Monday, February 7, 2011
Movie of the Week
THE DARK KNIGHT (2009)
Starring- Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
Batman was always my favorite comic book hero, and the Joker was the best villain in the Batman rogues gallery, so I was justifiably excited when I heard about the plans for The Dark Knight. My expectations were high and I could have been disappointed, but I walked out knowing that I had just seen the best comic book movie ever made. The caliber of the acting, the strength of the story and the realism in dealing with fantastical subject matter, all contributed to making this an Oscar nominated and Conor Award winning film.
Picking up where Batman Begins leaves off, The Dark Knight shows how Gotham City is still dominated by criminals, and is actually more corrupt and dangerous than before Batman began taking on the underworld. Leading the new breed of criminals is the mysterious Joker, a sadistic, crazed killer who delights in his deadly work a little too much. Hoping to make a difference in the war on crime is Gotham's new D.A. Harvey Dent (Eckhart) and police Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), who reluctantly team up with Batman to smoke out the mob. While combating the more conventional criminals, the Joker pops up sporadically and throws monkey wrenches into the plans of Dent, Batman and Gordon. It all ends up costing the three men dearly to take the Joker down, but as Dent says "the night is always darkest before the dawn."
Director Christopher Nolan is masterful in his development of the story. The main thread is about Bruce Wayne and his struggle to be Batman while still hoping to win the love of Rachel (Maggie 'Sad Turtle' Gyllenhall) who is in love with Dent. The love triangle is only one piece of the complex story, but throughout the entire film there is the constant threat of the Joker looming over the heroes. Nolan wisely restricts the Joker's screen time and makes his appearances random, so that when the Joker does show up it is surprising, suspenseful and unnerving. It is regrettable that Heath Ledger died shortly after this movie wrapped because he gave us one of the greatest screen villains of all time, and it would have been incredible to see he and Christian Bale square off again. Oldman, Caine, Eckhart and Morgan Freeman make strong contributions in their roles and prove that even the smaller roles can have a large impact on the film. The scenes where Caine and Freeman counsel Bruce Wayne bristle with charm and needed exposition.
It is rare that a movie from this genre gets accolades like The Dark Knight did, but the way Nolan treats the subject matter with a deep respect makes the film go far beyond others of this type. It will be hard to top this effort, but with his eye for casting and ability to tell rich, moving stories, Nolan has the ability to win himself some more Conor Awards, and maybe some Oscars as well.
Things to watch for-
Anthony Michael Hall as the News guy
The Bat Pod
Scotch can be deadly
A Cameo by the Scarecrow
Good Cop/Bad Cop
The most unsettling nurse ever
"Wanna know how I got these scars?"