Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Movie Review From The Entertainment Critic: The Dark Knight

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

The Entertainment Critic Movie Review

In Theatres Now Review

Opened July 18, 2008

By James Myers

Rating: 9 of 10

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers (WGA): Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and

Christopher Nolan (screenplay)

Release Date: 18 July 2008 (USA)

Genre: Action | Crime | Drama | Mystery | Thriller more

Tagline: Why So Serious?


Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker.

Plot Keywords:

One Man Army | Scarred Face | Based On Comic | Evil Clown | Ice Cream Parlor

Numbers Show 'Dark Knight' Will Smash Several Box-Office Records (From Rope Of Silicon. 19 July 2008, 2:40 AM, PDT)


Christian Bale ... Bruce Wayne / Batman

Heath Ledger ... The Joker

Aaron Eckhart ... Harvey Dent / Two-Face

Michael Caine ... Alfred Pennyworth

Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Rachel Dawes

Gary Oldman ... Lt. James Gordon

Morgan Freeman ... Lucius Fox

Monique Curnen ... Det. Ramirez

Ron Dean ... Detective Wuertz

Cillian Murphy ... Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow

Chin Han ... Lau

Nestor Carbonell ... Mayor

Eric Roberts ... Salvatore Maroni

Ritchie Coster ... The Chechen

Anthony Michael Hall ... Mike Engel

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.

Runtime: 152 min

Country: USA

Language: English

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS | Sonics-DDP (IMAX version)


Norway:15 | New Zealand:M | Finland:K-13 | Singapore:PG | Canada:14+ | USA:PG-13 | Australia:M | UK:12A | South Korea:15 | Ireland:15A

Filming Locations:

Battersea Power Station, Battersea, London, England, UK more

Company: Warner Bros. Pictures

Every summer there is that one blockbuster that is the marquee event of the summer, the ‘Jaws’ type blockbuster that film buffs are willing to stand in line to see. The Dark Knight is 2008’s top blockbuster, and by the time its run ends, it may be the most pervasive blockbuster ever. Dark, mysterious, and foreboding, this is an edgy, gripping thriller. The performance by the late Heath Ledger more than meets the hype, and it alone is worth the price of admission. The Dark Knight is a 2008 American superhero film co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film is a sequel to Batman Begins (2005). Christian Bale reprises the lead role. Batman's primary conflicts in the film include his fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his strained friendship with district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

For his conception of the film, Nolan was inspired by the Joker's first two appearances in the comics and Batman: The Long Halloween. The Dark Knight was filmed primarily in Chicago (as was Batman Begins), as well as in several other locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. The director used an IMAX camera to film six major action sequences, including the Joker's first appearance in the film. The Batsuit was redesigned, with a cowl allowing Bale to move his head. The film also introduces a recreation of the Batcycle, known as the Batpod.

The film begins with the Joker robbing a mob-owned bank, and double crossing his accomplices so he can have all the money. That night, multiple Batman impersonators interrupt a meeting between mobsters and the Scarecrow. The real Batman shows up and subdues everyone, but injuries suffered during the confrontation force him to acquire a new, more functional suit of armor. Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), contemplate bringing new district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) in on their plan to eradicate the mob, and the possibility that Dent will become the hero to the people that Batman cannot be. At the same time, Bruce and Harvey are both competing for the love of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The mob bosses meet to discuss how to handle Batman, Gordon, and Dent, while a Chinese mobster accountant, Lau (Chin Han), lets the gang leaders know he has taken their money to Hong Kong to prevent the police and the district attorney from seizing it in an imminent bank raid. The Joker arrives and proposes to kill Batman for them, and also tries to convince them that Lau will give them all up to the police if he is caught.

After Batman successfully abducts Lau in Hong Kong and delivers him to the Gotham City police, the mobsters agree to pay the Joker half of their money in return for killing Batman. The Joker tells all of Gotham that if the Batman does not unmask himself and turn himself in to the police, then he will kill innocent people every day. When the Joker begins killing off public officials despite the best efforts of the police and Batman to thwart him, Wayne decides to give in and turn himself in to the police. However, before he can do so, Dent publically admits to being "the Batman" to draw the Joker out of hiding. The Joker attempts to kill Dent during transport, but Gordon and Batman arrive in time to stop and arrest him. With the Joker in custody, Batman interrogates the Joker, physically beating him until he reveals that Rachel and Dent have been taken to opposite sides of the city, far-enough apart that Batman does not have time to save both of them. Batman speeds off to save Rachel, while Gordon and the police head after Dent. Unknown to them, the Joker has switched the locations of both, sending Batman after Dent and Gordon after Rachel. With the help of a pre-planted phone bomb, the Joker escapes with Lau in tow.

Dent and Rachel awaken to find themselves tied to chairs with barrels of explosive material surrounding them. Dent attempts to free himself, but accidentally immerses the left side of his face in turpentine when he falls on the floor. Batman arrives and rescues Dent just as both buildings explode; the left side of Dent's face is burned during the explosion. Gordon does not reach Rachel in time and she dies in the explosion. In the hospital, Dent is driven to madness over the loss of Rachel, which he blames on Batman, Gordon and the Joker. The Joker sets up another elaborate plan; first he convinces Harvey to exact revenge on those responsible for Rachel's death.

While "Harvey Two-Face"(Aaron Eckhart) confronts the corrupt cops and the mobsters one by one, flipping a coin to decide their fates, the Joker burns Lau at the top of the clown's share of mob money, stacked into a tower. The Joker then declares that he will rule the streets and that anyone left in Gotham at nightfall will be subject to his rule, but also suggests the outbound bridges and tunnels are booby trapped which makes the ferries the preferred method out of the city. Knowing the large ships would be filled to capacity, the Joker plants explosives on two ferries and gives the passengers on board the chance to destroy the opposing vessel, one full of prison convicts and another with civilians, in order to save their own lives. Batman tracks the Joker to an uncompleted skyscraper—turning all the cell phones in Gotham into a giant sonar system—and prevents him from blowing up two ferries when both vessels' occupants decide they would rather die than kill innocents.

Dangling from a wire, the Joker acknowledges that Batman really is incorruptible, but that Dent was not and he has unleashed Harvey's madness upon the city. Batman finds Gordon and his family with Dent at the building where Rachel died. Harvey proceeds to judge Batman, himself, and Gordon's son through the chance of coin flip, which he sees as the only fairness left in the world. Harvey shoots Batman in the stomach but before he can determine the boy's fate, Batman tackles him over the side of the building, saving Gordon's son. As Dent lies motionless on the ground, Batman and Gordon decide that the Joker would win if anyone found out about Dent's corruption and madness. In order to uphold Dent's vision, Batman convinces Gordon to blame all of Dent's murders on him to preserve Dent's image as Gotham's hero and give the city hope. As Gordon destroys the Bat-Signal, a manhunt is issued for Batman.

The competing themes in the movie make the dark, sinister backdrop even more persuasive. Does the vigilante have to abandon his code of helping law enforcement within some set of rules to rid the world of uncontrollable evil? Bruce Wayne as Batman longs for ‘a normal life’ with Rachel, who he has lost to the larger that life DA Harvey Dent. As long as he remains the Batman, he cannot have a normal life; he cannot have Rachel. The Joker, a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy," played expertly by Heath Ledger (“I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger.”), is reminiscent of Alex (Malcolm McDowell) in a Clockwork Orange. He seems to want only anarchy and chaos, existential disaster to prove his paradigm of life: all goodness is corruptible and men are innately evil, contemptible beings. (“Introduce a little anarchy... Upset the established order... Well then everyone loses their minds!”) If you have ever read Mark Twain’s ‘The Man Who Corrupted Hadlyburg’ you get the idea. Man is cable of only good or evil; the Joker’s real mission is to prove man is capable of only ‘ultraviolent’ evil, particularly the Batman. His mission is to put his adversaries in impossible ethical and moral dilemmas that have no real solution and where the problem solvers do not know the truth behind their choices until it is too late. And once they choose, the inadvertently commit acts of evil violence. Humiliation, exposure, and dominance motivate the Joker. Micheal Caine as ‘Alfred’ says it best: “Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Unknowingly, it is his desire to exposure Batman as evil by performing acts of incredible violence that keeps Bruce Wayne from achieving his goal of acceptance and ‘a normal life.’ This tension is incredible throughout the movie, buttresses by living and vivid action sequences that simply have to be seen to be believed.

The writing and direction in this film is first-rate. The background and sets are incredibly gritty and urban. Chicago provides much of the locale in the film. The acting for a comic book movie is truly surprising, and the special effects are memorizing. The score and the music for the film make the dark sets seem even darker. But the glue that truly holds this film together is Health Ledger’s amazing performance. His obsessive performance of a complex and inexplicable criminal make this story more than just a comic book crime thriller, but a study of the intricacies of a serial killer that rivals Charles Manson. This is a performance that may well rate an Oscar nomination. Emotionally, you may leave the theatre feeling drained. This is an involving film that requires your attention. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors tell you to see it twice.

Complex, dark and disturbing, this is an intense film that has moments when you are startled right out of your chair, and may be too intense for young viewers. The Dark Knight is clearly this summer’s best film so far and maybe the best grossing summer film ever. The Dark Knight opened on July 16, 2008 in Australia and July 18, 2008 with midnight screenings in 3,040 theaters. From the first midnight screenings, the film has earned $18.5 million and has set a new midnight debut record beating Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith which earned $16.9 million. The Dark Knight set a single-day box office record of $66.4 million, breaking a record of $59.8 million previously held by Spider-Man 3. This weekend as I write this, it has been widely reported that all 4000 theatres nationwide are sold out. An ambitious film, this one is this summer’s must see. Almost perfect, I give this one an enthusiastic recommendation.

Movie Trailer:

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