The Dark Knight (2008) Dir Christopher Nolan, Cert 12a
There were two big movies out at the end of July this year. One of them was Ultimate Feel Good flick ‘Mama Mia’, starring Meryl Streep in dungarees and looking far too goddamn happy. It opened to an ecstatic audience of people eager to be uplifted by its sunny disposition and girls dragged unwitting husbands and boyfriends along to enjoy its Summery and – that word again – UPLIFTING delights. Sorry, but Pierce Brosnan is clearly enjoying NOT BEING BOND just that little bit too much….
Then, just a couple of weeks later, the guys got their revenge. Because, finally, after a lot of hype and a lot of bad publicity, come The Dark Knight. And who was happy then?
Well, EVERYONE, apparently.
Let’s not quibble here. The Dark Knight – sequel to 2005’s supremely successful Batman Begins – has done INCREDIBLE business and wiped the floor with everyone from Spiderman to Titanic. Well, maybe NOT Titanic. But the newest Batman adventure, starring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger, has skyrocketed beyond all expectations.
This makes ME happy, too.
I’ve seen this twice. Firstly because, if your local cinema, like mine, completely screws up the sound mix, you’ll be doomed to flinching when you should be cheering the explosions, and straining to hear when you want to sit back and enjoy hearing the convoluted plot unfold.
Whilst Batman Begins concentrated on the slow, often introspective journey of Bruce Wayne from whiny playboy to masked icon, The Dark Knight offers more and far better delights from Batman. But it’s even smarter than that – it also delivers a gut-squeezing action movie that just happens to involve Batman, Gotham City and, finally, the Joker.
Joker’s the kind of guy who’d get hold of the cast of Mama Mia, stick a knife in a yodelling Pierce Brosnan’s mouth and demand ‘Why So Serious?’
The Joker kindly simulates how it feels to watch TDK.
And we’d cheer him on and laugh – no matter how wrong it is. The smartest thing Nolan does with The Dark Knight is getting us to laugh WITH the Joker, despite (or because of) all the terrible things he does. Believe me – there are lots of things to choose from, but a moment with a pencil and a goon are a particular standout.
Nolan’s gives us a madman inspired by Batman to carry out worse and worse things, and this forms the connection between him and Batman forevermore. Batman will never kill, and his toughest rule ensures he and Gotham will never be rid of the purple-clad nightmare with a rotten smile.
Joker (Heath Ledger) in his new, terrifying form. Giving Batman a very bad day indeed.
This should have just been the Joker’s movie – and he owns it for the most part. Then he blows up Maggie Ghyllenhaal, playing a new incarnation of Batman Begins’ Rachel Dawes.
New Dawes. Sniff. Thank you, you were wonderful.
This is annoying for two reasons. Firstly, Maggie G successfully turns Rachel-pointless-Dawes into something other than a preachy goody-two-shoes. You can finally – FINALLY see what Bruce Wayne sees in her. She’s fun, and tough, and interesting. She and Bruce even have would could LOOSELY be called – a tentative relationship – rather than it all hinging on a stapled on scene right at the end of the last film.
Joker wants the city to burn. Like this convenient Joker playing card. Burrrrrrrrrrrrrn!!!
(Cue pant-wettingly-scary laughter)
Bruce is having trouble because New Hope For Gotham City, Harvey Dent, is also rather fond of Rachel. Understandably. So, just as we LIKE her, this suddenly great character meets her end, and its even worse that it results in the creation of Two Face far too soon.
Having seen it all again, with more of the dialogue audible (always useful), it’s far clearer why they brought in Two Face at this point. Although it still doesn’t work. The Joker wants to test the best of Gotham City to prove that everyone is as sick, deep down, as he is. The Joker doesn’t want to be alone in his madness and sets Gotham burning to prove a point.
It’s all…part of the plan…
Joker faces down Bats, the start of a beautifully effed-up relationship….
What he manages to do instead is illustrate that people as a group are basically good, and Batman, a symbol, is incorruptible. But he also proves that people you place on the highest pedestals may fall the hardest. Lifting heavily from Alan Moore’s infamous Killing Joke, Joker proves that sometimes all it takes is one bad day to push a man from saint to satanic.
So it’s all set up for a great third movie, right? Right?
In the words of annoying Lex Luthor in annoying Superman Returns Movie WRRRRRRRRRRRRRONG.
Harvey Dent promptly goes on a big depressing murder spree. Eventually, he kidnaps (the now named) Commissioner Gordon’s family (we don’t see batgirl Barbara Gordon’s face, booo) and threatens them all with death. Batman is royally pissed. They fight.
Then, having wisely not dispensed with the Joker in the previous act, they go on an KILL Harvey Dent/Two Face. Which is just frickin’ ridiculous. I’m a little concerned about who will be in the NEXT sequel, as we’re now down a fantastic Joker actor (RIP, much-missed Heath), and are now minus one of Batman’s most important and iconic villains. The OTHER flipside to the Batman is gone for good, at least in this incarnation of the franchise.
However, I have a little faith that they can pull of a decent third Bale-as-Batman story with, say, the Riddler – and perhaps even throw a little Catwoman into the mix. If Halle Berry gets the slightest sniff of that script, though…it’s doooomed.
So, overall, The Dark Knight was a resounding and highly exhausting success. Coming out of this, it was the best value and the most fun you can have from a very dark thriller. Yes, it IS Dark and it would certainly be a 15-rated movie were it not ‘based on a comic book’. Ahem. Folks, they are NOT kidding about darkness. Lots of knives, death, and blood and fire – and Two Face is not the cuddly Tommy Lee Jones version, he looks realistically horrific.
Cold light of day. Bruce Wayne reflects on the tragedies in Gotham.
Bruce’s neighbours wonder when he started dressing up as Batman in his penthouse.
Do not miss this at the cinema, please – but you might want to bring earplugs or wait for the signed version if your cinema can’t figure out what to do with its BASS BUTTON *covers ears*.
However, this Burger King Commercial makes bugger-all sense and they know it.
BK, it worked for Spiderman 3, I understand you probably recycled to save the planet or something, but it’s dumb, ok? It’s stupid. Use a better ad agency. A smarter one.
Eagerly awaiting the DVD!!!!! And perhaps, perhaps, seeing this just the ONE more time before its replaced by Mama Mia 2 or something….
Oh, and there are one or two explosions. And these are just the ones from the trailer!