Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Dark Knight

Finally, after having seen the film 9 days ago, I have got down to reviewing the most anticipated film of the summer. And well, does it live up to it's hype? It certainly does. This and Wall-E are the films that everyone has been raving about, and clearly for obvious reasons. After the recent slew of less than adequate epic sequels such as Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Christopher Nolan delivers us a film which shows us why he is one of the world's most talented film directors. After delivering solid, snappy films for the last decade, Nolan again supersedes himself at filming, challenging himself further and successfully paying off with a crime epic that could be easily compared with Heat. There are so many plot strands and sub-plots that link the main storyline together, and only under Nolan's restrained direction and ability to keep the correct focus could this work successfully. It is fitting that this is Heath Ledger's final film. Fans cried in despair at the idea that a comic book movie may well be his last. If anything, it is the towering height of all of his great performances. Yes, I know, his performance is the one everyone is talking about, but that is because already Ledger has succeeded in creating such an iconic villain, the best since Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. His performance bounces out from the screen, being psychopathic, schizophrenic, sociopathic and sadistic all at once and at the same time, highly charismatic and genuinely terrifying. This monumental performance is deserving of an Oscar nomination and to avoid recognising this would be near enough equivalent to spitting on Heath Ledger's grave. Not to say that the film doesn't have any other great performances, even if Ledger's is the one everyone remembers. Christian Bale's Batman/Bruce Wayne becomes a haunted, tortured soul who is fighting a battle not only with The Joker, but himself, wanting to rid himself of the cape and suit, in a character transformation that is reminiscent of that of Michael Corleone between the first two Godfather films, which Bale, perhaps the most talented actor of today, pulls off successfully. Gary Oldman too shines as Commissioner Gordon, in a role greatly expanded from the original, as does Aaron Eckhart, in a three-dimensional role, whose character transforms much in the that Batman/Bruce Wayne's character does, although far quicker and with more violent repurcussions. As an ensemble cast goes, this is about as successful as it gets. The acting is further complemented by the special effects, which is completely non-intrusive throughout the entire film, but is not faded into background, and creates in the halfway point in the film one of the best chase sequences in modern cinema history. In this chase, everything feels real, and delivers some moments of genuine wonder and awe. Also, in the film the special effects helps deliver some the film's most iconic shots. The musical composition by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is, like the special effects, completely non-intrusive and only serving to further complement the actions on screen. The example that I think of involves a spoiler, but put it this way, it involves the atmospheric and moody music after having playing a game with two of the characters in the film. It serves not only to complement the action on screen, but to heighten it to a further level of emotion. Finally, there is a good, strong screenplay that helps this film be as damn good as it is, creating very multi-faceted characters whose actors make the most of their given screen-time. Also, I must complement the screenplay's sporadic use of The Joker. This performance could have been exploited and forced everyone to take a back seat, but with this screenplay, The Joker becomes an almost exisentential villian, causing as much destruction and mayhem, only to further taunt his opponents and vanish once again, very much in the way that John Ryder out of The Hitcher does so. Also, for much of the time the screenplay fails to lose focus and direction in its goal, and for that it should be complemented. However, there is one flaw in my opinion that cannot be shined over. Call me a grump if you will, it may be the best film of the year so far, but it has one eeeny weeny flaw in its screenplay, and that is its handling of the Dent/Wayne/Dawes storyline. I believe that a little more screen time should have been spent on this, and could have also served to expand the character of Rachel Dawes, whose character is by far the weakest in a film which has many strong characters. There done. Now, to finish. I believe that The Dark Knight is a sprawling crime epic in the vein of Heat, has some phenomenal performances and visuals, and is perhaps the best superhero movie of all time. Go see this movie now. I'm going again.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.4/10

On The Topic Of The Dark Knight - How much did Cillian Murphy get paid for less than five minutes screen time?

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