The Dark Knight…

by KV

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

If you’d asked me how The Dark Knight was right after any of the 2 times I went to see it in the cinema, I would only have 1 word for you: “Whoa…”

Finally, everything you’ve heard, everything you’ve hoped for, is here…is true. This is Batman like never before.

I’m telling you, Christopher Nolan of Memento just can’t do no wrong at the moment. His Batman Begins was already very much the definitive Batman movie, so with such impossible expectations & anticipation from the entire globe for this second installment, what does he do? He blows us all away with some exceptionally sublime & original directing. The Dark Knight not only surpasses every of our over-hyped expectations, it is the mother of all superhero movies.

“Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Where do I even bloody start? Nolan once again pushes the limits of the superhero realm to be as realistic as possible. It does not get any closer than this. The storyline is gritty, complex & darker than ever, & the action scenes are spectacularly gripping. So many things were happening at once, with such a stunning plot that was so well-executed; I almost forgot to breathe. Not contemplated with that, Nolan even had a few turns & surprises along the way, just to completely knock the socks of us all. It was perfect, making The Joker the logic response to the Batman, & make no mistake, despite the fabulous & shocking Harvey Two-Face story (Nolan’s interpretation of how Dent became Two-Face was both original & more realistic), the face-off (direct or indirect) between Batman & the Joker throughout the entire 152 minutes is the real deal, making The Dark Knight chaotically beautiful & a complete glorious anarchy of a movie. Gotham City was brought to life in a much more vibrant way, allowing us to explore an alternate yet recognizable reality, & boy were Batman’s slender kevlar & gadgets cool this time. I absolutely loved how the Batpod was actually ejected out of the self-destructing Tumbler! & oh, Batman can turn his head now, lol! The one-liners of the script were well-structured & affecting, capturing our collective anxiety over the resurgent politics of hope.

“Let me get this straight. You think that your employer, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is spending his nights running around the city beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck.”

A lot has been said about the late Heath Ledger’s The Joker, so what can I say anymore? He was spectacular. Completely overturning & overwhelming Jack Nicholson’s version, Ledger comes up with a psychopathic terrorist version that not only scares the balls off you, but is strangely captivating &…funny. He balances the Joker’s sadistic nature with an enigmatic sense of wit, making his last complete performance an Oscar-deserving one. Who could ever forget the Joker’s scenes such as the disappearing pencil magic trick, his perfect Joker laugh, the lip-licking, the delayed hospital bombing scene, & lines like “very poor choice of words”, “you complete me” & “wanna know how I got my scars?”. Oh yes, Ledger sure was mind-blowing, & most importantly, The Joker was a worthy & mighty foe to Batman, in a more psychological way. Nolan does extremely well in structuring & prioritizing, pushing aside how the Joker schemes & plots his terrorism acts, instead concentrating on the bigger picture of how The Joker plotted the downfall of Gotham through the city’s white knight, Harvey Dent.

“The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

But, truth be told, no one was overshadowed. The cast was astonishing, yet again. Christian Bale was imperiously suave as Bruce Wayne, & as Batman was pushed to the limit, even losing his cool during the interrogation scene with Joker. Michael Caine returns as Alfred, & though he had lesser screen time, his interaction with Wayne was still as engaging & hilarious as ever. The same goes to Morgan Freeman, who seems to be appearing in every movie these days. I was most impressed however with Gary Oldman, who turned in an outstanding performance as Lt.-turned-Commissioner Gordon, justified by a much bigger role this time around. Most surprising of all was Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. I was not too excited when Eckhart got the role of Harvey Two-Face, but wow, he sure amazed me with his performance as the fallen hero of Gotham. The only disappointment for me from the casting & the entire movie in fact, is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes. Despite her being an improvement over Katie Holmes, I just can’t help but prefer someone like Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Connelly or heck even Rachel McAdams to play Dawes, especially since Dawes was a central role to the origins of Two-Face.

“See, I’m not a monster…I’m just ahead of the curve.”

What made my favourite superhero’s big screen movie even better were Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard. While Batman Begins’ scores were majestic, they were quite incomplete. This time, Zimmer’s heavy influences throughout the main themes are much more powerful, gloriously dark & thrilling. The Joker’s theme starts off the soundtrack album, & it was experimental, complex, & bloody brilliant. James Newton Howard’s contribution is more distinct this time with the Harvey Dent theme. All in all, a fantastic film score that enhances the film’s strength by a complete mile.

“You thought we could be decent men in an indecent world. But you were wrong; the world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance.”

I can say without doubt, that The Dark Knight not only kicks every other summer movie’s ass (yes, even Iron Man), it is well on it’s way to being the mammoth movie of 2008. It is currently #1 in IMDb’s Top 250 list & certified bloody 95% fresh in Rotten Tomatoes. It’s orgasmic to see my favourite superhero being brought to the big screen the way Nolan does it. Oh yes, The Dark Knight was a triumphant masterpiece. I left the cinema, twice, in full awe & respect for Nolan’s genius intelligence, a thunderous applause for the cinematography as well as the casts’ performance, & a tinge of sadness for a great talent tragically curtailed.

“Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now…and so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a dark knight.”

Oh by the way, if you are looking for something different, please do try Once.

It’s a very independent, low-budget love story that is completely honest, sincere & charming. Revolving around a guy named Guy (Glen Hansard of The Frames) & a girl named Girl (Marketa Irglova) who both share the love for music, the film is not like any other musical, featuring some of the finest indie music for some time. However, be prepared to cringe at what is possibly the world’s most bashed-up acoustic guitar that ever survived & remained playable.