Do Not Go Gentle Into That ‘Dark Knight’ (Part One)

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I’ve discovered I have too much to say about this one to keep it contained in a quick post. Part two to follow shortly; my seeking help soon after that, I promise.

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?

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5 Responses to “Do Not Go Gentle Into That ‘Dark Knight’ (Part One)”

  1. kishori Says:

    no one mentions this enough but i thought the score was amazing as well

  2. fanboy Says:

    See, I disagree yet again. The Dark Knight does transcend the genre as critics have claimed and especially so when put into conjunction with the prequel. While I think that Nolan has streamlined his ideas more in the second film, the project as a whole, is still, in my humble opinion, miles above others. Perhaps it takes itself more seriously in attempting to attack some of its themes, but the film, the project, taken in its entirety, is comparable to Gladiator. While I must admit that I have been listening to the score non-stop, I disagree with the above poster when they say that it was amazing. Sure, it was good, but it has a long way to go before I would say amazing. It does the job, but well short of perfect. Regardless, looking at any other aspect of the film, whether you’re talking about set pieces, color scheme, acting, editing, cinematography, or the myriad of other aspects, Batman executes in a fashion that I think is previously unseen. Take the first shot for instance. You have the overhead shot, slowly moving in to a building. You don’t know what you’re looking for yet but you expect maybe a business meeting or something in the tall, glassy building. This is probably the part where the score works best as well. You have a slow buildup and then the glass suddenly explodes. Probably quite the opposite of what you were expecting. And then without stopping, he cuts to a man standing on a corner with a mask. Again, the same buildup and the gradual camera movement. In these two opening sequences alone, the camera work already is clearly at another level- in regards to superhero movies anyway. I could go on, but this is your blog and not mine, so I will leave it here. But on one last note, there are certain limitations on a superhero movie that will never allow it to really transcend the genre. After all, it must climax the same way, there has to be that one villain and that one hero who fights, but the Dark Knight deals with it in the sense that even after this, there is still more out there as opposed to that one villain who will continue to rise again. Its a dark and gloomy prospect, but much more resonant.

  3. Haiku Review: ‘Watchmen’ « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] the most challenging movie based on a comic book produced to date. YES, The Dark Knight. Calm down; I remember it, too. That film did everything right, elevating the superhero genre to its highest ever point. It may […]

  4. “Lifting Fog to Retire” says Lifting Fog Staff « Lifting Fog Says:

    […] false deaths since May 2008 (consider them practice!) this one is definitely real. So long after ‘The Dark Knight’ premiered and Sarah Palin lost the Vice Presidency, we’re really, really calling it quits. Run-on […]

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