Chris Nolan and his exceptional team have created the type of movie many filmmakers dream of making. Not because it’s a superhero movie (that in itself is it’s own kind of cool)…No, no. But because it’s a well crafted masterpiece in multiple ways.
One of the things I love about it is the action. You can actually see it. He doesn’t hide it with a bunch of shaky cam crap that you see in the latest action movies. And while the stunts are huge, they don’t come off as impossible. Batman is flawed and takes his share of spills.
Great political story as well. Intrigue within a corrupt city that constantly keeps the need for Batman going. Then comes the Joker with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. He comes after the mob, he comes after Batman, he comes after Harvey Dent, he comes after, well, pretty much everyone in Gotham. The tension in the film goes up and up with each burst of the Joker’s presence. That tension is brilliantly created by Nolan’s sense of space, style, timing, composition and direction along with a now historic, classic and influential performance by Heath Ledger and the visual and audio elements that compound the feelings all the more. There’s the slow build in sound whenever the Joker is starting to get crazy, it’s a constant sound, it raises the hair on the back of your neck in a menacing way.
I’ve only seen Harvey Dent played once before and that was in a Batman we’d all like to forget, so I won’t go there. Suffice it to say that Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent sets the bar for the character from here on, same as Ledger’s Joker. Eckhart plays a great ambitious politician, but he plays the flip side (pun intended) as Two-Face with equally intense conviction and delivery.
The writing is for lack of a better definition, perfect. The back and forth of it between Batman, Dent, and Gordon and the Joker, Two-Face and the mob is done in such a way that keeps you guessing while rooting for the good, despising the bad (while still maintaining a fascination with the characters and performances) and loving the drama of it all. Gotta love the detective stuff Batman does too. Re-creating the finger print from the reconstruction of a bullet is much fun.
I enjoyed watching Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Batman (and yes, I’m fine with the voice, I get where they’re going with it). Bale interacts nicely with Michael Caine as Alfred and one of my favorites, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. I think Bale has a convincing way of playing Wayne both as busy billionaire as well as the Dark Knight and the physicality that goes with him. I’ve been a big fan of Christian Bale since he did American Psycho, the guy plays his roles really effectively with passion and conviction in whatever he does.
The threat of Batman’s identity is woven in here in more than one way adding another layer of tension. Again, all well constructed within the writing. It’s the kind of movie you have to watch about 3,425 times (and I have) to appreciate every part of it, much like Nolan’s Inception.
I could go on and on, but…
Since it’s the second biggest movie of all time, you’ve probably seen it. If you haven’t, see it, if nothing else but to see a film that will be forever a classic and one of those films that influences filmmakers for generations to come.
reviewed by Sean McKnight