Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight (here be spoilers)

"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

Written by: Jonathan & Christopher Nolan

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart

My rating: 8/10

Ok, that The Dark Knight has reached the No. 1 spot on IMDB's precious Top 250 Films of all time in less than 3 days says nothing to me other than people are idiots! I think this is a truly excellent piece of cinema but seriously, fanboys, get a life!

Enough venting...on with the review.

I am one of the very few people who didn't like Batman Begins. I didn't like it for a number of reasons. Mostly, the nonsensical and boring plot, and the dull as a mallet villains. I also hated Batman's stupid voice. It's a small thing, but it drove me nuts. However, I was pretty hopeful for this sequel because I knew for a fact that the villains were more interesting, and the film would be overall more entertaining because of this. Luckily, I was right.

The film really tells the tale of the fragile nature of heroism and villainy. The three main characters Batman, The Joker and Harvey Dent all revolve around the notion of what it means to be a hero. Bruce Wayne is convinced that the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, is the white knight that Gotham needs. An uncorruptable, brave and, most importantly, good man. If Harvey can keep gaining power, they will no longer need Batman to clean up Gotham and Batman can be free. The Joker, a chillingly carefree criminal who cares not for money, humanity or even himself is in town merely to create chaos and enjoys playing moral games with people, highlighting how easy it is to get in touch with one's own dark side.

Insofar as this hero/villain dichotomy goes, The Dark Knight succeeds tremendously. Mostly due to the wonderful performances by absolutely everyone involved. The man of the hour, Heath Ledger delivers a fantastic performance as The Joker and it is a shame he didn't live to see the world enjoy this performance objectively. It's hard to see clearly through all the hype, but it is a solid, wonderfully creative performance from a seriously gifted actor.

However, I have to say, it was Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent that did it for me. He completely stole the show and every moment he was on screen, I was thrilled by not only his presence, but his ability to create a genuinely wholesome man out of what could have been so cheesy. Eckhart's performance is a lot more understated than The Joker, so bound to get less attention (plus, he's not dead, so we can look forward to seeing a lot more from him). However, his creation of Harvey and his convincing portayal of his dark side took a lot of charisma. His tragic downfall (I'm pretty sure I'm not spoiling anything here) is truly tragic and upsetting to see how he is used and manipulated by The Joker.

This is a superhero movie that will be talked about for years to come and is certainly one of the best (but who can even compare it to the kitsch of Spider-Man, which is pretty perfect in its own right). At almost two and a half hours, however, it's a bit of a stetch and if you ask me there's at least twenty minutes of set-up involving a very showy sequence in Hong-Kong that is completely unnecessary. The script overall had a lot of holes (when did Rachel get kidnapped?? I know it's not absolutely necessary to see it, but she just shows up kidnapped!!). And some kind of Sonar device which is just really stupidly over-the-top and conveniently pseudo-sciencey.

...Oh and Batman's voice is still ridiculous!!

However, despite these flaws, it is still a top-notch film and certainly the best summer blockbuster you'll see this year...yes, even The X-Files: I Want to Believe won't top this, I'm not that deluded.

Charlene Lydon 21/07/08

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