Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight Awesome

This will probably be the most spoiler-filled piece I have ever written. If you haven't seen "The Dark Knight", then stop reading and head to straight to your local movie theater. You won't regret it, I promise you.

"The Dark Knight" is an excellent film. There, I said it.

I'm sure there are plenty of other people saying the same thing, so it doesn't surprise anyone that I'm such a big fan. It feels like as much as people believed in the promise of Batman Begins sequel, more and more anticipation circled around Heath Ledger's last performance before his drug overdose months ago. So much could be said of his performance (or the Ledger/ Nicholson debate), but I believe the greatest strength of this film is its story, and that comparisons between the two actors, while interesting, are irrelevant.

"The criminals in this town used to believe in honor and respect."

The beginning to this story seems obvious: Now that the Batman has swept the streets of Gotham City, its criminals have turned to more demented men. But the introduction of the Joker is much better in this film than the original Batman film, and it carries though the remained of the movie. This Joker is a criminal genius, as he should be. He's a foil to the Batman, a character that is so often revered as the world's greatest detective. And that's one key specific that the Burton films missed.

"This town deserves a better class of criminal."

Sure the Burton Joker was somewhat diabolical, but it didn't hit as close to home as the current incarnation. This Joker is an urban terrorist. He creates panic and pandemonium. He uses twisted social experiments (the kill Coleman Reese bit was genius) and turns people against each other. The opening bank robbery scene sets this up nicely, and throughout the remainder of the movie its evident that this is a new kind of criminal, a demented creature who can influence others to struggle with psychotic choices. Alan Moore, the author of "The Killing Joke", would be proud of this Joker, given the writer's unique input on the character's comic book renaissance.

This Joker is out to crush men's souls, and Harvey makes the ultimate victim. He's the symbol of hope Gotham needed, an elected official that's pledging to make a difference. And the Joker tears him down, pushing the former white knight to madness.

"We're what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object"

I love the way this movie also focuses on the unique relationship between Batman and the Joker, especially in the prison scene where the Joker reveals that he doesn't want to kill Batman. He enjoys toying with, instead. Poking, and prodding the Batman, all in an effort to make him break his rules. The rules Bruce set for himself in "Batman Begins" that he isn't an executioner. These are the tenets that keep Bruce in check, and keep him sane. Its the line he won't cross. And the Joker savors every second that he can get him closer and closer to breaking one of them.

"You either die the hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Besides the incredible story, and the powerful performances by all the actors in this film (and great pacing), the thing that wrapped this movie together so well is the ending. Batman is Gotham's whipping boy. He can't be a savior, he can't serve and protect. Yes, he deserves a medal, but he's still a vigilante. A man operating outside the law, and worse: the Joker's killing spree is partly a result of his actions.

The cops hunting the vigilante know as Batman makes sense, and its a much better fit than police cooperation.

I could go on and on about this one all night. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to. Its a great summer movie, and the best ten bucks you'll spend all year.

And thank god a shitty game didn't get coupled together with this movie. It would have really made me sad.

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