Friday, July 11, 2008

THE DARK KNIGHT: Ledger's Top Act

THE DARK KNIGHT (fantasy sequel)
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman
Director: Christopher Nolan
Time: 152 mins

Rating: * * * 1/2 (Out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? After narrating the origin of 'Batman' and establishing its darker-than-comic book tone in 'Batman Begins', Christopher Nolan seems free to explore Gotham City in all its perspectives and moral complexities. This sequel is a whole lot darker than the first. It is a grown-up look at the comic book world of 'Batman'.

Children may find the going rather taxing, while die-hard action fans may doze off in between stunts. However, for those who want a Batman epic that can set their imagination soaring and adrenaline pumping, this is it.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Let's just say the narrative is told through five people: A psycho villain called The Joker (Heath Ledger) wants to have some devilish fun with his 'nemesis' Batman (Christian Bale). Bruce Wayne/Batman, on the other hand, has problems of his own: he is considered a vigilante by the public and police are obliged to take him into custody. Then there is the new Assistanty District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who aims to crackdown on the Mob and he is aided by Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gylenhaal, taking over from Katie Holmes), the one girl who has Bruce Wayne's heart. Rachel is both working with and dating Harvey - and giving Bruce a heartache and Batman a reason to call it quits. Lastly, there is police Lt Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) who is caught in the web of the Mob, Joker and Dent.

Oh yes, it is also about the gray area between good and evil that the Caped Crusader has to tread, an area in which "you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain."

HITS & MISSES: The one thing that gets us right from the start is Ledger's performance as the Joker. I must admit that I, like many other movie-goers, had reservations when they first announced his role as the Joker. How can he match up to Jack Nicholson's? However, seeing his sado-masochistic villain enjoying hurting people as well as being punished himself, we can see that Ledger had not only enjoyed his role but lived it too. He steals the show from everyone and certainly deserves a posthumous Oscar for this Supporting Role. Others in the cast give top-notch performances, including Eric Roberts as a mobster and Michael Caine as Wayne's butler Alfred.

Technically, the credits are top class too, with Gotham City locations looking ever so real. Granted, some of the stunts go so fast that they seem to cheat our eyes, but there is enough tension and suspense to go around. What's more, we feel for each of the main characters.

THE LOWDOWN: Director Chris Nolan has come up with another masterpiece of a sequel. "The Dark Night' delves into nightmarish areas that are physically and morally dark.


At 2:44 am, Blogger Ezekielvs filivs iacobi said...

i don't think sado-masochism is the right diagnosis for the joker. this is consistent across all media portrayals i have known him in.

At 8:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This movie has now, like "Seven", set the benchmark for the genre of the comic book movie. This is going to be the yardstick people are going to use on other comic book movies when it comes to execution of the material.

Oscar talk is not unfounded, not just for Ledger, but also for the movie and writing itself. Calling it "The Godfather 2 Of The Comic Book Movie" is not being superlative either.


Arivind Abraham


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