"The Dark Knight" is a twisted and amazing movie. It's a big picture. And not just because some of the breathtaking scenes soaring over Gotham were shot using IMAX cameras, or all of the box office records that it shattered in its opening weekend, it's big in the way that it pulls the genre up to a new level of storytelling. "The Dark Knight" is the kind of compelling movie that will satisfy and make it seem worth it to the rabid crowds standing in line for the sold-out tweaker time screenings held at 3:30 in the morning last weekend in San Francisco.
This Batman is the second one to be directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay to "The Dark Knight" with his brother, and continues to push the boundaries for what a superhero movie can be. Like his previous "Batman Begins", all elements of campiness have been stripped away, leaving behind the kind of rough and tumble canvas that fans of the Frank Miller comic "the Dark Knight Returns" will appreciate.
Heath Ledger hooks viewers with his addictive performance as the Joker. He reaches deep and pulls out a portrayal that is both disturbing yet irresistible. Like a hand in the cookie jar kind of drug, each time he leaves the screen, it leaves the audience craving more of their next Joker fix. And sadly his death earlier this year ensures that we'll never get enough of his haunted Joker.
And while Ledgers' Joker steals the show, the entire ensemble cast of "The Dark Knight" pulls their weight and helps raise the bar. Christian Bale continues to be my favorite actor to portray Bruce Wayne and Batman to date. Michael Caine makes for a fine Alfred, and Gary Oldman is still surprising how good he is as Commissioner Gordon.
Maggie Glllynehal does well replacing Katie Holmes as the forgettable ex girlfriend character, and Aaron Eckheart covers a wide range as the tormented Harvery Dent who deteriorates quickly into Two-Face. And it is nice to see Nestor Carbonell, who recently has been seen as that ageless guy from the island on "Lost", get close to his roots of playing Batmanuel in "the Tick", by portraying the dark eyed mayor of Gotham City.
"The Dark Knight" isn't without flaws, Harvey Dents evolution into the Two-Face mentality happens a bit too fast, and the entire Hong Kong story thread seems unnecessary, but these are easily overlooked as its fun to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The biggest drawback of "The Dark Knight" would be the Warner Brothers licensing machine targeting children, who have no business watching this movie until they are well past the recommend PG-13 age. Kids should not be encouraged to see "The Dark Knight" and shouldn't have to deal with finding a Batman toy in the Lucky Charms right now.
Recommending that you seek out the IMAX version of "The Dark Knight" if you can, for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2008 - Purple - Air Date: 7/23/08
The Dark Knight
USA - 2008