The Dark Knight

Film Review by Paul Greenwood | 22 Jul 2008
Film title: The Dark Knight
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Release date: 25 Jul
Certificate: 12A

At the time of writing, The Dark Knight has just had the largest opening weekend in US box office history and leapt straight to the top of the IMDb list of the top 250 movies of all time. The first fact can be attributed to many things, fanboys and the Heath Ledger factor not least among them, but the second only comes if the film is in fact a bit good. Its reign at the top can’t last, but comparisons to The Godfather Part II and The Empire Strikes Back are not without merit. That it’s the finest comic book adaptation yet made, and by some distance, goes without saying. That it can stand toe to toe with the best crime films ever as a saga of justice, morality and humanity may require a more studied appraisal, but what truly surprises is how a film so bleak, so merciless, can be embraced so quickly by so many.

Neck-snapping reversals abound in a story, the less of which you read about the better, and you would do well going in to know only that Bruce Wayne/Batman (Bale) and Jim Gordon (Oldman) find a new ally in their seemingly insurmountable war against crime in Gotham City in the shape of crusading new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Eckhart, whose excellent turn will likely be overlooked by the praise rightly heaped on Ledger). This dynamic trio may just have what it takes to save Gotham, but for the plans of The Joker (Ledger, genuinely, unrelentingly terrifying), who unleashes his unstoppable brand of anarchy to try to bring down the city’s knights.

How many summer blockbusters have had you wishing for the action to end sooner so you can get back to the drama? When the Batman disappears for long stretches, it’s not a problem, mainly because The Dark Knight is barely about him at all. Instead, it’s the story of Dent as mankind’s last best hope for salvation and Christopher Nolan, co-writing with his brother Jonathan, holds a mirror up to a broken and desperate world and points to the fear and selfishness in all of us. This is filmmaking of a scale and ambition seldom witnessed, and Nolan revels in his torment, offering up a semblance of hope before ripping it, without pity, from our outstretched hands. There is no hiding place. Everything burns. [Paul Greenwood]

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