7.22.2008

The Dark Knight - Movie Review

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The Dark Knight
*****

The latest in the Batman saga has been knighted as a masterpiece of cinema, a truly immersing experience that not only seeks to entertain, but to shine a revealing light upon the human soul. The praise is justly rewarded. I agree, The Dark Knight is simply an outstanding achievement.

There's still one question I bet you're begging me to answer...

Is it better than Cloverfield?

I don't know what to tell you. One is a troubling crime saga, the other is a thrill-ride monster movie. One asks questions about justice and fate, the other asks questions about cricket monsters that cause you to explode. It's like comparing candy to pork and beans, if I had ever heard of that comparison before listening to that Weezer song "pork and beans." The fact of the matter is, there is no comparison. One thing is for certain.

The Dark Knight is a long movie.

So prepare yourself. Whereas Cloverfield did everything I could ever want in less than two hours, this film needs a few more frames to get it's point across. A lot of frames. I didn't look at the run-time, but the Dark Knight is essentially two excellent films squeezed together, and it feels like it too. About two hours in I resigned myself to expect a cliff-hanger ending the likes of which the Pirates of the Caribbean movies couldn't fathom.

Thankfully, that didn't happen.

In fact, the Dark Knight ends perfectly, and satisfyingly well, in a way that it only could. There's tremendous build-up, tension, release, and enough adrenaline left over at the end to fuel your thirst for even more crime fighting. I'd say, in regards to the Cloverfield/Batman debate, they're equals on separate ends of the spectrum.

No doubt, there will be non-stop praise for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, but let's be brutally honest here. That's probably mostly because he died. I just said it, you know it's true. He is amazing in this film, but so is everyone. The film is as precise and fine-tuned as a bat-a-rang. Without one of these actors the emotional tones would have immediately turned deaf on our ears.

A performance I do want to talk about is that of Gary Oldman. It's rare that a comic book character is personified so perfectly, but Oldman's performance as Commissioner Gordon is so honed, controlled, and refined that I'm still sure he was the real thing.

These new Batman films, directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia), are clearly more dark and emotionally tense than any previous film adaptations. Specifically, the neon colored renditions by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin). Batman Begins and the Dark Knight have been declared as a glorious return to Batman's comic book roots. But let's be honest here, I'm sure Joel Schumacher thought the same thing when he pulled out the blindingly purple bat suits.

What the Dark Knight is, to me at least, is a return to the Batman I grew up with, Batman: The Animated Series. This might seem strange considering that the new film is at times so surreal in it's violent aftermath that I highly question taking any toddlers to go see it. But I want you to look at the animated series again. Although it was targeted to children, the series was so highly stylized, intricately structured, and simply "dark" in it's content, that I'm certain a series like it will never be produced again.

The questions the Dark Knight asks me over the course of it's epic film length are essentially the same questions I was asked when I was in kindergarten, while watching twenty minute episodes after Tiny Toons, questions that made me evaluate the concept of justice while never negotiating what is right and wrong. That's not a bad thing. That is exactly what we need, and it tears me apart knowing that shows like this, that actually build morality, have been shoved aside for shows like Dora the Explorer.

The Dark Knight is a return to the true Batman our society needs.

It's worth every cent to see.

2 comments:

Jigsaw Youth said...

i agree that it is a long movie, but to me, it didn't feel that long until we left the theater & realized it was like 3 in the morning (midnight showing). it's highly possible that there is so much hype because of heath ledger's death, but honestly. he was the BEST DAMN JOKER EVER! we were watching batman, with jack nicholson and seriously. that movie is clown shoes. i've absolutely loved the newer darker batmans, they blow the other ones outta the water for sure. uh...good review! yeah.

BEN said...

I don't really understand the love of Cloverfield, which is more like a prettied-up version of the Blair Witch Project -- even to the very end. It's got a couple more Abrams-like devices in it and some serious visual effects, but it's basically been done before. Plus, BWP haunted me for a week and it made me motion sick. What, my friend, am I missing about your beloved Cloverfield? (I can't wait to see Dark Knight.)