When I think about The Dark Knight, the first image I get is of the sombre, dark tones used in the movie. That and the somewhat dark feeling that tends to accompany the image. Not surprisingly, TDK is a pretty dark movie, whether in dealing with the anarchy in Gotham city, or the struggle Batman faces, or of course the psychotic super villain, The Joker.
The Dark Knight starts off with a bank robbery and soon introduces us to the latest Batman nemisis, The Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger. Gotham City has descended into an anarchy with Batman clones trying their luck, the mob running riot, a mostly corrupt police force, and a toothless Distrct Attorney’s office.
Enter Harvey Dent, the new district attorney, played by Aaron Eckhart, who is determined to clean up Gotham’s crime and go after the different mob bosses. Police chief Gordon (Gary Oldman) is also in his own way trying to fight crime while enlisting Batman’s help. The appearance of The Joker on the scene adds to the already troubled situation. The Joker makes it his personal mission to unmask Batman and wreaks havoc targetting high-ranking officials and causing a lot of mayhem. Batman, in the meanwhile, is having his doubts about how long he can continue his vigilante justice and whether he can continue to make the difficult choices.
The film sets the characters up beautifully and the story comes at you from different angles. Even though there are several prominent characters in the movie, you never feel like the story’s flitting from one character to another without establishing the characters. The main characters are well-defined and feel real, something that helps create empathy with us viewers.
Slick action sequences, some dark but brilliant looking locations, superb makeup, and a crisp script (Christopher and Jonathan Nolan) make The Dark Knight a terrific movie to watch. Christopher Nolan, who directed Batman Begins, is able to take this movie to a different, albeit darker level.
Christian Bale was a convincing Batman and Bruce Wayne and he still is. I wish they hadn’t used digitally changed Batman’s voice so much because the gruff and bass-y tone was sometimes hard to follow. Maggie Gylenhall came in for Katie Holmes and she’s easily a better actress. So Katie wasn’t missed, though Katie was kinda cute in her pre-Tom Cruise, pre-crazy haircut days. Oh how she’s changed. Michael Caine is again terrific as Alfred, the caretaker, butler, and (grand)father figure to Bruce Wayne.
Everyone’s going to tell you how brilliant Heath Ledger was but they may forget to mention Aaron Eckhart who was terrific in his role as Harvey Dent. Thank You for Smoking clearly did wonders for his acting career.
However, I do have to agree with everyone and tell you that the movie belonged to Heath Ledger. He made Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker look like a joke, a caricature. Ledger’s mannerisms, the laughter, the dialogue delivery, and of course the terrific makeup came together to create one of the most intense portrayals of a villian in recent memory. And, to top that they’ve injected some humour in the role, which was a nice touch. It really is a shame that Ledger can no longer reprise this role in future Batman movies or that he will never act in any other movie. Posthumous-Oscar anyone?
(John Scalzi wrote a terrific piece titled Is the Dark Knight Oscar-ready? and if you have any interest in reading superior writing, you’ll go read that piece. Then, you’ll probably unsubscribe from my blog and subscribe to Scalzi’s blog and I wouldn’t blame you. Just don’t tell me. Sob.)
You don’t need to have watched Batman Begins to watch this movie, so there’s really no excuse not to watch The Dark Knight. Heck, I watched it the day after the bomb blasts in Bangalore and was in the theatre around the time that the bomb squad person was dismantling a bomb near The Forum. (The tickets had already been booked; I am not that brave.)
PS: Plot spoiler alert This is not a huge plot spoiler but it was an eerie coincidence that The Joker plants bombs in a hospital in the movie and in Ahmedabad terrorists planted bombs and killed people in a hospital. Worse, it was the same day that we watched the movie.