If you read my Batman Begins blog post from last week, here, you know that I already love the movies in the Christopher Nolan "Batman"series. Compared to the original movies from the 90s....well there is no comparison, as this blows them out of the water. The Dark Knight is no exception to the love. This movie is nothing short of astounding and should be in the class of greatest superhero movies. We get the emergence of the greatest performance of The Joker, by Heath Ledger, and the solidification of Christian Bale and Christoper Nolan, making arguably the best superhero movie of all time.
We open The Dark Knight with The Joker (Heath Ledger) robbing a bank in Gotham City. He kills all of his accomplices and gets away with a ton of loot. We cut to Batman (Christian Bale) and now Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman) discussing the inclusion of the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Erin Eckhart), in their plans to help Gotham City. Bruce Wayne decides to throw a party to endorse Dent to gain favor in the people's eyes and help campaign funds. Dent is dating a familiar face in Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Bruce's childhood friend. Meanwhile mob bosses are having a meeting and are informed that businessman from China, Lau, has taken all the money as precautionary measure to keep Gotham from seizing it. The Joker crashes the party and says that there is no place Batman can't go and the only real way to get things back on track, so to speak, in Gotham, is to kill the Batman. The mob bosses laugh at him as he says he'll kill Batman for half of what was taken and one of the mob leaders put a hit on him. Fast forward and The Joker is brought to said mob boss, presumed dead, but is playing possum. He kills the leader and assumes control of all the organizations. He informs the people of Gotham, through a video tape of him torturing a man, that he will start killing people everyday until Batman reveals his identity. Batman has overcome this new threat to Gotham in The Joker, while managing to keep his identity unknown and protecting the people from dying. But to do this he must become the watchful protector, the silent guardian, the Dark Knight.
This movie is damn near perfect in my eyes. I could single out Heath Ledger playing The Joker perfectly or Christian Bale as Batman, or Gary Oldman as Gordon or anyone who acted in this film. They all did a phenomenal job. Heath Ledger makes you crack up at times, while having that pure evil core. Christian Bale is still this unnerving presence in Gotham. Gary Oldman commands the screen when he's on, yet you know he's pulling the strings when he's off. Same with people like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. You can do no wrong. Then there a flip side adding people like Erin Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhall in. While not commanding the screen they brought much needed emotion to the film. Not saying no one else did, but there are a few very "tear-jerky" scenes in this superhero movie. The story is amazing from start to finish and once again this well over two hour movie never drags or feels long. The dialogue is both humorous and heart wrenching and the monologue by Gordon to close was just awesome. Like in Batman Begins there are funny parts, the obvious serious parts, and a range of happiness to terror throughout. You could not keep the better part of a full ensemble add a few people in a do a better job than this.
Once again these fight scenes are fantastic in this movie. They are still brutal and they still show-off Batman in hand to hand combat well. You can't have a Batman movie without the lowly grunts getting bashed around in that "BIFF! BAM! BOOM!" fashion. Yet again I'm wondering if this series inspired Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City games. When Batman starts using the sonar scanner in the hostage building it feels A LOT like Detective Mode in the games. Either way I love all the new gadgets, suits, and vehicles. Also again the huge chase scenes aren't over done. There are explosions, and flipping cars and trucks, etc. Some may be unnecessary, but you can't blame The Joker for having a flair for the dramatic. Some men just want to watch the world burn. See what I did there? I know, I'm awful. Once again Nolan does a great job of incorporating the Batman universe into this. he brought back the important people (Batman, Alfred, Fox, etc), there were cameos from the first movie (most notably Scarecrow) and added in the new SO well (The Joker and Harvey Dent). Everything melded well and you would think this full cast had done a full movie like this before. I love it. For films fans alone, and even to people just watching cause this is a Batman film, this is a great meld of film-making and comic incorporation.
In all honesty this has been the first one-two punch of a trilogy that I truly enjoyed both movies out of. I really liked Spider-Man 1/2 as well as SAW 1/2, X-Men 1/2 were pretty solid as well. But none to this scale for me. None to the film making level Nolan took these. These are two movies are that great. This movie alone is great. These are superhero movies that don't FEEL like superhero movies. I love that because the genre is so watered down. That there are still people, like Nolan, who just want to make good films. The Dark Knight is one of those films.