MONKEY REVIEW: The Dark Knight

July 19, 2008

If Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight isn’t the best superhero movie ever, then it’s pretty damn close. The Dark Knight takes place in a much less stylized Gotham City than its predecessor Batman Begins did, and so the action, though still summer blockbuster scaled and often spectacular, takes on more of an immediacy. Nolan has also much improved as a director of said action: Whereas Batman Begins was marred by incoherent action scenes, it’s not only clear what’s going on in The Dark Knight, but also clear what’s at stake. The acting is also top notch, with Christian Bale and Gary Oldman doing effectively understated work as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jim Gordon, respectively, Aaron Eckhardt very good in a very difficult role as Harvey Dent, and Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman employing their considerable charm and intelligence as Alfred and Lucius. Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel from Katie Holmes, and puts her own spin on the character, adding some shading and dimension. The role that will get the most attention, and perhaps justifiably so, is Heath Ledger as the Joker, who frequently got applause for his scenes at the premiere midnight showing I saw. He drew laughs while at the same time being utterly hateful and frequently scary. It’s a mesmerizing, unforgettable performance. Nolan, however, is a smart enough writer and director not to let Ledger’s Joker take over the movie, instead limiting his appearances and then using them to maximum effect. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard have also crafted a unique, often eerie score to complement the often stunning visuals onscreen. The Dark Knight is not without flaws, mild overlength, for one, and there’s some hokeyness that creeps into the last act, but in general, it’s the one superhero movie that absolutely means to transcend its genre, and ends up, especially in its last moments, elevating itself into the realm of myth and legend.

MONKEY RATING: ZERO MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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3 Responses to “MONKEY REVIEW: The Dark Knight”

  1. Julien Says:

    Hey, thanks for the review. Kind of instructive. I can’t wait to watch that flick!

  2. radiondn Says:

    Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I did!

  3. John Nelson Says:

    Excellent review. I’m interested in what you might have to say about the larger implications of the type of hero suggested by the film. What type of hero do we need? Nolan suggests to me that we need one who will bend the rules when necessary, taking on powers that people would otherwise find oppressive. Making every telephone a sonar device? Is that a commentary on the Patriot Act? Making himself the scapegoat so that others can appear as heroes? I’m not sure what that’s supposed to imply. I’d be interested in your comments on how the film defines a hero.


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