Saturday, July 19, 2008

REVIEW: The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

Year: 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

So when it was announced that the sequel to Begins was in the works with director Christopher Nolan returning, fans were stoked. When Warner Bros. finally announced the name of the sequel to Begins, fans around the world were confused. They were angry that Batman wasn't in the title and it was the first Batman film to not have the Batman name in the title. Than came the biggest shocker of all, the casting of Heath Ledger as the Joker. Fans were frustrated as to why the producers went with Ledger instead of someone like Crispin Glover or Paul Bettany. People just didn't think the Australian actor could pull off someone as evil as the Joker. After a couple movie trailers later, people stopped complaining about everything and The Dark Knight ended up being one of the most anticipated titles of 2008.

Plot Outline:
Batman a.k.a Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Liutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman) with the help of the new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have smashed crime to the point where they are beginning to run scared. Bruce is beginning to think that soon he may be able to hang up the cape and cowl for good and reunite with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). However, the mob has one last resort up it's sleeve and it's a proposal by a criminal known only to the citizens of Gotham as the Joker (Heath Ledger). The Joker, however, has an agenda entirely of his own and soon begins to cause terror on a massed scale which has even Batman lost for ideas.

The story for The Dark Knight is simply astonishing. I raved about Christopher Nolan's directing in Begins, but I think he does an even better job here. The plot is engaging and yet exciting at the same time. The story had me interested through out the movie and it really delivered. It picks up right after Begins as we get introduced to new villains and new faces that are fun to see. The action is more intense and bigger this time around. I still love director Nolan's attention to detail and its present here too. You can see he really based the characters off the comics and stayed faithful to their comic counter parts. If I had to nitpick on certain things, Its that we don't get an origin to the Joker. Their are a few scenes where we get some background info on him, but nothing really detailed. The movies length is also what I found to be a slight problem. Now, I'm not the person who hates long movies because I think we get what our money's worth. With that said, I think The Dark Knight could have been a little shorter. The movie is about two hours and thirty mins and yet it feels like three. I think some small parts could have been cut or shortened. This is the same thing that happened with King Kong which was a great movie, but was long. These are my small nitpicks on what is still a fantastic movie.

The cast for the film is one of the best I have seen in some time. Christian Bale reprises his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne and he gives a good performance. While I still think Keaton gave the better Batman, Bale easily comes close. His character is alot more relaxed this time around and more charismatic. We have the late Heath Ledger playing as The Joker and he gives a sensational performance. Ledger is easily the star of the movie and its really sad he couldn't be here today to see his work on the big screen. Hes Joker performance easily outshines Jack Nicholson's Joker in the first Batman film. Hes more sadistic and more insane than any other Joker we have seen in the past. Aaron Eckhart plays as Two-Face/Harvey Dent and he too gives a good performance. I enjoyed him as Harvey Dent and liked him as Two-Face. He seems like a nice guy as Dent, but serious as Two-Face. Replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes is Maggie Gyllenhaal. I personally think Holmes was better and simply because I'm not a big fan of Gyllenhaal. Maybe its because I hate recasts that I didn't enjoy Gyllenhaal's work here.

The visual look of The Dark Knight is superb. Begins wasn't too dark or too light compared to the previous Batman films. Director Christopher Nolan takes a more different route this time around making the film alittle more darker which isn't a bad thing because I liked the Burton films for this. Just like with Begins, their isn't a whole lot of CGI since Nolan doesn't like them. However, their is more CGI in this film than in Begins and they all look great. Having just been released, The Dark Knight benefits from a pristine source. Their wasn't any film grain and the image looked really smooth. Colors look pretty vibrant and great for the most part. Theirs more day light scenes now compared to what was in Begins and all of these look great. Blacks are thick and very inky. Skin tones are spot on perfect and have a warm feeling to them. Detail is truly remarkable with alot of things looking very crisp. One of the best looking movies to come out this year.

The soundtrack for The Dark Knight is amazingly thunderous. Composer James Newton Howard who scored Batman Begins returns once again to score this film. He uses the same score from the last one, but makes improvements. The new score sounds more lively and thrilling. I still think this easily rivals the one Danny Elfman made for the Tim Burton versions. Howard also constructs other orchestral music that not only adds to the tension of the film, but also makes the scene better. Now the most impressive part about the films soundtrack is simply the bass. Batman Begins had a very strong bass that easily satisfied me, but The Dark Knight takes that to a whole new level. The bass was rocking the theater and its easily one of the best I have heard. The sequel contains much more action scenes that really showcase its bass. Dynamics easily hold up and are really full. It never fails and delivers punch to punch. This will be my new demo disc when it comes to DVD.

The Dark Knight is every bit as great as Batman Begins and more. Not that many sequels these days can live up to its original in terms of story and quality, but that's not the case here. Christopher Nolan has directed a film that's easily become the best Batman film to date and almost a master piece. The story is mesmerizing and exciting. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you interested until the movie is finished. The cast is great with the late Heath Ledger giving a performance that's worth an admission alone. Hes work here couldn't have been done by any actor other than him and I'm glad he went out with a bang. The visual look of the movie is marvelous with everything being as crystal clean as it could be. The soundtrack is thunderous and will definitely put your surround sound to the test. I don't have to think twice about recommending this movie. Its easily the one of the best movies to come out this year.

Grade: A-


Jaccstev said...

Love your review Farzan. In some spots i really agree with you such as with the movie duration, i also think it's quite lengthy and there maybe some little parts that should be not included on the film. The dark atmosphere of this film too, i also like it cause for a Batman film if its more dark its more good. But i have to disagree with your opinion on Maggie Gyllenhaal, cause i think she really bring a good new point of view to Rachel Dawes character, she becomes more mature and i think Maggie success to improves on Holmes' work.

Fitz said...

Great review! Agree heartily with all your points, though I personally think Bale is better than Keaton as the serious Batman. :)

Farzan said...

Your probably right about Gyllenhaal jaccstev. She was pretty good in the movie, but for some reason I still wanted Holmes to return.

Mitch Harper said...

Good review as always Farzan. I took a gander at the Soundtrack and how you described it was perfect. THUNDEROUS is definitely the vibe I got from it. Good stuff and an oustanding movie!

Andrew said...

I enjoyed your review. You put a lot of work into it, and being a first time reader to your site I like the sections (sound, etc) to give it more depth. Keep up the good work

Farzan said...

Thanks andrew, will continue to do so

Marcy said...

Great review, Farzan.

I'm not a fan of recasts, but I just love Gyllenhaal's performance. Her final scene is extremely moving and I doubt that Holmes could have pulled that off. I have no gripes about the film's duration, although I realize many do. I'm fine with the fact that the Joker has no origin story. He's just a chaotic force, tearing through the street of Gotham.

Love how you talked about the sound and picture. The movie looks fantastic. The score does magic to several of the scenes, too.

Monique Elisabeth said...

I think any film that goes over 2 hrs deserves to be knocked down a notch with a "minus". Good job!

P.S. Any excuse to replace Katie Holmes is a good excuse.