For years, Batman has been enclosed into a shell of kid's comic book heroism, and despite trying to brake out a few times (take Tim Burton's ventures for example) he has never really succeeded. It was in 2005 when Christopher Nolan [Director] brought Batman one hole of a step closer to braking out of said shell. I say 'one step closer' because, watching Batman Begins, the vibe throughout the film is style slightly comic book. So how do finally get Batman entirely out of the shell? Well, you make a Batman film, which is darker, grittier, faster and hasn't even got Batman in the title. For all we know, it's not even a Batman film; it's just a film about a rich assassin kicking who brings people to justice. But what I just said there is offensive; The Dark Knight is way more than that. It's the kind of film that if you showed it to Adam West and Cesar Romeo, they would be terrified!
Calling this film a sequel is an insult, as this film can stand on way more than two feet. Like the Joker states in the film, Nolan got our White Knight, and brought him down to our level (or maybe a bit lower). The film is a lot more believable than other Batman films, probably down to the simplicity of the plot. Although it may come across complex while watching the film, standing back and looking at it, the plot is basically a sadistic clown going on a mass homicide spree. Nolan has made simple changes to make the film more relatable. In the older Batman, the joker gained his unique face from falling into a barrel of acid. In this one, the joker is just wearing make up and has some scars. A simple but effective change, as we all know that if you dip your head into a barrel of sulphuric acid, you would not turn out looking like a clown.
The film has some amazing actors and acting in it (excluding the boy in the last scene who despite just having a gun to his head held by a guy who has half of his face burnt off, still seems to be completely un-phased by the whole thing, as he squeaks out 'dad, is he ok dad'). It features the likes of Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Canine and Christian Bale. But the most acting credit must go to Heath Ledger, who almost dwarfs out every other actor. It's a shame that this role was his brake through, but he died just a few months after the films release. What I find annoying though is when people who have never read the comics, completely stamp on Jack Nicholson [Batman, 1989] and Mark Hamill [The Animated Series]. They played their roles perfectly, just as the comic's the Joker. Ledger was not trying to recreate a better version of the comic book Joker, but to create his own fresh new joker style that no one had done before.
The cinematography in the film is excellent; Nolan really knew what he was going for when creating the dark gritty vide he wanted. In fact, according to the set designers, there is not a single circle in the whole film (so keep your eyes peeled when watching!). He used things like the colour scheme (which was mainly black, white, dark blue) and the tint on the camera (dark blue), as a pose to the brown tint of his previous film.. Everything adds up perfectly to create the atmosphere of the film.
The verdict? Well, this film is bold, brave and brilliant in many ways. Throughout the film you will be getting closer to the edge of your seat, and at the end of the film you will find your self-face down on the floor licking the carpet. I have watched The Dark Knight many times now and it still manages to amaze me. Nolan raised the bar high with Batman begins, and he just raised it even higher with The Dark Knight. How The Dark Knight Rises  will out do The Dark Knight I don't know. But knowing Christopher Nolan, I' sure we can take his word for it.
Christopher Nolan (director/writer) has certainly outdone himself this time. I believe The Dark Knight holds the equivalent in Christopher Nolan's heart as Michelangelo would hold the Sistine Chapel in his, it's simply a masterpiece. Looking back at Nolan's previous films, most of them, including Batman Begins, turned out to be mediocre or above average at best, this is because they all lack the finesse and quality that The Dark Knight delivers with ease. Nolan takes all the basics in film making and turns them inside out and spits them back out to make pleasurable viewing for the public eye. By this I mean he makes all the most difficult things to achieve in the film-making industry look easy. Especially since this masterpiece that was dubbed for awards by well renowned film critics is a movie about a multi-billionaire playboy who likes to dress up as a bat. Looking at the film in an overall perspective Nolan takes a different approach on how to introduce a Batman movie. The film is based around the psychology of the villain The Joker (Heath Ledger) as well as Batman (Christian Bale), which is totally unique compared to taking a simple and basic approach around the life Bruce Wayne/Batman with a slight insight of what the villain is plotting to unleash on Gotham, which is usually obtained in brief encounters throughout the film. The morals and decisions throughout the film lead up to breathtaking climax whilst leaving you on the edge of your seat. The idea that there is something else, something more fearful than Batman lurking the streets of Gotham that has no morals of right or wrong gives the impression that The Jokers character is actually a scary individual you wouldn't want to bump into on the street. Batman himself does have morals, trying to protect the innocent and install hope among those in Gotham to prevent the city falling into the hands of a mad man therefore having to do the right thing by abiding in some respect the law itself therefore making Joker the more feared throughout the film. Although Nolan's version of the Joker seems psychotic, he's intelligent and manipulative and likes to test the boundaries of a system that he believes is there to manipulate the people in Gotham. The Joker is played by the late Heath Ledger and is portrayed in a new light from his previous outing under the helm of legend Jack Nicholson, this time taking on a darker, gritty and terrifying role. Heath Ledger deserves a lot of the credit for the high praise the film received. He seems dedicated to the role and delivers a first class performance any director would praise, yet it is still Nolan's script that brings Heaths character to life. Quotes of "Why so Serious?!" are now up there with the best movie quotes of all time. The other cast, Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Christian Bale, Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) all deliver what you would expect from Hollywood's A-list, providing only more depth to how Nolan wishes the characters to be portrayed by the world. Newcomer Aaron Eckhart plays a fantastic role as Harvey Dent and has the love interest of Rachel Dawes who is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes to provide the love triangle in the movie. The cast is a fantastic line up for any movie yet its Nolan's story that deserves the final applause providing The Dark Knight with the final piece of Nolan's highly acclaimed puzzle. The story is backbone of the film, even without the great storyline I am sure The Dark Knight would still have gained praise with the cast it had at its disposal, but Christopher Nolan has not done himself any favours by making one of the most sought after movies of 2008. Surely he must be having nightmares about how to even begin a sequel to what can only be dubbed as perfect representation to a superhero film.... FINALLY!
Never having seen any of the other cinematic Batman offerings (I can sense your shocked expressions), I can't honestly confess to being desperate to see this one. However, albeit long after all the hype, I settled down to watch 'The Dark Knight'. Maybe it was because of my previous appreciation for the work of the late Heath Ledger. Maybe it was just because I had nothing else to do and my family were going to watch it. Whatever the reason, I am very glad that the decision was made.
Satisfaction came in waves throughout the film and not just in a few parts spread over the 152 minutes of viewing time but regularly. I mention the viewing time, as it is certainly more than the average mainstream movie but this mattered not. The action, tension and excitement was held throughout and, even though I did notice its length during the film, it was not out of exasperation. I was more than happy for it to go on and on. The twists and revelations constantly refreshing my interest in what was going on and what was going to happen.
As for the performances by the chosen set of quality actors, they cannot be faulted. Enough has been said by others about Heath Ledger as The Joker and all the positivity is absolutely correct. However, due to the tragic circumstances surrounding its release, many of the other performances may well have been overlooked somewhat and this is a major injustice. Bale, Eckhart, Gyllenhaal, Caine and Freeman - all outstanding in their respective roles. Maybe others could have done the parts as well but I certainly wouldn't risk substituting any of them. And as for Gary Oldman, once again he far from disappoints. He seems to have become an untouchable and cannot make a bad move.
All in all, whether you like the various other Batman films or not, this is a must-see. It requires nothing from you by way of prior knowledge (so you don't have to have seen even 'Batman Begins') but oh, does it demand your attention?
The answer is an unequivocal "yes".
Definately the best film of 2008 by a MILE the performances by Bale and now the much missed Heath Ledger are well known but its not till you have watched this film 2 or 3 times that you really appreciate the power of Ledgers performance from start to finish and how domineering he is in the film. Its his film, no-one else really gets a look in. This truly is a superb follow on from Batman begins which was a brilliant way back from the dire batman films of old, now we truly do have a reason to go to a Batman film as an adult and be able to talk about it.
Not only is the acting first rate but the script, lighting, cinematography and every other aspect of the film. A true work of art by all concerned that does work as well at home because its the performaces that make this film what it is.... BRILLIANT!!!!!
ADD IT TO YOUR COLLECTION
I remember leaving the cinema thinking 'that was absolutely brilliant!'...but then as I was heading to the train, I began to think about all the brilliant bits of the film and Heath Ledger kept popping up every time.
I wasn't particularly a fan of Ledger before Dark Knight and other than a compelling turn in Brokeback Mountain, I couldnt really recommend any of his other films to you.
There's no denying that the premature demise of Ledger gives watching Dark Knight an eerie quality, knowing as you do that this 'is it', there can be no more.
There's plenty of bandwagon-jumping going on right now - give him an Oscar!! Y'know, because he's dead and all that..(sigh)..I just say 'praise him to high heaven' (no pun intended) - because this is the most compelling turn I have seen from any actor/actress in a long time.
People like Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper and, yes, Jeff Goldblum (sorry, personal choice!) have always had the ability to command your attention, no matter what the quality of the film they are in. Here, Ledger does even more than that - he is mesmeric, captivating, compelling, addictive and just plain wonderful to behold.
You literally cannot take your eyes off him.
It's worth seeing the film just to see exactly what this man was capable of - something we sadly wont get chance to experience again.
But now think about the rest of the film, y'know, all the bits without Ledger in them. When I thought about these periods of the film, I found myself totally uninspired. Whether this was an after effect of the 'Ledger-effect', I cant say and maybe I'm being a little harsh. I cant help but feel that this is an average film raised to the heights of excellence whenever Ledger's Joker graces the screen.
Judge for yourselves, either way I hope you enjoy.
The Batman is Palestinian. For our Dark Knight re-enacts three historical stages in that old, but consistently vicious, conflict between Monotheism & Zionism for control of the Holy Land: he's an Al Quds (Jerusalem) security officer circa 1919-1929, an 'Intifada' member circa 1936-46, and finally, the caped crusader turns figurative suicide bomber circa 1994-04 (in the sense that he must sacrifice one persona to be an effective force of resistance & change). For Batman faces the purest Platonic moral dilemma as challenged by Sartre in a phenomenological sense (i.e. emotions faced by an agent and the moral residue of an action) hence his retaliatory campaign against tyranny, though saddled with experiential components of regret & remorse (and not just for his own people or circumstances) is an ontological moral dilemma; which, in its proposed resolution, leans more towards Plato than Sartre. And yet its 'Sophie's Choice' at every turn; as neither outcome alleviates the agent's immediate predicament, hence his actions are judged by varying moral codes: with some lauding his decisions as selfless, visionary acts of theophilanthropic heroism, and others condemning them as senseless, and ultimately counterproductive, deeds of terror. 'The Dark Knight' is to moral dilemmas, what bread is to butter: Welcome to Gotham City. Christopher Nolan's long awaited, over hyped sequel to his excellent franchise reboot 'Batman Begins' (2003), sees our hero (Christian Bale on fine form) trying to legitimise The Batman's crime fighting legacy through clean DA Harvey Dent (an ever reliable Aaron Eckhart in a role not dissimilar to his Lee Blanchard character from 'The Black Dahlia'). Meanwhile, The Joker (the late Heath Ledger, in what's sure to become an iconic performance) whose arrival was bought to our attention by Lt. Jim Gordon (an older, wiser Gary Oldman) at the end of 'Batman Begins', has intensified his criminal activities in spite of Batman having dismantled most of the mob (see 'Batman: Gotham Knight' anime for details). Now in much the same way as 'The British Empire', on the verge of defeat in Palestine, turned to sadistic, anti-Semitic, Zionist murderers like Greenbaum, Ben Gorion, Shamir, Begun, Stern and others to do their bidding, so too does Gotham's beleaguered mafia class bring in The Joker. Not simply to kill Batman, but to kill the ideals he represents hence negating the validity of his existence. But Gotham's organised crime network, like the empire, don't seem to know the ball from the bounce; for The Joker, like his Zionist counterparts, is an unstable master terrorist with delusions of grandeur; who makes his brand of evil perversely attractive in its bullish clarity. Not only as a means of expression for the criminal elite, but for also for those who would choose to live beneath the wings of dragons, albeit in perpetual fear of being burned alive by the very creature under which they seek refuge. 'The Dark Knight's' portrayal of Batman-as-magnetised-catalyst-for-chaos, is a theory first put forward by young super-villain Anarchy in the 'Knightfall' series, but like The Joker's ever changing origins, its' not necessarily true. For "Gotham", he rasps, "deserves a better class of criminal" and Gotham is, to The Joker, a land without a villain for a villain without a land; his anarchic rationale correlating with the MO explained by Ra's al Ghul in 'Batman Begins'. 'The Dark Knight' is the best summer blockbuster of 2008; with stellar performances from an all-star cast, an entertaining, well-paced script by the director's brother Jonathan Nolan and some truly spectacular mis-en-scene from Christopher, who keeps his record in tact. And yet 'The Dark Knight' doesn't eclipse all that came before it, for this sequel is barely on a par with its predecessor, which also had its flaws: Here, we didn't need to know about Alfred's past in Burma; for that story essentially constitutes the admission of a war crime and unintentionally sours part of the character's dynamic with Bruce. Nolan's depiction of Harvey 'Two Face' Dent also proves a tad awkward; as by the time they've built him up, its time to knock him down, Cillian Murphy is wasted in a pointless cameo whilst the romantic subplot with Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes in 'Batman Begins' now replaced by Maggie Gyllenhal) was contrived and unnecessary. In fact, were it up to me, I would've replaced her character with Arkham psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel a.k.a. Harley Quinn (Hilary Swank would've been ideal). That said, Christian Bale comfortably returns to his role and is as convincing a Bruce Wayne as Val Kilmer, whereas his incarnation of The Batman is, in the immortal words of Tina Turner: simply the best. Aaron Eckhart brings his suave but everyman quality to a difficult role, I liked the fact that Gary Oldman gets a lot of screen time as its been a while since we've seen him in a decent movie whilst the battle of wills & ethical mores between Bruce Wayne and inventor Lucius Fox (an excellent Morgan Freeman) on the morality of using a sonar spy device provides some food for thought. Look out for a few famous faces in key supporting roles as Michael Jai White plays a Gotham gangster, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister of 'Fifth Element' fame makes a memorable appearance as one of the prisoners on that ferry whilst Nolan pays homage to 'Heat' with an impressive bank robbery scene, and makes his allusion all the more apparent by casting William Fincher as a shotgun wielding, have-a-go-hero. 'The Dark Knight' isn't the most action packed superhero movie ever made (that'd be 'Spiderman 2') nor is it the best written (that'd be 'V: For Vendetta') or even the darkest for that matter (that'd be 'The Crow') but there's an air of abductive reasoning to it all; in that the film can be anything and everything depending on how one chooses to see it. 'The Dark Knight' is not 'The Beshalach', 'Burn!' or Dostoevsky and you won't find the meaning of life on the streets of Gotham City, though I imagine you'll be entertained for a couple of hours in a movie theatre. Lets hope Nolan, whose not a DVD whore to the best of my knowledge, doesn't do a Ridley Scott and faff about with multiple editions: just give us the director's cut please and, perhaps, a 'Joker' special edition if you really must. For the cuts made to secure its 12A theatrical release are so annoyingly obvious, you may as well stick a pack of band-aids on screen. And so, inevitably, we turn to Heath Ledger; whose sudden and tragic death from an accidental overdose aged just 28, shocked the world in much the same way as Brandon Lee's untimely demise gave his starring role in 'The Crow' (1994) a coat of hyper-real, coincidental irony. Heath Ledger puts in an admirably complex and memorable performance in his last role, though its not as much of a revelation as some people claim, after all, think back to how Heath's acting abilities were improving with each film: from 'Ned Kelly' to 'Candy' to 'Brokeback Mountain', we were witnessing an actor studiously hone his craft to create increasingly believable characters on screen. Ledger's Joker is part James Cagney in 'White Heat'(1949), part Daniel Day Lewis in 'Gangs Of New York' (2002) and even manages to channel Conrad Veidt in 'The Man Who Laughs' (1928), the only difference being that Raoul Walsh afforded Cody Jarrett the whole picture to run amok, here, we have a clearly defined narrative structure that no studio would allow any director to steer too far away from. And what's Ledger's secret I hear no one ask? It's the voice. The way he drops it an octave when the Joker's menacing his victims, elevates his character from thuggish madman to dangerous criminal sociopath or "agent of chaos", though if truth be told; The Joker is a social Darwinist of the highest order, prevaricator of bacchanalian idolatry through enforced secularism and Nihilistic propositions...he's also a guy in a nurse's uniform who blows stuff up. Captivating? Yes, terrifying? No, for once you've braved the Southern badlands with Rob Zombie's 'Devil's Rejects', somehow everything else just pales in comparison. Nonetheless, it's a fine performance and Heath will be sadly missed, not only for his absence from future 'Batman' films, but because he shows us the promise of how committed, intense and great an actor he would've been. Relentlessly bleak, with all the joie de vive of a Morrissey album, 'The Dark Knight' almost makes you long for the days when all it took to shoot a Batman movie were a few innuendoes and Uma Thurman parading around in a lime green PVC catsuit...almost. Somebody fix that Bat Signal, for the story's just begun.
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Director Christopher Nolan's sequel to his own 'Batman Begins' sees Gotham's avenging angel squaring-up to a new kid on the block - psychotic prankster, the Joker (Heath Ledger, in the role that won him a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). In the space of a year, Batman (Christian Bale), aided by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), has managed to rid Gotham's streets of the organised crime gangs that once ravaged the city. Things seem to be looking up, although on the personal front, Bruce Wayne discovers he has a rival in his affections for main squeeze Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the shape of the new D.A., who, as a political climber, likes to keep his cards close to his chest. But just when the authorities think they're finally making progress in their fight against crime, the appearance on the streets of a sinister new figure, with a demented grin and a passion for chaos, causes panic among the good people of Gotham, and leads to a battle of wits between Batman and the Joker which threatens to get extremely personal.
Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Director Christopher Nolan's sequel to his own 'Batman Begins' sees Gotham's avenging angel squaring-up to a new kid on the block - psychotic prankster, the Joker (Heath Ledger, in the role that won him a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor). In the space of a year, Batman (Christian Bale), aided by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), has managed to rid Gotham's streets of the organised crime gangs that once ravaged the city. Things seem to be looking up, although on the personal front, Bruce Wayne discovers he has a rival in his affections for main squeeze Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the shape of the new D.A., who, as a political climber, likes to keep his cards close to his chest. But just when the authorities think they're finally making progress in their fight against crime, the appearance on the streets of a sinister new figure, with a demented grin and a passion for chaos, causes panic among the good people of Gotham, and leads to a battle of wits between Batman and the Joker which threatens to get extremely personal.