Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Darkest Knight

Let me start off by saying I am not a huge fan of Christopher Nolan's re-imagining of the Batman franchise, Batman Begins. Sure, it's a very well-crafted action picture, certainly better than that abomination of a film, Batman & Robin. But I much, much preferred Tim Burton's vision of Batman namely Batman and Batman Returns (especially Batman Returns). A lot of people had a problem with the liberties he took with the comic books, having not read the comics (my knowledge of Batman stems largely from television), this was never a problem for me so I really appreciated the outrageous German expressionist-inspired cinematic lunacy in his Batman movies.

In comes The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan). With this film, Christopher Nolan nearly achieves perfection in capturing the Caped Crusader on-screen. I was not quite so sure during the first hour of the film when it was largely a retread of Batman Begins. Most of the comic book superhero movies that have received rapturous praise from the critics (like the Spider-Man movies) have always left me with the feeling of "Eh, it was good but not great". First hour of The Dark Knight felt like that. As the film progressed, however, it revealed itself to be a rich, complex and quite frankly, a thrilling motion picture that achieves far more than most films of it's type has done.

Much has been said about Heath Ledger's stunning performance as the Joker. I will say that it lives up to the hype. It sort of breaks my heart that we'll never see this performance ever again. Between this and Brokeback Mountain, we have only just begun to see what he is capable of as an actor. His Joker, far more than what Jack Nicholson has achieved, is truly a frightening menace whose sole reason for existence is to wreck havoc and chaos on Gotham City. But credit must also be given to the rest of the cast especially Aaron Eckhart who also gives a superb performance as Harvey "Two-Face" Dent.

For all the hype and publicity surrounding this summer blockbuster, at it's heart, it is a pretty good piece of pop cinema.