Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: THE DARK KNIGHT

*This review contains spoilers*

Yes, this post does contain spoilers but I will keep that off until the second half of the review and I'll give you fair warning. So, is it everything we hoped for and more? Is like sitting in a theater and experiencing what 1974's audience experienced watching GODFATHER II?

In my opinion, the film THE DARK KNIGHT is the best comic book I've ever read. It flows more like a novel would rather than a standard film thanks to the five-act script. The films feels as if it's going into overload which is how many comic books feel but that is at least helped by the story being told over several issues.The film is monumental, but this also isn't a film for everyone. Picking up several months after BATMAN BEGINS leaves off, Bruce Wayne and Batman both are comfortably secure in the role they play in Gotham. The criminal underworld and the worst of Gotham now have a reason to fear the night. THE DARK KNIGHT is on its surface and at its root, a classic noir detective story modernized and familiarized only by its style, presentation and Batman lore.
This film is essentially about two people but unconventionally wraps itself around the conventional detective story.
The law. The people know and support the law because it is the only thing standing between them and the evil in the city. Here, both Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent are the statues of hope in Gotham City. But there is only so much the law can do without sinking to the criminals' level.
The Evil. Evil has no limits and has complete disregard for civil law. All of Gotham's evil is represented by a terrorist, The Joker.
The Private Investigator. He usually operates within his own realm and on his own terms but fundamentally seeks out evil and fights for justice. He is not afraid to bend the rules to get the answers he needs.
This film is essentailly about two people and they are Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne. Harvey is the shining, shimmering hope for justice in Gotham. His love for justice and Rachel drive him to fight evil through the system. But can darkness overcome light? We all know that Dent becomes Two-Face, but is Two-Face evil? Bruce Wayne, much like Two-Face, is split in two. In his attempt to inspire good, he public image has been limited and that more than Batman has becomes the mask that he must wear.
So much can be said about this film but viewing it once just isn't enough. Critics and journalist have been telling us for months that it takes about two or three viewing to fully comprehend every morsel that Nolan has given us. It's a little hard to say but THE DARK KNIGHT's Gotham City is set in a man's world. Aside from a judge being a woman, Rachel Dawes is the only female on screen of interest. But Rachel is much more than a pretty eye-full, she is, for lack of a better analogy, keeping Gotham City together. Both Harvey and Bruce use Rachel as a lifeline and as the vision of a hopeful tomorrow. What would happen to these two if that brightness was taken out of their lives, who would know?
Like I said earlier and Nolan has even mentioned this in past interviews that the Joker is essentially a terrorist, and those that have seen the film can entirely attest to that. But to me, Joker was much more than that. Yes, he is a very smart person and he has his own interpretation of society and human behavior. Fundamentally, Joker is a social psychologist and social experimenter. He has a hypothesis and his next step is to prove it with a little experiment. He does want to have his rise to power and claim Gotham for himself and simultaneously remove Dent as the obstacle but he wants much more than that. We get that all during the last leg of the film.
Inevitability and justice run throughout the film and by the end of it, we certainly aren't left with a good feeling. Dark, very dark, this film has done to film what METAL GEAR SOLID 4 did to game; it brought the somber into mainstream. Where we are led at the end of the film, I feel there is almost no other way for things to have ended and that is what Nolan was driving towards.
There is not a single performance in the film that isn't spectacular. Yes, Heath Ledger's performance was amazing and has set a new benchmark and reached a new height most thought could not be achieved after last year's NO COUNTRY killer, Anton Chigurh, (Javier Bardem). Everyone brought their A-game and it certainly shows on screen.
Christopher Nolan and crew here have created the most lively and real world in Gotham. Nolan has done what only sketches, speech bubbles and onomatopoeia in bold-face type have been able to do in the past- successfully transfer Batman from the canvas he was born to the screen where he belongs.

*Okay, time for the spoilers*
Let's talk details. Wow, that was some of the best storytelling I have ever witnessed. The film just wouldn't let down. I felt like I was constantly getting jabbed in the gut. So yes, we have Christian and Aaron and my goodness did both of them do a great job. Quickly, my only gripe with Eckhart's Two-Face was not so much his performance but Nolan's direction. I wanted Two-Face constantly enduring bursts of pain. Earlier at the hospital, he urges the doctors not to give him and medication for the pain and so I was hoping that would play in later once he leaves the hospital. Two-Face would seem even more fanatical if he had ticks and head cricks because of the sheer stinging of the burns.
I absolutely loved Ledger's mannerisms for the Joker and just how free he was with that character. The scene with Joker meeting the mob and criminals in the kitchen to the nurse's uniform and the blowing up of the hospital, I loved it all. I'm also glad the Joker wasn't killed off although it seems that way before Batman reeled him in, another nod to the original Tim Burton version.
Another thing, wouldn't didn't love the first time we saw the Batpod, I mean seriously? That has to have been one of the coolest introductions to a vehicle. I really did the new batsuit as well. I know many months ago I said the suit seemed to have too much going on because of the many pieces but I knew it would play into the story and it did turn out to be pretty impressive.
Harvey Dent. I certainly don't hope Two-Face is dead even though they may claim that Harvey Dent may be. I would want Two-Face to be now a part of the underworld, a looming figure more like Batman than Harvey Dent was.
Oh, and Batman himself. Yes, I don't believe there could've been any other way to end that story than to have it go where it did. Batman, fighter of crime, protector of the city and menace to society. There is truly nothing Batman cannot endure.
I'm going again tomorrow to see the film in IMAX and I believe that should complete my DARK KNIGHT experience and I'll post any further thoughts I may have about film. Until then, goodbye, good luck and if you haven't seen the film already, plan to watch it this weekend in a theater near you or in an IMAX near you.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Nizar Babul said...

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