Don't worry...I'll show ya
Yes, this is the obligatory Dark Knight blog post. I've had a day or two to really digest the movie now and I have to say, it is quite possibly not only the best superhero movie I've ever seen, but simply one of the best films I've ever seen.
I'm warning you now....this will have spoilers in it. So if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now.
Seriously I will spoil the whole movie for you right now if you don't stop.
The Dark Knight was one of the most overhyped movies of this entire year. I mean it was getting so much hype from the beginning of the year as soon as posters popped up with a rather odd looking clown face and the "I Believe in Harvey Dent" posters. Then, unfortunately, Heath Ledger died and the hype increased tremendously. With this being the last film he worked on this turned into almost more than a comic book movie, this became the swansong of someone how now may be looked at as a modern day James Dean on some level. And my what a swansong it is.
I've seen a lot of Heath's movies, and I mean I thought he was a good actor but nothing really too dynamite. However, I'm not sure why it seemed like he may have been holding back in a lot of his other performances or what, but his transformation (and yes, it is a transformation) into the Joker....well it chilled me to my core. I've seen a lot of Jokers, from Nicholson to the comics to Batman Beyond....and this far surpasses any incarnation of the Joker I've ever seen. They way he seamlessly moves through madness is almost an art form, at no point did I see Heath Ledger in makeup on that screen....from the very first moment the Clown Prince of Crime is on the IMAX screen he is as ruthless and sadistic as the Joker is supposed to be. And the best part is, he balances it with humor...not the kind of slapstick, joy buzzer, fist coming out of a handgun humor.....but real sick twisted dark vile humor, and it worked flawlessly. Some of the lines he delivers just offset the serious tone of Batman while never losing the credibility of him being basically a terrorist with no limits and no regard for anything else. Alfred says that some men just like to see the world burn....and boy does this Joker ever embody that.
Okay, enough about Joker, even though I'll probably kiss his purple suited ass more soon....let's move on to the rest of the film. Christian Bale is a really good Batman, and perhaps an even better Bruce Wayne. While I don't necessary appreciate the "angry voice" he uses for the Caped Crusader, Bale as Bruce Wayne is flawless. The interaction between him and Harvey Dent (more on him later) while fighting over Rachel Dawes added a bit of light humor to an otherwise very dark film. And this Batman is now past the origin and moving into the territory where he is truly a vigilante, being hated by citizens and villains alike. The running theme of the story with Batman not necessarily being the hero Gotham wants, but the hero Gotham needs is a really good way of running the plot and making it move. Especially when it comes to regarding Batman and Harvey Dent as two heroes who follow very different paths. And the mental chess game between Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Dent and the Joker is really reminiscent of a comic book pace with many twists and turns that all made the two hours plus fly by.
Now when I first read the very brief summaries about Dark Knight before the movie came out and I saw Harvey Dent was in it, I was led to believe that Joker and probably Batman would somehow cause the formation of Two-Face and lead into the third movie with Two-Face as the lead villain. Boy was I ever wrong. Maybe it's a law that Nolan has that he wants two of Batman's most notorious rogues in each of his movies...but boy did we ever see Two-Face come to fruition. Before I get to that though, Harvey Dent needs to be discussed because it takes a special kind of movie to build up a character like Dent so much for the first 3/4 of a movie only to have him "heel turn" so much and have it work so well that me ignoring it would be a travesty. Now upon first glance Harvey Dent seems almost like too much of a do-gooder especially when he somehow foils an attempted assassination of himself when a gun is pulled on the bench. But then we get to the meat of Dent, a man who supports Batman. They went an interesting route with Dent and Batman almost working concurrently to take down the mob in Gotham. Harvey Dent is to Gotham what Superman is to Metropolis, a man that seems almost untouchable in the public's eyes and even acts that way in his private life. Harvey Dent is a good man, even admittedly far better than Bruce Wayne, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon. By the middle of this movie, you do believe in Harvey Dent. Enter the Joker. You see Joker's plot involves not only causing as much havoc as humanly possible, but at it's core he wants to prove that everyone is Gotham is deep down as twisted as he is. Although one of Joker's little ploys involving ferries of criminals and civilians fails, he eventually succeeds in turning clean cut Harvey Dent into a burnt up pissed off killer named Two-Face. This turn doesn't come from some simple acid on the face, Harvey is forced to hear Rachel die as Batman comes to save him instead of going after her. In the process of Rachel and Harvey's simultaneous exploding predicaments Harvey actually causes the acid burns himself. Harvey experiences extreme emotional and physical trauma at exactly the same time...as you can imagine that makes a man quite angry, and it burns half of his favorite coin in the process. While in a hospital set to explode thanks to the Joker, Joker visits Harvey's hospital bed dressed in full-on nurse's gear (which looks hilarious for the record) and convinces Joker to embrace what Batman and Gordon have turned him into. The internal struggle between Harvey is etched on his face....literally. The rational good side of Dent can be shown in his lips moving while the side Joker wants him to embrace is shown through the teeth moving on his burned half. Dent then pulls out a gun and tells Joker the his odds are 50-50, just like everyone else's. After that the hospital explodes and we don't see what happens until Harvey kills crooked cops in Gordon's precinct and then goes after Gordon's family. The turn is drastic but very very well done, and props to the makeup department because it looks absolutely amazing.
I'm not going to get into Bale's Batman because he is really more of the same as in the first movie and is upstaged by the performance of Ledger here and rightfully so. But the supporting cast of characters in the acting trilogy of perfection that is Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman is purely phenomenal. All of them chew the darkened scenery that is Gotham city. I honestly cannot still even express how well all three of these men give so much life to the characters that aren't as focused on as much but when they are on camera you can't take their eyes off them. They seem like the normal people in this city full of clown faced killers souped up offroaders and half burnt maniacs and they weave seamlessly in and out of the world while being able to bring some grounded level as to what we are all experiencing. One scene in particular stands out when a higher up in Waynetech figures out that Wayne Industries may have manufactured the Batmobile, he threatens Lucius Fox with blackmail. Lucius simply responds with something along the lines of, "So you think you're multi billionaire employer in a vigilante who goes out at night and beats the hell out of criminals with his bare hands simply because he can, and you want to blackmail him? Good luck." The idiot stands there and gulps. As we sit and mock him. That one scene right there summarizes how well the "normals" make this scene complete.
The bottom line is if you haven't seen Dark Knight....go. If you have seen it...go again.
As a comic book fan and as a movie fan in general, I don't think we will ever seen another movie like this. And that is the truth. Joker said that Gotham deserved a better brand of criminal, and he gave it to us...in spades.