We are huge Batman fans here at Thrash Hits .com so when Raziq Rauf was invited to a special preview screening of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight, he almost bit their hand off. Here’s our review.
Let’s make this whole review about The Joker. More specifically, let’s make it all about the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal because it is absolutely magnificent.
First things first. Will he get an Oscar? Probably not. As brilliantly malevolent as Ledger is in this performance and as ready the public are to commemorate his life and work with a posthumous Oscar, it’s wholly unlikely that the role of The Joker is dull enough for The Academy to acknowledge with a gong.
Ledger is the stand out star in The Dark Knight. While Christian Bale broods with silent yet excitingly forceful anticipation – in that way that only Bale can and always does do – it’s clear from the off who the star is.
Watch the first trailer for The Dark Knight
The theme is loosely based on the Frank Miller comic book series, The Dark Knight Returns and with Sin City, Daredevil and Robocop his other titles to have been transformed into a movie, you get an idea of the brutality inside and the antihero nature of Batman.
Bale is fascinatingly vicious as Batman. He growls away at Captain Gordon and then smacks up the numerous perps with a vital mix of clinical precision and brute force. Comic fans note: The blows he later lands on The Joker are as close to the beating he serves up in The Killing Joke as you’re likely to see on the big screen.
Just as Batman is refreshingly remorseless in his quest for justice, The Joker is unerringly relentless is his pursuit of chaos. Heath Ledger is just as, if not even more maniacal than anything in the comics.
Maybe he has actually played the role perfectly. Maybe because the character is so ridiculously frightening and unpredictably violent on the page, as Ledger brings The Joker to life in such dazzling fashion, the viewer manages to feel true, pure dread – a very difficult emotion to evoke.
It has been well documented that Ledger always goes the extra mile for his roles and that he represented a psychotic, knife-wielding, ultra-scarred mentalist so convincingly and compellingly, one can only wonder to what lengths the Australian Oscar-nominee went.
Watch the second trailer for The Dark Knight
On top of Bale and Ledger, Christopher Nolan had some of the finest actors around at his disposal here with the pedigree of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman taking secondary roles. The impressive cast does everything that is expected of them, with ease.
Aaron Eckhart is excellent as the conscientious, all-American Number One Son of Gotham City as District Attorney Harvey Dent until his slightly ungainly transformation into Two Face while, as the love interest for TDK, Maggie Gyllenhall casts the spectre of Katie Holmes’ insipid performance in Batman Begins far away simply by actually having a personality.
While those actors helped Nolan’s masterpiece achieve, it was he that sculpted the breathtaking cityscape in a way that sets this summer blockbuster masked head and caped shoulders above the rest of the pack.
Rather than any fantastical caricature, Gotham City simply looks like any other grimy, crime-riddled American megalopolis, increasing the sense of realism immeasurably. The stunts are huge and (very) explosive but not ridiculous and overblown.
Stick it all on a big screen – or an absolutely massive screen if you go to the IMAX, and we definitely recommend doing that – and you’ve got an incredibly intense two and a half hours with little no respite.
The early American Psycho-referencing in-joke should certainly be noted with a knowing smirk but it’s just another trivial part of a comic book adaptation that, however brilliantly executed, will struggle to be considered serious or highbrow enough to warrant the most high profile Oscars.