Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Dark Knight (2008)

"Let me get this straight, you think that your client, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante, who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands, and your plan is to blackmail this person?"

I may have changed my mind about this film a bit. I first saw it about eight years ago (in Los Angeles!) and my impressions were that it worked well as a film but not so well as a part of the Batman myth is, being more interested in pursuing the then-contemporary themes of terrorism, civil liberties (which are, don't get me wrong, important) and surveillance, hence the rather. crowbarred-in scene with Batman and Lucius Fox monitoring the people of Gotham on a bunch of monitors.

That's still, I think, a concern. But eight years on it seems not to loom so large, and the film seems a much better experience. Heath Ledger is a magnificent Joker, intelligent in his madness and articulate in his pursuit of chaos. It's perhaps a very idiosyncratic take on the character, but just about close enough to the original. Again it's a complex plot, weaving the tragedy of Harvey Dent into a tale of how the Joker grows from minor sideshow beside the important work of going after the mob to existential threat to Gotham itself. All this and we find time for a trip to Hong Kong just to find a mob boss. A lot gets packed into these Christopher Nolan Batman films.

It's odd to see Maggie Gyllenhaal as the recast Rachel, but she does a splendid job. Christian Bale is adequate as always and Gary Oldman was still born to play Jim Gordon. Aaron Eckhart and Michael Caine are superb but, yeah, the film belongs to Ledger. It would even if he hadn't died so shortly afterwards. He's the James Dean of our generation, but it would be much better if instead of that he was still around.

I enjoyed the film this time around, and felt as though it respected the characters rather better than I previously thought. Behind all the spectacle there's some real depth to a film that really seems to have divided the fan from the general viewer..

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