Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review of The Dark Night

The Dark Knight ****
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and a shit load of famous actors

Everybody came out of the theater satisfied. Everybody. If you think about it, it's ironic. Ten years ago nobody saw much of the Batman franchise. Those movies relied on nostalgic kitsch. They were hit or miss. Now the current crop of Batman movies are not just movies, but real artistic films. And The Dark Knight solidifies this status, but how? Is it the writing? Is it Christopher Nolan's expert direction? Or is it the actors? Hell, it could be all three. The Dark Knight transcends the comic book genre and becomes a movie on it's a own. A film that tests our emotions. A film that reflects our current times.

The Dark Knight shows how surprisingly easy it is to make a once alternate universe type film, into something that strikes close to home. Gotham can be any city in America. Batman may be a real vigilante marching through streets, and the Joker may be a real terrorist lurking in the alleyways. It opens up possibilities. One way the Nolan Batman films have realism is how they make the characters into real people. This Joker does not have a strange facial deformity, but has scars on his face caused by abuse. He sends out threats trough videos and is two steps ahead of the police. Remind you of some specific group.

Another great thing about the film is how it is not about the special effects and the explosions, but the story. The Caped Crusader is not a hero, but seen as a ruthless vigilante. A city is on the verge of anarchy as a humble district attorney, Harvey Dent, takes control. Batman see him as the only true hero for the city. At the same time, a maniac in clowns' makeup is double-crossing everybody, even the mob. Now he wants to see the true Batman. If not people will die. Bruce Wayne might have to sacrifice his duty as Batman to save lives, but he might never save the city again from sure chaos. The following events are about morality, justice and pure evil. It's unexpected human drama.

Christopher Nolan has turned something from simplicity into a monumental work of art. He makes brilliant sequences and a has perfect timing. He makes a 2 1/2 hour movie feel like a fast swift punch. The actors are phenomenal. Heath Ledger is obviously the films center. He becomes the Joker. He laughs, talks and moves like somebody who just plain lost it. He is mysterious and mesmerizing. Mezmerizing in the way you want to see more of him in the film. He may just rightfully win the Oscar. Oh, what talent is lost. Not only that, but Aaron Eckhart, as Harvey Dent, delivers a powerful and tragic performance. He is the other great man in this film. For once, an action movie has actors upstaging the action. From Bale to Caine to Oldman, we have nothing but talent.

The Dark Knight is a film that will surprise even the greatest of skeptics. It is a powerful tour de force of the human spirit and will have you on the edge of your seats. You will not forget the performances, the direction and everything else about The Dark Knight. Brains and Brawn. Good stuff. Feel bad for the sequel though.

R.I.P. Heath Ledger 1979-2008

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