Here it is. This is what we’ve all been waiting for all summer; for the past year or so, in fact. And I could sit here and blabbidy-blab endlessly about little things and build up to something, but screw that. That would just drive you all crazy. And I can barely contain myself as it is not telling you what you probably already know.
Rarely does the hype and expectations of a film actually pay off. But I got my money’s worth. Wow. Hollywood actually did something right for a change!
Christopher Nolan directing is the best thing to happen to this comic book franchise since Tim Burton directed. The tone remains dark, serious, and indeed a little scary. The effects are top notch. I believed that every one of the Batman’s tools, gadgets, vehicles could actually exist and do precisely what Batman employs them to do. There’s so little need to suspend your disbelief. This movie makes it seem that he could truly exist and do what he does in the real world. It’s totally comic book cool, but they don’t sensationalize everything like they did in the James Bond movies. Nothing is really that far-fetched.
“The Dark Knight” explores the idea that maybe Batman isn’t all that different from the criminals he puts behind bars. He breaks the law like any criminal would, and the law doesn’t always see shades of gray. It’s black and white, and despite the positive end results of Batman’s actions the chaos he causes getting there is the same chaos caused by the criminals he puts away.
Every actor is excellent. No one goes over the top, no one feels out of place, no one hams it up, no one walks through it. Christian Bale solidifies his ownership of Batman as well as Bruce Wayne. Michael Caine as Alfred is perhaps even more ideal the second time around. He is the anchor, the wisdom, to Bruce’s strength of action. His sage advice is integral to Bruce’s decisions as Batman.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart are all just great. There are even some surprises here. Anthony Michael Hall gets a small role as a reporter. And lo and behold, Eric Roberts has a significant role as a mob boss. Gee, it’s nice to see Eric getting more work. And this is quite a boon for him, I’d say. I’m sorry, does that seem like a back-handed compliment? Whatever. He still did a fine job.
Let’s see, have I forgotten anyone in particular? Yeah, like I’d forget! There is quite a lot of talk about Heath Ledger in this as the joker. People are saying things about a possible posthumous Oscar nomination. One has to wonder if that talk is merely because it’s posthumous, or for the actual performance. Well, someone else might wonder this, but I don’t. There is no doubt in my mind, that Heath’s performance, though different, is far more appealing and powerful than Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker in the 1989 Batman. Heath Ledger’s Joker is more believable as an actual criminal mind. There’s no cartoonish cackle or borderline clowning. This new Joker is more dangerous, more ominous, and more deeply layered. There’s a bit of mystery about him. Screw origins; we don’t need to know. And indeed, we fear that which we don’t understand. And you’re going to fear Heath Ledger’s Joker. Oh, sure, he laughs, too. But sometimes you laugh with him, and sometimes you laugh out of nervousness.
Heath Ledger has a line in the film that is so full of irony, it nearly brings a lump to your throat. When I first became aware of the Heath’s work years ago, I could never have imagined that I would miss him and his talent as much as I know I will now.
“The Dark Knight” is a much deeper, more layered film than “Batman Begins”. Unlike “Spiderman 3”, it ups the ante as a sequel without trying to do too much or losing what made the previous one so great.
I suppose it’s no surprise how good this movie turned out. It really is all I hoped it would be. You can be sure I’ll be seeing this again. And man, I can’t wait to see the numbers for the opening weekend. It’s going to be insane.
—Neil T. Weakley, satisfied movie goer!