The Dark Knight | rel. 2008 | dir. Christopher Nolan
Spoiers. (Kinda.) You've been warned.
I just got back from seeing The Dark Knight at the local theater several hours ago. It is a brilliantly astonishing superhero movie and I will offer my two cents shortly.
My Theater Exprience
But firstly, I'd like to talk about the crappy theater where I viewed the movie. Think of this rant as therapy rather than actual complaining.
I went to the 3:20pm showing of the film and was completely psyched. I've been looking forward to this film since I first saw Batman Begins last summer on DVD. I saw the film again on FX yesterday and that film got better in a second viewing. I'm at a point where I even prefer Hans Zimmer's and James Newton Howard's ambitious, thrilling score over the classic Danny Elfman score from the previous live action Batman efforts.
So I was at the concession stand, and a guy called his friend on his cell phone and said he was seeing the 3:20 showing of the film and how he'll give his friend a "full review" as soon as possible. I found that rather amusing and chuckled a little under my breath. A couple stood in front of me at the concession stands and later sat behind me in the theater. I remember being jealous that their bag of popcorn had Batman and Havey Dent on it while I had a promo of The Pineapple Express on mine. But oh well. So far, so good. Not that any of this ruined my experience of the film, but I'm just trying to illustrate the atmosphere, albeit poorly.
My mom and I entered the screen room at about 3:12 or so. The theater was only about 45% full since this particular theater is not very popular. The matinee is a dollar less than most local theaters so I can't really complain. Most of the time when I go to the movies with my dad or my friends, they prefer the theater in the next city. My mom didn't want to drive that far so...yeah. I didn't really mind.
I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a couple of years ago at the same theater, and the seats sucked and the film kind of got stuck in the middle. Recently, the theater undergone reconstruction so the seats are much nicer and comfortable now, but the screen is still small and the volume is still kind of low. But no complaints yet. Like everyone else in the theater, I was just excited to see the freaking movie!
Before the movie started, there were several interesting advertisements, all part of Cinemark's "First Look" featurette, which is included in most Cinemark theaters. I mean, I don't really mind those "First Look" stuff that much. A "First Look" for Mamma Mia! showed up on screen and my mom told me she dreamed about watching a Meryl Streep movie a while ago. That's totally insignificant, yet strangely awesome. Then a little girl in front of me told her mom that she wants to see Mamma Mia! Her mom said the most hilarious thing ever: "It's a musical. Musicals always get bad reviews." Moulin Rouge and Chicago, anyone?
Another hilarious tidbit was when this girl in the row in front of me asked this guy beside her, "So what is this film about anyway? Some Joker or something?" Which planet does she live on, anyway?
Okay, so everything was going smoothly and everyone was just as excited as I was until we encountered the Screen of Doom.
The screen told the audience to turn off or silent their cell phones, with a friendly advertisement from AT&T. Then it was still on screen...and was on the screen for about fifteen minutes. I could sense that people were beginning to get totally pissed.
Then the Screen of Doom disappeared. Then behold! The Screen of Darkness. It was just a pitch-black screen. Now people were getting really, really pissed. I don't often get pissed about technical difficulties, but that put me on a verge of a tantrum. Thankfully, I was in public, so that held me back from making a total fool of myself. So we stared at a pitch-black screen for about ten minutes and it sucked. The popcorn was good, though.
Then we watched a bunch of trailers, none of which were very appealing. Terminator Salvation, Body of Lies, Watchmen, The Spirit, Righteous Kill (an improvement from the first trailer, IMO), Blindness and several others (it felt like a dozen others) came on. I was getting impatient, despite the fact that I actually like watching movie previews. I just wanted to see the bloody movie already!
The finally, at about 4:00, the movie started.
Seriously, if the ticket says it's a 3:20 showing, it better start, at the latest, at 3:40. At the latest. What I experienced in that theater was unprofessional and not cool. I hope everyone else who saw this movie had a much more pleasant theater experience.
Goodness, I talk too much. So, about the film...
I really liked it. Actually, that's an understatement. I loved it. It was nothing that I expected it to be, but the quality of the film exceeded my expectations. After watching the trailers online, I knew I was going to love this movie no matter what. That said, I had tremendous faith in the cast and crew. Christopher Nolan knows too well how to make a great Batman movie, like he previously showcased with his directorial efforts in 2005's Batman Begins.
Honestly, I've never been more excited about a film in my life.
I'm talking about the film too soon, before I had the time to really think about it. But right now, I just want to discuss it, somehow. I was speechless and shaking all over when the film ended. This movie gave me the goosebumps...
In the film (not that anyone actually needs a summary), Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a snobby billionaire by day and cruises as Batman, a crime-fighting vigilante of Gotham City by night. But recently, Gotham has found hope in a new D.A., Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who is nicknamed the "White Knight" by the crime-ridden city. The film's villain is the Joker (Heath Ledger), who constantly threatens the citizens of Gotham with his insane bursts of menace and chaos.
The film is a rollercoaster from beginning to end. The action sequences are well-done, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the plot is as masterful as so many other crime epics. The special effects are riveting, due to the fact that they don't feel like special effects at all.
So let me touch on the performances now since I was most eager to discuss it from the get-go...
The guys on Ebert & Roeper, or more appropriately, At the Movies, commented that The Dark Knight is an ensemble piece. They are right. I have no doubt that Ledger's excellent portrayal of the legendary antagonistic freak will be recognized come Oscar time because of the hype surrounding his performance, but this film belongs to every other actor in this movie as well.
There is Bale, who embodies both Bruce Wayne and Batman perfectly. He knows how to balance both personas well and make them believable as one. Bale is very funny as the snobby playboy billionaire but extremely intense and genuinely frightening as Batman. No wonder people won't take Bruce Wayne seriously and criminals run for cover when they see Batman. Michael Keaton couldn't do that at all. Val Kilmer had the potential to be a wonderful Bruce Wayne/Batman if he were given better material to work with. George Clooney just wasn't born to play a comic book superhero, period. So Bale pretty much takes the cake for the best silver screen Batman ever.
Gary Oldman delivers the best and most touching performance in the entire film. If it was up to me to give out an Oscar nomination to any one actor in this film, it would be Oldman. His performance as Lt. Jim Gordon is not as showy as Ledger's colorful spectacle, but Oldman explores the depth and humanity of a character unlike any other comic book movie actor I've ever seen. His final speech near the end is what makes the film more heartbreaking than anyone could ever expect. Oldman just finds the right notes for a character that is quietly heroic and completely relatable.
I know that Oldman's performance will become one of the most underrated performances of recent years. Hopefully, I'm proven wrong. I can't wait to see Oldman in the next movie since I'm certain that after the bonafide success of this installment, there will be another Batman film.
Aaron Eckhart is nothing short of amazing as the newly-elected and determined District Attorney of Gotham, Harvey Dent. He is charmingly inspiring and understandably offers Gotham the hope that the city so desperately need. The dynamics between Bruce and Harvey are interesting, especially considering that Harvey is dating Bruce's childhood friend and love interest, Assistant District Attorney, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). When he turns into the villainous Two-Face (which dominates more of the film than I expected), I sensed the disappointed that will come upon Gotham. As Two-Face, Eckhart is flawlessly on the edge, gripping his gun and flipping his coin. Two-Face's final scenes in this film are just as great as the Joker's fiery theatricals.
Like I said earlier, I was watching Batman Begins on FX last night. Before yesterday, I never really minded Katie Holmes. But when I watched the film again, I realized that her performance as Rachel Dawes is terrible. Rachel Dawes was probably inserted into that testosterone fest just because it's a rule that every big-budget superhero movie needs a love interest. David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan obviously didn't care about the character.
But I like the idea of Rachel Dawes. When Maggie Gyllenhaal took over Holmes, I knew that I was finally in for a strong and intelligent love interest. Well, that didn't last very long. But Gyllenhaal delivers a heartbreaking and phenomenal performance. Even though her character is used only as a device to further the plot along, Gyllenhaal's sass and grit forces the audience to care about Rachel. You don't even know how disappointed I am that Gyllenhaal wasn't in the first film.
Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are both impresisve in their minimal roles. If I ever get a butler, he should be just like Caine's Alfred Pennysworth. Freeman's Lucius Fox is simply fun to see on screen but towards the film's end, I felt a lingering admiration for him.
The Dark Knight is the biggest, best, and the most badass Batman film since well, Batman Begins. I was never bored. Not even for a second. I felt like I was on the edge of my seat--literally. Every scene is full of thrills and chills, complete with a deep emotional foundation. I don't know how Nolan and Co. can top this film, but when the time comes for the next film, I'll be giddy with enthusiasm and anticipation.
For those who have already seen the film: Why would the people of Gotham even believe that Harvey Dent was Batman? I understand that they probably don't have a clear view of Batman in the dark, but it's sort of easy to notice that Batman doesn't have a dimpled chin like Dent, right?