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Thread: "Dark Knight" a gripping character study

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    Elite Member aabbcc's Avatar
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    Default "Dark Knight" a gripping character study

    "The Dark Knight" is pure adrenaline. Director Christopher Nolan, having dispensed with the introspective, moody origin story of 2005's "Batman Begins," now puts the Caped Crusader through a decathlon of explosions, vehicle flips, hand-to-hand combat, midair rescues and pulse-pounding suspense.

    Nolan is one of our smarter directors. He builds movies around ideas and characters, and "Dark Knight" is no exception. The ideas here are not new to the movie world of cops and criminal, but in the context of a comic book movie, they ring out with startling clarity. In other words, you expect moralistic underpinnings in a Martin Scorsese movie; in a Batman movie, they hit home with renewed vigor.

    None of this artistic achievement denies the re-energized Warner Bros./DC Comics franchise its commercial muscle. Those bags of money in the movie's opening bank heist are nothing compared with the worldwide boxoffice haul "Dark Knight" will take from theaters following its July 18 release via Warner Bros. Repeat viewings are a certainty.

    Repeat viewings might also be a necessity. That adrenaline rush comes at a cost: With the film's race-car pace, noise levels, throbbing music and density of stratagems, no one will follow all the plot points at first glance.

    "Dark Knight" revolves around notions of the yin and yang between Hero and Villain and of those gray areas where social conscience and individuality collide. Thinking logically, Nolan and his co-writer/brother Jonathan, working from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, imagine that the heroism of Bruce Wayne's Batman (a returning and very buff Christian Bale) is a double-edged sword. (A theme the current "Hancock" toyed with but badly mucked up.) Cleaning up the streets of Gotham City turns the crime cartels into an even more dangerous beast that, once cornered, resorts to its own doomsday machine: the maniacally clever and criminally amoral Joker (the late Heath Ledger). And vigilante justice is nonetheless "justice" from outside the law. So who or what polices him?

    Running for cover, the mob head (Eric Roberts) first takes refuge with a Hong Kong crime mogul (Chin Han). Then when Batman takes him down, he and his fellow mobsters hold their noses and in desperation settle on a man who knows no rules and plays everyone against one another. The Joker relishes the assignment precisely because of his "admiration" for the Dark Knight. In one key confrontation, the Joker purrs to Batman, like a bride to a groom, "You complete me." The criminal clown, his makeup designed to emphasize his facial deformations, sees in a man dressed up in a bat suit "a freak like me."

    Seemingly on the side of good are the city's White Knight, District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart); his girlfriend/Assistant DA Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) - and, if you recall from "Batman Begins," Bruce Wayne's longtime love - and police Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). But loyalties are easily dislodged by threats or money. The Joker's true purpose, besides amusing himself trying to outwit Batman, is to see if he can "turn" the White Knight to his dark side.

    One wishes Nolan had cast a different actor than Eckhart as this White Knight. Although very good at playing duplicitousness and irony - witness "Thank You for Smoking" - Eckhart never quite seems the crusader presumably intended. He will, of course, turn into Two-Face, but you sense this propensity too early.

    The Joker, though, sees everyone as two-faced, even Batman, in his estimation. When confronted by pure evil - and there is a kind of purity to the Joker's rule of no rules - what can a vigilante do but violate his own moral code? The Joker means to push Batman beyond those limits.

    With six major action sequences shot with Imax cameras, Nolan pushes his own cinematic envelope. If the action in "Batman Begins" received ho-hum reviews in some quarters, this won't happen with "Dark Knight." Batman flies around the skyscrapers of Gotham and Hong Kong, rips through any number of villains with his martial arts, tears through streets in his armor-clad, two-wheeled Bat-Pod and has more tech backup than James Bond. While all modern movie action is visual-effects driven, the stunt work in "Dark Knight" looks like it's happening on the streets and not in a computer.

    Bale again brilliantly personifies all the deep traumas and misgivings of Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne. A bit of Hamlet is in this Batman. Ledger's performance is a beauty. His Joker has a slow cadence of speech, as if weighing words for maximum mischief and contempt. He moves languidly as if to savor his dark deeds, his head and body jerking at times from an overload of brain impulses.

    Michael Caine's butler extraordinaire, Alfred, and Morgan Freeman's scientific genius, Lucius, have settled into their dutiful roles as oases of the expected when all else is unexpected. Gyllenhaal is not exactly wasted, but she can't do much with a tissue-thin heroine. Oldman as the all-too-human cop is a quiet triumph in superb character acting.

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    "Dark Knight" revolves around notions of the yin and yang between Hero and Villain and of those gray areas where social conscience and individuality collide.
    a returning and very buff Christian Bale
    The Joker relishes the assignment precisely because of his "admiration" for the Dark Knight. In one key confrontation, the Joker purrs to Batman, like a bride to a groom, "You complete me."
    A bit of Hamlet is in this Batman. Ledger's performance is a beauty. His Joker has a slow cadence of speech, as if weighing words for maximum mischief and contempt. He moves languidly as if to savor his dark deeds, his head and body jerking at times from an overload of brain impulses.
    *swoons* *clutches pearls and faints from sheer fangirl delight*

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    Elite Member Mariesoleil's Avatar
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    I can't wait to see this movie!
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    Elite Member Folieadeux's Avatar
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    The Joker relishes the assignment precisely because of his "admiration" for the Dark Knight. In one key confrontation, the Joker purrs to Batman, like a bride to a groom, "You complete me."
    I love it! Can't wait!!

    Though it does just makes me so sad. Had Heath got his life under control, he would have gone on to great things after this.
    ssabmud

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    Elite Member PurpleHaze's Avatar
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    god, i can't wait for it! i'm so excited.

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    Elite Member Ravenna's Avatar
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    I want to see this movie right NOW.

    (Although I hope watching Heath Ledger won't creep me out or make me too sad. May Christian Bale's biceps distract me.)

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    i want this movie to have my assbabies
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    Hit By Ban Bus! Lily's Avatar
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    I am so, so, so excited for this movie.

    I'm so sad about Ledger, but I'm excited to see what he's done with the part. I'm also looking forward to seeing Aaron Eckhart become Harvey Two Face.

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    Why is it tragedy follows what is supposed to be an actors crowning achievement, or the breakout that made them superstars? Bruce Lee died right before "Enter The Dragon" came out, and that is the movie that brought him international fame. Even his son, Brandon, was poised for superstardom when "The Crow" was being made, and I know there are others. It's just so sad that promising careers get cut so tragiclly short.

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    I cannot wait to see this movie! It looks amazing.
    "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control, and at times hard to handle, but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

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    Elite Member ManxMouse's Avatar
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    This movie is going to make a fuckload of money.
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    According to Fandango.com, 450 showings have already sold out in advance ticket sales, this movie will probably break $150 million this weekend. Looks absolutely incredible.

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    One of my local theaters has 20 screens, the first showings are 12:01, 12:02, and 12:03 on 15 screens, plus the 1 Imax screen. The next showings are at 3AM. Almost all are sold out for tomorrow night. Imax is sold out all weekend.

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    "Extended climax" is such a great term, I'll use it next time I try to describe the mind-numbing experience that was watching the third Matrix movie.
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    SO cannot wait to see this. I'm beyond excited.
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