Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

I just returned from seeing Batman: The Dark Knight. As a long time comic book fan, and as one who got caught up in the original The Dark Knight hoopla some years ago, I attended the movie with mixed emotions, and various concerns.

The most recent episode of the Batman series directed and written in part by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, and brings back an all-star cast featuring Michael Cain, Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman among others has as an additional highlight Heath Ledger co starring as The Joker. The truth is, there has been so much hype and discussion regarding the death of the late Heath Ledger, and his terrific performance, that there may be a tendency to have expectations that are not realistic for either Ledger, and/or the film to live up to. I will make brief comment on Ledger but there is so much more to this movie, and while Ledger is certainly a huge story in regards to The Dark Knight, this movie is a film that will live on its own merit, despite the tragedy surrounding the film.

For fans of the comic series, especially those like me of the Dark Knight series, this will be a film most will absolutely adore and love. There are so many layers in The Dark Knight that one may have to see the movie several times to catch everything that is addressed and shown. While Bale and Ledger are certainly the two stars of the film, there is an ensemble cast of terrific actors to move the story along with the terrific screenplay and direction. This film is as close to perfect as anything that has been released so far this summer, from lighting to sound, and from plot to lighting. It is all there, and for a film buff like me much appreciated.

It is here that I must address some of the thoughts related to Heath Ledger in regards to this movie. I have been a fan of Ledger for some time and it is sad that this will be for many their first experience as to the quality of this young actor. I say unfortunately because unfortunately the homophobia of many and their reluctance to see him in his Oscar nominated role in Brokeback Mountain. I’ll have to be honest; I didn’t think there was any way Ledger could out do his role in that particular film. While I initially had some issues with that film, I had a tremendous amount of respect for Ledger and it is one of the only reviews I have ever done where I went back to make an additional comment on how I was wrong about that movie, and in particular Ledger’s role. While I had those concerns, I must say, while I was extremely skeptical of all of the hoopla surrounding Ledger’s role as The Joker, I was tremendously surprised at how good it actually was. While I stated that I thought Ledger would likely get a posthumous nomination for this movie, I will now say, it is hard to imagine anyone deserving it more than he. He is simply that good, and the truth is, all of the hoopla, all of the press is justified in saying the things they are saying about Ledger in his role as The Joker.

Now that the Ledger commentary is out of the way, the thing I am afraid many may look over is the terrific story we have regarding the conflict within each of us. We see the struggle of virtually every character with the battle within surrounding the decision to do either good or evil. We all have that struggle and in no character is the struggle more detailed and explored than with the character of Bruce Wayne. Others around observe the battle within Batman and Wayne, but he has to face serious difficulties before he realizes the struggles within, and the difficult decisions he has to make. While The Joker is pure evil, it is his evil that forces Batman to come to serious decisions and great sacrifices.

Throughout the film we see various characters dealing with the battle within their souls. There are several scenes where I won’t give much away, other than to say, I really appreciated the effort of the film makers to show that sometimes, those we least expect, are capable of doing good. We have stereotypes that put people, even God in a box at times, yet we see the ability of all people to do good, as well as the ability of all people to also do evil. The Dark Knight makes no excuses about it, there is the definite presentation of a constant battle between good and evil, and often times that takes place within our very souls.

The Dark Knight is a terrific film, the subject matter it deals with is worthy of thought, but while the film is close to perfect, it isn’t perfect, it is a little long and for me anyway, the last 30 minutes was rushed. We see the development of another villain in Two Face, but the development of that character just wasn’t clean enough and neither was the closure of the relationship between Gotham and The Joker. That said, this is still a superb film. It is dark, (not so much for the little kiddies) violent and hard hitting. It is also worth seeing again, and again. There are surprises along the way, and I am one who will say, all of the hoopla is right on the money.

On a scale of 1 - 10 minus the two villains of The Joker and Two-Face, I’ll give a well deserved 8.

No comments: