Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me make one thing perfectly clear, The Dark Knight blew me farther out of the water than any film in recent memory. Words like genius and work of art come to mind when describing this film, the few extremely minor qualms I have with it are such that I would feel sacrilegious mentioning them. Suffice it to say that Christian Bale is one of my absolute favorite actors, fully embodying the darkest of heroes, bravest of knights, most brilliant of defenders as the caped crusader. Then of course is a man who will forever be remembered as quite possibly the greatest screen villain of all time. There is speculation that preparing for the role of the Joker drove Heath Ledger to his death, but to that I say the exact opposite, the role did not kill him but will instead immortalize him for all time. Heath Ledger may be dead, but the Joker will live forever.

I want a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Ledger, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, and depending on what else Hollywood fields this year, (probably not much) a Best Picture for the film. My heart started pounding as the first scene began and is still thumping hard in my chest. For two and a half hours, the audience is wrenched along by a thrill ride that scares, invigorates, stupefies and astounds with knife edge twists, turns and corkscrews. You enter a world of fear, of anarchy and chaos, of corruption, violence and death, one where you fear every street corner and avoid every dark alley, yet always, a glimmer of human decency and morality endures.

Bale's Batman carries the torch of hope like the greatest of champions, a shadow across the red tint in the world, an absolute force for justice and good. Of course, where there is one polarity there too must be another, and where once stood Heath Ledger the man is now simply The Joker, an absolute force of death, a horseman of the Apocalypse, a man with a plan so terrifying and so well crafted by Nolan that never once is the audience disappointed and not for a single moment does the tension, suspense, drama and mind gnawing fear let up. Let there be no mistake, Ledger's Joker stole the spotlight and held it in a vice grip for the length of the impossibly compelling film.

In case there was any doubt, I absolutely endorse The Dark Knight as a shining batlight in the sky that Hollywood deserves our continued patronage, or at least anything with the name Bale or Nolan attached to it. The fight scenes are invigorating, the chase scenes are captivating, and every single scene that has anything at all to do with the Joker is absolutely terrifying. If you like any combination of action, fight scenes, chase scenes, super psychotic man-monsters, lone figures fighting against impossible odds, great acting with nigh complete character transformation, impossibly well crafted plot, or just really cool gadgets, you have my word you will leave the theater with a pounding chest and whirring brain. More than six hours after leaving the theater, my brain is still trying to process the beacon of good against evil and against itself.

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