Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Dark Knight

We follow Morgan Freeman, who played Lucius Fox in Batman Begins, over to the reprisal of the role in The Dark Knight. As much praised as I heaped on the first, sequel deserves more. The only reason I have doubts Batman Begins is not the greatest comic book film of all time is because I am quite confident The Dark Knight takes the top spot.

I cannot review the film in any capacity without admitting Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker steals the film. The praise heaped upon Leder’s performance was not just posthumous sentimentality. He would own the role even if he had not tragically overdosed months before its release. Some speculate the role may have contributed to his damaged state of mind. The Dark Knight’s version of the Joker took the most demented, homicidal elements of the character and put them on screen.

I have to dip into my geek soul a moment, too, and express my prior trepidations. Early indications were the Joker’s origin was going to be changed from a crook scarred and made insane by a plunge into toxic chemicals to a psycho in clown make up. It sounded like one of those changes comic book fans are prone to burn creators in effigy for trying to pull off. Mercy, he is going to be played by the guy from Ten Things I Hate About You, to boot!

I should have had more faith in Christopher Nolan and Ledger.

While the Joker steals the show, everyone else is in fine form. Christian Bale shows he was no fluke in Batman Begins. No small feat there. Michael Keaton limped through his second turn as the Caped Crusader. He was the last guy brave enough to try twice. Newcomers Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal are fine additions to the cast, as long as they both lasted.

If I may delve into comic book geekdom again, Two Face is one of my favorite Batman villains. He could have carried a whole movie far more entertainingly than did Tommy Lee Jones’ awful interpretation in Batman Forever. Far too campy to suit me, that was.

I do not care what anyone says, Maggie Gyllenhaal is adorable. I will fight any man who says otherwise.

The Dark Knight is nihilistic, cynical about the public perception of heroes, and very brilliant. It deserves all the accolades it gets for beig what I likely the greatest comic book movie both eeksand non-geeks alike can enjoy. Beware, though. My cynical self agreed quite often with the Joker’s cynical view on human nature. A scary thought.

Ratig: ***** (out of 5)

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