<i>the dark knight</i> by christopher nolan

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Sunday, July 20th, 2008

<i>the dark knight</i> by christopher nolan


so, i saw it. i’ve gotta say, i was kind of a nerd about this movie. from the time i first heard the buzz about the production of this movie, i was excited to see it. now, i’m not one of these crazies who stands in long lines or goes to the midnight showing or takes off work to go see it. i’m just a nerd, having been eager to see it for quite awhile. the potential danger of this, of course, is the setup for colossal disappointment. well, disappointment never reared its ugly face. (which, interestingly, i couldn’t have been any more disappointed by batman begins, the first shot at batman by christopher nolan a few years ago. i still think that was a dud…and that’s coming from a huge batman fan, particularly batman and batman returns which, in my humble opinion, stars the hottest movie character of all-time: michelle pfeiffer as catwoman…you’re welcome for the accompanying picture…)


the dark knight had everything in a movie that you could want: gritty realism, believable action sequences, well-developed characters, psychological subplots, a realistic and well-written love triangle story, unexpected and suspenseful plot twists and one of the best villains in recent movie history. that may sound like a bombastic claim, but  it’s very true: this movie had it all and did it all well. most of the time when a movie tries to accomplish all these things, it spread itself too thin and doesn’t do any of them justice. it’s the old adage,  jack of all trades, master of none. the dark knight mastered them all.

i won’t waste any time going into specifics about the plot (you can see it for yourself), but as an overarching observance about the plot, it did what i like about general suspense movies, never giving away the next thing that is going to happen. you are always left guessing and always falsely assuming what is the big climax or final scene. i knew how long the movie lasted, but if i didn’t know, i would have thought the movie was going to end several times (which, as opposed to many other movies, was a good thing in terms of suspense and climactic sequences that had you on the edge of your seat…or biting your nails in my case…). certainly, you could make some general inferences and predictions as the movie went along (especially if you know the “history” of batman, but not to the point where it disappointed in the end.

one of the early buzz-points from critics prior to its release was the new level of gritty realism and raw psychological undertones in this incarnation of batman, as compared to the ones popularized in the 90’s (which still have a special place in my nerdy heart…). i’ll get to the joker in a minute (which is a whole separate discussion), but batman/bruce wayne is portrayed as a very troubled and complex person. admittedly, i don’t particularly like christian bale as batman (or, generally speaking, as an actor all that much), but he does bring this psychological complexity to the character that many other people couldn’t bring. batman isn’t the do-gooder, people’s hero as he’s portrayed in earlier batman movies. in the dark knight, he’s exactly that: a dark figure who is wrongly seen as an imposing, law-breaking vigilante who does as much evil as good. throw in a love interest who is romantically involved with batman’s eventual rival and the reluctancy of a hero who doesn’t want to be hero, you’ve got the makings of a weekend getaway to dr. drew’s celebrity couch.

now to the joker. indeed, the death of heath ledger adds a whole other dimension to this movie, but even without his death, his performance as the joker would be just as haunting and brilliant. the only movie villain that i can remember that is as dark and creepy as the joker is hannibal lecter from the silence of the lambs. (particularly in the scene at the table with the mob leaders and in the interrogation scene at the county detention center)in the dark knight the joker is devoid of any emotion, regret or conscience. he is evil personified and ledger brilliantly portrays every mannerism and action just as you might imagine a cold and disaffected killer. the complexity of the joker is startling and just plain creepy. it’s a brilliant performance and it’s unfortunate that heath ledger couldn’t be here to receive the accolades that are sure to come.

i could go on and on about various aspects of the movie that were great, but i’ll cut it off here due to my long-windedness disease in my last several posts (sorry about that faithful readers…). needless to say, i recommend that you go see the dark knight. it’s the best movie i’ve seen in quite some time and that says a lot for a movie about a guy in a bat suit. 🙂