The Dark Knight

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dark knight
Which of these two will get an Oscar nomination — Heath Ledger or Maggie Gyllenhaal?

If you spend the few extra bucks to see it in IMAX, at least you’re getting a two and a half hour movie. Every minute of it is exciting, so it’s well worth the money spent; but before I go on praising it, let me tell you first the few things I didn’t care for. I got confused by the plot a few times, as the narrative could’ve been more coherently fleshed out. Or maybe I’m just a dope, and got distracted by all the cool explosions and mayhem happening around me.

Also…enough about Heath Ledger in his final performance. Yes, he’s great in the role. Yes, he’ll get an Oscar nomination. No, he didn’t make me forget about Jack Nicholson. Anybody that wants to compare those characters has to realize something. The Batman movie made in the ‘80s was back in a time when super hero movies were made like comic books and something the whole family could enjoy. Nicholson threw paint on paintings in a gallery while dancing around to Prince blasting from a boom box. He put glasses on while dangling from a building, just to ask Batman “You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?”

Ledger wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses. He’d shove a pencil into his eyeball!

What people don’t realize about playing crazies is…it’s a lot easier than you realize. Think about it. He has wacky make-up on his face. That helps. He’s doing this thing with his lips and tongue that is borrowed from Al Pacino’s devil in The Devil’s Advocate, and he’s reading menacing lines written for him, with manic laughter and a few facial tics. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Ledger in this. He steals most of the scenes he’s in; but I think Christian Slater would’ve done just as well (and then it would’ve been a bit more fun comparing this Joker with Nicholson’s).

And with all the Ledger praise, I’m guessing Aaron Eckhart won’t get the love he deserves. The story arc with his Harvey Dent character is great fun to watch.

The rest of the cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaul, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox (wasn’t there an ABA player with that name?). Gary Oldman does a great job underplaying his part to great affect, and of course Christian Bale is back as Batman. A few big actors from the ‘80s are good in their small roles – Anthony Michael Hall and Eric Roberts.

Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan gave us Batman Begins in 2005, and it was pretty good. This movie totally eclipses that. It’s a comic book movie, but so much more. It’s a crime drama, with even a little bit of terrorism thrown in which is perfect for the times.

And what an unpredictable film. There aren’t many movies you can say that about. Bruce Wayne hangs up his wings as new district attorney Harvey Dent starts putting a dent in crime. This isn’t like in the Superman movie where Christopher Reeves character just wanted to live a normal life with Lois Lane. With Batman running around there’s chaos and copy cat vigilante crimes that are just making things worse for society. Well, okay…maybe the part about Batman returning when the Joker starts up was a bit predictable, but nothing else was.

Many are calling this the best super movie hero ever. Perhaps. I’d be hard pressed to think of another one I could argue against it. It’s certainly the most adult super hero movie. The Dark Knight is rather dark, even with the humor.

I was still annoyed a bit by Batman’s voice, and I wish Nolan would’ve created a bit more tension with Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne both liking the same woman. It would’ve worked better for some scenes later in the film.

The set-pieces are stunning. One famous critic complained that the motorcycle wouldn’t have logistically been very practical. Oh shut up! I’m guessing 12 of the gadgets on the dashboard of James Bond’s Aston Martin weren’t either, but they’re a lot of fun. Let us enjoy those monster wheels on the bike.

I liked Christopher Nolan’s Memento better, but this is definitely the best movie at the theatres this weekend. You don’t have to be a comic book geek to enjoy it.

I’m giving it an A-.

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