Back in April, I did a summer movie preview. Sitting right at the top of my list was “The Dark Knight.” It was unquestionably the movie I was most looking forward to this summer.
Based on its box office take to date, I’m not the only one.
I saw Dark Knight on opening day shortly after noon. I paid for the IMAX upgrade.
I was simply blown away. This wasn’t just a great superhero movie. This was a great movie that happened to have superheroes in it. Its a operatic crime movie.
Freed from the constraints of an origin story, Christopher Nolan and crew really turn things up. Chicago steps in to become Gotham City in a spectacular way. The city somehow manages to be both shiny and grimy at the same time.
Opening with a bank heist that reminded me of “Heat,” things move along at a remarkable pace. We’re introduced to the Joker. We see what Bat-Man has been up to since the end of the last movie. We meet the new DA and the new Rachel.
The table is set.
Then the action really begins.
Christian Bale remains my favorite of all the Bat-Men. He inhabits the Bat-Suit as well as the Wayne-Suit. Watching him on the screen you get the distinct impression that his Bruce Wayne is trying desperately not to lose himself to the Bat, but is failing. You also think that he really doesn’t mind.
This Bat-Man is definitely a man of the new milennium, using all manner of Wayne Tech to get the job done.
Then there is the Joker. What can I say about Heath Ledger’s performance that hasn’t already been said? The hype is all true. This Joker, an anarchist in face paint, is a screen villain for the ages. I don’t think we’ve seen a lunatic with this much resonance since Hannibal Lecter. Ledger is magnetic each time he is on the screen. It is simply that brilliant of a performance.
I don’t think I’ve actually seen Aaron Eckhart in anything before now. I have “Thank You for Smoking” on the DVR, but haven’t gotten around to it. He was truly a find for me in this one. I love the character of Two-Face and hated/despised what Joel Schumacher did to him. THIS is how Two-Face should be played. For those two or three people who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t post a picture here, but be prepared for a shock when you finally see his face. Be prepared.
It’s amazing how much more interesting the character of Rachel Dawes was when played by someone who could actually act. Kudos to Maggie Gylenhall for rising above the typical damsel in distress to find the conflicted heart of the woman caught between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent.
Gary Oldman once again shines as James Gordon. He starts the movie as a lieutenant and is commissioner before the end. Oldman plays Gordon as Bat-Man’s equal. He’s an honest cop in a corrupt town, doing whatever it takes to get the job done. The wear shows on Gordon’s face.
The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful. Of course, when that cast is Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman its hard to blow it.
Special kudos go to Tiny “Zeus” Lister who has a tiny but pivotal cameo. He plays against his established character in a genuine surprise moment.
The movie runs about 20 minutes too long, but that’s my only complaint. A bit of judicious editing might have tightened things up.
I’ve been a Bat-Man fan since I found Adam West in syndication as a kid. This is the Bat-Man I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
The only question now is not “will they make another one,” but “how can they possibly top this one.”
Go see this movie.
You can thank me later.