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Oh, What a ‘Knight’

7/20/08

In what was easily the most highly anticipated movie of the summer, ‘The Dark Knight’ had a lot of expectations to live up to and upon seeing the film yesterday, I unfortunately have to say that it failed to do so.

No, The Dark Knight didn’t meet my expectations.

It exceeded them.

In one of if not the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen, The Dark Knight delivered with some the help of a very memorable performance by the late Heath Ledger, who portrayed The Joker.

It’s rare that a movie with as much hype as The Dark Knight delivers, and while I had a handful of minor gripes with movie, all in all, I couldn’t have left the theater much more satisfied than I did.

I’ll start with the negatives, because there really weren’t many.

The movie was 2 hours and 30 minutes, and probably didn’t need to be. The last half hour of the movie seemed to lag just a bit, and the thing that bothered me was I kept worrying the movie was going to end prematurely due to it’s length, however that wasn’t the case at all.

I thought as good as Heath Ledger was (relax, I’m not about to knock his performance), he was somewhat underutilized considering how brilliant he was. From a lot of the reviews I read before seeing the movie, the idea going in I had was that Ledger’s Joker was almost the featured character in the movie, and that simply was not the case. That being said, the fact we didn’t see The Joker more almost mystified the scenes he was in, which you could argue made the character all the better.

Finally, I was disappointed (and I really can’t believe I’m saying this) with the replacement of Katie Holmes by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Forget about her personal life (I strongly believe that despite the fact she’s married to Tom Cruise and is therefore crazy by association), Holmes gave the character of Rachael some personality, while Gyllenhaal was rather bland and quite frankly somewhat boring. But again, that being said, Gyllenhaal’s performance in no way took away from the movie, it’s simply one of the minor issues I had with the film.

Ok, so lets talk about what made this movie worth all the hype, and then some.

First and foremost, Heath Ledger was as good as advertised if not better.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Nicholson who was outstanding in his portrayal of The Joker back in the 1989 hit movie Batman, Ledger brought a whole new level of creepyness and insanity to the character.

He took a well known character and not only successfully transformed himself into that character, but really made it own with a signature voice, laugh, walk and some downright disturbing facial expressions.

Now I may offend some people by saying this, but Heath Ledger’s performance, while very impressive, was not Oscar worthy, and should he be nominated, I would imagine it would have a lot to do with the fact he passed away.

A best supporting actor nomination wouldn’t be an injustice, just somewhat undeserved based solely on the fact that between the type of character he played and the amount of time he had on the screen.

The acting across the board (with the afformentioned exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal) was exceptional.

Christian Bale reprised his role of Batman and alter-ego Bruce Wayne and did another solid job with both characters.

Hats off to Aaron Eckhart who played Harvey Dent, Gotham City’s new hotshot District Attorney. I’ll come out and say it, his performance was just as good as anybody else’s in the film, including Ledger.

Gary Oldman returns as Gordon, and plays a much larger role in Dark Knight than in Begins.  He puts in a quietly outstanding job once again, despite the added screen time.

Michael Caine (Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (Lucious Fox) both nailed their supporting roles, while both were also somewhat underused in my opinion.

For the first time in leaving a movie (and I had read this in other reviews but didn’t really understand what it meant until I saw it myself) I want to give some serious credit to the editing of the movie. It’s not often a movie that long runs so smoothly scene to scene. As my friend was correct to note, the editing was “seemless”.

After I left the movie, I only felt worse that Heath Ledger left us far too soon, because his performance was so original and so genuine that one can’t help but think about the continuing success he would have had.

If you weren’t part of the $155 million+ dollars the movie made over the weekend in setting a new all time record for an opening, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the Batman franchise, do yourself a favor and go out and see this movie.

The Dark Knight starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

A-, 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

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July 20, 2008 - Posted by | Movies | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted…

    Comment by movie buff | August 28, 2008 | Reply


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