Onward to The Dark Knight. Which has the special distinction of being my birthday review! (EDIT: Which was yesterday...didn't manage to get this one finished in time.) Yay!
AHHH! I'm sorry! I don't want it to be my birthday anymore!!
So umm...yeah. The Dark Knight is the sequel to Batman Begins, which is one of the many Batman reboots. It stars Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, the latter of whom won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor.
Full Disclosure: I have seen this movie, as well as the film before it, but I never saw any of the other versions of Batman that popped up over the years. I have gotten into arguments about whether or not Batman is a superhero, though. If that means anything.
So this picks up not too far after the first film ends (although apparently Rachel is a Time Lord, because it looks like she regenerated between movies). Gotham is still having issues with its drug cartel and mobster population, but the new DA, Harvey Dent, is trying to clean up this town.
But there's a new player in town: The Joker. Who is easily one of the most unrepentantly evil and psychotic characters in film history. Like, he would make Hannibal Lector give him a weird look and say, "You should probably talk to someone about that." So the Joker wants to hire himself out to the mobsters as an independent contractor of sorts: for the right price, he's going to kill the Batman.
At first the mob guys are all Ewww you're creepy go away, but they start singing a different tune when Batman manages to forcibly extradite their accountant from Hong Kong, who of course immediately rolls over on them. The mobsters have lost all their money, and they're all going to jail. Sucky time to be a mobster. So these guys decide enough is enough, and they hire the Joker. Great idea. Give the scary unstable guy free reign and a sense of purpose. This Will End Well.
A few dead high-ranking officials later, the Joker reveals himself to Batman. And it's on like Donkey Kong. So he pulls some crazy shenanigans, gets himself in police custody, and plays the ultimatum game with Batman: he can save Rachel, he can save Harvey Dent, but he can't save both. Batman makes the tough angsty hero choice, and saves the one who can conceivably do the most good: Harvey Dent. Rachel dies, and Harvey survives with severe burns on half of his face (understatement).
Unfortunately the Joker pays a little visit to Harvey (now Two Face), and turns him to the Dark Side of the Force. Two Face goes to deliver a little justice (read: misguided vigilante murders), while the Joker turns his attention to his "social experiment". There's two ferries full of people: one filled with everyday folk, one filled with hardened criminals. Each has a detonator to the bombs on the other ferry, and if nobody sets it off by midnight, everybody dies. I love a good Mexican standoff.
What the Joker doesn't see coming, however, is that not everyone in the world is a crazy person like him. Neither ferry blows the other up, and just this once, everybody lives. Batman captures the Joker, but doesn't finish him off (it's a bit of the Peter Pan/Captain Hook relationship -- a world without one or the other scarcely bears imagining). Meanwhile, Two Face has captured Jim Gordon, who he sees as responsible for Rachel's death, and his family. He threatens to kill Gordon's son, but before he gets a chance, Batman comes to the rescue. He saves the little boy, killing Dent in the process.
Gordon and Batman decide that Harvey Dent's memory shouldn't be tarnished by his most recent misadventures, so Batman takes the blame for the murders. He becomes the villain, so that Harvey Dent can remain the hero -- because that's what's most important for Gotham's future.
- Can I just say that I really don't like people who wear funny masks to rob banks -- it brings back painful memories of Point Break.
Although I do find it really funny that they're all double crossing each other, only to get the ultimate double cross from the Joker himself. That'll teach you to trust a criminal mastermind.
- Who pays for all the property damage Batman causes as he's showboating around Gotham?
- I can't cope with the fact that Bruce needs an alibi, so his obvious plan is to run off with the entire Russian ballet. What? Good on you, Batman.
- I'm sorry. I'm pretty sure I just heard a cop say, "Have a nice trip, see you next fall," while escorting a mob guy into the backseat of a black and white. I realize that you guys are bringing in a lot of baddies lately and there's only so many tough guy quips, but you've got to do better than that. Follow Batman around with a notepad as he fights crime, before you embarrass yourself again.
- So I realize that Batman is (supposedly) a fictional character, but I actually think he just might be Hugh Hefner. Let's do some simple math.
pretty much equals
You know I'm not wrong.
- I'm a big fan of the Joker's changing stories about how he got his scars. I like it because for me, the scariest bit about the Joker is that there is no explanation. It's human nature to want to figure out why people do what they do, but in the Joker's case, he does it because he likes it, and there isn't anything more. Which leads into my favorite line in the movie, and of course it's the wonderful Michael Caine who delivers it. "Some men just want to watch the world burn." Brilliant.
- I can't be the only person who's not digging on the gravelly Batman voice. I know he does it as a disguise, but it really makes my throat hurt.
- Also, I don't hate Maggie Gyllenhaal as an actress, but I so vastly preferred Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. She was so much warmer and more likeable. I also bought her and Christian Bale as childhood friends a lot more...not to mention as two people who loved each other.
- So I'm a girl, and I'm not super into cars or anything like that...but I really want a car like the Batmobile that I could do anything to and it would just keep on trucking. Or, you know, a Facel Vega. I'm a girl of simple tastes.
- Also, I kind of love when Bruce Wayne encounters people (like Jim Gordon) that know and respect Batman, but think of him as a moronic playboy. For some reason I just find that hilarious.
- I'm not a medical professional, but I'm having a hard time believing that Harvey Dent could survive having half his face exposed to the bone like that. And I'm having an even harder time believing that he's OK being up and about and drinking alcohol (that would burn so bad!) and killing people without any painkillers or at the very least a nice skin graft.
- I can't help but love the moment when the Joker stops in the hospital hallway for some hand sanitizer. Like, even the Joker's not into germs.
So that was The Dark Knight. Certainly one of the best comic book movies out there, and I like it because Christopher Nolan was not afraid of taking Batman and making it dark as hell. Most of the other comic book movies stay away from that sort of thing. Is it overrated? Undoubtedly. It's impossible for it not to have been, with the late Heath Ledger giving one of the best performances of his career only to have it cut short by tragedy. Of course people are going to overhype something like that. But that doesn't mean that this movie isn't great, or that Heath Ledger didn't give us one of the best villains of all time. It's just maybe not quite as good as everyone was saying it was back in 2008. That being said, it is a really wonderful movie. Christopher Nolan really came into this project with a vision, and I think this is probably as close to art as a Batman movie can ever hope to achieve. I am really excited for the next one to come out. Because I'm a geek like that.
Thanks for reading, sorry this guy came out a little late, but I was very busy yesterday and today. Come back next time for Wings of Desire!
Want to know more about the Top 1000 List? Check it out and see if your favorites are here! They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?