Massawyrm Says THE DARK KNIGHT Is The Greatest Batman Story Ever Told!!
Published at: July 15, 2008, 8:37 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Christopher Nolan, without a doubt, displays the biggest, hairiest, sweaty swinging pair of brass cojones of the summer with the sixth and final superhero movie of the season. And after a number of interesting entries, The Dark Knight doesnt suffer from one ounce of superhero fatigue. In fact, it proves that Warners wisely chose to save the best for last. This is in a class by itself. I love The Incredible Hulk. I love the living shit out of Iron Man. And as you all know, Hellboy 2 made me squeal with childish glee. But this? This is the first Oscar quality superhero movie. This is the one we will look back upon 20 years from now and hold it to be superior to most everything that came after it. I want to say that this is like Wrath of Khan or Superman 2, but really this is better than that. This is The Empire Strikes Back of superhero films.
Unrepentantly dark, unequivocally ruthless and utterly brilliant, The Dark Knight begins as you expect, but slowly, mercilessly, straps you to your chair and begins to put the screws to you. This film is just mean. It is a true, honest to God Joker story. Batman gets put through the wringer. And hes not alone. Dragged along with him are Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent, both of whom get fully realized arcs neither of which are any fun. Man oh man. This is NOT a summer film. The fact that the Brothers Warner decided to slate it as the very last of the big summer films was wise indeed. Just as we audiences are getting our fill of popcorn, here comes a serious, Oscar worthy genre picture that blows each and every other film that preceded out of the water. Its like a fine aged wine after a steady diet of hamburgers and French fries.
The Dark Knight is the perfect antithesis of Iron Man. For all its pathos, its dark angles and its deep character studies, Iron Man was an explosive series of action sequences and laughs that ramped you up and prepared you for a knock down drag out at the end. Tony Stark didnt have to watch his friends and family tortured. James Rhodes never finds himself deconstructed and destroyed for the amusement of a madman. No. Iron Man was a perfect COMIC BOOK movie.
This is a GRAPHIC NOVEL.
The elegance of what Nolan does here is almost indefinable. He slowly and deliberately builds a singular story, one in which a deranged madman sets up and executes a plan so positively diabolical that you will not fully understand it until the credits roll. The stakes are high and the consequences dire. And while Nolan tells us what may be considered one of the greatest Joker stories ever told, he does exactly what weve been asking for and demanding for years. This is a detective story. It is not some series of supersuited clashes with snazzy getaways and escapes from deathtraps. It is Batman confronted by a foe so ingenious that it takes every ounce of his ability to face him. And even then he is outmatched. Batman has to shake people down, invent bizarre gadgets and expend his every available resource including testing every friendship to find this guy. Only to find that this is exactly what the Joker wanted to begin with.
Everything you want from a Batman story is here. There are multiple interwoven villains. Rich development of some of the most noteworthy of Batman characters. Plenty of action and a gripping story that grabs you by the balls from the very beginning and refuses to let go until the final frames have played out. And it has some of the best performances of a number of actors careers.
Look. Ledgers Oscar is a lock. Once you see what hes done - just how he not only crafted a character, but completely redefined it youll understand. Forget Romero. Forget Nicholson. Forget Hamill. They were but custodians of the role that Ledger would ultimately own. I cant ever look at The Joker the same way again. The cadence of his speech, the looks he gives people. The way he says You wanna know how I got these scars before hes about to fuck somebody up but good. Hes a monster. Hes positively terrifying. He is everything we were always told The Joker was supposed to be but he never quite lived up to a mystifying squall of hatred and chaos that could scare the living shit out of an entire city without needing to resort to an unrealistic body count. And there is never a single moment on screen that you see Heath Ledger anywhere on it. Hes vanished, replaced entirely by this macabre lump of twisted flesh who walks and speaks like the kind of guy you would think was a world class dork if he werent so fucking dangerous. This role is the stuff of legends. And unless something very strange happens, this brilliant entry into his filmography coupled with the sentimentality for his entire body of work will earn him a posthumous award without fail. An award he no doubt would have earned even if he were still with us today.
If theres anything negative to say about Ledgers performance it is that it completely overshadows the brilliant character work of Aaron Eckhart who gives a career redefining turn as Harvey Dent. The progression he makes, leading to the ultimate inevitable transformation is absolutely breathtaking. There is a whole section of the film that belongs entirely to him. And much like I am doing right now, most people will relegate the praise of him to an afterthought an Oh yeah, he was great too. No. He is utterly fantastic. But when youre standing immediately next to one of the greatest villainous portrayals in history, it is almost impossible not to get swallowed up by it. But Ill say this the guy has just earned himself a one-way ticket to the A-list. He is so fucking good in this that there is no way we wont be seeing him in bigger, more prominent roles from here on out. His Harvey Dent, coupled with Ledgers Joker is a tour de force of villainy unlike anything youve ever seen. It is at once both diabolical and heartbreaking.
And it leads to acknowledging Nolans greatest asset in these films: his slavish obsession with making everything make sense. There is nothing in this film that is off. No character decision that seems the slightest bit forced or strange. No object that doesnt have its place. Even the title, oh my god the title, becomes a powerfully profound part of the film once it finally makes its reveal at the very end of it. Its not just a clever name, not just a snippet of fandom. It is an apt, deliberate description of what you have just watched that carries so much weight by the time you get around to processing it.
This film is brilliant and has no equal in the realm of comic book movies. It is a film so good that I almost dont want to see a third because I know there is almost no way it could live up to its predecessor. It will give children nightmares and redefine the way we look at The Joker, the Batman and comic book movies in general. This is the Godfather of superhero movies. The Empire Strikes Back. It is a film that may never find an equal, a film that will have you staring jaw agape with your hand planted in front of your face in disbelief at how far it is ready to go. It is what we always thought a Batman film could be, but never seemed to happen. Yes. It is the real deal. It is the greatest Batman story ever told.
Until next time friends, smoke em if ya got em.