I was lucky enough to grab a couple last minute tickets tonight for my wife and I to attend The Dark Knight. I reserve the right to swear on unique occasions and the only words to describe it are ‘fucking brilliant’. It’s just a downright amazing movie on all fronts. To try to compare it to other comic book movies, even those released so far this summer like Hulk and, dare I say, Ironman is just outright laughable. The Dark Knight is playing on another level that those movies never even intended on trying to ascend to. Nolan saw an opportunity to delve deep into the very heart and psyche of why comic book heroes even exist and he aims for that heart with a knife.
Probably the greatest part of the movie, aside from Heath Ledger (who I will get back to in a moment) is the use of the city of Chicago. It was as though the obscenely genius Director, Christopher Nolan examined every corner of the city and decided exactly how to use each nook and cranny for maximum support of his amazing script. It becomes not just a backdrop but almost a character unto itself. It takes on the metaphorical persona of the average urban denizen and as those citizen begin losing their minds with fear the heroes and villains are pushed and pulled by that palpable grip. It was amazing just how much the city of Chicago let Nolan and his crew get away with to generate this effect and it works to make the intensity of the film almost unbearable at times. The men sitting next to me literally moved forward and sat at the edge of their seats by the end of the film. Yes, it was indeed that good. Someone behind me involuntarily exclaimed, ‘wow’ at the close of the film.
Next in line of course is the performances. They are all brilliant and it would be hard to think of a better casted movie in recent memory. Each character is in full form bringing about their exposition with razor precision. I am sure they have the Director to thank for some of that but the cast is jam packed with brilliant actors. Top to bottom. Bale is the perfect Batman, and he is better and more comfortable in the role this time around and it shows. He understands the dichotomy of the character now in a more resolute way and the conviction and commitment to that duality is absolute. Batman is a symbol and must remain both real and symbolic in the eyes of Gotham and we are offered a much more real and complete view of that in Dark Knight. The person responsible for forcing this examination is of course the Joker. Heath Ledger takes the role of the Joker to a place no actor ever dared. From his hunched shoulders, compulsive lip-smacking and wounded animal limp he has worked out every eccentricity to create a character no one will ever forget. I could have watched two more hours of Ledger in his performance without ever even needing to blink. He was amazing. It only saddened me more that he has since passed. Hollywood lost a true prince in his death. The Joker is an ‘engine of chaos’ and Ledger created a character that was exactly that in every line of dialogue, mannerism and gesture.
The real weight of the film, at least to me and maybe I will be alone here, was the larger metaphor for how many of us find ourselves in the throes of a world gripped by wild egos with too much power and too much money. Chalk this film phenomenon up to a post 9/11 world if you must but the world was like this before and remains so today. There will always be those out there with too much who think they know best for the rest of us and this idea is at the heart of Dark Knight.
If you only go see one movie this summer. Go see the The Dark Knight.