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The Dark Knight – Movie Review

July 18, 2008

There is so much to talk about in this film The Dark Knight (directed by Christopher Nolan) but the only one thing that one wants to talk about is Heath Ledger. He’s the villain, who plays the Joker, the psychopath that all Batman fans are familiar with. Ledger manages to portray the inner turmoil of a twisted soul so well that he literally quivers with the hate. The hate bubbles and boils on his surface…a hate so cold and sick and uncontrollable that it makes you recoil.

The story (no spoilers)
The movie centers around two other powerful characters…the suave playboy Bruce Wayne alias Batman (Christian Bale) and Gotham city’s “white knight” district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Dent is clean, committed, brave and incorruptible and naturally Gotham city reveres him. Batman sees in him a glimmer of hope for Gotham, someone who can now take over his mantle…root out the corruption and evil and get rid of the gangsters. No, not as Batman, but as a real-life legitimate hero. However things don’t go exactly as planned. And how can they when we have the Joker, a man who insists that he doesn’t ever plan anything?

There is a lot of violence. Some scenes are not just brutal but horrifying too…and it’s as if the director wants you to dwell on them. I didn’t like that.

The story was also rather melodramatic and a little stretched. But no, this two and a half hour movie is by no means boring! Its all pure undiluted entertainment which I enjoyed thoroughly.

The action
The pace of the movie is fast. I didn’t mind that, but what I did mind was the way some of the action scenes were shot. They made you a little dizzy and well at times it was difficult to figure out what was happening. The other action movie released earlier this year – Iron Man – wins hands down.

Most reviews of this movie (in the United States) praised the movie sky-high and I was wondering whether something was wrong with me because I didn’t like the action scenes. Until I read this New York Times review by David Edelstein in which he trashes the action

…the tumult is spectacularly incoherent. Nolan appears to have no clue how to stage or shoot action. He got away with the chopped-up fights in Batman Begins because his hero was a barely glimpsed ninja, coming at villains from all angles in stroboscopic flashes. There are more variables here, which means more opportunities to say “What the f— just happened?”

I cannot disagree with Edelstein. At the same time I did enjoy most of the action, particularly the scenes of a mobile Batman. Even though Batman does a lot of unbelievable stunts (remember, he’s human, without superpowers!) the special effects were impressive.

What surprised me was that Edelstein has been receiving hate mail ever since his scathing review! Why can’t someone be allowed to not like a movie?? Although I enjoyed the Dark Knight, if I had to look at it seriously, or critically, I can find many flaws in it. Someone did, and well, he had a right to point them out.

One can enjoy a movie despite its flaws, and that is what makes movie viewing so subjective. That is the reason why I avoid giving ratings to a movie.

The music
I have to mention the music score (by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard) because I loved it!! In fact I found myself listening to the music a lot.

Characterisation and acting
These are comic book characters and thus they need to be taken as such. I wish Harvey Dent’s character had been a little more believable though…I just couldn’t figure out why he was behaving the way he did! And as for the acting, couldn’t find flaws in anyone. They were all good, with the exception of Ledger. Ledger was simply brilliant.

This movie is not one to miss for die-hard action adventure fans. And the bonus is the performance of Heath Ledger. He is not with us today, and there has been speculation that his death was a suicide.

(First photo is from empiremovies and the second from latimes)

Related Reading:Hancock Review
Aamir Review
Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic review
Speed Racer Review
Other Movie Reviews (English and Hindi movies)

24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2008 12:24 am

    I was waiting to read a review before watching this. Thanks!! //pure undiluted entertainment// This is all I want. Give me a superhero action flick to watch anyday over a Jaane Tu ya Jaane Na genre 😀 😀

  2. July 19, 2008 12:59 am

    Well, people here in US are going crazy over this movie. The tickets are completely booked at most places for the weekend. We tried going for a 12AM premier (crazy, is what you call :D), but guess what? The tickets were sold out!! 😀 I think I will finally be able to make it for an evening show today. Very eager to watch this movie, though I am not a great fan of Batman. Mostly because of Heath Ledger. He has always been a wonderful actor. He was a budding actor. They also say it’s an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. But yes, I think we do not know the exact reason of his death. Psst!!

  3. July 19, 2008 3:57 am

    Batman Begins was just awesome because it showed how Batman became from Bruce Wayne. The entire screenplay was very interesting. The Sequels usually have a hard time living up to its first. Did you find Dark Knight better or not so better than “Batman Begins” ?

    I thought the action scene in Batman Begins was good. Liam Neeson says that it is hard to spot the Bat as in Batman and the Action scenes had to be that way. Mysterious, powerful!

  4. July 19, 2008 7:38 am

    Reema, my favorite genre is also action/crime though I enjoy another genres off and on. And when I was in school I used to read JT Edson and Sudden, never romantic tales. 🙂

    Manoj, you couldn’t get tickets? I always thought that was a typical India phenomena! But ofcourse here it is much easier to get tickets for an English movie rather than a Hindi one. In our case the cinema was three quarters empty although we saw it on friday afternoon, second show. And true what you say about Ledger, its probably not a suicide. But the fact that he was a regular with sleeping pills means that he must have been depressed or had some other problems.

    Dinesh Babu, I liked Batman Begins better but this one was was very entertaining! I guess both are different and this movie is a treat because of Heath Ledger.

  5. July 19, 2008 7:39 am

    This franchise has a crazy fan following…..

    No.3 @ imdb top 250.

    am not complaining…Batman has always been THE favorite super-hero of mine since childhood.

    and The Joker the best villains of all time.

    “Why…So…Serious?” 🙂

  6. July 19, 2008 8:38 am

    This is a must watch. Unfortunately I couldn’t get tickets for tonight (Friday night), yes this is not India-only phenomena 🙂 Imagine: Summer holidays, hottest movie of the season, Friday night!

    I think the reason this Joker is the best one because this time they chose to just bring him from somewhere unknown. The mystery is good!

  7. July 19, 2008 11:54 am

    You should read Stephanie Zacharek’s review as well.

    One of the very few critics who didn’t like both the Nolan (Batman) movies. I loved Begins, can’t wait to see this one!

  8. July 19, 2008 12:54 pm

    I am going to watch it tomorrow. 😀 I was actually very excited about the movie ever since I saw the promo. Joker looked so raw and human and terrifying at the same time.
    Can’t waitttttttttttttttt 😀

  9. July 19, 2008 1:40 pm

    we expect hollywood actions movies like this only

  10. July 19, 2008 6:20 pm

    Oh, I have to have to watch this movie!! I have been waiting for so long for it! 😀
    Trailers have been amazing, and now your review! I am going tomorrow! Nuts to all other plans! 😀

  11. July 19, 2008 8:17 pm

    I wanted to see it today. .
    my freind aksed me but i dont know y i rejected the offer 😦

  12. July 19, 2008 11:08 pm

    eh, the why so serious line has a grim connotation now! 🙂

    priyank, well I didn’t find it very mysterious as such! I mean, one can sort of guess whats going to happen…

    Diviya, that was an interesting and detailed review. thanks.

    Amit, Nikhil, hope you enjoy the movie!

    Kaushal, yeah know what you mean! its become so standardized.

    Arvind, catch it if you can!

  13. July 19, 2008 11:18 pm

    You’ve seen both Iron Man and Batman? You get out a lot, Nita. I’ve become such a homebody these days. The last film I watched was a BBC version of Sense and Sensibility, a period-piece movie based on Jane Austen’s novel.

    These action movies sometimes leave me feeling like the world is all plastic and concrete. But after reading your review, I might have to break down and go out to see it!

  14. July 20, 2008 11:42 pm

    As you mentioned, Movie is too good, keeps one hooked even being a bit long.

    Also, Batman’s Terminator 4 trailer which again looks promising and an apology for Terminator 3.

  15. July 20, 2008 11:44 pm

    Also, Checkout* = typo

  16. soorajrox permalink
    July 21, 2008 10:09 am

    Special effects?? I hope you didn’t mean the scene where the Batman flies in Hong kong, because thats not special effects. It was shot with a stunt man suspended from a helicopter and the cameraman from another helicopter shooting it.

    Oh yeah Heath Ledger was a treat. Remember the scene when Heath Ledger tries to Bomb the Hospital…amazing.

  17. Aditi permalink
    July 22, 2008 6:46 pm

    I loved the movie…^__^
    “why so serious” is the most unforgettable dialogue ever!

  18. July 23, 2008 8:27 am

    Nita, not being able to get tickets is definitely an Indian phenomena 😀 But this movie seemed to be an exception. Coz normally we do get tickets here even if we go after the movie starts. But partly becaus of Heath Ledger, this is a record of a sort! 🙂

    Over here there isn’t much awareness about H Ledger’s death. In fact I found out from a friend on the way to the movie and even then it hardly made any impact as I didn’t even know what Ledger looked like! About tickets, its difficult to get tickets for a new movie with big stars except in some multiplexes, but even then going a few minutes before the movie can mean sitting in the front row! – Nita.

  19. July 24, 2008 12:41 am

    kudos to the makers Dark Knight for their record breaking opening weekend… it’s no wonder there’s talk of another one coming out ASAP

  20. Vikram permalink
    July 24, 2008 1:16 am

    Just watched it yesterday night. I was enthralled by the movie, the action sequences werent all realistic but blended in very well with the story. The only major quirk for me was Dent’s sudden transformation, I mean, come on that was so much melodrama.

  21. July 28, 2008 1:07 am

    I concur! One of the best movies I’ve seen in a LONG time! And heath ledger and the music were the movie! Boy, does christopher nolan really know how to make batman movies or what! Wow!
    Also, (I’m sure this isn’t new) I love this site. Fantastic work!

  22. August 12, 2008 4:39 am

    Watched this movie the weekend it was released and thoroughly enjoyed it due to many reasons- Batman is my favorite super hero. After watching Batman Begins, I have been eagerly waiting for the sequel. Heath Ledger, as Joker, was brilliant! I wish he were alive. I think it’s his career’s best performance. His acting in Brokeback Mountain was phenomenal too. And the bat vehicle…almost took my breath away. 🙂 Couldn’t have asked for anything better.

    You manage to surprise don’t you! 🙂 As you know everyone is missing you in the blogosphere and it’s good to know that you haven’t given up on it entirely! Thanks for dropping in and hope to see you on your blog soon! 🙂 – Nita.

  23. September 2, 2008 3:10 pm

    I think the movie got way more credit than it deserved.

    As for harvey dent’s character being unrealistic, that is perhaps because very little about harvey dent in the movie is real, except his personality. The circumstances that force him to become two face are quite different in the comics and it makes a lot more sense as to why he “loses it”.

    And for the second time in a single day, I agree with your opinion about a movie! Maybe I will watch Rock On! Three’s a charm…

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