Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)



Plot Summary: Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.

I've been looking forward to this film for a long time. Sorry I mean: really looking forward to this film, for a very long time. In retrospect I'm not entirely sure why I was captivated by the film to such an extent. Sure, I went to see Batman Begins and enjoyed it, but not amazingly. I've never been a massive fan of Batman and indeed never a fan of DC in general. However, I've always looked forward to any work by Christopher Nolan as he's a great English director. That coupled with the seemingly darker tone of the sequel and Heath Ledger's psychotic take on the The Joker got me into the geekiest hype frenzy I have ever partaken. Nevertheless, in the end, coming out of the darkened cinema in that blurry haze of bodies and lights I really wasn't all that satisfied.

That's not to say that The Dark Knight isn't a good, or rather great, film at all. The plot offers up an intriguing web of politicians, criminals, freaks and the citizens caught in-between them as Harvey Dent strives to clean up Gotham City, the local gang ring attempt to reclaim their authority and The Joker wreaks his unique blend of violent anarchy. The themes of terrorism, moral ambiguity and sacrifice which the film addresses are all interesting and relevant while never feeling too biased or patronising. As expected the audience are given a master class in acting from almost all involved all the way from Christian Bale's brilliantly conflicted Bruce Wayne to Michael Cain's ever-wise Alfred. Untimely death or no untimely death it's a fact; Heath Ledger's Joker steals the show. He's every bit as twisted and insane as I had hoped and is probably the best thing about the film.

The score by Zimmer and Howard is even better than the fine job done on Batman Begins as it continues to establish Batman's theme and introduces two more for the new lead villains. The Joker's theme literally shocked me in the cinema and combined with the highly disturbing imagery made me squirm in my seat. It was a risky choice to stick with a theme based on only two notes, especially for such a complex character, but this simple stylistic touch created an unprecedented amount of dread whenever implemented. Likewise the cinematography was impressively unique for a summer blockbuster with subtle blue filters (not to mention the slick opening sequence) reminiscent of Heat creating a truly downbeat atmosphere throughout the film. Nolan uses his camera to great effect particularly when employing a spinning pan around The Joker's head while dangling in the air and the use of some very engrossing shadow play in the interrogation scene was very impressive.

Having said this, and as pointed out earlier, this is not a perfect film as some will have you believe. Its main problem lies in pacing and editing. The Dark Knight could have easily been two films as it rushes through many different plot strands and introduces the audience to a new character almost every other minute. I found some scene changes rather abrupt and during the chase sequence the bat-pod almost seemed to have teleportation abilities as it certainly felt like a lot of the scene was left on the cutting room floor. The main offender here is the character of Two-Face with his rushed rampage and hasty demise. Don't get me wrong, Nolan has done the character proud and I enjoyed every minute he was on the screen but he could have been portrayed in a much better way if introduced in this film and then given his own sequel to develop in.

Another, more personal, problem I had with the film was its tone. The big question is, and always will be; is Batman for children or adults? With Batman Begins Nolan cleverly made a film for both audiences but The Dark Knight is a different issue. It feels like Nolan really wants to give us his 15/18 certificate version of the film, but knows he can't. Throughout the film it really felt like the atmosphere promised so much more violence, but always held back. Despite these faults the film is still well and truly a tour de force of modern filmmaking. Both quickly becoming a box office and critical darling this film will be remembered for a long time to come.

Final Verdict: 8/10

An Entroduction

Ok, so this is just a post to make a few things clear for the future and will probably be updated quite a few times.

- The release date in brackets is the release date for the UK only.
- I will not publish a review with spoilers without a warning at the start.
- Each review is to include a plot summary and poster courtesy of
- The final verdict is done on a numerical basis, with '1/10' being the worst possible rating and '10/10' being the best possible rating.
- I physically cannot view 3D films so any review of a 3D film will be of its 2D counterpart.

Thanks for reading!