Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight (2008) [Reviewed By Cliffor Kiyabu]

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Released: 18 July 2008 (USA)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Curnen, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall

Plot: Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly.

Review: 10/10

My Thoughts: Since his debate in the late 1930’s Batman has been a world-renowned icon that has been said to be second only to Superman, people both love him and hate him on all corners of the planet, and rather you like him or not you cannot deny the fact you still know of him and, what he stands for. In truth more people like him than hate him (even the ones who say they dislike him like him) why is that? Is because he has cool gadgets? Or is it because he’s a billionaire playboy who is never seen without one or more hot women around his arms at once, and never the same women twice? The answer is none of the above, because if you take away the money, the power and the gadgets you’ll see what he really stands for and what we’ve come to love him for, justice, being able to go where no one else can, and doing what others can’t to maintain a balance between good and evil, the fact he does this completely at his own free will and is nothing more the a mere powerless mortal is what makes him truly great in my opinion. Now fast-forward throughout the years the Batman has had a live action TV show and many animated one too, which fallowed by four live action films made throughout the 1990’s fallowed by even more animated shows, however after the franchise suffered a serious low blow (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) which had taken the franchise to such a low degree that both critics and fans alike said the Batman was dead and unable to be revived from the ashes that it had been cast down to,

Even the film studio themselves decided to slap R.I.P. over the franchise and call it quits. However, nearly eight years would pass before director Christopher Nolan would come along and bring us Batman Begins, a delighted film which not only served as a reboot for the franchise, but also give a further insight at how Bruce Wayne becomes the man behind the mask, in other words, it showed how he begins. Something that the Burton/Schumacher films never did, they’d show his parents get killed and he suffers growing up without a family left but his trusted butler, but what about how he learned how to fight, or when he decided to become a symbol of hope. We got that very thing with Christopher Nolan, which during the film’s production got pretty bad press, but in the end the film was soon the victor out of it all. Now in 2008 the long wait is over, and the highly anticipated sequel arrives with nothing but high praise from fans and critics alike. I personally fell in love with this film within the first five minutes of the film, so much that I told myself I didn’t have a choice in it if I wanted to review it or not, that it was a must, if not I wouldn’t , it was an order from within myself to do so, so by the time the film was over I walked out of the theater room and walked right back in line and bought tickets to the very next showing, yes, I saw it twice back to back without a minutes break from each other.

The tone The Dark Knight brings on screen is nothing short of amazing! The plot is solid, and even more so greater than the first film, not to mention with Batman’s arch nemeses The Joker in the lead this time around, the story couldn’t be any more epic then shown in the trailers, or so I thought, I went into this with very mixed feelings, the first being the fact that no comic book movie till this date had been able to fulfill the expectations they normally get everyone hyped up for, I being a fan of a great deal of them can honestly say that there has always been one or two things that left me more or less unsatisfied with everyone comic book film, rather I loved it or not none has been able to get a soled 10/10 out me, the second reason for these mixed feelings was the fact that since the lost of beloved actor Heath Ledger, I knew a part of me would feel both sadness and at the same time anger, sadness because we’ll never see him play the Joker again, and anger because I did not want them to screw up the character or mistreat the last film of such a talented actor such as Mr. Ledger.

That is until the lights dimmed and I saw what director Christopher Nolan was able to bring to an audience that is both highly anticipated this film and morning the lost of a great talent, what he brought was a real gut ranching mind turning spectacular that never stop for a single moment, from the moment it starts it blow my mind away, the bank robbery in the beginning of the film was a real mouth opener for starters, and that’s not even counting the fact we are shown Mr. Ledger as the Joker for the first time in the film ether, no sir, after witnessing the Joker’s first appearance in the movie I was of complete lost for words, never in a 100 years would I have guessed how mad someone can go before they are not a man anymore, and this film showcases that very thing showing us why the Joker is Batman’s nemeses, much in the same way Batman is an incorruptible symbol, the Joker stand for anarchy in its most purest form, he doesn’t want money nor power, he just wants to see the world burn and everyone in it suffer, much like Chinese philosophy, he is the yin to Batman’s yang. They are both in a way, a form of balance, without either the balance would tip too much to the other side, so in a way, they or both a necessary in the world.

So as the film goes on it seems the more and more they go into the film the more and more epic it gets, not to mention slowly showing the devilment of Harvey Dent, showing how he slowly falls from the grace of good and into the darkness which ultimately turns him into the name he’ll forever be feared as…Two-Face. Now with the introduction of Harvey Dent becoming a villain is a slow one indeed, but good, not rushed or badly handled in anyway what so ever, the film shows him as the White Knight Gotham City deserves, and unlike the character’s previous portrayal by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever, Two-Face is not depicted as a murderous madman who kills out of pure fun or enjoyment, but rather as a scared soul that has endured so much pain and suffering both interior and exterior from playing by the rules, that a part of him has died, unfortunately for Harvey, that part of him was his humanity, now all that remains is a shell of the man he once was. This is exactly how he is supposed to be, it’s exactly how he’s in the comic and I’m glad that Nolan saw this and want with it, because it showed the even the most good of men can be corrupted in the end, and be driven to do unspeakable things.

Also this time around Batman himself begins to question his own motives and considers breaking his one rule for once, this shows that the Batman is not a superman or someone who is above all, but rather a man who is trying to do his best at saving his city from madmen like the Joker. Also the film shows us just how truly psychotic the Joker really is and how chaotic his true nature is, now I’m going to make this simple, everything you’ve ever seen of the Joker or heard for the matter, is merely child’s play to what is witnessed in The Dark Knight, he isn’t just crazy, no sir, he’s something else, something much more worse, he’s a symbol for pure evil, one that embraces his insanity, and drives to be more psychotic, more beyond saving, why, because he can, because he wants to and because it’s what he strives for, it’s what makes him the most fearsome villain to the good the people of Gotham city, and I guess the main reason why he’s loved by some much people despite being pure evil is deep down inside we envy him, we envy him because he is not bound by rules and plans, he does what he wants as he wishes, and I think deep down inside we all wish we could do the same. Over all I loved this movie, the first time I was in awe, the second time I was wowed beyond the point of no returned, [Laughs] and I really want to see it again real soon.

The story is about after the events the happed in Batman Begins, Batman (Bale) is trying to repair the damaged that had be done to Gotham City, however it seems thing are only getting worse by the day, with more and more copycats coming out of the woodworks trying to claim they are the Batman, however things start to look up for both Batman and Gotham City, when the newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart)cleans up new York by cracking down on police corruption and the big time mob bosses, teaming up with Lt. James Gordon and Batman, they become a force that can finally bring an end to Gotham City’s problems. The is however until a new form of evil arrives in Gotham, The Joker (Ledger) promising the Mob that their money and well being will be in safe hands if they agree pay him half of everything they have collected over the years running their drug operations, however money seems to be the last thing on the Joker’s mind as he seems to be more concerned about the Batman and his true identity, now giving Gotham City an ultimatum, have Batman reveal himself or one person will die every day, and he’s a man of his word, sure enough madness breaks out as none is safe from the Joker’s madness, and the Joker has targeted everyone may have had contact with Batman, this causes Gotham City’s White Knight, District Attorney Harvey Dent to fall from the justice he represented and into the injustice. They say it’s always darkest before the down but can Batman or Gotham be able to survive to see the down.

As for the acting, Christian Bale was amazing; I had my doubt about him back they chose him to play Batman, but after seeing him in Batman Begins, I was amazed with how good of a job he’d done that I saw he was by far the best actor to take on the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman. Heath Ledger was a pure masterpiece! I enjoyed seeing him play the joker, and I think his one of the best to take on the role, now I’m not saying that other actors weren’t as good, no, not by a long shot, all the actors who’ve played the role have done good, however none of which could capture the true psychotic Joker, Ledger not only shows it, he becomes it, he is the Joker in every way possible, I really hope he gets a Oscar nomination for this role, however it will be sad not seeing him act ever again. Aaron Eckhart was great, I personally didn’t care for him being picked for the role of Harvey Dent at first because I felt he wouldn’t be a great Two-Face, however he’s proven me wrong, and man am I glad for that. Michael Caine was very pleasing as Alfred Pennyworth, much like the last film, he gives the character wisdom and experience, and charisma to be Batman’s moral supporter.

Maggie Gyllenhaal was good, some have said that they didn’t like her as much as Katie Holmes, but I disagree, she does a much better job than Holmes, and even proves to be more committed to the role too. Gary Oldman was outstanding, he is one of the most talented actors out there now, and he’s played the role as James Gordon better than anyone who’s taken on the role. Morgan Freeman was fantastic as Lucius Fox, I was glad that they introduced his character in to the films this time around, his character has always played a role in the comics but was never shown in any of the Burton/Schumacher films, which was a disappointment for me, however I’m glad that Nolan did not make the same mistake. Eric Roberts was really good as Salvatore Maroni, in my opinion he may not look the part of Maroni, however he sure did play the part right, which is more than enough for me. Cillian Murphy was great as The Scarecrow, I really like him as The Scarecrow in the last film because he proved to be a more realistic The Scarecrow then the one in the comics or cartoons, and I will say his part was a little too short and I wanted a little more than five minutes or so, but I liked the fact he was still in this film because it leaves the way wide open for second reprisal by him in another sequel.

Final Say: I really enjoyed myself watching The Dark Knight it’s one of those rare films that must be seen in a theater room if you want to fully enjoy every bit of it, it’s got to be one of my all time favorite films ever seen, I swear I could see it over and over again, and can’t wait to see what Christopher Nolan can do next with this magnificent franchise. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

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