“The Dark Knight” – 2008. Dir. Christopher Nolan.

With Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anthony Michael Hall with Morgan Freeman and Eric Roberts

“You can’t kill me – and I won’t kill you. I have a feeling we’ll be doing this for a long, long time.”

Well I’m sure we ALL know the plot of “The Dark Knight” don’t we? What I would like to spend your time doing is expressing to you what I really like about this film. What Christopher Nolan did by making “Batman Begins” and the much anticipated and superior sequel was setting the tone for all future superhero films. He allowed them to still be summer blockbusters, but also forced them into being good films as well. There would be no “Iron Man” without “Batman Begins”. It forced audiences to take superhero films more seriously.

What really impressed me about this film was its cast. Of course we have the established actors in their roles – Bale, Caine, Freeman, Oldman – but Nolan establishes new characters while still developing previous ones. I was impressed by Ledger as The Joker as was everyone else. His phony Chicago accent was stellar – as was his masochistic tone and self applied make-up.

Everything about his character was excellent, and broke the hold that Jack Nicholson previously held on The Joker. Everything about him is original even though the character is one of the most well known and well established villains in fictional history. The way he walks, talks and his actions are all original and unique. Heath Ledger remains to be one the best physical actors ever.

I was very impressed by Harvey Dent. I was unsure of the casting of Aaron Eckhart thinking that there were other actors better suited for playing such a complex character. The way Nolan guides Dent through the film is excellent. He’s already been established in Gotham City as a hard hitting crime fighter, being dubbed by the media as Gotham’s “White Night”. As the complexity of the story unravels, we begin to see Harvey Dent’s life spiral out of control.

His character is that of a slick and smooth lawyer who has the power in the grasp of his hand, but once The Joker lights fire to the city and steals the woman he loves, he loses it and his violent – even repressed – psychopathic side shows up. It’s as if Dent has this caged beast inside of him, and once he loses the one thing he truly loves and sees the scared monster he’s become – Harvey Two-Face is unleashed to seek revenge on everyone involved in his shattered life.

I have a fondness for Eric Roberts. I think he’s an amazing talent, and he rarely gets a chance to show it. As his roles as Salvatore Maroni, the new mob boss of Gotham, he beat out two ultra talented actors: James Gandolfini and Bob Hoskins. Nolan must have had faith in Roberts to deliver. He did.

Eric Roberts is perfect as the polished and well groomed mob boss. The way Roberts snarls through his teeth, and gives off this super smug tone is perfect for his character. His interactions with Bale, Ledger and Eckhart are excellent and monumental scenes of the film. My favorite scene of the film is where Batman shows up to the night club where Roberts is with some blonde bimbo and she complains that they can’t hear each other talk, Roberts then turns and says out of the corner of his mouth: “What makes you think I want to hear you talk?” Hot!

The addition of veteran Chicagoan character actor Ron Dean is excellent. He adds authenticity to the role of a Gotham cop because he’s mainly played a Chicago cop in a majority of his roles (“The Fugitive”, “Chain Reaction”, Michael Mann’s TV show “Crime Story”). I’ve always enjoyed Dean, he may be a one dimensional actor, but that one dimension did get him a role in “The Dark Knight”.

The film drags slightly for me towards the climax, well maybe not a drag but a slight hiccup. We all know that The Joker was supposed to carry into the next film but due to the untimely death of Ledger it puts a huge strain on Nolan to deliver a follow up film that’s worthy of “The Dark Knight”. I have my own theory – and yes it does include Johnny Depp. Have Depp play a copycat Joker, with the explanation of the real Joker being he disappeared back into Gotham, achieving his goal of reigning chaos in the city – destroying Harvey Dent and vilifying Batman.

I almost felt that they should have changed the ending, allowing Two-Face to live to be the next major villain for Batman. But that would have changed the power of the original ending. The ending of this film, accompanied by Gary Oldman’s wonderful narration gives me goose bumps each time I watch it. It’s perfect.

The fact that this film was pretty much ignored by the Academy is rather pathetic. If anything, it should have at least gotten a screenplay nomination and a director nomination. The screenplay to this film is so fucking tight, it chokes you. The dialogue that’s written and delivered is magnificent and shows what a great script can do for a film.

The film does an excellent job of comparing Batman and The Joker, showing Batman what he can becomes if he slips off the fine line he’s been walking. They are mirrored images of each other, and that’s what makes them so fucking great!

I have two problems with the film. The first being the lack of usage of Two-Face, I feel that the character is developed, but he isn’t used to the power that the character holds, creating the anti Batman. Two-Face should have had more screen time. My second problem is with a lot of people making fun of Batman’s “new” voice. You people just really don’t get it, do you?

Review: 9.5/10

Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

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