The Dark Knight (2008)

“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

The Dark Knight

Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures, Syncopy Films and DC Comics present…

Batman was created by Bob Kane in the late 1930’s; never did he imagine his debuted superhero would become a cult phenomenon for the next 70 years! Based on DC Comics, the gritty crime fighter has been regarded as the greatest character in comic book history!

In this sequel from Batman Begins, the story encompassed a wider perspective of Gotham City’s notorious mobs and crime lords! Directed by Christopher Nolan (The Prestige) and from a Screenplay of his brother Jonathan Nolan (Memento) and Story of David Goyer (Blade) unprecedented and highly praised, superbly crafted to mesmerize the senses that provided not just entertainment but also with mind blowing performances! This film made history and considered brilliantly made, ranked as one of the highest grossing films amassing more than $ 1 B worldwide in ticket sales not just in the comic book genre but of all time!

The charismatic chameleon Christian Bale (The Machinist) redefines the meaning of a “hero” as he makes another standstill struggle of wits and blood in the much talked about sequel! The Dark Knight gave more emphasis on how he places himself at the forefront and does everything in his capacity to save Gotham City from tyranny and corruption. Now, without a home Bruce must come into terms with the realization of being able to sacrifice one’s life and yet not to be taken as a hero which is just an understatement for the Batman. As inferred, Bruce Wayne is the real mask of the character wherein it only gives him more instigation to have a personality that keeps him sane and to hide away his pain!

The opening shot was incredible, it gave a surreal feeling coming from a higher ground where the “Clowns” is gathering up for a heist with The Joker, a psychopathic maniac portrayed by the irreplaceable late Heath Ledger (A Knight’s Tale), a superb feat indeed! He provided a pivotal role not just for being a character that is already well known but, also took villainy into his own likeness. Heath gave this most vile lunatic the ante-up from the campy Jack Nicholson version in 1989, though both have their unique take, the current villain makes it so disturbingly fun to watch. The delivery of his performance proves it’s worth deserving his posthumous Academy’s Best Supporting Actor Award!

Another well casted talent is the hard working Harvey Dent, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart (The Black Dahlia) he took a big bite out of the mob and can’t chew it no longer (not with that jaw!) pun intended. He was the White Knight, a shining beacon for Gotham City but it was too much for him even the collective efforts with Commissioner Gordon and Batman. Every little thing is made clearer to him than what he knows and how he perceives it.

As the Joker said “it’s all part of the plan” which surmounted a persona born out of anger and madness! Aaron gave a surreal take on the temperamental District Attorney encompassing both his relations with the justice system and the dark qualities that he fails to hide away especially when Rachel is in the picture!

James Gordon, the always steadfast and commendable Gary Oldman (Air Force One), from Sergeant, as head of a special task force and now Commissioner not because he was the only option in a corrupted police force but he knows what’s going on and for him to clean up the city from its rotting core is his primary objective. As Commissioner Loeb was poisoned by the Joker, the city’s Mayor promoted him from his valued work and to help maintain control in all the chaos Gotham City is in now! Gary doesn’t need to prove anything; he is a very remarkable actor that every Director would like to work with. He makes a very inspiring turnaround from the usual villainy he portrays on screen like “Dracula”, “The 5th Element”, “Air Force One”, “The Professional” and the most recent “Book of Eli”!

Technology is not an issue with the Dark Knight, but sometimes someone needs to purchase them in order to be able to keep his schedule intact. Enter Lucius Fox the trusted friend and ally, he is given life by Morgan Freeman (Along Came a Spider) the ever supportive logistics person for the Batman. He is one of the very few people that know Batman’s true identity and has been helping him in running his company, coordinating targets and supplying armaments, weaponry and the latest technological advancements available considering his last provision The Tumbler which is now customized with another new vehicle inside it simply named The Pod, not your typical motorcycle with monster wheels! One thing had left me questioning though, will his last assignment be the end of their partnership? Morgan is the quintessential talent for Lucius, smart, has integrity, calm demeanor and as always, a versatile actor tested over and over again!

The torn between two lovers Rachel Dawes is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Secretary), replacing Katie Holmes from the first film, she is a city prosecutor in the crossroads with her affection for Bruce and her intimacy with hotshot Lawyer Harvey Dent have been proven fatal not just for her but for her suitors as well and only time will tell whether she will have to live with her decision before everything is too late!

What can you say about Alfred Pennyworth?  The ever loyal confidant, surrogate father Michael Caine (Harry Brown) he’s the Butler who stood by Bruce Wayne even since before he was born having served the Wayne family for many years and still up to now by his side. I admired their dynamic from bantering to brooding as well as condoning the man he still calls Master! More importantly, he provides that sense of right direction and morals in which Bruce will learn to understand how much more pain he can endure and embrace it not just with his mind but also with his heart!

Even the Mob was well casted technically there were three gangs involved in the movie, from Gamble acted by Michael Jai White (Spawn), Chechen portrayed by Ritchie Coster (American Gangster) (derived from the Russian) and Salvatore Maroni from the talent of Eric Roberts (Crimes of the Past) who all made life miserable…for themselves with the heartfelt and genuine assistance of the “Ace of Knaves”!

The Dark Knight was a film that invigorated the populace with intrigue, smart scriptwriting and a whole lot of lip service! Shot in IMAX cameras, (a very lucrative decision indeed), Christopher was able to execute fantastic angles and capture elements of the film that gave it more horizon and depth like the Prologue bank robbery, the towering cityscape of Hong Kong and its ICF Tower shots, the Gotham General Hospital scene and the final face off to name a few. It certainly gives not just wider detailed backgrounds but to support further its real intention as He keeps the right pace of storytelling in check to really capture the audiences’ imagination by letting them feel what it’s like living in this mundane world where corruption is a circus and the Joker as the center of attraction!

To add, his consistent partner in crime Hans Zimmer (The Last Samurai) and James Newton Howard (Unbreakable) gave an original sound to fully capture the noir and palpable world of Batman! Mixing erratic high pitches with bass undertones as it infinitely conveys terror and unpredictability while incorporating it with fluid machinations in perfect sequences that will either give you a sinister grin or a smile in concurring proclivities!

The performance was genuinely phenomenal; the chaotic premise grows irreversibly coherent as it made more significant undertakings on how the story was able to evolve into something more transparent, more disturbing and malevolent for the backdrop of the film!

On a lighter side, I noticed that there were three recurring scenes that were somewhat referenced to the 1989 Batman film:

  1. The first take was when Heath gave a memorable entrance to implement his plan to kill the Dark Knight and aggravating Michael Jai one of the crime boss in the gathering while not forgetting his “hurtful” words, the former kills the latter at his own joint. In the 1989 film, after turning into the Joker, Jack held a meeting for all the gangsters in Gotham and one of them did not agree so, he electrocuted the guy in a “handshake” that burned him to death!
  1. The second occurrence was the Pod being shot at by the Heath while instigating Christian to hit him as the latter swerves to avoid his nemesis and crashes his bike while in the original take the Batwing was also shot at by Jack while cursing to make Michael hit him before he crash lands into the streets.
  1. The third instance was the climactic fight scene in the abandoned building looking over Gotham Bay. Heath got Christian pinned down and the latter releases his blades from his armored shin guards sending Heath plummeting down the side of the building, he is then tagged by his feet by Christian’s grapple gun. On the other hand, the Tim Burton version was at the Cathedral with the same final scene with the two main actors, Jack was dancing while Michael and Kim hang for dear life, while the former was climbing the ladder of his getaway Copter, he was ensnared by the grapple gun that Michael shot at him but the only difference was Jack fell into his death.

The only downturn for me was Batman’s voice…which I believe can be somewhat irritating and slurred especially when he’s aggravated. Overall, the film was a magna opus and juxtaposed fluidity of sequences that takes you to different heights of suspense and excitement! Speaking of heights, at least this time he “jumped” from the parking lot and not throwing a “chainsaw” to his escaping victim (psyche!!!).

To the cast and crew, a job well done! To Heath, re-imagining the Joker will always be etched in our minds! It takes all the strength you can muster to conceive and put into play his insanity and menacing wickedness to come to life in the big screen for all of us to experience and enjoy!

Rest in peace Heath Ledger!

Now, the third and last installment of the franchise where “Every Journey has a beginning.” will come into fruition. The media hype is unprecedented as we await remorseless Villains and unlikely Allies to finally bring the “Bat” into full circle while putting his back into it!

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