The Dark Knight

July 25, 2008 at 10:44 pm (Reviews)

 

By now I’m sure EVERYONE and his cat has either seen this film or heard waaaaay too much about it.

Tough luck. I’m about to add my opinion to the zillions flooding the internet. Because I can, and because this film is worthy.

Let me begin by stating that Batman Begins was not my favourite of the franchise. No, it took me several tries to truly appreciate it for what it was (and is): a completely fresh take on the Batman mythology. I really have always been partial to Batman Returns; maybe it’s Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, maybe it’s Michael Keaton’s last go at the role, maybe it’s the really superb compositions of Danny Elfman. Whatever the reasons, that movie has long been my favourite in the series.

All that changed last Tuesday night. With more than a little trepidation and excitement I sat down to watch Christopher Nolan’s latest offering; would it be dark enough, could Heath Ledger’s Joker live up to the hype, did I care that Rachel Dawes had been recast?

In short, yes, yes, and YES!

Not only was TDK plenty dark enough, with enough gritty realism tossed into the mix to make Mark Burnett stand up and salute, but it was, in my opinion, more of a ‘real’ film than a comic book one. This all ‘could’ happen. Gotham became as real of a city to me as Vancouver, New York, Montreal, etc. I believed in what I was watching, believed that if I went online when I got home, I could book a flight to Gotham and wander the streets, hoping for a glimpse of the world’s most famous vigilante. TDK drew me in and kept me captivated, not only for the duration of the film, but for several hours afterward. My hat’s off to Mr. Nolan; I haven’t had my imagination stirred by a movie like this in years. YEARS. 

The question of whether Heath Ledger’s performance can live up to the hype, well, that really depends on what kind of a viewer you are. Me, I’m a fan of Batman, but not rabidly so. I’m also a fan of Mr. Ledger’s work, also not rabidly so. 

This performance changed all of that for me. For the first time in my LIFE (well, okay, there was this one time when I was little and saw Poltergeist…) I was terrified of a character in a movie. I cringed away from Ledger’s Joker; I didn’t cheer him on, didn’t have a perverse desire to see the villain win. I wanted him put away, locked up, prevented from hurting ANYONE, because you’ve got to know that anyone he hurts is gonna be hurt in a bad way. Ledger nailed it, plain and simple. He made Nicholson’s Joker look like a buffoon by showing us what the Joker was meant to be. He was everything dark and frightening that made me keep the closet door closed at night and fear what might be lurking under my bed as a child. The fact that we will never, ever see what else Ledger was capable of is just another of the tragedies associated with his heartbreaking death just a few months ago. 

It will be a real shame if the undeniably brilliant work of Heath Ledger overshadows the rest of the cast. Christian Bale once again shines as Bruce Wayne; he’s just beginning to come into his own as an actor and I believe that we are in for a real treat when his incarnation of John Connor hits the theatres. 

Aaron Eckhart is a superb Harvey Dent; hardly surprising, since he’s proven himself a highly versatile actorover the years. 

Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine are, as always, flawless. If there is another movie and these three don’t return I will have a very hard time going to see it. One quick note about Gary Oldman: in all the years he has been my favourite actor (oh so many) it has never been clearer to me that this man is one of the legends of this era. It’s really lovely to see him in the role of a good guy after soooo many ‘baddies’.

The real shocker for me was Maggie Gyllenthal. I knew she was a good actress; I’ve seen some her work. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that she stands out from the crowd and isn’t yet another vapid Hollywood It Girl. None of that prepared me for the fact that she took a role that Katie Holmes DESTROYED (and not in a good way) and created a character I cared about. I wanted her to get her happy ending, I feared for her when she shared the screen with the Joker. 

She made me like Rachel Dawes! She made me incredibly happy that the role was re-cast! Maggie Gyllenthal utterly rocked my socks and I can’t wait to see what she does next. 

So, in closing, I am urging everyone I know to go see this movie. Pay the $12 and get thee to the theatre because it is THAT GOOD. 

And then call me so we can dish.

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