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The Dark Knight

directed by Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight poster  
For many people it's always going to be difficult to separate feelings about The Dark Knight from feelings about Heath Ledger's untimely death. Before the first frame even runs this is a movie charged with emotion and the weight of expectation.

From his first explosive scene, it's clear that the Joker is a character who cares about more than mere money. Ledger portrays a dark character whose motives are hard to fathom, far more of a psychopath than a comedian.

The Dark Knight somehow managed to get a 12A rating, even though a 15 or higher would be more appropriate, thanks to the levels of violence and the disturbing intensity of some of the scenes. Bruce Wayne may have most of the Gotham City mob behind bars, but those who are still at large want to pay him back. They turn reluctantly to the Joker. However the Joker is nothing if not messy, and not merely because of his hair. He's a true wildcard who causes a lot of collateral damage, and he's on no-one's side but his own. He likes to engineer situations in which Batman has to decide who to save, just for the gleeful badness of it all. Ledger's Joker is more fervently insane and unpredictable than ever, and he tells his own story in so many different ways that he might as well have forgotten the truth.

Harvey Dent is the new attorney general, responsible for putting away a lot of criminals and in some ways as much of a figurehead as Batman is. But can Bruce Wayne trust him? There's lots of speculation about the kind of hero Gotham City needs, whether or not he should be a public figure, and the limits of vigilante power.

Although this movie has a solid storyline, it's on the gadgets and action that it really goes to town. The batsuit and batcave equipment are brought right up to date, and the batmobile manages a chunky stylishness that makes its outlandish stunts all the more believable. There's plenty of compelling action, swinging from tall buildings, and so on.The effects behind Two-Face are pretty scary, but ultimately they seem to hit the "uncanny valley", so nearly real but just a little too short of believable.

With a villain like the Joker it's always going to be a challenge to avoid making a movie that's too cartoonish. Yet in The Dark Knight there's a subdued romance going on amidst a plot that's full of surprise and intelligence. Add in some top-notch acting and this makes for a film with all of the gloss of a big-budget production, yet in spite of that it manages to retain a lot of substance, finishing on a high point that will be hard for the next Batman film to top.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Christopher Nolan


Tad Marcovich     8th January, 2009 14:58pm

Forewarned of Ledger's sinister over the top take over of the whole movie I was alarmed to find Batman was almost a mere cameo role and Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne a rather insipid two dimensional side story. Whether Bruce Wayne wanted to hand over the City back to its elected officials or not it became apparent that Harvey Dent was not incorruptible at a price. The comic book was still there - Hollywood still portraying Joe Public as barely worth the effort - they deserve the government they vote for - and the Joker was supernaturally capable without any of the resources BW/BM have to hand. Maybe Ledger's powerful portrayal of villainy was enhanced by the rather cynical and apathetic 'good' side. If Batman can summon the resources to snatch a guy from a skyscraper in Hong Kong he should not have been so powerless against this Gotham adversary. The two ferries were a bore.