by / July 22nd, 2008 /

Film review: The Dark Knight

Review by on July 22nd, 2008

ledger_knight.jpg

And so after the wait, the hype, the tragedy and the expectation, finally The Dark Knight is amongst us. Can it possibly live up to the anticipation and hope that, just for once this year, we’d be treated to a big summer movie that could engage with your mind as well as your desire for explosions, car chases and super heroes doing super heroic things? Of course it does.

As Christopher Nolan proved so admirably on Batman Begins he is adroit at handling dramatic elements both large and small, from the major set pieces to the characters’ own personal conflicts, the struggles that have always been at the very heart of the Batman story. With the Bruce Wayne origins already dealt with in the first movie, Nolan is free to lead off with all guns literally blazing in a spectacular opening that not only sets the tone for the film but rapidly brings The Dark Knight’s overwhelming force – both on and off screen – into play. It is impossible to talk about anything to do with the film without coming back to Heath Ledger’s role as The Joker, not just because of the sad circumstances that surrounded it but because he simply does dominate whenever he is on screen, managing to balance the need for freakish charisma with the ability to avoid self-conscious showboating. Ledger manages to walk that tightrope with barely a slip, injecting the film with not only a genuine menace but also its own sense of (dark) humour. There can be no finer tribute than to say that you don’t sit there distressing at his demise or wondering what might have been. For the two and a half hours of the film, Ledger manages to transcend everything else. No-one else can really compete, yet nor do they try. As ever, Bale’s Batman is a blank canvas, while his Wayne continues to struggle with the nature of his dual identity. Michael Caine is used sparingly but wonderfully as Alfred and Gary Oldman is superb as the world weary Jim Gordon. Yet it’s part of the film’s strength that it doesn’t feel the need to bombard us with over the top characters, instead preferring to concentrate on their own very real traits and let the big action sequences take care of the thrills.

If The Dark Knight offers little surprises it may because we expected so much – that this would be a film that would arrive with a proper story, fine performances alongside one star turn and maintain its quality until the very end. When that end gives a clear green light for a third chapter, there can be no other response but to start counting the days.

The Dark Knight trailer

  • Tycho

    “If The Dark Knight offers little surprises it may because we expected so much – that this would be a film that would arrive with a proper story, fine performances alongside one star turn and maintain its quality until the very end”

    and I considered myself a cynical person up until now ….

  • Phil

    The point there was that everyone was expecting this to be fantastic and it is. No let down but no surprise either, just a great film.

  • flynnduism

    as much as i’m looking forward to it, i’ll always prefer the original 1966 Batman movie. they had shark repelant!

  • I really enjoyed it too, and Ledger’s performance was a revelation. I’ve always thought of him as being a little bland, but in Brokeback Mountain he showed a smidge of what he was capable of. As The Joker, he was that fantastic blend of manic and comic.

    If I had a teeny tiny criticism, it would be the length (2h 35). It ran out of steam towards the end and could have had at least 20 minutes trimmed off.

  • PoCo

    [quote comment=”3964″]as much as i’m looking forward to it, i’ll always prefer the original 1966 Batman movie. they had shark repelant![/quote]
    Ha!

  • Jellyman

    DOn’t agree with all the above hyperbole about this film. Vastly overrated in my book.

    @2 – Phil. I can’t believe you think this is “a great film”; I’d love to know what other great films you are comparing this to.

    @Sinead, I totally disagree. Sure Ledger will probably win an Oscar for his *performance* (who cares?), to me he was OTT & an utter ham fest, I got bored with him after just a few scenes with him in it, sorry. His performance in this was almost as cringe-worthy as that other film you’ve mentioned. That also sent me to sleep.

    How people are hyping this up to be *great* is an absolute joke, in my opinion. Flynnduism is right. Bring back the shark repellent. At least, you’re guaranteed laughs with that.