My armpits are sweating, my heart is pounding, I check my pulse and it’s racing. The butterflies in my stomach are generating hurricane force winds, and it feels as if I’ve been smacked upside the head with a lead pipe. What is the cause of these feelings? I just saw The Dark Knight, twenty four hours ago.
From the Viral marketing campaign, the posters and billboards, TV spots and theatrical trailers splattered all over Youtube, its been extremely difficult to not see any new material for this movie. Fortunately though I managed to go in with a clear head having only seen one full length trailer from the media barrage that The Dark Knight has become. It brings me great pleasure to say that this film completely exceeds any expectation that the hype has generated. There isn’t enough praise that I could possibly give this film that would do it justice; that and the fact that there aren’t any words in the English language that truly convey my feelings about what I’ve just seen. Some poor attempts are as follows, Epic, Unforgettable, White knuckle thrill ride, Monumental achievement.
Don’t worry, for those of you that weren’t actually able to get tickets for opening weekend, I won’t give away any spoilers on the plot. However, here are some essential details that you need to be aware of. Christian Bale reprises his role as the caped crusader on a continuing mission to defend Gotham city. With the help of Lt Gordon (Gary Oldman), Alfred (Michael Caine), Lucius (Morgan Freeman), District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckheart) and assistant DA Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gylenhal) the tide slowly seem to be turning. Enter the “Agent of Chaos” The Joker (Heath Ledger). With terror now gripping the citizens hearts because of this maniacal new menace it seems like the doom and gloom that once was, is destined to repeat itself. As you will come to find out, the good news is that Gotham can be saved, the bad news is the cost. A price so high that even Batman himself may not be willing to pay it.
With this film Director Christopher Nolan, who also gave new life to the series with Batman Begins, has created what can only be described as a genre defining masterpiece. The thrilling action scenes, including one with an eighteen wheeler you have to see to believe are unparalleled. The movie swiftly moves along with each scene more nerve racking and tense than the previous. Make no mistake, this Batman film is darker than any you’ve seen before and at the same time manages to be convincingly heartbreaking. Aside from a mysterious lack of gore, it’s a wonder how the film maintained its PG-13 rating. The Score which was co created by Academy Award Winner and musical genius Hans Zimmer and seven time nominee James Newton Howard is altogether bombastic, triumphant, eerily haunting, and undeniably essential for a movie of this magnitude. If you were looking for a “Joker theme” you’ll have to settle for a cryptic one note motif. In my personal opinion the soundtrack should be put on a twenty four hour loop and played at high decibel volume.
Although I truly can’t say enough about the visuals of the film which include about twenty scenes that were shot in IMAX, the real praise has to go the the ensemble cast. Most notably that of the late Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckheart. Ledger’s performance of the Joker is without a doubt the front runner for this year’s Oscar. He blends the psychotic madman so well with creepy and frightening reality it makes Jack Nicholsons 1989 version look like Captain Kangaroo. If that weren’t enough, he somehow manages to give the audience fantastically weird comic gems. Eckhart gives what could be considered his best performance yet with the confident and aggressively charged Harvey Dent, and his soon to be alter ego Two Face. It’s a safe bet to say Hollywood’s door is now wide open for him.
The truly remarkable aspect of The Dark Knight is that is refuses to become a “comic book” movie. From the opening scene you are pulled into a world that is more real than you would like to imagine. The danger and mayhem that the Joker brings into the city is so unsettling it brings back thoughts of a post 9/11 world. This of course begs the political question, at what cost do civilian rights become less important than a society’s desire to capture a madman.
My one and only hangup with this film is that I have to wait to see it again. Although I fully trust Nolan to direct a third sequel to this franchise. He may have set the bar to high for even himself to jump over. The size and scope of this movie is truly unattainable the first time you watch it. You just have to go in, hold on, enjoy the ride, and then hope your heart doesn’t give out so you can see it again to catch all the levels that there are to it.
I never thought I would say this as a film critic, but here goes. This is undoubtedly one of the best films you will ever see, and if this was the last movie I was ever able to watch that would be perfectly fine with me. And you can quote that!