the incredible work by the stunt and effects crew, there would be no movie. From explosions, to gun fire, to quick fighting scenes, just about everything in the film looks to have been carefully crafted by the crew, and there are many breathtaking moments to be had throughout. In fact, there’s really only one small beef I had with the movie.
The last point I wanted to talk about also has to do with a member and ex-member Dark Knight’s cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes, respectively. In Batman Begins, the character of Rachel Dawes, the up-and-coming assistant D.A. and childhood friend of Bruce Wayne is played by Katie Holmes. In Dark Knight, she is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. And while both actresses lend good performances to Ms. Dawes, it’s a shame to me that Holmes couldn’t be tapped again for the role, at the very least, for continuity’s sake. Not that I’m a huge fan of Katie Holmes, her zealot husband, or their fanatical religion – I think I’m just kind of a perfectionist, and I hate to see a set of brilliant movies be marred by something so stupid. Holmes claimed she couldn’t participate due to a scheduling conflict – but my money says Tom didn’t want to see his new wife sharing spit with Christian Bale again. Oh well, it’s really only a minor annoyance, and one that I probably do not share with many others.
Nonetheless, Dark Knight is a great movie, and is one of those rare cases where the sequel outdoes the original film. Here’s to hoping that the ‘three-quel’ continues this tradition in the coming years!
Photos courtesy of The Dark Knight Unofficial Movie Blog