Film & DVD Review: The Dark Knight

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

See, I’m a man of simple tastes. I like gunpowder… and dynamite…and gasoline! Do you know what all of these things have in common? They’re cheap
! The Joker

Heath Ledger’s tragic death earlier this year has focused attention on his final role: The Joker in the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Some commentators even speculated that Ledger might even win a posthumous nomination for an Oscar. Before going to see The Dark Knight I had thought that some of this talk was a bit over-hyped. Not any longer. Ledger’s interpretation of Gotham City’s manic crimelord is truly magnificent. I had previously admired Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the same character in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. At the time he was very good. but Ledger’s new interpretation left Nicholson looking like a mere circus clown in comparison.

The Joker is a raving psychopath who offers to reinforce Gotham City’s beleaguered crime bosses in the fight to stay in business. He aims to take charge himself and spread chaos in his wake as he targets the Batman, the police commissioner and others who get in his way. The strength of this script seems to have brought out the best in all the players. Christian Bale brought out all the facets of the tortured, troubled vigilante. Batman wants to hang up his cape, get the girl and live whatever kind of normal life is possible for a billionaire philanthropist. He does what he does to take on organised crime in Gotham City because he feels he has too. He does see a way out thought, a rising young District Attorney who intends to use the full power of the law to put the crimelords behind bars. This charismatic young DA, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) , is his rival for the affections of Rachel Dawes. However, Wayne believes in Harvey Dent, despite Rachel’s misgivings that he may be taking the rise out of him, and throws a massive fundraising do to make sure that Dent will have no problems in standing for future elections.

Eckhart is impressive as the crusading DA with a mission whose ambition becomes twisted when it is overcome by a tragic dilemma forced upon Batman by the Joker. Gary Oldman is the policeman who secretly colludes with Batman and Dent to take down the Gotham City crimelords. The always excellent Morgan Freeman is Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s urbane fixer. I was especially impressed by Michael Caine in the role of the worldly-wise butler, Alfred, who had some of the best lines. If you’re looking for action, adventure, chases, explosions and mayhem on a grand scale – and a bit of romance on the side too – you can stop now. The Dark Knight is just what you need. I was surprised that it got away with a 12A rating as some of the violence is quite graphic. However, a lot of it is implied as the camera cuts away from the action and you’re left to imagine the rest! It’s effective and it works. What you imagine you’ve just seen is probably worse than what you would perhaps see on an 18 or 15 rated film. The Dark Knight is bound to be a runaway success. It deserves to be. It’s much more than the sum of its parts helped enormously by the maniacal energy Heath Ledger invested in his part.

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