The Dark Knight (2008) 4/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 77.5
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Duration: 152 mins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael CaineMorgan Freeman

Gotham’s self-appointed avenger dons the cape once more when a psychotic villain with a painted face begins taking over the city’s underworld with a view to “introducing a little anarchy”. If the biggest problem with Batman Begins was its pacing (and for the first 40 mins, it was!), then Christopher Nolan made up for it in spades with this follow-up as it’s a veritable master-class in that respect. Clocking in at almost two and a half hours, this film starts out at a reasonable pace and gets steadily faster never letting up for a second. The set pieces are bigger and better than those in Batman Begins, the script is tighter, and the story is the most ambitious yet for any of the Batman films. In the previous films, Batman skirts the line that separates his good and dark sides. In this film, he walks it as The Dark Knight attempts to shine a light on the very concept of Batman. The result is an enthralling action thriller.

As with Batman Begins, this movie is littered with heavy hitters who each give reasonably layered performances. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman are again solid in their respective roles of Alfred, Fox, and Commissioner Gordon. Aaron Eckhart is very good as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, while Christian Bale repeats his solid turn as Wayne/Batman. But no matter how good the aforementioned are, they are all battered off the screen by Heath Ledger’s utterly sublime portrayal of the Joker. His incendiary performance is as captivating as you’ll ever see in a comic-book film and worth every word of praise that was written about it. Nolan’s ambition to give the comic book universe a gritty realism was always going to be a difficult task given the fantastical nature of its villains and heroes and, while putting in a good effort in Batman Begins, he didn’t really achieve that aim. As such, The Dark Knight was somewhat of a make-or-break installment in his Batman project and thanks to Ledger’s inspired turn, he was able to convincingly inject a searing realism into the proceedings. In fact, one might say that it was entirely Ledger’s doing but we should probably give Nolan some credit.

Having said all that, The Dark Knight is not perfect. There are quite a few plot holes (albeit minor) and a few broad strokes made in the development of the story and some of its characters. There are several redundant and exceedingly tedious fight scenes which are just as formulaic as the fight-by-numbers scenes of the first film (and most of Nolan’s films) and Bale’s Batman-voice is as grating as ever. But these are minor quibbles in what is the most refreshing super-hero movie in the last 15 years and one superb film in its own right.

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