Jul 23 2008
11.45pm Tuesday 22nd July 2008
This is going to be my least considered, least thought out, least clinical review of a movie ever and I may come back with a second more critical review next week. This is all emotion and gut reaction as I write off the cuff having just seen the movie mere hours ago. And damn my guts are reacting like crazy right now.
It’s years since I’ve come out of a movie on such a buzzing high. The Dark Knight, follow on to 2006’s Batman Begins, lived up to all the extensive hype and then surpassed it. I am ridiculously happy right now and it’s all because of a movie. I literally came bounding out of the Savoy on O’Connell Street, propelled by the pure adrenalin The Dark Knight pumped into my veins.
From the opening scenes when a group of the Joker‘s hoodlums rob a mob bank we are immediately sucked back into the world created by Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins. And it is a world far more real, far darker and far more exciting than the previous Gotham incarnations by Joel Schumacher in particular, but also by Tim Burton. The reveal of the Joker in the opening few minutes will be remembered as one of the greatest entrances of a movie character ever. His utterance, “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you……stranger. ” is probably the most memorable line from the movie.
It is, of course, Heath Ledger playing the role which was seemingly impossible to follow after Jack Nicholson‘s interpretation in Burton’s Batman. But we do not see Ledger on the screen – we only see the Joker. The Joker doesn’t look like Ledger, doesn’t sound like Ledger, doesn’t even move like him. We’ll never know but I suspect had he not died, he still would be gaining an Oscar nod for the frightening role. As it is, it’s almost guaranteed.
As crazy and out of control as he is a the start of the movie, he descends further into a startling madness as the film progresses towards a brilliant stand off near the end when he almost pleads with Batman to hit him, to hurt him. Ledger nailed this part. There is a lot of humour in the role but at many points it’s difficult to know whether to laugh for fear of how far the Joker will take the crazy. It’s the unpredictability that makes the character so menacing and amazing to watch.
In fact, the unpredictability is one of the strongest themes throughout the movie and it is probably the unpredictable nature of the film that makes it so tense and magnetic. Everyone I spoke with after the movie said they wanted to see it again, some wanted to go right back in and watch it again – I was one of those.
Throughout, the chaotic Joker is unpredictable, and so too is Wayne/Batman, as he learns what he must become in order to defeat his nemesis, but even moreso, we witness this unpredictable leave-it-to-fate side of Harvey Dent (I won’t reveal anymore about his storyline just yet).
Aaron Eckhart, as the incorruptible District Attorney Harvey Dent is, for me, the single best piece of casting in the film, and I include Ledger’s Joker in this. He is a pivotal part of the Good versus Evil theme of the film, where the Joker represents the darkest evils of human nature and Dent stands for the truest good, the hope and beacon of humanity. Far more epic in scale than the cataclysmic action scenes is the drama that unfolds between Dent’s seemingly unfailing goodness and the Joker’s desperate desire to corrupt all. The dark tragedy that presents itself is shocking and gives pause for thought. The question of whether the White Knight of Gotham will turn dark is as important to the film’s title as the reference to Batman is.
While the theme of good versus evil plays out with Dent and the Joker, the strong theme of order versus chaos plays out both in the hearts and minds of Gotham’s citizens (most notably where the citizens are presented with some monstrously difficult choices), but also in the mind of Bruce Wayne. The Joker has no moral code, he has no rules and seems to act without rhyme or reason except to corrupt and destroy the moral fibres of everyone he touches. Bruce Wayne learns how far into chaos Batman must descend to maintain order. In one of the darkest moments in the movie, Batman breaks the legs of a mob boss to get information. At one point he beats up the Joker while in custody, revealing to the joker how far he is prepared to go.
There are a number of shocks along the way relating to many of the main characters and that’s where this movie excels. I was on the edge of my seat from very early on, right up to the incredible closing monologue. There was so much hype surrounding the build up to this movie, aided in part by the untimely death of Heath Ledger by accidental overdose. The many movie posters, the ‘leaked’ viral clips, the piece-of-a-puzzle advertising websites. All of this lead to an anticipation that could not meet expectations…and yet The Dark Knight has met expectations and exceeded them. I will be going to see this movie again next week, maybe more than once. I suspect a large proportion of the preview audience will do the same.
Does it deserve to be number one on the IMDb top movies list? Maybe! I’ll get back to you with my answer.
Well Deserved Pimping:
I have to say a massive thank you to Anthony for giving me his spare ticket to the Movies.ie preview (I doubt I could bare to wait another few days to see this film) and I, of course, would like to thank Movies.ie for supplying the preview tickets in the first place. In recent times I’ve been lucky enough to get ticktes to Wall•E, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and Wanted and I am very grateful to the guys at Movies.ie for this.