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MikeInMotion's Movie Reviews (23)

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The Dark Knight 
And... here... we... go!
4/4 stars

With superhero movies, there’s a certain boundary that all are contained in. There have been big strides recently in pushing the boundaries of these films, but they still have that “comic-book” feel to them that distinctly keeps them in their own world. With The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan has blasted open those boundaries with a bazooka, and allows this movie to stand all on its own. This movie may have Batman in it, but you could easily swap these characters out with “real” people and it would have the same effect. The Dark Knight is a truly ground-breaking film, and has set the bar extremely high for all future comic book films.

At the end of Batman Begins we are aware that The Joker is now making a name for himself in Gotham, and that story is continued in this film. He has completely flipped Gotham on its head, performing acts that leave citizens of Gotham in panic. His brilliance seems to come from a strict and well thought-out plan, but that’s where the scary part comes in: this is just who he is. He isn’t restricted to the “end result” that most all villains are attached to. He doesn’t have an end result. He doesn’t have a goal to work towards. The Joker, like Batman, is a symbol for something, and that is chaos. Just like Batman will never stop protecting people, The Joker will never stop harming them.

Batman is the one person in Gotham who has the tools to take him down, although there is a more traditional man who represents the normalcy and order in Gotham, which is essential for the city. This man is Harvey Dent, who many call Gotham’s “White Knight.” He cracks down on the criminals, does not compromise, and gives an enormous ray of hope for Gotham. He is what Gotham needs, not a masked vigilante, which is what Batman is portrayed as. Knowing this, the fact still remains that to truly stop the wheels that are in motion to destroy Gotham, you need to get your hands dirty, and the one man that can afford to do that is Batman. Unlike Harvey Dent, Batman’s true identity is a mystery, and he does not need to worry about public opinion. He will take the bullet for Gotham, whether he is adored or abhorred for it, because that is what needs to be done.

The most striking thing about The Dark Knight compared to Batman Begins is the intensity. The sense of danger in this film is ramped up so much that Batman Begins feels laid back in comparison. The Joker is such an evil and compelling villain, that every scene he is in he creates such a sense of impending doom. He is constantly striking fear into the citizens of Gotham, causing immense fear throughout the city. Batman struggles to understand this man, to figure out what it is he is after, and when he realizes that there is no answer to that question, that is when we know that Gotham is in the most danger it has ever been in.

Batman Begins had a great cast, but I can say the cast is even better this time around. Katie Holmes has been replaced with Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and she is a great improvement. The character has much more depth, as Maggie Gyllenhaal is able to convey more emotion and has more range. Aaron Eckhart is another new face, playing Harvey Dent. He is fantastic, as he is very charismatic yet stern, showing the citizens of Gotham that he is a man very much in control of the situation. His character takes a very dramatic turn near the end of the film, and I will just say that it was one of the most compelling character arcs I have ever seen in a movie.

Christian Bale once again plays Batman / Bruce Wayne. His character is so conflicted in this movie, as he has become obsessed with defending Gotham, while at the same time hoping that his one true love, Rachel Dawes, will return to him. Rachel is his way out, his light at the end of the tunnel, and without her Bruce does not have a path. The fact that Rachel is dating Harvey Dent hurts him greatly, though he isn’t quick to show it. Bruce is such a deeply flawed character, and he is very reserved, so the pain that he is feeling needs to be shown through mannerisms and Christian Bale pulls that off wonderfully.

The star of the show, of course, is The Joker, played by Heath Ledger. This was a very risky movie on Christopher Nolan’s part, because Heath Ledger is playing the most iconic Batman villain there is, and he wasn’t exactly a well-known or bankable actor. Regardless of doubts, Heath Ledger absolutely steals the show in this movie. His screen presence is so magnetic, and his performance is so chaotic, that his performance is instantly iconic. The preparation he did for the role must have been enormous, because when I watch him in this movie I don’t ever think that it is Heath Ledger behind the make-up. He became The Joker, he WAS the Joker, and that resulted in one of the best performances I have ever seen.

The Dark Knight is a movie that thrives on the fact that – even though the inspiration comes from a comic book – its plot is something that is completely above that characterization. These are characters from a comic book that have been thrown into one of the most intense crime dramas ever told. What if a person so psychotic, yet so brilliant decided to reek havoc on a city, and was so feared that there was nothing anybody could do about it? This is something that is not only interesting, but frightening in the fact that it isn’t farfetched at all. The Dark Knight is easily one of the best comic book movies out there, but putting it solely into the comic book genre is doing the movie a disservice. The Dark Knight, plain and simple, is one of the greatest movies ever made.

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