The Dark Knight was certainly the movie we were most looking forward to this summer and it thankfully lived up to our expectations. This is by far the most intelligent adaptation of a comic book to the big screen. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have created a masterpiece. The movie has set the standard for the genre.
Heath Ledger as the Joker was superb. He out acted Jack Nickolson and everyone else who has ever played this role. The character was written well and brought off the comic book pages into a more real world view as a terrorist who wants fear and chaos to rule the day as opposed to humanity and reason. Even the mob fears this unpredictable character. There is no hint of silliness in this depiction of the popular villain. It is even hard to find a hint of Heath Ledger. At no point do you think of this monster as the real person or the actor. It is obvious he buried himself in the role and developed a complete character with mannerisms, voice, and walk completely belonging to this villain that is brutal, fearless, intelligent, and insane. Interesting how much "philosophic" dialogue turns up...including Joker's take on Nietszche's famous "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." For the Joker it's, "That which does not kill me makes me stranger". Good stuff. It is not sympathy or curiosity over the tragic death of Ledger that has led to Oscar buzz for him in this role. He quite simply has earned it along with the Nolans for the writing.
Aaron Eckhart did an excellent job as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. Again this role was written superbly and turned into a tragic figure of a white knight who might save Bruce Wayne from a life as a secretive, lonely vigilante. Dent unfortunately falls to the dark side as is the plan of the Joker to bring everyone down to his own level. As with Ledger, Eckhart's predecessors in this role pale in comparison.
We cannot skip the kudos for Gary Oldman who proves his versatility with every role. The beauty of his performance is that it is real and not overplayed.
Maggie Gyllenhaal did not have a huge role as Rachel Dawes but she did a fine job with it and was better than Katie Holmes in the previous installment.
Last but certainly not least we have to mention Christian Bale who plays the three roles of Bruce Wayne the Playboy, Bruce Wayne's true self and Batman. Once again the writers of this series have brought the comic book more into reality and they have done a great job of this with their version of Bruce Wayne. The way it is written makes since. He lets the public believe that Bruce Wayne is not someone at all capable of being Batman, a playboy, an inconsiderate drunk, and a lazy businessman is what he lets them see. Alfred is really the only person in his life that sees the true man. Lucious Fox gets glimpses but does not know him as well as Alfred. Batman is actually closer to his true self than the image he lets most people see. The character is a rather tragic figure who saw his family killed in front of him, cannot let himself get to close to anyone, loves a woman who he cannot have, and fights for a city who does not always understand or appreciate what he does and the sacrifices he truly makes. Batman meets his opposite in the Joker while one is bent on organizing and improving the human condition the other is set to tear everything good down and create a living environment of fear and paranoia. Batman hopes to have met his better in Harvey Dent but that is a battle over Dent's soul the Joker is destined to win. The end of this film for Bruce Wayne/Batman is that of a tragic hero.
The direction and writing of this movie were masterful. The dialog was smart. The restraint on CGI was a brilliant move that made the action much more striking than if it had been green screen. The Nolans and their crew brought out the true nature of the comic book and made a film that was an utterly believable crime drama. Ledger is not the only person involved in this movie that in our opinion deserves an Oscar nod. Christopher Nolan for direction, Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan for adapted screenplay, Wally Pfister for cinematography, and of course best picture as it is by far the best movie we have seen this year.
The Dark Knight ironically shines.
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