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The Dark Knight

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

As much as I was anticipating this follow-up to Chris Nolan's Batman Begins, I was also prepared to be disappointed due to the enormous amount of hype surrounding the film, especially the seeming consensus that we shouldn't wait but just go ahead and give Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar. We'll never know if his performance would have received as much praise if it were not for his untimely death. Genre films are notoriously neglected by award-givers, both Oscars and Emmys, so it is possible he wouldn't have received this recognition if he were still around.

But he deserves it.

I won't go so far as to say his is the best part of the film, because in truth it has many positive attributes, including the acting performances by several others, most notably Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart and Gary Oldman. Adequate support is given by Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, but like Maggie Gyllenhaal (making a very rare appearance outside of the independent scene), they are given very little to do. Villians are generally the juicier roles however, and Ledger takes advantage of that. He makes The Joker his own, bringing to the role a unique take on the character, embuing him with just the right balance of menace and whimsy. His will be the one to top if the character ever reappears in future productions. Jack Nicholson will not be on anyone else's mind after this one.

But the true star is Nolan, not only as director but co-writer with his brother Jonathan. He is to be congratulated for bringing the superhero genre down to earth in a totally realistic and believable environment. Gone are the gothic sets of the Burton films, and most definitely the campy acting from the original television series and the flops from Joel Shumacher.

I can't say too much about the story because I don't want to spoil anything, but I also don't want to give the impression it is a perfect film so I'll close with just a couple of complaints. The first is technical; there were several scenes where the soundtrack and/or sound effects drowned out some dialog, and in a movie where character development and motivation is just as crucial as action that was a detriment. Secondly, there is actually too much plot, this could have easily been at least two separate movies, if not three. It is longer than average, about two and a half hours, and there will be several times you will think it is nearly over, only to be hit with another twist.

I look forward to other stories from this production team, and if they keep to the theme that this one ends on, the next could conceivably be titled The Dark Night, for there is little joy in Gotham even though the Joker has been caught.

 

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Director
Christopher Nolan

Screenplay
Christopher Nolan
Jonathan Nolan

Released
July 18, 2008

Cast
Christian Bale
Heath Ledger
Aaron Echart
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Gary Oldman
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman

Full Credits at IMDb

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray