Classic Film Review: The Dark Night (2008)

Marvel vs. DC:

The Dark Knight, 2008

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman

 

After the successful Batman Begins rebooted the franchise that Batman & Robin tried to kill, Christian Bale (Batman Begins) returns as Batman and is faced with The Joker (Heath Ledger) and, ultimately, Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart), as well as facing a population being killed off one-by-one until he unmasks at the behest of The Joker. There have been eight Batman-led films (not including those now in the DCEU) and this is easily the greatest of the franchise.

It is a testament to how successful this film was that Heath Ledger was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, with superhero films very rarely gaining any recognition in the major Oscar categories (it was nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards overall). While Jack Nicholson’s Joker is iconic, and he plays the role fantastically, my preference leans more towards Ledger’s performance, and it is such a shame that such a promising actor passed away at a tragically young age. What I do love about The Dark Knight, though, is how they integrated talented youngsters such as Ledger and Christian Bale (Hostiles) with veteran stars such as Morgan Freeman (Going in Style), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) and Michael Caine (Kingsman: The Secret Service), creating this brilliant cast of actors, which ultimately helped in producing a brilliant film. Aided by the brilliant music of Hans Zimmer and some amazing cinematography and special effects, this film is a visually brilliant.

While I’m not the biggest fan of Bale (and he’s not my favourite Batman), I can’t hide from the fact he does play a solid Bruce Wayne opposite the craziness and wackiness that is Ledger’s Joker. His calmness is tested by the deaths of his friends and the public wanting his head while trying to fight off The Joker’s next moves, which brutally situate around only one party being saveable (such as his dilemma to save Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal) or Harvey (Aaron Eckhart) and two ships being told they need to blow the other up to survive). The Joker’s progression throughout the film is nothing short of exceptional, from a small-time crime boss to Gotham’s terrorist, doing it for the sake of the thrill, rather than to gain a specific ends also adds to his unpredictability.

There aren’t really any negatives to say about this film; it only lost out on marks because aside from Ledger there aren’t any absolutely amazing performances (just solid performances, as you’d expect from the cast) and the script seemed to favour more on The Joker’s journey than anything else, which negates too much emotional growth from Batman/Bruce Wayne. But those are small nit-picks in an otherwise fantastic film. It serves amazingly well as a superhero film and as a crime drama, with great performances, stunning visuals and a plot which progresses nicely and never leaves you feeling bored despite its lengthy runtime.

 

Plot: * * * * *     Acting: * * * *     Writing: * * * *     Presentation: * * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * * ½

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