The Dark Knight review

Russell Clark weighs in on The Dark Knight - with our third 5-star review of the film!

Can it be that even 9 months of hype didn't do The Dark Knight justice...?

I have been dying to see The Dark Knight for ages now, as has most of the world. Last Friday I was lucky enough to get a preview ticket for a press screening at London’s Leicester Square. Sweet! So I spent all week getting excited that I’ll be seeing the most anticipated summer movie before anyone I know, then it dawned on me: I won’t be able to say a word about it. My co-workers would publicly castrate me if I gave any details away, and rightly so.

I’m also in a difficult position with regard to reviewing the movie. I have seen it and I do have strong opinions on it, the problem is writing them down in a way that won’t spoil the film for anyone reading this. It’s not an easy task so this wont be a standard review as I won’t talk about any of the plot points – why bother? Anyone visiting this site already knows the score.

The Dark Knight, simply put, is one of the finest movies I have seen. Ever. It’s up there with Terminator 2 in terms of scale and awesomeness. It’s simply the best superhero movie ever made. I know it’s wrong to compare my previous favourite (the original Superman) to The Dark Knight as they are polar opposites, but I believe you’ll agree with me after July 24th. Comparisons are always inevitable but it really does piss over every movie this year, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk pale massively in comparison. I loved both of them, but they both look like cheap kids’ movies next to Nolan’s masterpiece.

Christopher Nolan has also delivered what may be the best sequel ever (something that will no doubt be discussed in pubs for years to come). Batman Begins was a great movie and a fantastic restart to a dead franchise; although flawed, it paved the way for massive improvements. I won’t say The Dark Knight is perfect, but I will say it’s damn close. Nolan and his brother have written an undeniably brilliant script (Oscar-worthy in my opinion), intelligent, surprisingly witty and at some points shocking. The cinematography is fantastic, practical and computer effects are nigh on flawless and the movie’s colouration is simply perfect for Gotham City’s Caped Crusader.

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The most memorable thing about the movie for me was its scale. It’s massive – on a scale usually reserved for the likes of James Cameron. For the first time ever we see Batman escape from the confines of Gotham and venture forth to Hong Kong for a brief bit of ass-kickery and one of cinema’s coolest building exits.

We see more of Gotham than ever before with spiraling skyscrapers and wide New York style streets, Nolan has created a believable fictional city that makes a perfect setting for what is essentially an old fashion crime story – the way Batman should be. I won’t go into the plot. You don’t want to know until you get in there: avoid any more trailers, turn away from the TV ads and if I were you I’d stop reading reviews like this. Just go see it as fresh and as innocent as you can, and then get fucked up by it.

From the first few seconds the movie has a deep and unnerving sense of foreboding. The music, the visuals, the costumes and make up all emphasised by the untimely tragedy of Heath Ledger’s death. And that does make an impact. As you watch his performance you can’t help but think “shit, this guy’s dead now”.

So is all the praise merited? Should Heath Ledger be nominated for an Oscar? Is his performance better than Old Crazy Jack’s or just different?

I don’t agree with giving awards to people just because they died before their time, or because they never got one for Goodfellas. Awards are there to highlight and reward something extraordinary, and Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is truly extraordinary. He is brilliant and makes the Joker one of cinema’s most memorable villains ever. He thoroughly deserves at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, or maybe even lead… in fact I might head down to Ladbrokes now and put a fiver down.

You could easily argue this is the Joker’s movie – in fact, Bale himself has said Ledger just runs away with the movie. But one of Nolan’s strong points is his ability to get a fantastic supporting cast – Michael Caine is as likeable as ever, Morgan Freeman is just too cool for school and Maggie Gyllenhaal proves why ditching Katie Holmes was a very wise move. Meanwhile Bale proves he is officially the best Batman ever (and a damn cool Bruce Wayne who gets a fair bit of screen time).

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When it comes to ass-kicking and hard-core Batman action Chris Nolan delivers by the monster truck load. Batman is finally portrayed on film as a scary, double hard bastard. When he punches someone you can feel it, when he jumps of a building your heart skips a beat and when he introduces the Batpod, well, I almost shit with excitement – it’s one of the coolest scenes I have ever seen on screen.

The production design is top of its game (as you would expect!). The minor roles are acted brilliantly, the plot twists slapped me round and kept me on my toes and the middle 20 minutes is edge-of-your-seat, breathtaking action at its best.

The Dark Knight is dark in tone, incredibly well written, well acted and deserves to go down in both financial history and fan history as a remarkable achievement in movie making. I love this movie and I think you will too.

Check out iGizmo magazine for an interactive look into Batman’s gadgets – or read our other reviews of The Dark Knight here and here.

Rating:

5 out of 5