“The Dark Knight”
From the very opening minutes of Christopher Nolan's brilliant The Dark Knight, I quickly shed off the feeling that I was watching a “superhero” movie. If there is a movie that can truly be labeled as transcendent, it is this sequel that elevates itself to an epic crime story and a deep, heartbreaking tragedy. The genre’s emotional and philosophical capacities have been rewritten.
The 2005 Batman franchise reboot, Batman Begins chronicled the journey of
Batman himself is already drawing massive scorn from
Such a storyline could tempt the filmmakers to make the movie into an overt villain-oriented showcase, which was the crucial drawback of Jack Nicholson’s flashy version of the Joker in Tim Burton’s original Batman. The poetically written screenplay by director Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan makes sure that Ledger’s rendition occupies just the appropriate amount of space in the overall terrific ensemble and canvas. Every performance is exceedingly good from Eckhart’s Dent finding his moral rectitude progressively scarred by tragedy to Gary Oldman’s Gordon who must deal with the increasing emotional toll of remaining the sanest and most upstanding cop in the city. All of this, of course, leads back to Bruce Wayne on whose face, as portrayed by Bale, we can see the psychic trauma this new breed of crime is causing as he finds himself capable of doing things he never thought he would do.
Unavoidably, it is hard to shake off the shadow of the late Ledger, especially considering the rumors that his extremely committed effort to immerse into his character led to the deep depression that may have indirectly claimed his life. While that may philosophically bring into question the potentially severe tolls of intense, method acting, from the frightening makeup to the affected accent indicative of the wound-inflicted smile on the Joker’s face, this remarkable accomplishment Ledger has left on the screen will no doubt catapult him up to the rank of other similar legends like James Dean and Bruce Lee who tragically never fully lived out their career highlight. If, come Oscar® season next year, he becomes the first posthumous acting nominee since Massimo Troisi in 1994's Il Postino or even the first posthumous acting winner since Peter Finch in 1976's Network, it will be far from a vote of compassion.
While the story is powerfully propelled into near biblical proportions under the reins of director Christopher Nolan, the film also responds to the slight common criticism of the first film in its action choreography. Like the first film, Nolan uses special effects sparingly and only when necessary and the shooting style of his action is much more confident in resorting less to quick-cutting and letting the camera remain mostly static to capture the rousing, old-fashioned stunts and fight scenes filmed in Chicago (with a brief, thrilling detour to Hong Kong). And if you think the trailers have already revealed the big money shots like the gigantic semi being flipped over or the Batpod, rest assured the complete ingenuity of their triggers is not given away and the extended sequences in full are as pulsating as any crime picture from the golden age of the 70s or Michael Mann's Heat (which Nolan cites as a major influence).
The Dark Knight is not only an improvement over the already great Batman Begins but a most ambitious marriage of allegorical artistry and pop entertainment (and, for once, the movie’s gargantuan hype and record smashing box office results are truly wholly deserved). It also represents the peak of this decade’s continuing renaissance of superhero movies that began with the classical entertainment of the Spider-Man movies. Now, with a superhero who resides in a very real, fallen, crime-ridden world like ours, The Dark Knight expands and deepens the Batman persona to even spiritual levels to explore how a troubled hero must learn to adapt to impossible sacrifices lest he quickly succumb to pride and villainy.