in Review

Batweek: The Knight Stuff

The Dark Knight

When The Dark Knight came to an end this morning, I had to stay sitting silently for a moment. My friends and I didn’t say anything to each other. I wasn’t that sleepy. The gargantuan line we had to summit to get in hadn’t fatigued me. I just needed to go over in my head exactly what I had just seen. More than 12 hours later, I am prepared to call The Dark Knight the absolute best Batman film ever made, as well as one of the finest I have ever seen.

The story picks up close to where Batman Begins left off, with Batman and Lt. Gordon working on bringing down organized crime in Gotham. Newcomer Defense Attorney Harvey Dent is working with Rachel to prosecute those criminals. And a psychopathic killer, called the Joker, is on the loose.

The Joker is not like any of Batman’s other opponents. He’s not after money or anything else. All he wants is to rise up to Batman’s challenge, to be the villain that can match him. His schemes are acts of diabolic genius, forcing Batman, Gordon and Dent into moral dilemmas seemingly free of “right” choices.

Heath Ledger has received a lot of hype for his work in this film, and it’s a pleasure to say he deserves all of it. He creates in this 2-and-a-half hour epic one of the most sadistic and memorable villains ever put to screen. When the next Batman comes around (and it will, this sucker is gonna make bank) the Joker will be a real problem, because no one else can play this part as well as Ledger did, and it’s hard to imagine a better villain.

But the film does not thrive on Ledger’s performance alone; the direction, writing, special effects and the cast are all top-notch. Christian Bale proved himself in the last film and remains just as strong here. Morgan Freeman and Michael Cane are as good as you would expect them to be. Newcomer Aaron Eckhart gives an extremely strong performance, and Maggie Gyllenhaal does more than fill Katie Holmes’ shoes as Rachel. Every major character gets their own moment, they all shine here.

The story and large cast of characters is compelling throughout. The action sequences are all memorable and easier to follow than in Begins. While Joker is the focus here, the other villains get more than enough screen time and development. Bale’s Batman has started to grow into the Batman of the 1980s, a fearsome man who must question whether what he is doing is right or wrong every time he puts on the mask.

In a summer of comic book super heroes, The Dark Knight stands alone. This is so much more than just a comic film; this is a genuine crime drama. The story and the themes it explores are complex and interesting. The pacing and the score keep you on the edge of your seat for almost the entire duration of the movie.

This isn’t just great super hero movie making, this is straight up fantastic movie making. I haven’t been so completely blown away by a movie since No Country for Old Men, and maybe even longer than that.

I feel proud to be able to say I saw first showing of The Dark Knight at Lincoln Square (which has the same name as the theater the film premiered at earlier this week). This is a movie people will be talking about for years to come, and absolutely cannot be missed. See this, now.