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10 reviews, 178 user ratings

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Dark Knight, The
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by Mel Valentin

"Epic, masterpiece-level filmmaking (In a summer blockbuster no less)."
5 stars

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the eagerly anticipated sequel to "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight" directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan ("The Prestige," "Insomnia," "Memento," "Following"). "The Dark Knight" isn’t just a sequel that rises to the same level or even surpasses the original (it's definitely the latter), but the rare superhero/comic book adaptation and summer blockbuster/tentpole that transcends its genre and commercial limitations to become art. "The Dark Knight" is no “art film,” though, at least not in the way that phrase is commonly understood. It’s grand, epic-scaled filmmaking, crime-noir/tragedy that would have rivals anything Fyodor Dostoevsky ("The Brothers Karamazov," "The Devils," "Crime and Punishment") wrote.

The Dark Knight opens with a thrilling, suspenseful prologue that introduces The Joker (Heath Ledger), a scarred, sociopath in clown makeup, robbing a bank in Gotham City (Chicago standing in for Batman’s fictional hometown). It’s filmed, edited, and scored (by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard) with impressive skill (think Michael Mann’s Heat shot in the 70mm IMAX format, as are five other action scenes). The Joker isn’t just robbing a bank; it's a mob bank used to launder "dirty" money. Once the Joker has the undivided attention of the crime families, he makes them an offer they can’t refuse: half of everything they own, including future proceeds, in exchange for eliminating Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale).

The newly elected District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), an idealist “white knight,” dedicates himself to ridding Gotham of organized crime, focusing primarily on two mob bosses, Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts) and the Chechen (Ritchie Coster). Dent’s assistant DA and Wayne’s former girlfriend, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, stepping in for Katie Holmes), and Batman’s confidante in the Major Crimes Unit, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), round out the key players. The Joker, however, isn’t interested in money or power as ends, but in creating chaos and anarchy through violence and destruction.

Nolan and co-screenwriter (and brother) brother, Jonathan (David S. Goyer, Nolan's Batman Begins screenwriting partner, receives a story credit here), researched the Batman mythos before writing the screenplay. Nolan looked to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “Batman: Year Two” storyline, The Long Halloween, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, and Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke’s retelling Batman's first encounter with the Joker, The Man Who Laughs, for inspiration. Nolan also leaned heavily on ideas and themes found in Alan Moore’s canon-re-defining one-shot, The Killing Joke (e.g., the Joker telling multiple, contradictory origin stories, his plan to drive one or more characters insane with grief and loss).

Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Bruce’s longtime butler and surrogate father, and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Wayne’s "Q"-like (as in James Bond’s “Q”) weapons inventor, represent different sides of a moral argument: how far Bruce Wayne/Batman, a masked vigilante already acting outside the law, should go in apprehending a sociopath? As both Gordon and Dent work with Batman, circumventing the law to stop organized crime and the Joker, the same question applies to them.

In Nolan’s take, the Joker is equal pars trickster (as in the trickster character or god from world mythology), “agent of chaos,” conscience-free serial killer, and anarchist/terrorist. Unsympathetic and irredeemable, the Joker is defined by his actions and what Nolan doesn't give him: a backstory or origin story. He also doesn’t have a character arc. He remains unchanged throughout The Dark Knight. The Joker is sui generis (self-made), a monster who looks and sounds recognizably human, but isn't; interested only in destroying the social order to reveal the monsters and madmen (and madwomen) hiding inside his victims.

Bruce Wayne/Batman, however, is too iconic a superhero to change significantly beyond the elements that have defined him for close to seventy years, regardless of medium (e.g., comics, animation, and film). Either Wayne integrates the grief and anger from losing his parents years earlier, and gives up the cape or cowl or continues on as the Caped Crusader, making a difference through action and inspiration. Batman’s rule against killing can’t change as well (broken bones and bloodied faces are fine, though). Crossing that line makes him no better, in his eyes and in the eyes of the law, than the criminals he's trying to stop and bring to justice (and justice does mean the criminal justice system). That rule becomes the crux of the moral dilemma that faces Batman as the Joker engineers one dilemma after another. Even then, it’s Harvey Dent and the slow erosion of his ideals, his evolution (or rather devolution) from Dent to Two-Face that gives The Dark Knight its multi-layered, tragic arc.

The Dark Knight always circles back to the Joker. With Heath Ledger, giving, sadly, the performance of an all-too-brief career, under the greasepaint and silicon scars, the Joker is easily the most memorable villain put on film. He’s not just an anarchic, knife wielding terrorist, but a malevolent trickster character, upending, subverting, and overturning the social order out of a compulsive, twisted morality. In fact, the Joker is a close (fictional) relative to the villain in the Coen Brother’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country for Old Men, Chigurh (played by Javier Bardem). He represents death, destruction, and decay. He’s nihilism personified. Centering a film, let alone a blockbuster/tentpole film like The Dark Knight on an irredeemable, murderous psychopath involved considerable risk. Warner Bros. certainly deserves a tip of the cowl for giving Nolan latitude to put his vision of the Batman universe on screen.

Storytelling flaws begin to show up later in the film, specifically a scene involving the Joker and police officers that requires them to behave like idiots for his plan to work, implausible character turns, several plot holes, including one involving a mole inside the Major Crimes Unit, and the rush through Harvey’s post-injury scenes. The scene set in Hong Kong is more James Bond than Bruce Wayne/Batman (it’s still masterfully shot and edited, of course), plus it violates one of the cornerstones of Aristotle’s Poetics (e.g., time, place, and character). It’s a minor point, but then again any of The Dark Knight’s flaws are minor and, in the context of what Nolan has accomplished here, forgivable.

When film critics and movie bloggers compile their year-end top-10 lists, expect "The Dark Knight" to be at the top or near the top. More importantly, expect the "The Dark Knight" to become the first superhero/comic book adaptation to receive a nomination for Best Picture. Assuming "The Dark Knight" wins, it’ll be well deserved. Heath Ledger (only one other actor, Peter Finch for "Network," has won a posthumous Oscar for Best Actor), the visual effects group, Wally Pfister’s cinematography, Nathan Crowley’s production design, and the percussive, Kraftwerk by way of Steve and Akira Ifukube (the "Godzilla" theme) score by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, and Lee Smith’s restrained editing, should be nominated in their respective categories as well.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17085&reviewer=402
originally posted: 07/17/08 20:42:38
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell AWESOME GRITTY EXCITING 5 stars
2/20/17 Dave One of the better superhero films out there, but I am not a huge fan of Nolan's direction 4 stars
4/26/16 Ken Amazing film. Heath Ledger was a great Joker, even though Jack Nicholson was great, too. 5 stars
3/13/16 Charles Tatum One of those films where everything absolutely works 5 stars
9/11/15 misterfilms my top 3 films of 00s: LOTR, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, THE NEW WORLD 3 stars
5/02/15 Cooler One of the greatest movies ever made 5 stars
3/02/15 mira storm all nolan's film is shit 1 stars
2/16/15 roxelena it waste my time and my money when i watched this film in theatre 2 stars
2/14/15 enicmatic al is this gay movie? YES 1 stars
2/14/15 jason gracio this movie are GAY! 2 stars
2/08/15 russel fuck you fanboy this is the most SHITTIEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!! 1 stars
1/08/15 vendoza overrated piece of shit in cinematic history 1 stars
1/06/15 brando i hate this crap! 1 stars
1/04/15 crovie i didn't like this movie 1 stars
6/18/14 Haley S. This was such a great movie. It's one of my favorites! 5 stars
3/23/14 Justin R. Mesmerizing! 5 stars
1/13/13 austin one of the best movies of the century 5 stars
10/11/12 austin wonderful 5 stars
9/18/12 Gabrielle Barnard The Best Superhero Movie. Dark, dramatic, intriguing, riveting...I could go on all day. 5 stars
9/06/12 austin fantastic 5 stars
8/28/12 Alex Figueroa Epic! 5 stars
8/08/12 Kcaj fuck yeah 5 stars
7/26/12 Amanda Smith Captured my attention. 5 stars
7/24/12 the truth yes 5 stars
6/19/12 Jordan Kentris Holy cow, this movie blew me away. Heath Ledgers performance was amazing. 5 stars
12/21/11 Isaac Simply the best comic book film ever made; it works on every level. 5 stars
12/14/11 cr Even if christian bale is not my fav batman, this movie and heath ledger perf. were soild. 3 stars
10/18/11 Magic An apocalyptic movie, Wagnerian in scope. The escalation in nihilism is exhilarating. 5 stars
5/25/11 Glenn Laurence Hardy Junior this movie is great. no question or doubt in my mind. friend me on facebook!mypic. is sonic 5 stars
4/26/11 the rock one of the best action crime films around 5 stars
3/10/11 bored mom The DC Comics equivalent of Chinatown? In the end, there is only madness and death. 5 stars
11/30/10 Barbara Leaf I cried every time I saw Heath Ledger, r.i.p.,but he was the best thing in the fillm 3 stars
2/05/10 Jessica Pretty long, Ledger was absolutely amazing though! 4 stars
1/23/10 MP Bartley Ledger is quite terrific. I'm not convinced the rest of the film is as good as he. 4 stars
1/19/10 Stanley Thai One of the best movies of 2008 and easily the best in the entire mythology. 5 stars
1/10/10 David Overlong and overblown. Not impressed with Bale, Ekhart or Gyllenhaal. 2 stars
7/03/09 Jonathan Birch Very Overrated. Boring, pales in comparison to other crime films it tries to imitate 3 stars
6/28/09 budo Poor performance by Ledger? He won by the greatest margin in Academy Award history. He was 5 stars
6/14/09 R Lan Simply the best of the Batman movies. A perfect marriage of a great script and great action 5 stars
6/08/09 freak awesome 5 stars
4/28/09 Dr.Lao One of the few things in this world that actually lives up to the hype 5 stars
4/09/09 Raul Valdez Jr POSSIBLY THE BEST MOVIE OF 2009 5 stars
4/08/09 Chris F such a poor performance by heath ledger not a patch on jack nicholson 1 stars
3/28/09 Dani O. Epic win. 5 stars
3/16/09 austin wertman best superhero movie ever 5 stars
2/23/09 man best superhero movie ever 5 stars
2/11/09 Stewart Sadistically violent with no moral purpose. Boring convoluted story and bad action scenes. 1 stars
2/02/09 Piz great adaptation of the comic book, but felt a little too rushed in the end. 4 stars
1/31/09 lo& Kinda overrated.I must be the only person alive that thinks 'Begins' was better than this. 4 stars
1/14/09 dude best movie of the year 5 stars
1/03/09 Lucy whoever gives this film a bad rating is crazy. 5 stars
1/02/09 FrankNFurter Gritty, chilling thriller--probably the first superhero Academy Award contender! 5 stars
12/29/08 Flounder This is a dark, morally complex crime drama - and one of the best I have ever seen at that 5 stars
12/28/08 the dork knight my only complaint is my mom didn't like it. :P 5 stars
12/18/08 Craig D. It's not The Godfather. It's not even the best movie of 2008. Get a hold of yourselves. 4 stars
12/11/08 Richard Remington Adam West is and always will be the best Batman,the rest are all clowns! 1 stars
12/10/08 K. Sear Surprisingly complex. 4 stars
12/10/08 Hope people are going far in saying "the best movie ever"but it is great and i saw it 2x =] 5 stars
12/06/08 Jared Robb Very epic film, casting was perfect. Excellent acting all around. 5 stars
11/30/08 killer feels epic this film 5 stars
11/27/08 little Red best movie ever. Heath Ledger was perfect as the joker. to bad hes dead 5 stars
11/25/08 Leo T very dark, but never lost the Batman 'feel'.... awesome 5 stars
11/19/08 Joker Fan one of the best films ever created 5 stars
11/16/08 killer one of the best crime films ever 5 stars
11/15/08 Meep Has it's moments certainly, and better than Begins, but still just ok 3 stars
11/11/08 Michael M Not perfect, but indeed a great film. And like all Nolan films, has an incredible ending. 4 stars
10/31/08 ldavies Could have used some editing. Ledger and Bale were fantastic. 4 stars
10/19/08 heath electrifyimg 5 stars
10/17/08 AshleyRockO The Best Superhero movie ever made. Period. The acting from everyone is impeccable. 5 stars
10/13/08 The Dork Knight A bit too much speechifying by the villains but otherwise good 4 stars
10/09/08 man best superhero movie ever 5 stars
10/09/08 dude best superhero movie ever 5 stars
10/05/08 jokera mindblowing 5 stars
9/30/08 Danny BEST...MOVIE...EVER!!! 5 stars
9/26/08 Ken It's not a great movie if at least one person in the world didn't like it 3 stars
9/16/08 joker face mindblowing cinema 5 stars
9/16/08 Brad The Joker is the best villian in the DC universe and Heath Ledger nailed the role 5 stars
9/15/08 Carla A. Amazing film, brilliant performances, intelligent script. What more could you ask for? 5 stars
9/15/08 g. AWESOME 5 stars
9/11/08 Joker's Younger Brother incredible movie....The Joker is the best villian EVER....!!! 5 stars
9/09/08 dark knight ledger is the new hannibal lecter 5 stars
9/06/08 Halad65 Amazing film. 5 stars
8/30/08 another one fucking kicks ass 5 stars
8/30/08 AnnieG Better than ‘Begins’, although it could have ended much sooner. 4 stars
8/27/08 Quigley Amazing, brilliant, well-acted/directed, this film is unforgettable. Ledger was incredible 5 stars
8/22/08 pantera best film ever 5 stars
8/21/08 black_queen_marches Ledger's performance was the best i've ever seen, awesome movie, ending was anticlimatic 5 stars
8/21/08 Jen Minor flaws aside, the most earnest, thought-provoking and satiating movie in years. 5 stars
8/20/08 Christ An ok movie, but certainly not great. 3 stars
8/17/08 jonathantstorm mindblowing cinema 5 stars
8/16/08 Ricky This film honestly blew me away. The ending gave me chills. Top notch in every respect 5 stars
8/15/08 Allan Jackson not the great film that I had expected to see, but satisfactory. Michael Caine was good and 3 stars
8/14/08 Melissa Ledger was wonderful. If you get the opportunity you should see it at IMAX! 4 stars
8/14/08 Alice Heath Ledger was very very good as the psycho Joker.He is the reason I give 4 stars. 4 stars
8/13/08 jessica speechless! cristian bale and heath ledger were great! 5 stars
8/13/08 snakeeyes awesome 5 stars
8/11/08 RB The best of the Batman movies. Ledger, Oldman and Eckhart carry the movie though 4 stars
8/11/08 M Took it self a bit too seriously, but nonethe less great. Heath was perfect! 4 stars
8/09/08 JW Heavyhanded, confused storytelling. Good performances. Good explosions. 3 stars
8/08/08 Bnorm Freaking amazing. with out a doubt the best superhero movie ever made 5 stars
8/07/08 Tiffany Losco LOved it!! Heath was crazy lookin though. But he is a great actor. 5 stars
8/06/08 Ameisha It was long...but worth it! 4 stars
8/05/08 Paul Sweet, sweet brilliance. 5 stars
8/05/08 E K Zimmerman Am I the only one who loathed this garbage flick? 1 stars
8/04/08 Zim my favorite super hero movie 5 stars
8/02/08 Mark Glazer The Joker was the scariest ever. Great movie!!! 5 stars
8/02/08 J Smaltz Boreing, fell asleep somewhere in the final hour, never did see Ledger die or what ever 1 stars
8/01/08 R.W. Welch Chaotic actioner is carried by Ledger's inspired Joker characterization. B+ 4 stars
7/30/08 johnnybgoode Ledger was great. This film overall was well-done but a bit over-rated. 4 stars
7/29/08 zenny top-10 action movie, all-time 5 stars
7/27/08 austin wertman best superhero movie ever 5 stars
7/27/08 Samantha Pruitt too long, dragged a bit, the only good part was the Joker. 3 stars
7/26/08 Roland same old bat...boring..exept for heath ledger who actually carrys anoter ways tired pot 2 stars
7/26/08 christy this movie is thoughtful and incredible. best in '08. 5 stars
7/25/08 Ry Great film with a message! 5 stars
7/25/08 erick definitely, the best superheroes movie ever. heath ledger deserves the oscar. 5 stars
7/23/08 Albert Darmawan L Fantastic&Superior.The best Batman movie i`ve ever seen. 5 stars
7/22/08 Roy Smith This should be 6 Stars ------------> 5 stars
7/22/08 mr.mike First half rocked , 2nd half fell off 4 stars
7/22/08 The Talking Elbow TDK WAS flawed. Tried to fit too much into one film. Choppy editing. This made it boring. 4 stars
7/21/08 COUSINSEXx TDK is not your tweeny superhero flik but an epic crime saga in the realm of The Godfather2 5 stars
7/21/08 mike Ledger was freakin awesome. One of the best villains ever 5 stars
7/21/08 Luisa Heath Ledger is very disturbing, what a great performance. Movie is good but ran too long! 4 stars
7/21/08 Koitus Just - "wow." BUT - I checked the rating as I left; totally a border-line "R", IMHO. 5 stars
7/21/08 Heat1996 Good story, okay script, excellent acting, really good cinematography...Ledger, genius. 4 stars
7/21/08 ES It was good, but something was missing, i just didn't get absorbed into the story 4 stars
7/21/08 orpy Am I the only one who was bored, bored, bored? 3 stars
7/21/08 Simon Wow. What a loaded film, so many thoughts and themes to ponder.. THIS is why we love movies 5 stars
7/20/08 I Luv Heath Heath Ledger was so good in this movie, I couldent ask for a better joker than him 5 stars
7/20/08 Jiz Bale continues his ridiculous scowl, Eckhart hams it up, and Ledger/Nolan own the movie. 4 stars
7/20/08 Adi Wonderful! I loved it, every moment of it. Will probably go watch it agian in IMAX!!! 5 stars
7/20/08 Toni Awesome, best movie of the year by far. 5 stars
7/20/08 carlos G I wish 2face was held off til next film, but NO JOKE, give Ledger and Nolan their Oscars! 5 stars
7/20/08 james Aaron Eckhart steals the show 5 stars
7/20/08 Diana Kee Awesome movie. Far exceeded my expectations!!! 5 stars
7/20/08 Jonathan This is a deep great philosophical and action pact movie, you keep your eyes off of it! 5 stars
7/20/08 Ryan W Ledger lived up to the hype 5 stars
7/20/08 Adrian Want to see a magic trick? 5 stars
7/20/08 Pete K I agree; Batman and robin was more my cup of tea over this muddled in your face overly long 2 stars
7/20/08 Dan While Ledger's Joker was great, the rest was mediocre. Batman/ Wayne wasn't written well. 3 stars
7/20/08 Tripp Speechless. Beyond anything I expected..god help us all. 5 stars
7/20/08 Dave Yep...This is going in my top 10...ever! 5 stars
7/20/08 D Somehow exceeds the hype....simply put an incredible film 5 stars
7/20/08 Paul Levinson eons beyond any prior Batman ... infiniteregress.tv 5 stars
7/20/08 Obi Wan Absolutely amazing...Best SuperHero movie EVER! Joker/Ledger best Villian EVER!! 5 stars
7/19/08 jm I think ledgers performance is overrated. Sad but great ending. Batpod intro was brilliant. 5 stars
7/19/08 Phil B Truly Epic 5 stars
7/19/08 paulette This was a beautiful, well-acted, dark, intense film for 110 min, then long & gratuitous. 3 stars
7/19/08 Moose This is possibly one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. Heath was incredible. 5 stars
7/19/08 Darkstar I'm fucking speechless. 5 stars
7/19/08 Dimu Brilliant...just bloody Brilliant!!! 5 stars
7/19/08 Drew Simply Amazing 5 stars
7/19/08 Michael S T Simply amazing.. Actually the movie shies away from CGI in the action-heavy scenes. 5 stars
7/19/08 kimryan an amazing, scary, great story. You glory in Heath's performance and mourn at the same time 5 stars
7/19/08 twilightbringer Brilliant and brutal, The Dark Knight is now the defining event of our cinematic era. 5 stars
7/19/08 Gazza Jack Nicholson STILL personifies The Joker, ledger more hannibal lecter. 3 stars
7/19/08 Eugene True to it's comic book roots, excellent film. 5 stars
7/19/08 TyrantisTerror The polar opposite of Batman and Robin. A defining movie of our generation. 5 stars
7/19/08 Dab Great friggin movie. 5 stars
7/19/08 joker steals the show.very good but too damn long. damalc 4 stars
7/19/08 bullit16 Went in thinking, "it can't possibly be as amazing as the reviews say." I was dead wrong 5 stars
7/19/08 TheClown Ledger is vastly overated. Any hack with that makeup would have made a great joker! RIP 4 stars
7/18/08 Stacy It was just perfect. 5 stars
7/18/08 long johnson liked batman and robin better 1 stars
7/18/08 David V Believe the hype, this is absolutley a fantastic movie. 5 stars
7/18/08 larkin Good Lord 5 stars
7/18/08 Gary Simply Outstanding! Ledger is The Joker. 5 stars
7/18/08 KieranDraven Considering other countries hate us but want to live here, the movie was great! 5 stars
7/18/08 Matt Craven It can not be said enough - Ledger was one of the best villains in history. 5 stars
7/18/08 Flounder Saw it in IMAX last night. I was BLOWN away. One of the best films I have seen 5 stars
7/18/08 Shaun Wallner The Joker looks pretty wild in this film. 5 stars
7/18/08 Guy Smiley Considering Americans have the attention span of a peanut, I'm not surprised by the review. 5 stars
7/18/08 ben dover the best comic book film ever and yet so much more 5 stars
7/18/08 BrianWilly I cannot believe how good this movies was. 5 stars
7/18/08 tmcmistress Absolutely fantastic. 5 stars
7/17/08 alex r. not just a great comicbook movie--it is a great movie! 5 stars
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  18-Jul-2008 (PG-13)



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