Batman: The Dark Knight
Why So Serious?
Running Time: 152 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A
Country: United Kingdom
The Dark Knight had a lot to live up to. Before the death of Heath Ledger, the buzz had been buzzing about his portrayal of this generations Joker; after his passing, the hype was deafening. Had the role sent him into a spiral of depression that indirectly led to his death? Would he be nominated forand ultimately winthe countless posthumous awards he was already being touted as a shoo-in for, even before anyone had seen the film? Finally, and most importantly, could the cloud surrounding the movie be penetrated enough to allow audiences to appreciate it as a whole, not just as Ledgers last work?
Make no mistakethis is the Jokers movie. From the get-go, that crazy clown is running around with his band of masked accomplices, taunting both the good citizens of Gotham and its sizable criminal element with equal glee. He makes it clearits not about the money, its about the fun. Of course, the fun consists of bringing the good guysespecially all-American hero and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart, who is rumored to be the next big villain in the franchise), over to the darkness. Thats where Batman (Christian Bale) comes in, fighting to save the city, his friends, and his true love, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) while waging his own private war with his anti-hero nature.
So much works in this movie. Ledger lives up to the talk and is unrecognizable as The Jokerand not just because of the makeup. Hes not the Jack Nicholson Joker, nor should he be. The nice thing, though, is that this Joker isnt a total departure from Nicholsons either; its almost as if you can imagine them on a timeline, and this younger version can eventually morph into the older, more jovial villain.
But enough about himtheres more to look at than the clown. Gyllenhaal, for example, as Rachel Dawes is a vast improvement over Katie Holmes, and Eckhart brings just the right amount of swagger, confidence, and conflict to Gothams new hero. Action abounds, and there are plenty of twists and surprises to make the two and a half hour runtime blaze by. Its also somewhat refreshing to find a superhero movie that doesnt sugarcoat human nature, and The Dark Knight is able to throw in a few zingers about the inescapable black spots on the soul of every character, even the good ones. My only complaint is, oddly enough, with Batman himself. Hes always been a brooder, but hes a little too dour, a little too darkand that Batman growl-voice sounds like hes trying to channel Tom Waits. Its a little distracting, but not enough to take away from this wildly enjoyable ride that lives up to everything youve heard.
It's Got: A brilliant villain, a perfect supporting cast, and lots of pretty explosions and gadgets.
It Needs: For Batman to figure out how to disguise his voice without sounding like Rolf the Dog.
This sequel to Batman Begins is better than its predecessor, and Ledgers Joker will go down as one of the best screen villains of all time.