DVD REVIEW: Batman: The Dark Knight

Batman: The Dark Knight
Directed by Chris Nolan
(Warner Bros.)

Buy it at Amazon!

Director Chris Nolan created a noir work of art with his most recent sequel to the ongoing Batman series, The Dark Knight, and although it will always be known as Heath Ledger’s final film, time should prove this movie is worthy regardless of the tragic hype. The eternal association with Ledger is appropriate regardless of the grievous circumstances, because it is his performance as the unpredictable, anarchist Joker that makes the film magical.

In every way, this is the Joker’s film, with his slight coy expressions and dry humor, the Joker is fun to watch regardless of the circumstances. The very natures of Batman’s character, especially Christian Bale’s very controlled and hermitical incarnation of Batman, is flat and in order for any of the films to really work the stories rely on interesting villains and good supporting roles. Batman is a bit like tofu in that alone, his character is a little too overt and plain (for a man in a bat suit), and his true character comes from those who are closest to him-namely his philosophical butler played marvelously by Michael Caine and the CEO of his company fittingly played with loads of heart by Morgan Freeman. But the Dark Knight comes alive onscreen when Batman is confronted with an equally opposing force in the maniacal Joker. The Joker with his biting wit and brilliant destructive force is much like Batman in his eccentricities and as the film progresses, it becomes clear that we are no longer dealing with the typical just hero vs. selfish villain.

The structure of the film’s storyline is solid and very skillfully written with a great sense of balance coming from the supporting roles of Gary Oldman as Lieutenant James Gordon and Aaron Eckhart as the politician Harvey Dent (later Two-Face). The underlying love story in the film also takes some unlikely turns as Batman’s love interest Rachel Dawes, played this time out by Maggie Gyllenhaal, falls for another man. The cinematography is also a standout in the film as the darkly lit streets of Gotham City add gritty character and the play between light and dark in the film acts as a symbol of the ongoing struggle. Overall it’s in its elegant and rich subtleties of character and craft where Batman: The Dark Knight truly succeeds as a modern classic and in time the film will rise to a high rank in the canon of film.

Tim Needles

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