Saturday, August 09, 2008

Review of The Dark Knight

I haven’t written a film review for a long time, quite possibly because I haven’t seen that many films of late. However, last week I decided to go and see the dark knight as - let’s be honest - the hype of it was impossible to ignore.

#CONTAINS SPOILERS#

This film was always going to be big news firstly because of the sudden death of Heath Ledger and secondly that the Batman franchise always carries weight around Hollywood.


I must admit I was a little worried that all this hoopla surrounding the film would make it over hyped; however having now seen The Dark Knight the hoopla is certainly apt.


It takes about 10 minutes before Ledger’s stylish and somewhat hilarious entrance with the line, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stranger” and from there the audience are in for a real treat; no matter how short this tenure as the joker is. Ledger’s joker is nothing short of genius both as a character and as a person as there is a certain invincibility and mystery surrounding the dark clown, underlined by psychotic violence. This is especially poignant when he is regaling a mob boss about how he got his facial ‘Glasgow kiss’ scars (a story which changes with each telling) whilst hovering a knife worryingly close to the man’s mouth. The best way to sum up the Jokers actions in the film is that the whole thing is really just one big joke to him (pun intended). He is motivated neither by money, women, power or revenge; he’s in it just for laughs and to create a shadow to Batman’s deeds.


This of course brings me onto the titular character himself who is once again played by a gruff sounding Christian Bale. Batman of course does, what he does best which is swoop into action with his hi-tech gadgets to take down the scum of Gotham city. The good thing about the dark knight of Gotham since the reboot began is that rather than being invulnerable he is in fact very vulnerable as is shown near the beginning when he gets rather badly mauled by some attack dogs and the messages of doing justice by any means and no matter the cost, definitely makes people sit up and listen. In spite of this The Joker does steal the show for a large portion of the film and it’s also a shame that Bale doesn’t carry this charisma to Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne who seemed to come across as wooden and at times a bit of an anti-climax.


Other nods have to be angled at Gary Oldman at his reprisal of Sergeant Jim Gordon who once again brings to the film a level of gritty-ness as Batman’s incorruptible police liaison stuck in a corrupt precinct, and Michael Caine playing Alfred the butler par excellence. Christopher Nolan also does a fantastic job at directing ambitious action sequences and bringing a dark yet realist comic book world to life; one can only hope that he continues with the Batman franchise in years to come.


Criticism has to be laid at the length of the film however (running length 150 mins), which during the conclusion seems padded out. In addition to this problem is the late arrival of Harvey “Two Face” Dent as the villain. I think personally that Two Face would have been better saved for the next film rather than being squeezed in during the forty five minutes.


In spite of these small critiques the film on the whole is a solid affair, which entertains shocks and wows its audience and is a fitting tribute and legacy to Ledger. It is definitely worth all the hype.

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