Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)


Directors: Christopher Nolan

Producers: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Chris and Jonathan Nolan (story and screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)

Features: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace. Running Time: 152 Min. In theaters: July 18th, 2008

Characters:

Christian Bale ... Bruce Wayne / Batman
Heath Ledger ... The Joker
Aaron Eckhart ... Harvey Dent / Two-Face
Michael Caine ... Alfred Pennyworth
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman ... Lt. James Gordon
Morgan Freeman ... Lucius Fox
Monique Curnen ... Det. Ramirez
Ron Dean ... Detective Wuertz
Cillian Murphy ... Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow
Chin Han ... Lau
Nestor Carbonell ... Mayor
Eric Roberts ... Salvatore Maroni
Anthony Michael Hall ... Mike Engel

Genre: Action/Adventure

Review:

The night is darkest just before the dawn

In 2005, "Batman Begins" snuck up on fans, striking with deadly precision. The film had low expectations after the franchise had been run into the ground by both "Batman and Robin" and the failed "Catwoman" reboot. Chris Nolan’s daringly realistic take on the caped crusader proved to be just what Bat-fans had longed to see--a Batman that felt wholly real, tangible. Even as hope seemed the overarching message of Nolan’s first outing, at the end of "Batman Begins," the newly appointed Lieutenant Gordon warns Batman of "escalation."

"We wear Kevlar, they carry armor piercing rounds," Gordon warns, as he hands Batman a playing card featuring the moniker of Batman’s greatest nemesis, The Joker. The scene is meant to evoke excitement, surprise and joy among fans hoping the see Batman and The Joker duke it out. But such excitement and joy are not on Nolan’s menu--the tattered, burnt playing card is a brutal warning of the dangers of escalation and the promise of truly diabolical madman--a madman eager to strip the world of the hope Batman brings.

"The Dark Knight" bermula on the Gotham cityscape. A window bursts apart, and several criminals swing across from one building to the next. The following image is a faint, brooding ground-level shot of a man holding a disgusting clown mask, quietly awaiting the arrival of a getaway car--it’s The Joker , patiently waiting to erupt his unique brand of terror and mayhem. We know it, but Gotham does not.

For the next two and half hours, The Joker’s brutal, nihilistic brand of chaos is brewed within the streets of Gotham like a fine cup of tea, reaching a boiling point, then pressed and stirred to perfection. The Joker is not a man dreams of creating some epic large scale invasion like Batman’s last foe, Ra’s Al Ghul. The Joker is hoping to impale Gotham with terror--to strike fear back into the citizens and rile up the criminal underground into effective action. He hopes to claw away at Batman’s ideology and bring his true intentions to the surface so he can forcefully ridicule and mock them. Batman doesn’t need The Joker, but The Joker needs Batman.

Perhaps Ledger’s perverse, feverish take on The Joker can be seen as a damp metaphor for our own times, when very real terrorists do exactly what this vile villain does--they create false motives built on ideologies that other’s follow. Better yet though, The Joker is a metaphor for something more primal, perhaps even biblical. The Joker is the serpent in the garden, slithering his way past the gates of Hell into our world and infecting it with his unique brand of poison--tempting us to eat the apple.

Ledger’s slippery tongue slides in and out like the serpent as he coyly describes how he came to have his horrific scars. But in truth, The Joker has no origin, no backstory, no motivation--only lies, pain and half-truths. His horrifying face only serves as his own personal metaphor for how he sees the world.

The Joker brings character and nuance to scenes where character and nuance are often lost or forgotten. He makes Christian Bale’s Batman more interesting and Bruce Wayne more poignantly tragic. Is it an Oscar worthy performance? Yes, even if Ledger had not met his fate, such talk would be completely valid.



Gotham does manage to find hope in a new hero, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart delivering an equally fine performance opposite Ledger), the city’s latest district attorney who also turns out to be the city’s "White Knight." Dent is unafraid of the consequences of going after Gotham’s more notorious criminals, like mob boss Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts) and his overseas accountant, Lau (Chin Han). He’s been inspired by Batman’s heroic actions, and he’s driven to bring about the end of corruption and pain among Gotham’s starving, depressed citizens.

He’s even caught the eye of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over for Katie Holmes), the assistant DA who was once Bruce Wayne’s love interest. She’s attracted to Dent's confidence and his coy demeanor. Dent is not a man easily shaken, but even with confidence and power at his side, Dent is not outside of The Joker’s poison fists. Drawn into his game, Dent’s dark side emerges and he meets a tragic fate that turns him into the monstrous Harvey Two-Face.

Two-Face serves as the film’s third act villain, much like Venom from "Spider-Man 3," only Chris Nolan and his brother Jonathan mange to craft a compellingly resonant subplot for our fallen hero--one that leads to a dark, unfortunate cliffhanger. The emergence of Two-Face is not unfulfilling as Venom, who only appeared in "Spider-Man 3" to please fans. Dent is the bastardized byproduct of both Batman and The Joker. He was never meant to be the villain of the story; he just fell into that role, pushed to action by Batman and driven to madness by The Joker.

Never before has a comic book film been as utterly compelling and absorbing as this. Nolan’s "Dark Knight" isn’t just a superhero movie; it’s a taut crime drama that happens to be wrapped into the construct of a summer actioner. There are some major differences between the two films. Bale (who’s looking rather gaunt this time out) is not at the meaty center of this tale as he was in "Batman Begins." Batman (whose voice is the films biggest drawback) is a shadow, a figure of equal inspiration and distaste. Bruce Wayne is a man struggling to find his place within Gotham, which also draws him away from the central story. The film isn’t as soft or as lighthearted as "Batman Begins" occasionally was, and this may also disappoint some fans.

"The Dark Knight" is a blisteringly fast-paced crime drama--a wonderful second act to a grander three-act opera of the human spirit. Batman’s long journey into night has truly just begun. Harap2 Chris Nolan and company remain on-board to finish out this wonderful odyssey of crime, depression and hope. Gotham needs Batman. We do, too. Tak rugi beli tiket.

2 Comments:

axim said...

caman movie ni???besh tak??berapa rate?

bozzobattousai said...

axim

abg kasik 5 bintang