The Dark Knight 2008 ★★★★★

I'll admit, I'm not gonna lie. I was REALLY scared to revisit this again. This really got me into film. It's not the film that started my love for film, but it's the first film that made me say "I wanna go into the film industry" so it's really close to me. I've seen this countless times but I noticed that for many people, it does'nt hold up well today so I was really scared to revisit it. Thankfully, I still love it as much as I did the first time I saw it years ago.

Christian Bale does another great job as Batman/Bruce Wayne. I also don't mind his voice here. It's a lot more gravaly and exaggerated than in Batman Begins but I kinda like it. Besides would you rather have Bale's Batman voice or George Clooney's where he sounds like he's advertising soap dispensers and kit-kats? That's what I thought. Anyway, as good as Bale is, the performance that gets most of the film's praise is of course Heath Ledger as The Joker. He really sold the psychopath angle for me. He genuinely scared the hell out of me and there's actually this mysterious essence to him. I always loved the whole "Wanna know where I got these scars?" thing about him because it's adds complexity to his character while also keeping the mystery by having each story be a load of bullshit. The more bullshit, the better because the less we know makes him just more fascinating. I liked how Nolan handled the character. Instead of making him this mindless psychopathic bum, what he's saying makes sense. He gives logical reasons why he does what he does instead of just because he can, even if that's the main reason. Ledger just really blew me away in the role. He was terrifying, at times subtle, and almost stole the show. Almost.

Ledger truly is amazing in this film, but I think he's the reason many overlook the man who I personally believe gave the best performance in the film: Aaron Eackhart who REALLY blew me away in this film. The subtle transformation he goes through before the end of the film is just so brilliant. He starts out as a man on top of the world and then when he loses everything he loves, he loses his morals along with his mind and it's just so fascinating and tragic to watch his character from beginning to end and Eackhart is just outstanding. You also get some other terrific yet overlooked performances in Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine just to name a few. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes is replaced by Maggie Gyllenhal who does a really great job in the role and is a massive improvement from Holmes.

Batman Begins put story and characters before action while this film balances it all hand in hand and it really works. I really liked how as great of a Batman story it is, you could replace him with a normal cop or just take him out and it would still be an amazing crime thriller about a psychopath using crime as a way to bring a city into chaos. I love how this film really pushes the envelope on where superhero films can go and just when you think it can't get better, it does a complete curveball and blows your mind right before it does it again minutes later. I like how faithful it is to the source material and yet so different at the same time, going where few superhero films even imagined to go beforehand. The action scenes look amazing while the story is interesting and thought provoking.

The big themes in this film are chaos, anarchy, choice and morality which play out really well. The Joker said it best when he said "I'm an agent of chaos." because he perfectly embodies chaos and anarchy just as Dent perfectly embodies morality and choice. Gotham City is fine and is on the verge of being cleaned up thanks to Dent and Batman, but as soon as an agent of chaos causes some mischeif, it goes to hell and a handbasket. The Joker uses this chaos to break the characters, specifically The Dark Knight but ends up breaking Dent, Gotham's White Knight. All of this causes The Dark Knight to wonder if just his existence causes more chaos than good and on top of that he wonders if he must break his own ethics to stop this and it's really interesting to watch and think about.

I apologize for writing so much. I understand I probably have'nt said anything that hasn't already been said, but this is a film I absolutely love and can go on and on about for days. It's gritty, complex, and just excellent. I don't think it's the greatest superhero film ever, but it comes very close. Just as entertaining to think about as it is to watch.

Now, let's just pray that Nolan doesn't fuck up The Dark Knight Rises.

23 Comments

  • Yeah I know, but a lot of people I talked to who loved it when it first came out told me that it doesn't hold up well, or at least they don't even like what they came out loving less than 5 years ago.

  • Agree with SilentJoe. I know many people who have lowered their opinion of this movie in the short time since it's been released. Which is understandable. You can only ignore so many problems for so long before the initial buzz wears off and you realize how problematic the story really is.

    The best movies get better with time.

  • Yeah. Ryan pretty much summed it up perfectly. Some films get better the more you see them while others just lose novelty with time.

  • I thought the exact same thing, more or less, but mostly it too, is the film that got me into the true art of films. Love it, loved The Dark Knight Rises, and I liked Begins.

    Great review, great films.

  • Thanks! I prefer this one to the other Nolan-Bat films though.

  • Great review! I too watched this and Batman Begins prior to seeing TDKR on opening night in IMAX. Each of the three films are pure spectacle, despite their imperfections. While watching Batman Begins again, I noticed that it felt a bit more comic book-y than I remember, but was still great and very entertaining.

    As far as The Dark Knight is concerned, one of my favorite film bloggers, Brad Brevet from RopeOfSilicon.com, put it best when recalling his favorite films from 2008: "The achievement of The Dark Knight is not that it elevated the comic book movie to the level of your typical class-A drama. The achievement is in how Christopher Nolan turned going to the movies into a spectacle once again."

    Part of the reason The Dark Knight, and Batman Begins to a slightly lesser extent, holds up so well for me is because, no matter their imperfections -- which for some become more visible with additional viewings -- the spectacle that Nolan has crafted so overwhelmingly overcomes them. Any mistakes are fairly easy to overlook because of the magnitude of what is occurring on screen.

    Nolan's first two Batman films still hold up very well, and I'm excited to give Rises a rewatch when it is released on blu-ray next Tuesday. I may even have to hold a movie marathon for them.

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks!

  • Outstanding review. I especially liked the following part:

    "I really liked how as great of a Batman story it is, you could replace him with a normal cop or just take him out and it would still be an amazing crime thriller about a psychopath using crime as a way to bring a city into chaos.”

    Personally, I don’t see Nolan’s Batman trilogy as superhero films, because—as you point out in the aforementioned citation—super powers aren’t involved, and the story is essentially a really well planned out criminal scheme. This is what makes it so superior to all of the other superhero franchises.

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