Review: “The Dark Knight”

I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I am (or used to be, anyway) an avid comic book reader.  I mostly read Marvel titles, my favorites being Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight, and The Avengers.  I was a casual reader of D.C. comics (except for Green Lantern, to which I subscribed for a while), reading the occasional Justice League or Batman issue.  Therefore, it’s with a somewhat heavy heart that I must say that The Dark Knight is the

Best.  Superhero.  Movie.  Ever.

There.  I said it.  It’s better than any of the X-Men movies (especially the third one, which sucked).  It’s better than any of the Spider-Man movies (especially the third one, which also sucked).  It’s better than any of the Superman movies (especially the third one, which sucked).  Do you see a trend here with third moves?

Heath Ledger as the Joker was just incredible.  This is how the Joker is supposed to be.  He’s the Joker from the classic graphic novel The Killing Joke (those who have read TKJ will recognize what the Joker’s agenda is in TDK — he claims he doesn’t have one, but he does) crossed with the Joker from the other classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns.  He’s funny, but never clownish, and he’s absolutely terrifying.  Now I’m even sorrier that Heath Ledger is gone, because I can’t see who they’ll ever get to replace him.  All the other actors are excellent (especially Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and Gary Oldman), but Ledger dominates; and even better, the script gets the relationship between the Joker and Batman exactly right.  It also nails all the little details of the relationships between the principal characters, as well as their individual motivations, flaws, and weaknesses; their reactions when the Joker pushes each one of them to their breaking point are natural and utterly believable, and the story never takes the easy way out.  Finally, the film is littered with terrific actors in minor roles (Look, it’s Eric Roberts!  Look, it’s Anthony Michael Hall!).  It’s a pleasure to watch so many true professionals at work.

Being a relatively devious writer myself, I figured out most of the Joker’s plots well before the characters did, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment watching them play out.  His final scheme involving a couple of passenger-laden ferries is destined to be a classic.

My wife stayed awake for the entire film.  Even though she generally complains about how uncomfortable movie theater seats are, she is still more than capable of nodding off while sitting in them (for instance, she fell asleep partway through Iron Man).  Afterwards, she even cared enough about the movie to ask me some questions about the source comics, and to say how good the performances were.  Take that, Batman and Robin.

NOTE:  The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, but it is quite violent and disturbing if not particularly gory.  Of course, it seems to be pretty difficult to get an R rating just for violence.  Maybe if Maggie Gyllenhaal had taken her top off (see Secretary) it would’ve gotten an R … anyway, think twice before bringing along young kids.

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12 Comments

  1. hmmm. interesting review. i had been advised not to see it, but now i don’t know.
    especially since anthony michael hall is in it.

    Jim says: Anthony Michael Hall essentially plays the role in this film that Kelsey Grammer played in the movie 15 Minutes, except in The Dark Knight the role isn’t written as a caricature. (Not to pick on 15 Minutes, which I enjoyed.)

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  2. I haven’t seen it yet, also thinking that the 3rd one would, as you say, suck. My husband said that it got a lot of really good reviews, but good reviews doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. There are really good movies that get really bad reviews, so…to my way of thinking, it must suck. Seeing as how I respect your opinion, I may very well have to go see this movie.

    Iron Man was a fun movie, too. How could one possibly sleep during it? I’ll never know!

    Jim says: Don’t let my friend Jeff hear you respect my opinion on movies — he’ll think you’re crazy! However, in this case he’ll agree with me. 😉

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  3. Warning: might contain a spoiler or two.
    Oh I totally agree 100%. And your wife not going to sleep in 2 1/2 hours is a good rating. I thought Heath Ledger was BRILLIANT! I cannot describe how wonderful he was. Brilliant is the only word that comes to mind that even gets close. That odd tongue-flicking thing was great. I found myself waiting for him to get back on the screen every time it left him. He also brought out a little sympathy from me when he talked about what his father did to him. I thought Christian Bale was just okay…not that memorable. I loved Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman as Chief Gorden was excellent. Michael Caine’s performance was memorable too. Wonderful plot and the making of Harry Two-Face was excellent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I too am so sad never to get to see H.L. again and thought of it a lot through the movie.

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  4. I haven’t seen it yet, though I want to soon. The son 20 yrs and his friends waited in line to see the midnight premiere and had nothing but amazing things to say about it, and was especially taken with Heath Ledgers performance. I loved him in Brokeback, I can’t wait to see him in this.

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  5. Absolutely. I loved the joker especially when he is in the nurse uniform, he was absolutely brilliant. And movie villains normally don’t spook me but this one did. Yesterday I was actually trying to imagine what it would be like to be face to face with a person like him. Not even remotely funny.

    Yea, not seeing Heath Ledger again will most def be a loss.

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  6. High praise indeed..particulary that Mrs. James stayed awake and curious. In Australia it has an ‘M’ rating (for Mature audiences)…the premiere for TDK was on as Abbey (8) and I left Mama Mia (Pierce Brosnan is the only Irish man who can’t sing, apparently) – and there were some very realistic Joker lookalikes waiting in line…also some Heath lookalikes, which was quite poignant.

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  7. My husband, son and I went to see this on the night it was released. I think it was an edgy, psychological thriller and that is should have been R rated. The movie made for some deep discussion with our 15 year old son. The plot lines messed with the my mind. I was SO glad I hadn’t taken our younger daughters to see this movie! Honestly, there were moments that I was uncomfortable about my son watching.

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  8. My husband and I are totally besotten (is *too* a word) moviegoers, but we’ve heard such mixed reviews about this one. I can handle pretty much anything but all-out, pointless gore, so we’ll have to give this one a go.

    Have you already said whether you liked Iron Man? I saw it alone, munching a hotdog, when stuck by airplane cancellations in Chicago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely a “big screen” (v DVD) experience. Or maybe it was the hotdog. I know Iron Man got pretty mixed reviews, too. Hancock was another fun one, though WEIRD story switch mid-way through…

    Jim says: I actually never posted a review of Iron Man but we saw it and enjoyed it. It put my wife to sleep in about an hour and fifteen minutes, but she woke up again for the big finish. We also enjoyed Hancock, which didn’t put my wife to sleep, because she’s a big Will Smith fan. But I never reviewed that one either …

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  9. Pingback: Review: “The Host” « James Viscosi’s Scribblings

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