Holy shit, dude. If you’ve been anywhere near a newspaper, television, computer (…), or, well, movie theater these past five days you’ll no doubt have discovered that The Dark Knight, the latest entry in the Batman series, kicks astonishing amounts of ass. Delivering fully on the last lines of its predecessor, Knight presents a Gotham teetering on the edge of chaos and dependent on a group of flawed crusaders – one caped, the others in suit and tie – to somehow keep the balance. Gotham is Rome. It’s Baltimore. It’s fucking Sodom. Christopher Nolan keeps us invested not only in Batman’s plight, but also that of Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, the police department, the mayor’s office, Wayne Enterprises. In many ways the film is less a portrait of the titular character than of the city he’s trying to save; it’s The Wire with a psychopathic clown.
The acting? Rock solid. Everyone involved – from Christian Bale to Aaron Eckhart to Gary Oldman to Michael Caine – plays their part with amazing believability. Even monkey-faced Maggie Gyllenhaal manages some good moments, a major step-up from the former Rachel Dawes, Katie Holmes. Then there’s Heath Ledger. Jesus Christ, what a performance. Drawing from classic Batman stories like “The Killing Joke” and “The Dark Knight Returns”, Ledger creates a truly terrifying villain. He slices victims’ faces. He releases terrorist videos. He makes a pencil disappear in a guy’s face (painful to watch). He makes Jack Nicholson look like Tommy Pickles. His Joker is chaos incarnate, motivated only by his desire to “see the world burn.” He acts from an almost otherworldly place, and the audience is left wondering whether to laugh or cringe. I did both more than a few times.
Further elaboration would be pointless considering most of you have a) seen it already or b) bought tickets to see it this week, so I’ll leave my review as is. I love this movie. And not for its technical or cinematic merit (although there’s no denying this is a polished flick). No, I’m in bed with this one for the sheer fact that it’s just immensely enjoyable, a fun (albeit generally depressing) summer movie that does everything right. It doesn’t “transcend” anything – whether its genre or film in general – the way some hyperbolic reviewers are claiming it does, nor does it completely succeed with the ambitious themes it explores. Sorry, guys, it isn’t The Godfather. It is DAMN GOOD, though, and all I’ve been able to think about (well, this and Shark Week) since early Friday morning. Even with my leading a relatively dull life at the moment, that should say a lot.
… Also, isn’t that the sweetest poster ever?