"The Dark Knight" Film Review

The Dark Knight (2008) - IMDb

"The Dark Knight" Film Review

Rating: 5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    At the end of "Batman Begins", James Gordon (Gary Oldman) informs Batman (Christian Bale) of a new threat that was taking over Gotham, who leaves a Joker playing card as his calling card at the scene of the crime. Now in the sequel, "The Dark Knight", Batman must face his most dangerous foe yet in a film that exceeds expectations and will go down as one of the best superhero movies of all time. 

    Batman is now getting into the swing of things as Gotham's protector, stopping any and every villain that comes in his path. At the same time, he is also wrestling being Bruce Wayne, trying to find happiness in Gotham after the love of his life, Rachel (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, replacing Katie Holmes) is with the new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). However, it is not peaceful in Gotham. The mobs are starting to overrun everything, forcing people indoors in fear of going outside. While Gordon and Dent are cracking down on organized crime in Gotham, there is a much different foe waiting in the wings. 

    The Joker thinks he can cause mass hysteria and chaos in Gotham. You see, the Joker doesn't care about money or fame. He just wants to see the world burn, which was observed excellently by Bruce's trusted butler, Alfred (Michael Caine). Batman must now figure out how to stop this clown maniac, and try to save all of his loved ones before it is too late. 

    The Joker is played by the late Heath Ledger, who unfortunately passed away before the release of this film. Not only is this the best portrayal of the Joker we have ever seen, but this is easily one of the best performances in cinematic history. Ledger plays this dark and terrifying character to perfection, making sure everything about this character is completely original and terrifying. From the way Ledger has perfected the laugh to the little mannerisms he does (such as sticking his tongue out and licking his lips throughout the film), he proves to be the most dangerous enemy the caped crusader has ever faced, and for good reason. This is a great film in terms of story and character performances by the rest of the cast, but I truly don't know if this movie would have worked as well as it did without Ledger's fantastic performance. 

    The next best thing about this movie is its story. Nolan and David S. Goyer crafted a brilliant origin story for the famous superhero, showing his roots and how he became who he is. But with this movie, Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan really outdid themselves. They not only made a great story about a famous superhero, but also crafted a brilliant crime thriller that echoes the work of directors like David Fincher. They provide easily one of the best screenplays and stories in the superhero genre, with twists and turns sprinkled all throughout. With superhero movies, you know the superhero will succeed. You know he is going to go home to the love of his life at the end of the day and they city they protected will be safe. That is not the case here. The stakes are the highest they have ever been in a film like this, and they are able to make the film hit the viewer in the gut in a couple of instances. This is masterful storytelling, and Nolan is easily one of the best screenwriters working today. 

    The cinematography and set design are also very beautiful. Using both aspects of filmmaking, Nolan immerses the viewers into the world of Gotham like never before. He totally fleshes out Gotham and turns it into a modern city that viewers can relate to going to. It's incredibly impressive how these filmmakers were able to achieve this effect, and I do think this movie does contain some of the best cinematography and set design in any of the Batman movies. 

    Bale gives another great performance, as well as the rest of the cast. Bruce is still this haunted and demented character, which Bale does an excellent job at performing. Like I mentioned in my review for "Batman Begins", I love this idea of how Bruce is just like a normal human, and is full of rage and vengeance for the unfortunate circumstances he finds himself in. Consider the scene in this film where he goes after crime boss Maroni (Eric Roberts) after an untimely death in the film. He beats the living crap out of the henchmen, but it doesn't feel like he's beating them up to get to their boss. This is personal; you can feel all the anger and hate radiate from Bale as he performs this scene, which I think is a great feat as an actor. 

    I also really enjoy Eckhart's performance here, and I think this is due to how his character arc was written. Compared to "Batman Forever" where we know Dent is Two-Face, this movie shows his progression to madness and how he becomes the enemy he is. Eckhart seriously understands what this character is and what he must do to pull it off, because he plays this role perfectly. He hits all the emotional beats, while also starting as this charismatic and lovable character to turn into a horrific and terrifying character later on. Nolan really hit the jackpot here hiring these fantastic actors to play these complex, beautiful roles. 

    Nolan also really let the story focus on Gordon and his police force quite a bit here, which I really enjoyed. I mentioned they crafted a crime thriller within their superhero movie, and a lot of that takes place with the police department in Gotham. I really enjoyed watching Oldman throughout the movie, and I think he really embodies the character of Gordon. We didn't see much of his character in the predecessor to this movie, so I'm happy he's more heavily focused upon here. 

    I truly think this film will always be considered one of the best superhero movies ever made, and for good reason. This movie is near-perfect on every aspect, and there is so much hard work and dedication present here. Nolan will go down as one of the greats, and I'm sure he has a long list of great films he will make throughout his life. But, there is some part of me that believes this will be his magnum-opus, and everyone involved should be extremely proud over how fantastic this film truly is.