Science fiction and fantasy
The Dark Knight
directed by Christopher Nolan
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.
Review © Ros Jackson
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