Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Heath Ledger.
Based on: characters by Bob Kane
Genre: Superhero / Action
Released: July 18 2008
by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 152 minutes (2 hours, 32 minutes)
Cert: 12 (BBFC) PG-13 (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer

Set within a year after the events of Batman Begins, Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and new district attorney Harvey Dent successfully begin to round up the criminals that plague Gotham City until a mysterious and sadistic criminal mastermind known only as the Joker appears in Gotham, creating a new wave of chaos. Batman’s struggle against the Joker becomes deeply personal, forcing him to “confront everything he believes” and improve his technology to stop him. A love triangle develops between Bruce Wayne, Dent and Rachel Dawes.

I remember seeing a tiny advert for this film on Yahoo Mail back in 2008 and I nearly screamed. I was so excited for it. As I’ve said before, I love Batman and my excitement peaked when the trailer was released. I hadn’t heard of Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart or Maggie Gyllenhaal and didn’t expect much from them. At least Maggie Gyllenhaal isn’t Katie Holmes.

Once again, I was impressed by the plot; the screenplay was written exceptionally well. However, the story is quite hard to grasp when you watch for the first time. The beginning scene is a little bit confusing because the one character that is discussed throughout it -the Joker – doesn’t appear until the end. I like how there are multiple events that are joined together; it really gave the plot some body.

I thought that the plot would be perfect, until a love triangle was introduced. Love triangles are incredibly clichéd to me and the triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey felt quite unnecessary to me. It didn’t add anything to the plot, but that’s partly due to the fact that I think that Bruce should have a non-existent love life.

You can probably guess what I thought of Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman’s performances from my review of Batman Begins, so I’ll move on.

I preferred Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance as Rachel to Katie Holmes’. And it’s not because I don’t like Katie Holmes. I felt that Gyllenhaal made Rachel a much more likeable character who is somewhat kinder than in Batman Begins.

The one negative thing I have to say about Heath Ledger’s Joker is that the character was incredibly unfamiliar to me. When you’re used to a genuine lunatic who has bleached skin and maniacally laughs constantly, a self-mutilated dude who wears make-up seems alien. Despite that, I enjoyed the performance; it was fresh and different. Ledger definitely deserved his Academy Award.

I’m not too familiar with the character of Harvey Dent (Two-Face), but I do imagine that he would be like how Aaron Eckhart portrayed him; driven mad by a series of misfortunes that have fell on him. I am very glad that Eckhart’s performance was nothing like Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever.

Like I said in my review for Batman Begins, this film is very realistic, which is a good thing because if it wasn’t, it would be ridiculous. The realistic aspect makes the film more believable, but a bit of fantasy doesn’t hurt sometimes. Two-Face’s face was kind of a bridge between real and fantasy, because how he looks made me feel sick, but something like that wouldn’t really happen.

The score is pretty similar to Batman Begins, but has a lot of new additions. I loved the Joker’s theme; it really captured his psychopathic nature perfectly. I also liked how some of the action scenes have no music whatsoever, it seemed appropriate and was done very effectively.

Unlike Batman Begins, this film only has two locations; Gotham City and Hong Kong. I liked how Batman goes to Hong Kong, it shows that his jurisdiction is international and people can’t hide from him. The airial shots of skyscrapers are beautifully done; you feel like you’re actually up there with Batman.

Since Wayne Manor burnt down at the end of Batman Begins, Bruce now lives in a penthouse that I would kill to own. Seriously, I want that apartment, it is stunning. I liked how a penthouse was used, as it is incredibly reminiscent of the Batman comics produced from 1960 to the 1980s. That was a nice touch for the retro Batman fans, like my dad.

I couldn’t tell if the outdoor Gotham scenes were miniatures, a build set or the actual streets of Chicago, since it was torn up quite a lot. I found it quite odd how the city streets were empty in some scenes, since Gotham City is a major city in the USA of the DC Universe. Even in the middle of the night, there should be traffic. Hmm…

I enjoyed this film more than its predecessor, I felt that the performances were exceptionally fantastic. However, I wasn’t too fond of the love triangle thing and Christian Bale’s growl was even more silly (due to digital enhancement). I would definitely recommend this film.

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