Friday, January 09, 2009

Film Review : Batman - The Dark Knight*****

Sorry, what was I saying about Hollywood movies ? The Dark Knight is absolutely awesome. British director Christopher Nolan has taken the Batman to places envisaged by the very best Batman writer, Frank Miller. This isn't a film of the graphic novel of the same name though, but it does have the same darkness about it.

I really like Christian Bale as the Batman, better by far than Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer, if only he wouldn't keep swapping his normal voice for his death metal band audition tone very time he puts on the mask. The late Heath Ledger turns in a stunning performance as the Joker, truly frightening, anarchic and amoral, and the rest of the stellar leading cast, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Maggie Gyllenhaal all turn in good performances, Oldman in particular is excellent as James Gordon.

If you havn't seen the movie I won't give away too many spoilers, but for a change in superhero movies the plot is actually decent and filled with tension, yes of course there are great special effects but in The Dark Knight the film's creators have built their film around the plot, not around the FX room boffins, and it makes it work so much better.

The Joker is exactly as he should be, a violent and unpredictable madman totally heedless of the misery he causes, the Genesis story of Harvey Dent / Two-Face is nicely and believably played out and the whole film maintains an air of tension more like a good thriller than a superhero movie. Gotham under Nolan's direction is a normal but crime ridden modern American city and not the baroque / gothic fantasy city created by earlier directors.

With so much plot to fit in, the film lasts for well over two hours, it is not overly long, the plot loops in and out, twisting around without too many obvious contrivances, alright, so the scene with the cop in the cell with Joker was a contrivance, but the rest of the film ploughs on relentlessly with plenty of action and a good sense of pace and discomfort, and by that I mean that this is the first of the Batman movies in which the next sequence of events is not utterly predictable. Most of the way through the film you are by no means certain that the good guys will prevail against the anarchic evil of the Joker.

The Dark Knight is a really great film, I might even go so far as to say it the best ever adaptation of a comic yet, it sets a landmark for future film adaptations, stay away from the endless, generic Genesis stories and get yourself a really good plot instead.

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