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THE DARK KNIGHT Reviews Flood In!

Beaks here... THE DARK KNIGHT doesn't open until July 18th, but Warner Brothers is junketing it very soon, so the screenings are upon us. And the reactions are... well, read for yourself. The first is From "Gary DP", who thinks HEAT sucks.
Let me start by saying I wasn't a huge fan of Batman Begins. It has some great ideas, but the pacing is poor. I liked the Falcone stuff, but ultimately the villains are so much of a non-threat that there's zero tension. But I'm not here to review that movie, I'm here to review The Dark Knight, and it's a far better film. The movie feels a lot shorter than Batman Begins even though it's about a half hour longer. I'm not sure if it's the greatest comic book movie of all time, but it's certainly the most ambitious. Gotham City is still riddled with crime. Falcone has been replaced by Salvatore Marconi (Eric Roberts), and instead of just one big mob, there's a bunch of gangs. And despite the fact that Batman is a thorn in their sides, the public is uncomfortable with the idea of a masked vigilante. With the arrival of Harvey Dent, the district attorney's office is no longer too chickenshit to bring down the mobsters, so in a way Batman's presence isn't as necessary as it once was. Because of this he ponders giving up his life of crime-fighting for a normal life with Rachel Dawes. When she choses Harvey over Bruce, she can't even bring herself to tell him and instead writes a letter which she gives to Alfred. And then there's Heath Ledger's Joker which is every bit as awesome as you've heard. When he makes a pencil disappear into the head of one of this mobsters in a surprisingly R-rated moment, you won't know whether to laugh or scream. In most movies the bad guy always threatens to do something awful, but in the end is stopped. Not in this movie. When the Joker threatens to kill someone close to Batman, he does. When the Joker threatens to blow up a hospital, he does. In his more nuanced moments he evokes co-star Gary Oldman in The Professional, and in his over-the-top moments he puts Nicholson to shame. He's every bit as funny, but far more disturbing. And ultimately, the performances are top notch through and through. Comic book purists will be happy to hear that Batman finally does some detective work this time around. He creates a device giving him the ability to monitor everyone in Gotham City via a satellite that detects cell phone signals. Lucius Fox, feeling that his morals have been compromised, threatens to leave over the device. Compromised morals are a running theme through the movie and it's handled well, but I've grown tired of the concept that Batman is no better than one of the freaks he does battle with. It's been done and I think it's time to make a movie where Batman is portrayed as a hero and not an outcast. Aaron Eckhart does a powerful job transforming from Harvey Dent to Two Face. The cgi render that appeared on the internet a couple of months ago is similar to what he looks like in the movie, bones protruding, visible tendons in his jaw. It's really grotesque, and a really convincing special effect. But it should be noted that there's only one villain in this movie (two, if you count Scarecrow who appears briefly at the beginning). Nolan's Two Face is a vigilante just like Batman, the difference being that he offs the criminals, something that Batman ends up taking responsibility for. He only becomes a real threat because of his issues with Gordon, who he feels is responsible for the death of someone close to him. So it's a pretty intense movie. I guess I understand the Heat comparison, only Heat sucks, and this doesn't. What are my problems with The Dark Knight? Two Face is such a cool looking character, but is reduced to being the Darth Maul of this movie (or Venom if you want to go there), so I sorta wish Nolan didn't blow his load so early in the series, and so late in the movie. I know everyone likes a dark Batman, but this movie is a total downer. Everyone's dead or a bad guy in the end. Like I said before, the concept that Batman is just another crazy criminal gets old really quick, and it was done with much more enthusiasm in Batman Returns. Oh, and the batmobile still looks like shit. Remember when Batman has to go through that little alley in Batman Returns, so it turns into that little bullet car? That's basically what the batpod is, but not as cool. And finally there's just way too much going on here, and as a result Batman once again takes a back seat to a whole parade of characters. They all tie into the story, but with a few slight changes, they could have been eliminated so that we could spend more time with the main character. In addition to Rachel, Harvey, Joker, Scarecrow, Gordon, Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Marconi, there's a guy a Wayne Enterprises who stumbles upon some documents and finds out who Batman is and a tv reporter played by Anthony Michael Hall. There's so many people in the movie that I was expecting to see Robert Altman's name in the credits! And character development suffers as a result. When one of the characters bites it in the middle of the movie, it's played like it's this horribly tragic thing, but no one in the audience really gives a shit about him/her. And I'm pretty sure that the slimy guy at Wayne Enterprises is just a lame setup for a sequel, but I'll let you solve that one for yourselves. I know that sounds like a lot of flaws, but in the grand scope of all the awesomeness that happens in the movie, these are only minor issues. It might be crowded, but it definitely doesn't feel bloated or overlong, and if there's one major flaw it's that it leaves you wanting more. It's great to see that comic book movies no longer exist to sell toys. Chris Nolan has created a haunting movie so thick with atmosphere, that even the most cynical of fans won't be able to resist. As an adaptation of the comic book, I think it still leaves something to be desired. The "real world" take on the material may turn some people off, but if you can get past that, you're in for a real treat. The Dark Knight definitely raises the bar for the comic book genre.
Flawed, but the best comic book movie ever? Interesting. Bart Rene-Thiel drags L.A. CONFIDENTIAL into the conversation, but the comparison is at least favorable.
Expectations for The Dark Knight, the sequel to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins were astronomical after a briliant viral marketing campaign. This sets off most film critics' Spider Senses: "Surely the film can't live up to the hype" is your first thought. It also proves both right and wrong, as The Dark Knight doesn't just live up to your expectations, it breaks through the glass ceiling of your wildest dreams! Nolan kicks in the narrative overdrive from the first minute and doesn't relent after that. A spectacular bank job with a gruesome aftermath introduces Heath Ledger's Joker, aka "The Scariest Supervillain Of All Time™". Ledger's performance is so incredibly strong that by all means come July 24th, it should become the pure definition of the term 'sociopath' in your friendly neighbourhood dictionary. Ledger, who sadly passed away in the beginning of this year, leaves a legacy unlike anything that has ever been seen in a comic book film adaptation as Batman's nemesis. Ledger's merciless depiction of The Joker makes him a truly dangerous opponent for our protagonist and creates truly terrifying scenes. While it may not come as a great surprise that the Caped Crusader survives this installment, that's not saying he's going to be too happy about that. Besides adrenalinerush producing actionscenes that -cliche as it may sound - have never been captured on film, the film is also blessed with comedy as dark as the kohl-rimmed eyes of the Joker, courtesy of the script by David S. Goyer and Chistopher and Jonathan Nolan. You won't know if you have to laugh out loud or crawl behind your seat in terror when faced with the wicked ways of the psychopathic clown. The Dark Knight rises above the tropes of the super hero movie and establishes itself as a sprawling crime epic filled with intrigues and plot twists that can easily hold its own against classics from the Warner archives like L.A. Confidential and Heat.
Here's a brief write-up from BigAl33, who focuses on the brilliance of Heath Ledger's Joker.
Harry- I saw The Dark Night earlier today, and i have to say, with all due respect to Jack, but there is only 1 person who can be considered the true Joker, and his name is Heath Ledger. His performance in this movie was incredible, i've never been a huge fan of heath, but he impressed me today. The movie is very good, i like the darkness of the movie, and it was alot better than i thought it would be, i mean i knew that it would be good, but DAMN. Of course Christian Bales, Bruce Wayne is spot on, especially in showing bruces torment on how he has to handle the Joker. Aaron Eckhart did an excellent job as Harvey Dent/Twoface, his transformation was very well done, and the hints of his darkside were nice touches. The movie is long, but never boring or slow, it keeps you interested until the very end. The way that Nolan is handling the reintroduction of Batman is very refreshing, he's telling the story the way that it should be, dark and real. Don't get me wrong, i love the original Batman that Tim Burton put out, but Nolan is blowing those movies out of the water. By the way, the twoface pic that ya'll had a few weeks ago that was on, is the true look of twoface, but the picture doesn't do it justice, seeing it move was just amazing, and impressive how they did it. I have to agree with the guy that wrote the 1st review for this movie, the Jokers pencil trick was Magical. - BigAl33
And here's the rave to end all raves from Rupert Pupkin, who claims the film is his "pride and joy". (He's also the first to acknowledge that he saw TDK in IMAX.)
I'll start out this review by saying that I have not read comic books in years. When I was a teenager, I was an avid reader but I just seemed to grow out of it. With that said, I thought BATMAN BEGINS was the best comic book on film I had seen to date. After seeing DARK KNIGHT earlier today, I can safely say, this was the GODFATHER 2 of comic book films. (I owe an AICN chatroom attendee for that comparison.) The film begins with the 6 minute teaser that some of you had seen previously in December on the front of I AM LEGEND. I read somewhere that Nolan was inspired by HEAT with this film. It shows. The bank robbery seems to almost be an homage. William Fichtner is even in the scene. His only scene in the film at that. I do not want to really go into plot details on the film as I want to try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. I just want to comment on the various aspects of it. First off, the look of the film is stunning. The last Batman film kind of reminded me in some spots as being very Londonesque, especially Wayne Manor. Gotham looks more like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles then any of the previous BATMAN films to date. Nothing at all seems like a soundstage. It surpasses THE PRESTIGE as Wally Pfister's most beautifully shot film to date, Do yourself a favor and see the film in IMAX if you can. Not an OMNIMAX screen, because they curve. And when a film is shot in Cinemascope, OMNIMAX makes it blurred and hard to follow action. Next, the screenplay and direction. I am convinced after seeing this film that Nolan may be one of our greater talents out there today. He has not made a bad film yet and this film might be his crowning achievement. He and Jonathan Nolan co-wrote the script together and they seem to have such a firm grasp on the story and the characters of Gotham City that part of me wishes the Burton BATMAN films never existed. The Nolan helmed BATMAN films have been everything that Singer forgot to do with SUPERMAN RETURNS. You can pay homage to the past but make damn well sure you have a script to go with it. And unlike SUPERMAN RETURNS, which at times seemed intolerably long, THE DARK KNIGHT is 152 minutes on the edge of your seat. Nolan moves the camera in ways that he has never done in his prior films. There are 360 degree pans around characters in several scenes. You all know what that is normally. The Michael Bay special. Nolan never abuses it and keeps it slow enough that you can follow everything going on in the scene. And a true test to craftsmanship, never in this film was I distracted by CGI. When it is used, it is so beautifully handled that it never stands out. That is the true success of proper CGI. The performances are all top notch. My theory has always been, the better quality of actors in an action film, the better your film will be. The holdovers from the previous films, Bale, Caine, Freeman & Oldman all have settled into their roles. Bale has the more demanding chore because he is Batman much more in this film then Bruce Wayne. My only complaint, and it's a minor one with Bale is at times, I think the Batman voice sounds too much like a grunt. Maggie Gyllenhal steps in for the completely replaceable Katie Holmes and gives her character a much more layered feel to it then Mrs. Cruise did. Aaron Eckheart is actually a prominent fixture in the film and if you don't want any more spoilers involving his character, stop watching the TV ads. He would not have been my first choice for Harvey Dent but he seems incredibly right for it. But, as you might expect, Heath Ledger's performance is nothing short of spectacular. Again, when I heard Ledger was cast, I had my suspicions. His take on the Joker is so menacing, it makes Nicholson's campiness look like Caesar Romero. With Ledger's Joker, you aren't laughing at him like you were with Nicholson. At times, you are laughing a nervous chuckle at his pure psychotic behavior. It is a mesmerizing performance that Ledger immerses himself in and truly makes it his own. He is a landmark villain for this genre of film. I would absolutely remember him posthumously at Oscar time. It's a shame he's gone. This would have moved him to the A list. A minor spoiler here, see if you catch the BROKEBACK joke Heath throws into the film. While I know it is impossible to please everyone, Nolan certainly comes damn close here by delivering a film of such brilliance, that it goes beyond great comic book film to great film period.
The hype is on! Can the film possibly live up? I think Christopher Nolan's one of the most talented directors working today, so why the hell not? Faithfully submitted, Mr. Beaks P.S. Just so's you knows, I've received word from a very credible source that the "BROKEBACK joke" is actually a JERRY MAGUIRE gag.

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