Christopher Nolan Throwdown: The Dark Knight (2008)

After a sabbatical of sorts, I dust off my typing fingers to present next up in the Nolanthon, the 2008 film, The Dark Knight!

Oh, The Joker debate.  Anytime there is someone other than Mark Hamill (who voiced him to perfection in the Arkham games over the past few years, on top of countless other animated films, so on) cast as The Joker, the collective comic book/movie world has a loud, typically angry opinion.  Heath Ledger being cast as The Joker had fans up in arms.  The guy from A friggin Knight’s Tale?  Brokeback Mountain?  Being a young doucher, I myself did not think much of the casting choice either.  Oh how we were wrong.  This film would prove that Ledger will probably forever be the Joker portrayal to base all future portrayals, Bale’s Batman voice could actually become less discernible, sounding like he swallowed gravel and shards of glass, and annoyingly whispery, and gave us not what we deserved, but what we needed.


Batman (Christian Bale), Detective Gordon (Gary Oldman), and newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have teamed up to try to rid Gotham of corruption and crime.  Their main target is the mob that runs the city and holds power over many of the positions of influence in the city.  Together, they are able to somewhat debilitate the mob.  Meanwhile, a criminal named The Joker starts to strategically terrorize the city of Gotham, as well as anyone who’s trying to save it.

Pros:  The Dark Knight is a masterful, taut movie for the first 2 acts of the movie.  From the opening bank heist scene, and the true intro to the Joker when he confronts the Mob (and demonstrates how he performs magic tricks), to the Harvey Dent fundraiser scene, and the Joker interrogation scene, the movie is electrifying.  The Joker chase scene is also a favorite that cannot be overlooked.  Heath Ledger is captivating and crafts a truly dangerous and scary villain in his Joker portrayal.  Gone is the campiness that was used throughout most comic book villain portrayals.  In it’s place is a man that has no regard for people, if only to prove that that is what human nature is, if driven to a certain point.  The same supporting characters from Batman Begins again give good performances.  Aaron Eckhart shows a great level of charisma and an earnestness in his noble attempts to save the whole city as District Attorney, and then turns up the malice to 11 when he becomes Two-Face.  The Two-Face/Batman encounter at the end of the film is expertly acted from everyone, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and plants a gut punch to the audience at it’s conclusion.

Cons:  In my opinion, the final act of the movie, apart from the Two-Face/Batman ending, deflates and grinds the film to an end that leave more questions than answers. The film has so much steam built up, just to fall flat on it’s face with a slightly clever, but poorly conceived sonar BS fight, the boat bomb scare that Joker rigs up, just all of it.  It feels rushed and incredibly slow at the same time.  That Batman voice though…I mean when he’s angry?  Yeah, it’s pretty damn good.  When he’s trying to talk in a normal volume?  It is…not…good.  It’s a whisper grumble that doesn’t sound like a human should try to talk like. The attempt is novel, but the execution leaves a lot to the imagination.   I think there is a slight crutch on realism in that they turn Gotham from being a different, but relatable city in Batman Begins, to being just another normal crappy city that has awful people in it, just with a masked vigilante driving a tank around.  A lot of the allure, for me at least, is a fair mixture.  I really hated the Scarecrow cameo.  It made him look weak and stupid, and added nothing to the proceeds.

Conclusion:  I’ve seen this movie countless times and have a real adoration for it overall.  That being said, it isn’t a perfect film by any stretch.  It’s beloved for a reason, and it’s because it’s a great mixture of comic book fiction and well made, well constructed, compelling film making.  As I said in my Batman Begins review, this is a better crafted movie than BB, but not my favorite of the trilogy.  I know I’m in a minority with that opinion, but I’m sticking to it!


8.5 Everyday Common Stomach Cellphone Bombs out of 10



Next up in the Throwdown: Inception!



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