July 22, 2008

Movie review: The Dark Knight

Is there a darker, more troubled comic-book superhero than Batman? I, for one, have always felt that Batman is the most complex, lonely, troubled and dark superhero of all. Aside from the unnecessary Robin, the only other person he has is Alfred. Superman has his Lois Lane and Spiderman is now married to MJ. Batman has a long list of both enemies and ex-lovers. Anyway. Bottom line, I love Batman. He is, and always will be my fav superhero and by far the most fascinating.
Most of the Batman movies, in keeping with the comic, have tried to portray the movies as dark (at least in lighting) as they could. You wouldn’t see too many day shots in a Batman movie. But with their plastic suits and target audience as kids, none of the Batman movies could become more than comic book characters come alive. Which is where Chris Nolan’s Batman movies differ. They have intelligent, involved storylines and strong emphasis on character. And strong performances as well.
Heath Ledger as the Joker is outstanding. Move aside all ye Jim Carreys and Jack Nicholsons. This Joker is here to stay as the most creepy, sinister and evil of all. Christian Bale portrays Batman as I think Batman should be – not making eyes at females or wearing his heart on his sleeve but a suave, seemingly-cold, playboy with extravagances that go hand in hand with being someone more interested in adding to his trust fund. But most of all, he plays it with a rigid control that sometimes explodes revealing the underlying, ever-present brutal violence and rage.
The storyline is involved and doesn’t depend upon making caricatures of the characters. The why-they-became-what-they-were Joker or Penguin angle in most of the Batman movies had been hashed and then hashed again ad nauseum. Nothing of that sort here. No Joker laughing maniacally, evilly. The evil arises from his sheer ruthlessness. The special effects are awesome and so are some of the stunts. This time, Gotham is not depicted to be in a land far far away, rather, it looks like present day New York. Also, this time around Batman has a posse of good guys on his side who actually help him and kick asses on their own and no, none of them are superheroes.
The first half of the movie is spectacular, gripping and fast paced. The second lags in pace (but only coz you can compare it to the slicker first half.). The plot-line has a series of sub-plots and none pulls the movie back. The cast, is great in their roles. Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordan, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent (will see more of him in the next installment of the movie), Micheal Caine reprising his role of Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Heath Ledger as the most chillingly murderous Joker ever, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes and above all Christian Bale as the most dishiest of Batmans (Batmen?? Nah that doesn’t sound right.) ever.
But the thing I like most, is the movie is devoid of marketing gimmicks or publicity gimmicks. Its USP would be its story, characters and stunts. If anything negative, I would say the director takes himself too seriously, but then if the results are so good, hey!! Though I wish they would consider chopping a bit of the 150+ minute running time. Might just be my favorite Batman movie ever. Unless the next one turns to be even better….


phatichar said...

I'm afraid, this joker isn't here to stay, even if he wants to, P. :-(

Heath Ledger died last year, with an overdose of drugs. Be that as it may, I'm hoping he at least gets a posthomus oscar for his brilliant joker.

I agree, Batman has been the most melancholic super-hero, next to spidey..But it's all these imperfections, worries, and anxieties, and the way they overcome these in the end, makes us want to look upto them, huh?

Beautiful post, as usual :-)

Papa said...

Christian Bale is Bond material, from what I saw of him in American Psycho. What do you think of the film?


Priyanka said...

@phatichar: Thanks!! It IS sad about Heath Ledger isn't it? He acted beautifully in Brokeback Mountain as well. I remember I first saw him in a movie called The First Knight and developed a crush on him!! And hey, if the superheroes don't have angst, depression and loneliness, they wouldn't become super-heroes, right? ;)

@papa: You know, after watching The Dark Knight I looked at his biography, and American Psycho and Memento are listed as the best of his movies. I haven't seen either but have added them to my 'must-watch' list. He is equally good in movie called The Prestige.

Anonymous said...

He's not in Memento, though Chris Nolan did direct it.

I suppose you meant the Machinist, which is a cracking good watch.


Sudhir Pai said...

You have to read about Heath Ledger's routine while trying to portray Joker as nobody else could. It is believed Ledger's portrayal is highly inspired by Alex, the cold-blooded protagonist of Clockwork Orange. To bring out the ruthlessness, ledger drove himself to manic depression by shutting himself in isolation. There are those who believe this probably had a hand in his untimely death. Now was this role worth dying for? It's sad that this joker will not smile anymore

Ashwiny said...

Hey Priyanka
Thanks for the compliment. I am designing more fonts. will be posting them on an other blog exclusively for fonts. Will keep you posted.
what do you do otherwise?

swatilekha said...

Continuing what Pai said about Heath Ledger (and running the risk of making this an ode to the actor), to me it looked like Ledger was giving his final act, as if he had nothing more to give and this was it...and he would like to be remembered this way, with that piercing laugh...

of course one can argue that he did not know about his impending death....

Priyanka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Priyanka said...

@Pi: Ooops, I stand corrected!! Thanks.

@Sudhir: Whoa, getting into the skin of character?? Am not sure if this is true, but if it is... what a waste!!

@ashwini: Hi. Am currently trying to design this blog of mine. Its suffered much neglect since I started it and now trying to spruce it up. Who would have thought that html, css and xml would have changed so much in a couple of years?!

@swatilekha: The laugh was chilling, right? Not our average Bollywood-villain-ishtyle variety. But you are right, it might just be his best role ever!!

@papa: Yup, you are right. This post seems full of typos and misinformation. Not enough research, methinks.


Still updating the blog theme. Will get down to the blogrolling and all soon.

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