Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #26 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Okay so today we conclude our review of Batman films with one of the most overrated films in recent history, The Dark Knight.
Now I’m gonna talk about a film I don’t like to discuss with most people. Why? Because everyone bums the hell out of this film like it is the best thing since sliced bread and in my opinion it really isn’t. Fans and critics went made in 2008 when this film released and it has been hailed for changing the comic book superhero genre since. I saw the film when it released and I thought it was good, but not nearly as godly as people made it out to be. Ever since then I’ve watched the film a few times but my views still haven’t changed. So now in 2013 I’m revisiting the film again, has my opinion changed? Read on and find out.
Taking place after the events in Batman Begins, Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.
The story was pretty interesting for the most part but not perfect though. I like the way this film continues on from the last with its visual and verbal references, but I also like how the story progresses and gets more complex and higher in stakes. the introduction of the Joker makes for some very dramatic, suspenseful and unpredictable situations that have intriguing results. There’s a lot of interesting themes about corruption, morality, justice and injustice and nature vs. nature, and there’s all beautifully explained in the film. I think one of the reasons I’m not keen on the film is because there’s just a lot of aspects that I don’t care about, when the film isn’t focused on Batman or the Joker, then my interest fades, plus sometimes the film feels long and tedious. I guess the only reason I don’t like this film is because it doesn’t really feel like a comic book film, it feels more like a long thriller film with just a few comic book elements thrown in. And while that may work for most film audiences, for me who is a nerd and a fan of the more comic book side of Batman, this film just feels lacking.
Now let’s talk about the cast who do a good job at bringing these characters to life for the most part. Christian Bale was still pretty good as Bruce Wayne, I feel like his character went through hell in this film as he had to fight the terrors of Gotham while trying to keep himself intact and eventually get out the crime fighting life and move on with Rachel. But as Batman, Bale was still dodgy. He is intimidating, but his voice is still terrible and over the course of the film gets worse. Michael Caine is still awesome as Alfred, Caine is just a great actor and he shows us his talents as Bruce’s trusted butler who helps Bruce and his alter ego, offering advice and being funny at times.
But let’s talk about the main reason this film works and that is Heath Ledger as the Joker. This version of the Joker is just a psychopath, he is a nutcase with a twisted sense of humour and morality and he does bad things just to see will happen. I remember seeing this film in the cinema and remembering that this is why I liked the film so much and that rule still applies today. Ledger is just magnetic in this role, every time he’s on-screen all attention is on him and his charisma and powerful persona makes him amazing to watch. He is crazy and I love it, and while I can’t say it’s my favourite interpretation of the character (That is still Mark Hamill), this in my opinion is way more interesting and captivating than Jack Nicholson’s version.
Also Gary Oldman as James Gordon is great. Oldman’s role is more expanded than before and we get to see his character pushed to the forefront of the story. Gordon has to deal with his alliance to Batman and Harvey Dent as well as the Joker’s crazy actions. I just love how much more screen time Gordon got and how he ascended to the role as police commissioner. As for Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face I thought he was pretty cool. As Dent Eckhart was nice as the district attorney who really wanted to clean up Gotham and do justice the right way. Eventually Dent gets corrupted and goes on the path of revenge as Two-Face and I liked his interpretation of the character as he was corrupt, on-edge and shell of his former self. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes was nice and I found her version of the character to be more engaging and likeable than Katie Holmes. You could see that even though Rachel had moved on with Harvey Dent, that she still feelings for Bruce and because of his life as Batman it made things a great more complicated. And lastly Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox is still badass, I just like how he keeps supplying Bruce with all his gadgets for his duties as Batman.
Now let’s talk about the presentation, visually the film is pretty impressive, the cinematography is wonderful, the presentation of the action and Batman’s fight scenes is a hell of a lot better and the editing is much smoother than before. I also like the special effects applied to Aaron Eckhart after he becomes Two Face too. The only thing I wasn’t keen on was the fact that Gotham City lost its visual style from the first film and just adopted a very normal look in this film which I just didn’t agree with. As for the soundtrack by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer it is hella cool. The two basically take the themes from the first film and build upon them while introducing new themes too. The music is loud, dramatic, suspenseful and versatile and it really adds to the scenes where it is used.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? When it comes to Batman I’ve only read a few comics, most of my knowledge comes from years of watching Batman cartoons and research online. Well since Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe is more realistic, several things were updated or modified to work in the real world. As such many things have a more grounded approach. For example the Joker no longer has bleached skin and instead has paint and scars on his face and Two-Face instead of having acid on his face and a split personality, his face is burnt away in a fire.
So to conclude The Dark Knight is still a great film and is a wonderful piece of material from director Christopher Nolan. It has a story that has a lot of interesting themes and thriller-esque elements and with a fabulous central performance from Heath Ledger it is a film worth watching. That being said, I still don’t think its the best comic book film ever made, it strays too far from the source material and almost doesn’t feel like a superhero/comic book film at all and there’s just a few small things that I don’t agree with. Now loads of people think I’m crazy because of my views on this film and I’ll continue to fight my corner until the end of time, but as it stands The Dark Knights is awesome, but not as extraordinary as a lot of fans and critics make it out to be.
Rating: 8/10 (A fine Batman film, but not as godly as many make it out to be)
So there’s my review people, only 4 more to go! So have you seen The Dark Knight and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!