The Dark Knight (2008) – [rate 5]
I’ve commented before on the effect of a story being told as a comic before becoming a movie. In the Dark Knight (and starting in Batman Begins (2005)) Christopher Nolan takes Batman in an entirely new direction, if you only take the previous movies as a reference. But if you like the relatively new series of Batman comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, you’ll see that Nolan is merely taking cinematic Batman on the same road as his paper counterpart.
That is not to say that he shouldn’t, in fact quite the opposite. I personally love the gritty and more true to life Batman. With Christian Bale as the younger Batman and Heath Ledger as the fiendishly insane Joker, casting was already good. But with all the other roles filled so excellently: Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Micheal Caine as Alfred, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and Gary Oldman as Gordon, this movie could only be ruined by bad plot or bad direction.
The plot is riveting, well-thought out and offers great suspense without the need for big twists or deus-ex-machina revelations. The direction is solid and never at fault, or never so much to get in the way of the movie to get noticed. Overall, the movie looks great and everyone is the character you expect them to be, thanks to decent or better acting by most of the actors. And there is no need for me to add to the chorus of praise being sung to honour Heath Ledger’s final performance.
The story may come across as a bit cliche or heavy-handed if you’re not into the whole superhero vs. evil villain thing. But it offers a great perspective on what is a recurring theme in Batman lore: the fact that superheroes need supervillains to be who they are, just as much as that works the other way around. In the Dark Knight, Batman get chances enough to send him into a serious psychological crisis, where he will be forced to wonder if he is the poison or the cure to Gotham city’s troubles.
One thing that may not go over as well with all the fans is that Gotham in the Dark Knight is clearly just New York, with major landmarks popping into view here and there. Before, Gotham used to be either anonymous or even had its own, grim style in the early Batman (1989) movies by Tim Burton. On the other hand, it adds to a sense of realism and everything else in the movie oozes Gotham, so it won’t prevent me from giving this movie 5/5. For the first time in a long time, a movie has me walking out the theatre with only one question on my mind: when will I go back to see this again?