Friday, July 18, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

BEST MOVIE EVER!!!---- Not hyperbole, this is the gut feeling from a guy who's read comics for over 30 years, and took the day off of work to see The Dark Knight today. I considered going to the midnight showing last night, but my good friend couldn't make it until this afternoon. So I waited, and he suffered, as I probably punched him 15 times , saying BEST MOVIE EVER.

There is so much perfect in this movie that I don't even know where to begin. Which is kind of the point, because the film (yes, film) is greater than the sum of it's parts, and the sum itself is phenomenal. Earlier this year I reviewed Iron Man and considered it the perfect comic book movie - this is far, far more than a comic book movie. This film deserves to go on top 100 of all time lists for as long as those lists are made. I will attempt to speak to some of the highlights, but this film hs to be seen, in a theater. I intend to see it many more times, including at least once in an IMAX theater.

The film runs over 2 and 1/2 hrs, yet not once did I feel a lag in pacing. That is almost unheard of. 152 minutes of perfectly edited film. From this point forward, the review may contain spoilers, so read carefully. I will leave out a few of the biggest surprises, but I was shocked by some of the bold and truly shocking twists and turns in the script. So now, in absolutely no particularly order, (and inspired by the Joker's anarchistic viewpoint, ).... I have gotten so excited typing this that I had to stop and call my friend and verbalized my excitement, because I can't contain it!

O.K. Back to the post - The movie opens with a flourish. No big music, just silence, and a super cool bank robbery scene that another reviewer likens to the one in Heat. We quickly meet some of the important characters, including the Joker, Jim Gordon, Batman, and District Attorney Harvey Dent. (Arguably the tragic hero of the film, played pitch perfect by Aaron Eckhart. ) The film asks very big questions throughout, questions relevant to us, the audience. At what point do the ends fail to justify the means? And when we cross that line societally, have the ends become irrelevant?

the Joker in this movie is no hammy clown. It's fashionable currently to knock Jack Nicholsons portrayal of the Joker in Batman by Tim Burton (1989) but that's not fair. American society of 2008 is far darker than in 1989. (yeah, I will only write it once, because it's been overused far too much, but the post 9/11 world is different for Americans.) Heath Ledgers Joker is an apostle of.. nothing. As Michael Caine's Alfred says to Batman at one point "Some men just want to watch the world burn" - I've read references to the Joker's character as a terrorist, but that is inaccurate. He is an anarchist using terrorist methods to achieve his goal, the erosion of civil society and the destruction of the societal hierarchy. His point, and one that does not lack relevance, is that people accept much as long as it's part of the plan. As he says, a humvee of soldiers is blown up in the middle east and we nod but one mayor gets killed and the humans begin to scurry. As he tells Batman, people like him (the Joker) aren't insane, they are merely ahead of the curve, because as soon as the expectations of society become challenged, and fear and chaos increases, the people will turn on and cannibalize each other.

Another huge theme is the idea of escalation. Once Bruce Wayne put on a suit and began pounding on the criminals, in order to inspire hope amongst the citizenry, he upped the ante, and thus a void was created. It's a basic law of physics that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that model applies to human behavior as well, so it was merely a matter of time before a yin to Batman's yang emerged - The Joker.

I don't want to write too much yet on Harvey dent, since comic readers know who he is and what's coming, but others won't, so let's save him for part II of this review. kudos to the marketing mavens for holding back on some critical pieces of the film and allowing the audience to enjoy the ride.

And what a fucking ride it is. There is a second act climax that had me squirming in my seat, legs bouncing, hand banging the broken seat next to me, as sweat ran down by bald head. (Seriously, once again not hyperbole) - This scene, launching the film towards its third act, leads to the scene that will probably (and deservedly win Ledger an oscar), the arrest of the Joker and the way he conducts himself in the jail. The scene between him and Batman, and the dialog between them, is the mental core of the film.

Oh, btw, not only was I bouncing out of my seat, I also had tears form multiple times, and had trouble breathing steadily for a long section.

Man, I gotta see this thing again this weekend, maybe Sunday with my wife. I drove her nuts when I came home, because even after 2 beers and despite the brutal temps outside, I was rambling on and on.

Beast, out for now.

1 comment:

Da Old Man said...

So, did you like the movie?
I don't think you mentioned it in your review.