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The Dark Knight

Movie title: The Dark Knight (2008)
Spoilers ahead: No

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When it comes to “cannot knock” movies, there just aren’t that many made. Well, let’s be clear; technically, there are none, but practically, there are a few, and this is especially true of comic book movies that tend to have a limited audience. In the case of The Dark Knight, we have one such movie. “Memorable” isn’t doing it justice; perhaps “legendary” is! Movie critic Michael Medved, in his review of The Dark Knight, called it “possibly the greatest comic book movie ever.” Well, at least it’s in the top “unknockable” five, I’d say.

Heath ledger’s acting was truly marvelous as the Joker. He won an award for it because you could feel the Joker’s troubled past every step of the way. Few times in film have I seen a character so well adopted by an actor. His performance was phenomenal. It almost saddens me to admit that even the great Jack Nicholson has been outclassed in performance. I am not only a huge Jack Nicholson fan, but Nicholson played a remarkable Joker as well.

But never has the realistic side of the Joker been more apparent as in this film. If you are used to a Joker who laughs almost indiscriminately and carries around a boom-box and knocks vases off of shelves for the heck of it, get ready for a lot more of everything—from more realistic face paint, to better fighting skills, to the charismatic hijacking of the troubled minds of schizophrenics for his own purposes. The Joker has come a long way in movies.

Christian Bale played a great Batman just as he did in Batman Begins (2004). Christopher Nolan hits one out of the park for a second time in The Dark Knight, the best thing about his work being that it has a realistic come-off to it that most older comic book movies woefully lack. What makes Batman so phenomenal is his ingenuity, his wisdom and insight into the criminal mind, as well as his skills, and finally, his resources. Batman’s nobility, his desire for the preservation of good, is what makes him great.

Like Batman Begins, this Batman does all the more to make Batman real, explaining why and how he has all those gadgets, and why he fights for what he fights for. The Dark Knight has not one, but several juicy plot twists, which everyone should know are the lifelines of good movies. And the real life elements of the movie don’t stop with gimmicky gadgets and spellbinding plot twists, but have real life street elements too, like Batman copycatters. Though he is a vigilante, Batman realizes the grave dangers of vigilante justice gone unchecked. He seeks to quell that too, breaking as few laws as possible while preserving the greater good. His selflessness, his character and willingness to put himself out for justice is apparent, and it becomes more so at the conclusion of the film.

There were some strained elements throughout the flick, like the idea that the Joker would be able to rig large ships with roomfuls of explosives. Come on now! That’s a tad of a stretch! Even with good resources, getting past security with barrels of dynamite to hijack ships would be difficult. The situation was created to give an example of sound moral choices being made amidst fear, but it didn’t go over well. It would have been best to have done without it.

As with many good quality films where too much is happening, the problem of forced time constraints arises. The appearance of Two-face was another forced and unnecessary addition, which only served to clutter up the movie. And it was out of character for a renowned city official to turn into a “by the seat of his pants” killer anyway.

Despite a few hang-ups, the plot is powerful and rich, making The Dark Knight a revolutionary advancement of Batman on the big screen and more than worth seeing.

(JH)

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Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG-13
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman
Genre: Action / Adventure / Comics
Summation: Batman, the Dark knight (Christian Bale), must face his arch-nemesis, the Joker (Heath Ledger), in a fight to destroy the strongholds of organized crime lords that have subverted Gotham City.

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