I have long since stopped writing film reviews. But prompted by my fiance, I think I scribble a few words about the new Batman film we saw over the weekend The Dark Knight (TDK).
Two words: F***ing Awesome.
To me, this is the best Batman flick since 1992's Batman Returns. Comparison is inevitable, but it was done at different time by different gifted directors, both in the process of reinventing a potential franchise.
Aside: Interesting trivia: Batman Returns was to be called The Dark Knight then. Tim Burton, who directed Batman (1989) and Batman Returns, and later produced Batman Forever, was inspired by the graphic novel, The Dark Knight, when idea on a Batman film was bounced to him. Plans for a Batman movie started after the success of Superman (1978). End of aside.
Coming back to TDK. What I found most compelling in this film is the script. While Burton's take mixed gothic fantasy, Christoper Nolan (Director and co-scriptwriter of TDK) chose to spin the superhero tale in a gripping crime drama scenario with aroma of the best of Shakespearean tragedy.
There are good guys, villains, human beings and freaks. You get confused sometimes. The line on morality is thin here. Who is good? Who is bad? Who's ugly? That is the question that is frequently posed in this movie, so much so, that half way you are not even sure whatever you are doing is morally right (paying for this movie is good, trust me).
The story may be complex, but the emotion it stirs from you is enough to put you right in it. You don't care much for the story, you care a lot for all the characters in this film. That is very rare in the Hollywood films that came out from 90s onwards.
The one character that was and will be talked about is The Joker. The late Heath Ledger did an excellent job, given that he had an excellent script to work with. It's an actor proof role and you must be really bad to ruin it. Ledger did not disappoint.
Christian Bale is as good as he was in the first film. And we see him as both Batman and Wayne in either alter ego.
But I was most impressed with Gary Oldman. Playing soon to be Commissioner Gordon, he was the only straight forward good guy in this film. And playing it amidst the chaos that was going on is very tough. His role has been beefed up from the first one, and he shines here. I really enjoyed his performance in this film.
As I mentioned to someone, this film contains many soul stirring moment. All the conventions in a superhero movie is thrown out of the window, in favour of gripping Noir-ish uncertain moments, often very disturbing.
Batman have been my favourite superhero. Both Batman Returns and the campy Batman The Movie (1966) are my favourites, for different reason. And this film will challenge the contendors in my list of favourite superhero films.
One gripe: Having so used to Danny Elfman's score in the Burton films, I still have issues with the score in this and Batman Begins. But they are not a hindrance to the story telling a wonderful motion picture that is The Dark Knight.