Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Lets put a smile on that face!

Gotham City, it's a great place to live and a better place to work. Not so much if your in the mob. Do you believe in Harvey Dent? I did and had the bumper sticker to prove it. Gotham City's DA a white knight determined to stamp out organized crime in Gotham and make the street safe again for families, with some help from Jim Gordan and his "special task force" he might just do it!

With the head of the Maroni crime family out of the picture the Mob's of Gotham seem to have lost their influence over the city, cops are cracking down on organized crime. Bruce Wayne's "symbol" to stike fear into those who prey on the fearful has been taken too far as some vigilate's have taken up the cause by imitating the Dark Knight...but with less sucess. The city seems a little safer thanks to the diligent efforts of Harvey Dent. But there's still that Joker fella running around causing chaos.

At the annual Gotham City Organized Crime Association the new head of the Maroni crime family along with the dozen other crime families discover from a Mr Lao that the fuzz is about to seize all their funds, so he's taken it upon himself to "relocate" all their funds to a safer location. Enter the Joker, without a worry in the world the Joker enters the meeting and tells them what must be done to get things back the way they were....simply kill the Batman, he drops his card and leaves.

From here on Harvey Dent takes the spotlight as a crusader for justice as he rounds up the majority of Gothams criminals in one fell swoop with the help of Batman and Jim Gordon. But that doesn't deter the Joker, his crimes become more brazen and begins targeting Gotham PD. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne throws a ball to celebrate the efforts of Harvey Dent.

From here on out Batman focuses all his attention on stoping the Joker, but what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Chaos! In Batman Begins Ras Al Ghul was an outside force that attempted to destroy Gotham from within by making the people tear themselves apart thru fear. The Joker on the other hand is like a cancer within Gotham that feeds on the fears of it's citizens, and we see thru his actions that he can manipulate the people of Gotham thru fear. I think Darth Maul put it best, "Fear. Fear attracts the fearful. The strong. The weak. The innocent. The corrupt. Fear. Fear is my ally."

If you look back on the villans in superhero movies prior to TDK from Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor to McKellan's Magneto they all were villanous because of what they were trying to do or get. Lex Luthor trying to get rich from a warped real estate plan, Obidiah Stayne wants to get rich thru selling technology to the highest bidder, the Green Goblin wants to kill Spiderman...they all have a "master plan" Heath Ledgers Joker on the other had really just wants to see the city tear itself apart thru fear, he may come off as a psychotic killer but he's always a few steps ahead of everyone including batman. Just look at how elaborate his scheme was to corupt Gothams white knight. He purposely gets caught by Gordan who is supposedly dead just to get his players in position. The joker was by no means a stupid crimal, he almost could see the future, or perhaps manipulate events that would come to be in the future, just listen to what he says to Batman while in the interogation room!

"Don't talk like one of them, you're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them... you're just a freak. Like me! They need you right now, but when they don't... they'll cast you out... like a leper! See their morals, their code... is a bad joke. Dropped, at the first sight of trouble. They're only as good as the people allow them to be. I'll show you... when the chips are down, these, uh... these civilized people; they'll eat each other... See, I'm not a monster, I'm just ahead of the curve..."
And how did the movie end????? Batman didn't make that choice the joker forced him to!

Heath Ledgers Joker was a pure villan and has made villans like Kevin Spacey's Lex Luther seem stupid and non threatening. He stole the spotlight from Batman in every scene the two shared. Heath Ledgers mannerisms such as licking his lips and such trully added another layer to his joker that made him anything but funny.
Christian Bale's Batman/Bruce Wayne remains my favorite to date and his performance was consistantly as good as Batman Begins, the love triangle between him Rachael Dawes and Harvey Dent was interesting, and added a new dimension to the typical superhero love interest. It didn't go the way I expected that's for certain, and in retrospect I appreciate the honest outcome allot more than say Spiderman's fromage-fest.
Aaron Eckhart was a good choice for Harvey "two face" Dent and I enjoyed his performace on both sides of the perverbial coin as the crusader of justice and the vengeful vigilante. As with Bale and Ledger his performance was great and he fit into Christopher Nolans Batman universe nicely. Harvey Dents fall from grace isn't much different than Anakin Skywalkers except it didn't take three movies and was slightly more believable.
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes was a good replacement for Katie Holmes who was not universally loved in the first film. I don't think she was bad but I do think Maggie made Rachel a stronger female character and in doing so showed the character had grown from what we saw in Batman begins.
I was also glad to see Morgan Freeman and Michael Cane return as Lucius Fox and Alfred Pennyworth respectfully. The blackmail scene with Freeman was funny as hell...."good luck with that"
TDK had a large marketing campaign which included a viral campaign that rivaled Cloverfield's, unlike the later this great viral campaign promoted a equally great movie. I had Harvey Dent bumper stickers on my car....funny how so few people knew who Harvey Dent was...I'm sure they do now! I enjoyed TDK very much, it was a terrific follow up to 2005's Batman Begins and pushed the superhero genre further into the mainstream, at times TDK felt more like a crime drama than a superhero movie! My only complaint was the flow of the film wavered a bit during Batmans "investigation" scene of the bullet fragment, for me the scene seemed forced and a bit disjointed...the timing had to be just right or else the scene wouldn't have worked, what are the chances???
So Christopher Nolan is 2 for 2 he's set to break the Superhero movie jinx with a solid trilogy, If he does a third (which I can't believe the studio wouldn't want too) I have faith he'll bat it out of the park...pun intended.