As you no doubt have already heard, ‘The Dark Knight’ is very, very good. And I am in agreement with the rest of the population. It is very, very good. After Christopher Nolan’s first retelling of the Batman origin, we were all rather excitemed when he said he would return to direct a second instalment. And with the first film set up for the possibility of a Joker story we were not disappointed when this was fulfilled. To top this off Christian Bale returned to role, as well as Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine reprising their parts, but it was when Heath Ledger was billed as The Joker that we knew that this ace was going to help deal a delightful hand.
The sequel is much more action packed than Nolan’s first instalment. With the character and motivation behind Batman already set up, the director had licence to throw him into the deep end. Action layered upon action with a coating of creamy action surprisingly never once got boring. It was even to the point where often Batman would turn up in a fight even though the story left him halfway across Gotham. No one really complains over that sort of continuity. Besides, the monorail system must be really prompt. His mode of transport shifts focus away from the Batmobile too. A simply joyous moment is the introduction of the Bat-Cycle. Watching it pop out from nowhere made me squeal with glee.
This film is not all about action and bikes and action and monorails. There is in actual fact a very solid plot beneath the gothic glamour. When the film deters into having two main villains I was worried that it had gone the way of Spiderman 3, which literally collapsed under its own weight of plot lines and ideas. Fortunately the appearance of Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent was well balanced and integrated with the main plot line. Aaron Eckhart delivers an excellent performance and really grasps the betrayal he has felt on behalf of the city when he undergoes his transformation (which also looks great). Christian Bale picks up Batman exactly where we left him, which is no easy feat, but this time he is allowed to explore his sentimental side. Quite refreshing really when compared to the heavy-set brow, trouble minded Bruce Wayne of the first instalment. This film sees him gallivanting around with more women, more cars, and actually has a smile on his face.
Talking of smiles on the face… Well, it was impossible to review ‘The Dark Knight’ without mentioning Heath Ledger’s Joker. After his death earlier this year, which shocked not only the film world but the entire globe, people began wait in anticipation to see if The Joker was to be his last great role. Put simply this was the best swan song he could have asked. From his pencil pushing introduction onwards Ledger delights the audience throughout. His Joker is much more troubled, less comic book villain, truly maniacal. Ultimately, more human! The audience that I saw the film with delighted in his unhinged perception of the world, laughing along with the darkest of dark comedy. Everyone was enjoying the jokes along with him. Ledger is frankly outstanding and his performance is worth seeing.
It is very difficult to pick apart a film that works so well. The cracks in its façade are non-existent. This is a perfect action film for the summer blockbuster slot. It’s dark, it’s brooding, it’s high octane action but still distinctly Batman. Ledger comes out top dog in this film, and without the unfortunate events of earlier this year he would have been walking out of the Oscars with a Best Supporting Actor statue under his belt. I’m sure of it.