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The Dark Knight

Christopher Brown-Colbert watches Heath Ledger sign off, with one last joke...

Published on July 29th 2008.

The Dark Knight

Every summer we have a comic book blockbuster, with a superhero who is a scapegoat, a leading lady who can’t lead, and a villain who is never quite vile enough. Spider-man has had three mediocre attempts, Superman had a disastrous comeback and as for Hulk and The Incredible Hulk, well...the sentence ends there.

This psychopath is what superhero films have been crying out for, someone serious yet humorous. Someone violent, yet charismatic.

After the success of Ironman played by the self-obsessed clown, Robert Downey Jr, who I have to say is very true to the comic, the next superhero film had to live up to the hype and help put superhero films firmly on the map.

Christopher Nolan brings you The Dark Knight. A serious name for a serious film which delivers on so many levels. This reinvention is something special, with more day-time events leading up to night-time escapades, beautifully shot scenes and intense dialogue. The film begins with a bank raid of some originality and style; men in clown masks rob a bank not knowing who The Joker is, why he hired them, or where he is. He is a mystery from the off.

Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, picks up where he left off in Batman Begins. A solid performance once again, although this time he is outshone by the late Heath Ledger who plays The Joker. As this crazy, greasy little sucker who always has a smile on his face, Ledger is electric. He takes over the screen effortlessly, with his peeling white make-up, twitches and scars at the side of his mouth. This psychopath is what superhero films have been crying out for, someone serious yet humorous. Someone violent, yet charismatic. With mannerisms of a mental nature that seem real, snake-like lips and a tongue that is constantly moving as if he has something stuck in his teeth, this is a man who has signed-off in great style.

Nolan has created a summer blockbuster that raises important issues in-between masculine showdowns and high-speed car chases. Considering Batman doesn’t have his beloved bat cave and the gadgets are a little on the thin side, the film focuses less on what Batman has and more on what he can do. Drawing on his training experiences from Batman Begins, he is a more accomplished fighter, and only calls upon heavy artillery when needed, which of course is in the form of the batmobile/4x4/bike/tank.

There's been some changes relationship-wise as well since Batman Begins. His one-time love Rachel Dawes (played poorly by Maggie Gyllenhaal) has moved onwards and seemingly upwards to Gotham City’s district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who preaches about the law by day and is quite unlawful by night. With Bruce’s love interest lost to Harvey, and the billionaire's ego damaged, he questions whether being the cape crusader is really worth it. However it's the usual suspects – Gary Oldman as Lt. Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox – who give him advice and he soon comes round to his destiny.

As well as the pathetic leading lady, the other hitch is that the film is too long. At 152 minutes, you will need the full three courses to get through it. A pick ‘n’ mix to start, popcorn or a dirty hot dog for main, and some ice cream to finish. Some of Christian Bale’s scenes bored me a little, but you will be fully entertained by The Joker's jackass antics.


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