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Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) Starring Christian Bale

Sunday, 22 July 2012

So, it's Saturday night and the wife is out with friends I decide to go and do what I promised on Friday, watch The Dark Knight, the 2008 and second instalment of the Batman franchise to star British actor Christian Bale. Given the hype that the new Dark Knight Rises has created and the hype which this one received I figured it was about time I treat myself to this movie delight. Is that what I got? Yes, in parts this was a very good movie, more so when The Joker (Heath Ledger) was on the screen, easy to see why he won an Oscar following this performance. The Dark Knight was very much the action packed blockbuster I was expecting.

Satrring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine

The Plot

Batman, Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart) have taken a major step towards eradicating crime on the streets of Gotham City. Now, they are after the city's big Mob bosses who are laundering money with the help of corrupt banks and Chinese businessman Lau (Chin Han). The Mob don't know what to do and seemingly have no way to fight back against the relentless efforts of the authorities until a new criminal mastermind and ruthless lunatic known as The Joker comes along and vows to kill Batman and give Gotham City the real criminal it deserves, a one who isn't driven by money.

The Verdict

Brilliant Directing, brilliant producing, brilliant CGI, brilliant story, brilliant writing and to top it all brilliant acting from all involved including a surprising turn from Aaron Eckhart, the usual chick flick leading romance man. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have to be two of the hottest properties in Hollywood right now, everything they do or even touch seems to turn to gold and the writing that they produce and their direction given in movies really seems to bring the best out of actors who maybe wouldn't normally look quite as good. That's not taking anything away from anyone in this movie they were all brilliant and proven over time but in The Dark Knight they manage to step it up a major level. I thought that 2005's Batman Begins was good, turns out that merely scratched the surface because this is comic book film making at it's very best.

I loved the story in this movie, not your normal good guy v bad guy for me, although it was ultimately Batman v The Joker, The Dark Knight was given another dimension thanks to the inclusion of the Mob bosses and their money laundering scheme. Having not read a comic book before I'm not sure that's true to originals or not but in this movie that really worked for me. Normally in movies Mob bosses are depicted as the people to be frightened of but here they merely play in the shadows to the insane and phsychopatihc Joker. As far as movie villains go Heath Ledger's Joker will go down in history as one of the best.

Christian Bale also makes another lasting impression as the Caped Crusader, plenty has been said about the most recent Dark Knight Rises and how Tom Hardy's voice had to be toned down thanks to the device over his face, in this instalment of the movie Bale manages to gruff his up all on his own. I'm a real big fan of Christian Bale, more so in movies than real life having seen him interviewed a couple of times I find him a little arrogant. It's probably a strange comparison to make but Bruce Wayne is very much like Bale in real life, at least what we see of him, whilst Batman seems to be the opposite. Wayne is spurred on in this movie by his love for Rachael Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who replaced Katie Holmes in this movie, I didn't have a problem with her in Batman Begins but in all honesty I wouldn't say I payed enough attention to notice that she had been replaced, maybe it's just that long since I seen the other one.

It's unsurprising that The Dark Knight won so many awards most notable of all were all the best supporting actor ones awarded posthumously to Heath Ledger, included amongst those awards was the Oscar that he won. The Joker, a genuinely terrifying villain who you believe will actually carry out the acts which he has threatened, that's not normally the case in movies, the good guys tend to get their first however in The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan constantly has you on the edge of your seat "is he really going to rip this guys mouth open?", and yeah he does, violence, explosions, shooting and martial arts really are at a premium here.

My favourite parts of the movie were by far and away the scenes which included The Joker, Heath Ledger owned that screen even over and above Christian Bale. I loved the scene where Eric Roberts was heading up the Falcone crime family meeting about "The Joker" who is stealing all their money, just then The Joker casually strolls in and is threatened with the usual, he takes out a pencil and says "first, a magic trick" before smashing one of the mob enforcers heads into the table and impaling their eye with the pencil, now that's a sure fied way to make people know you mean business. I also loved the hospital scene with The Joker, just after Harvey Dent has been turned into Two Face, this is one scene which really displays just how crazy of a villain The Joker is.

To cap it off I really loved this movie, everything about it was brilliant, I gave myself a bit of a "wow" when I saw on IMDB that The Dark Knight has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, I got an even bigger "wow" when I learned that its only the 12th highest grossing movie of all time. If I had a complaint then it would be that at almost three hours long it's a bit of a stretch, so make sure you start watching early enough. Second to that the sound, it is really brilliant but in the action scenes I found myself turning it down whilst when their was acting dialogue going on you had to have it pretty loud, but maybe that's just my speakers. A brilliant effort all round I would say.

The Music

It really shouldn't be surprising that the music score in The Dark Knight is brilliant, that is pretty much a running theme through all of Christopher Nolan's movies including the masterful Inception. In The Dark Knight the score is once again provided by Hans Zimmer and boy does it add to the suspense on offer.

Would I watch it again?

Not for a while, If I watch movies again it tends to be on TV and even then it's a movie that I can put on and not have to think vigorously about, at two hours thirty minutes to just stick on The Dark Knight might be a bit of a stretch, but ultimately I would watch this again.

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