Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

You would’ve thought I just shot the president. Friends of mine asked me had I seen ‘The Dark Knight’ yet and I said ‘no’. How in the world could ‘the movie guy’ fail to go to see ‘The Dark Knight’, My Batman fanboy pals would ask me in utter disbelief. It’s not that I didn’t want to see the movie but when the Critics screening came out, at an IMAX theater no less, another friend literally dropped to his knees and begged me to let him go. I mean it’s just a movie and not a life changing event or anything so I asked the man to rise to his feet and go have a good time, though the staff at Burger King thinks I’m some kind of mobster now. So the movie opens and another group of friends want to see the movie, but they want to do IMAX, but they forgot that you can’t just walk up to an IMAX window and buy tickets like a regular movie, particularly one as huge as this one so no ‘Dark Knight’ on opening weekend, but whatever, I can wait because it’s just a movie. Monday rolls around and again the Batman faithful ask me if I had seen the movie, and the answer is still no, which gets me accused of being ‘A Marvel’ because apparently I’m afraid the ‘The Dark Knight’ will rock harder than ‘Ironman’. So to avoid anymore unjust accusations, I make it a point to see ‘The Dark Knight’ the following day, on my own dime nonetheless, and though I must reiterate that it’s not a life changing event or anything, in the summer of the Super Hero, ‘The Dark Knight’ is the best of a very good lot.

The film starts with a bank robbery. Apparently this is the kind of bank that shouldn’t be robbed because of the clientele they cater too, but the guy orchestrating this robbery really could give less than a damn, which introduces to our villain of interest, the nefarious and completely out of his mind Joker (the late Heath Ledger). Another new player is the highly idealistic, completely fearless and hard driven new District Attorney of Gotham City Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who we are introduced prosecuting big time Gotham mobster Salvatore Maroni, as played by the legendary (at least to me) Eric Roberts. Putting E-Rob in your movie pretty much guarantees a thumbs up from

this side of the isle. The brash and aggressive Dent is also madly in love with his assistant Rachel Dawes, this time played by Maggie Gyllenhaal since it looks like Katie Holmes got stuck in traffic on her way to the studio. Nobody is happier with the success of District Attorney Dent than Bruce Wayne himself (Christian Bale) because as the people take more control over the city, this moves Batman closer to obscurity and moves Bruce, so he hopes, closer to Rachel.

However the Joker isn’t having any of it. The Joker has convinced Gotham’s mobster elite that he can kill The Batman for a hefty fee, which they foolishly agree to only to soon realize that deals with the devil, no matter how good they look on paper, rarely work out the way you want them to. The Joker is like no other villain that Batman has ever encountered because he has no agenda, no goal, no soul and no fear. He exists only to create chaos and little else, and this Joker will do some things that will cause one to question whether or not he’s even of this earth. This so-called Joker will also push The Batman into life and death decisions that he would rather not make and into places he would rather not go. Believe me when I tell you that this ‘Joker’ is anything of the sort.

Other than the fact that it seemed to go on like forever, ‘The Dark Knight’ is a one spectacular movie. Director Christopher Nolan again steps behind the lens and delivers a film that feels epic in its scope, is dark in its tone, is brisk in its pace and near flawless in its delivery. Though the film is titled the ‘The Dark Knight’, it easily could have been titled ‘Gotham City’ (ahhhh… R. Kelly) because unlike the first film which centered around Bruce Wayne and his transition into Batman, this film was more encompassing and focused on bringing Gotham to life with its characters, criminals, cops and politics. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne and Batman are still at the center of the narrative and we are blessed with the reprisals of Lucius Fox, Albert Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon played respectively by three of the best living actors ever in Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, but they are merely parts of the bigger picture in a very smart script written by Nolan and David S. Goyer.

A lot of the focus of ‘The Dark Knight’ has naturally been shined on Heath Ledger and his final performance as The Joker, and Ledger doesn’t disappoint, not even a little bit. Not that this should come as a surprise, lest we forget that Heath Ledger was a pretty good actor before ‘The Dark Knight’, but his maniacal performance does drive the film and as an actor and as a man he will be missed. Possibly lost in the shuffle is Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent who does such a great job with a character that only exacerbates what a awful movie ‘Batman Forever’ was.

‘The Dark Knight’ was a very good time at the movies as it managed to combine a narrative that was deeper than your average comic book movie along with its numerous bang up comic style action sequences. I probably wouldn’t call it the ‘Best Movie Ever’ as I have heard from certain people (all wearing Batman costumes at the time), but as of right now it is the best movie of a summer that has a lot pretty good movies. Yes, I realize that would make it better than ‘The Love Guru’, but that should let you know what kind of grand entertainment that ‘The Dark Knight’ turned out to be.

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