Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dark Knight Lights Up Screen

5/5 Stars

Overstatement is haunting me constantly. How do I make it clear how incredible this movie is while not making out it to be another "Ben-Hur?" I don't know if it's possible because this movie amazed me from the word go.

The 800 pound elephant in the room is Heath Ledger. I was sure that critics who were calling for a posthumous Oscar nomination were perhaps seeing his performance through rose colored glasses. I affirm that Ledger deserves each and every accolade he gets for his portrayal of the dementedly jolly villan. A tour de force performance to be sure, Heath Ledger dazzles as he unfolds the depths of the character and each revelation is as remarkable to watch as the previous one.

It is fabulous to see the streets of Chicago used so much in this movie. I have always believed that if New York is Metropolis then Gotham is Chicago. While Gotham is only somewhat based on the windy city, I still think it benefits the movie to have this relationship. Not only do I feel that the city's layout, skyline and architecture are a credit to any film, but one of my biggest complaints of Batman movies past is the lack of connection to a real place and people. By grounding the franchise in a recognizable city Batman becomes a superhero that might actually exist. Batman is someone who deals with politics, terrorists and angry masses as well as evil masterminds.

The supporting cast is remarkably strong. There are lots of secondary roles, some bigger than others, but each essential to the film and it's fascinating to see them weave between each other to create a deep and intrinsic plot. Old favorites do not disapoint: Cane, Freeman are a joy to watch, and it is remarkable to see other characters develop into the icons of the novels and films we know so well.

Oh, by the way, Christan Bale is phenomenal too. He has a hard job playing against a talented cast, but he does it so well - and perhaps the best compliment I can pay him is to say that I didn't notice him particularly. He is the anchor of the franchise who executed his role splendidly. He lets us see Batman in his environment, gives every other role in the movie a foil to play off of and still gets all the dazzling stunts and gadgets.

Is the movie too long? Perhaps, but it's worth every moment. Are there too many threads in the plot, maybe, but not only do they pay off in the end, but I would hate to see these stories stolen from a great film and stretched into a weak sequel - void of a joker - or requiring a replacement. This movie has it's flaws as most movies do. If you don't enjoy Super Hero movies to start with, of course you would have to love it more than I to get the same rating.

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