Film Review: The Dark Knight

— by Caroline on Crack

Why are you at work today? You should be out seeing The Dark Knight, which opened today. Play hooky and go see it. You can check it out at the ArcLight in Hollywood as it has that exhibit of the actual Batman and Joker costumes, but I recommend seeing it at an IMAX theater as the movie was filmed in IMAX so should be quite spectacular on the huge screen.

I saw this newest Batman at the Sherman Oaks ArcLight last night and absolutely loved it. Of course I don’t know how this very dark film with its disturbing scenes and themes was able to get just a PG-13 rating as I was hiding behind my hair and plugging up my ears one too many times. “Mommy loves Daddy, Mommy loves Daddy, Mommy loves Daddy!” What can I say? Heath Ledger’s Joker was terrifying and so unpredictable. And I didn’t like his disappearing pencil trick but at all. It may not have been graphic but it was pretty suggestive.

Do I think HL should be nominated for an Oscar? Well, I don’t know what the criteria for winning a best actor nomination is but he was pretty damn good at fleshing out the character of the usually campy Joker and creating this memorable and sinister clown. Pretty damn good. And if Heath Ledger hadn’t died this year, it would have been hard to recognize the “heart throb” actor and easy to get lost in his maniacal criminal. But he did steal the scene whenever he was up on the screen, making you chuckle at him and then squeal in terror. I can see why he suffered sleepless nights while he was playing this psychotic role.

But the Joker isn’t the only reason to see this movie, obviously. Christian Bale is pretty impressive as the ass-kicking, gravelly voiced hero/bumbling billionaire. The action scenes are breath-taking.

And, like its predecessor Batman Begins, this one is a compelling retelling of the dark vigilante’s story. What I like about this series (hopefully it continues) is that it tells it as if it’s the “true” story that inspired the legend, that inspired the campy Adam West version and the Hollywood blockbuster versions with too many A-list actors. Nope, here you get the gritty Batman without the safety net of the ridiculously over-the-top costumes and makeup. And surprisingly, and refreshingly, very little CGI. Apparently director Christopher Nolan opted to rely more on stunt work than green screens. And the movie is so awesome because of that.

But it’s pretty dark and almost depressing. In Batman’s city, there’s no one to trust. The criminals run everything including a lot of the cops, and it makes me wonder, “Who the hell would want to live in Gotham?” But here’s Batman and now Harvey Dent, the new D.A. who offer hope as they work to rid the city of its scum. (Those familiar with Batman lore already know Dent’s fate but it’s cool to watch how that plays out here. BTW, Aaron Eckhart is so pretty.)

In the meantime you’re taken on this long (2 1/2 hours) rollercoaster ride of violence and darkness and by the time you come out the other side you’re just exhausted. But exhausted in a good way, like you went skydiving, landed on a bridge, bungee’d off that and then got in the world’s fastest car to set a new land-speed record. At least that’s how I felt.

There were times during the movie when I was tempted to look at my watch but then I was thankful that it wasn’t over just yet as I wanted to see more. And judging from how this one ends, I’m thinking there will be more to come.

FYI, here’s a cool article about Batman’s high-tech gadgets and their real-life counterparts.