Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight"
Christian Bale as Batman
Nolan’s epic starts with a bank heist in motion. As the robbers start killing one another, we are introduced to one of a kind mastermind. A brain that is intelligent and crafty to the nth degree.

Batman, working with Lt Gordon has the mob in retreat. The new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), assisted by Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes) is working around the clock to put the mob behind bars.

The mob under considerable pressure from the combined onslaught, hire the aforementioned mastermind, Joker (the late Heath Ledger). Joker emerges as an agent of chaos and has only one goal: unleashing anarchy in Gotham. He plans to achieve his ends by making Batman reveal his identity, failing which Joker will kill one person each day.

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Even as Bruce Wayne struggles to make a decision, he faces trouble on an unexpected front. Reese (Joshua Harto), an auditor working Wayne Enterprise’s records finds heavy irregularities and the prototype designs for Batmobile and puts two and two together. He comes forward to disclose Batman's secret identity.

There a lot of plot points and threads that I have not discussed in this review. As the movie is quite densely plotted, the review will be quite long if I were to do so.

Suffice to say that this movie turns the entire superhero movie genre on its head and comes out an out and out winner. Batman’s decisions have far reaching consequences for other characters, some of whom are quite dear to him. From the start to finish, the screenplay is taut and the movie rushes forward at a blistering pace.

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight"
Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent

Hans Zimmer is in top form as always. His Joker theme is probably the best in the album. 

The acting all around is excellent. As good as the returning players are, it is the newcomers Aaron Eckhart and the late Heath Ledger who make the best impressions.

Harvey Dent’s character has arguably the best character arc in the movie. As Gotham’s White Knight, Dent is looked upon by Bruce as his rightful successor. Bruce intends to hang up the cape and the cowl. But things take an ugly turn, thanks to the Joker’s machinations. Eckhart is great in the role and conveys the pain of losing the love of his life to a madman.

But the movie on the whole, belongs to Heath Ledger. His is the kind of performance for which the term “tour-de-force” was coined. This is a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Each scene featuring Ledger as Joker is intensely riveting. Whether Joker is narrating the stories of his scars or the prison scene with Batman, Heath grabs our attention and is totally captivating. RIP, Heath.

Heath Ledger as the Joker in "The Dark Knight"
Heath Ledger as the Joker

But the movie is not without its share of flaws. In the bank robbery scene, the Joker drives the much damaged school bus out of the bank and joins a group of school buses full of children. Even for a realistic Nolan movie, this is quite a leap of faith, considering that none of the other bus drivers or other people on the street do not notice the gaping hole in the bank out of which the considerably damaged bus came out.

Another point to be pondered over is the Bruce’s fundraiser for Harvey at his penthouse. The Joker arrives with his cronies and takes over the party. Batman jumps out of the window to save Rachel and the movie moves to the next scene. We never know whether Batman returns to rescue the rest of the people at the party or did the Joker decided not to harm anyone else or did he continue his search for Harvey in the penthouse.

Despite these flaws, this is a movie from a director at the top of his game. Christopher Nolan dealt with the concepts of Fear and Chaos in the first two movies. We need to wait for couple more days to see his take on Pain in the trilogy finale.

Heath Ledger as the Joker in "The Dark Knight"
Heath Ledger as the Joker

Over to you, Chris. We look forward to be dazzled!

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Image Source: Warner Bros. Pictures


  1. Holy Bat-review, B2B! You beat me out of the blocks again (I've posted BB today and DK will go on tomorrow!)It is an amazing movie, isn't it? It's basically not a superhero movie, but a crime film where one guy dresses up. When are you seeing DKR? I'm hopeful of getting a chance on Friday.

    1. Thanks Gypsy King for the comment :)

      As you rightly said, TDK is a crime epic that just happens to have a masked vigilante running around.

  2. We will have to compare reviews of The Dark Knight Rises this weekend!