Deckard🥃’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Directors Series-Part III: The Christopher Nolan Retrospective
"I believe whatever doesn't kill you, simply makes you... Stranger"
I wouldn't exactly say the ending to Batman Begins was a cliffhanger, but it sure damn felt like one. It ended with Lt. Jim Gordon showing Batman a calling card of a new criminal in town. Wanted for Armed robbery and such, he leaves behind a calling card. It was the calling of the greatest foe Batman would ever encounter. The Joker (Heath Ledger). The Joker isn't some Mobster in clown make-up focused on bringing the Batman down. What Nolan's Joker does is create sheer chaos in the city of Gotham. The Joker want's to bring the Batman, and everyone that is a symbol of good and hope down, and as Alfred Pennyworth put it, "Some men just want to watch the world burn".
Nolan did an incredible job of grounding Batman into reality in Batman Begins, so the question was besides obviously stating who the next villain was going to be, where to do take a sequel and how do you not only make it better than the predecessor, but make it a damn good film overall. One of the biggest inspirations Christopher Nolan used in making The Dark Knight was Michael Mann's 1995 Crime masterpiece, Heat. There's similarities between the two, besides one of the obvious being William Fichtner as Roger Van Zant (Not really lol). McCauley was the only criminal to really take Hanna to the edge in their game of cat & mouse, and Joker is the only one to do that with Batman, to the point where Batman nearly broke his one rule. Killing someone.
While Heat showed Det. Vincent Hanna working towards apprehending Neil McCauley and his gang, It's ultimately a tale of the city of Los Angeles, California, showing the lives of the characters present, their actions, their motives. It's what the tagline suggests, "A Los Angeles Crime Saga." and that's what The Dark Knight. A crime saga. It's more than just a great comic book masterpiece, it's a crime film masterpiece. Like Heat the characters make sacrifices, Hanna sacrificing his sinking marriage in favor of completing the job, and McCauley sacrifices fleeing the country with his love interest for revenge. The biggest sacrifices that must be made ultimately come from Bruce Wayne. We know he can never live a normal life again, but yet he's willing to sacrifice being Batman to try and live that life. He's wiling to give up the cape and cowl so the city can have a real hero in Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
This film features more of Batman, though that's barely the high point of this film. The biggest and most obvious high point in this film is the late Heath Ledger and his masterful portrayal of The Joker. Jack Nicholson played the Joker as a comical madman, Heath Ledger genuinely makes your skin crawl and frightened. He's THAT damn good. Every single time he's on screen, you can't take your eyes off of him, and when he isn't you're thinking where the hell is he and what is he doing. He's pure dynamite on screen, bringing intensity as the Joker and upstaging his fellow cast mates in shared scenes. This isn't Bale's film, this is Ledger's film. That doesn't say that the rest of the cast doesn't do a great, because they do an incredible job.
All of the films action scenes are thrilling and engaging. All are shot so well, but more importantly come off as least blockbuster-y as they can. The action scenes are extremely vital to the plot. It's the chaos being erupted by The Joker. The writing is extremely top notch, everything flows together seamlessly and the dialogue is perfect. The writing for the Joker is ingenious. It carries over that dark tone from Batman Begins, but continues to get darker and darker over the course of the film. Another great part of the film is the music score. When the Joker's theme "Why So Serious?" plays, that opening of the razor blades against the strings is so eerie, but brilliant. It creates a sound that is akin to the madness of the villain. Every time it plays, the hair on your back rises and you get goosebumps. It's seriously one of the creepiest themes for a villain in recent time. When you hear it, all you think about is chaos.
The Dark Knight once again proves that there is a such thing as an intelligent and dark superhero film, and a gripping summer film that's more than just explosions and action. I feel that the less that is said about The Dark Knight, the better. It's just more than an improvement from Batman Begins, it's a flawless film.
"He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So We'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark knight."