I just arrived back from the midnight IMAX premiere of The Dark Knight, it's about 3:15 A.M. To be honest with you, I'm really at a loss for words; I left the theater speechless, staring down the full moon as I was driven back home. I really wasn't sure what to think, I'm honestly fumbling in my thoughts right now, especially from the lack of sleep, but I will prevail.
The Dark Knight (TDK) takes place after the events of Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne is without his mansion, Lucius Fox is in charge of Wayne Enterprises, the Mob is still running the streets, and crime is still ramped; it's all carried over. As hinted at the end of Begins, the main villain this time around is The Joker, and what a villain he is. Portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, The Joker becomes more the focus of the movie than Batman himself. But that is not a bad thing, Ledgers performance is phenomenal to say the least. TDK's twisted, disheveled, and ruthless representation of The Joker probably could not have been done without the talented Ledger, and it's truly a shame to know he has passed. He has brought us, quite possibly, one of the most memorable character portrayals in movie history, it's simply brilliant.
But TDK's greatness is not just because of Ledger. The introduction of Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, is also a site to be seen. Eckhart, much like his character in Thank You For Smoking, uses his charismatic charm to win the heart of Gotham City. But with this charm he also brings with him a very serious tone, a tone heightened later in the film, which I won't delve into due to spoilers. And what would a Batman film be without The Dark Knight himself? Christian Bale once again out performs himself, and everyone else to ever don the Batsuit. He provides the character with a moral complexity, and really makes Bruce Wayne's struggle for love and justice believable. Where Begins portrayed Bruce as a wreckless playboy, TDK shows that he does have the ability to mature, and take risks that he himself may not truly believe in.
Other cast members are not left without mention; Maggie Gyllenhaal does a much better job of making the Rachel Dawes character interesting than Katie Holmes did in Begins. She no longer acts like Bruce's forgotten childhood friend, and becomes a thought provoking character of her own, creating a love triangle between herself, Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. Alfred, portrayed by Michael Caine, doesn't get that much screen time this time around; but his wit and guiding words still make him an important part of the film. Morgan Freeman, playing Lucius Fox, is much more of an asset to this film than he was in Begins, with a certain serious charm that only he can pull off. And lastly I'd like to mention Gary Oldman, who returns as Lt. Gordon, much like Freeman, his character becomes more central to the story than in Begins; in fact, Gordon will seem more of a hero than Batman at some points.
As good as the cast was, they would be nothing without fabulous cinematography; and for that you can thank Christopher Nolan. Nolan once again reinvents his style, bringing to life what is probably, The Greatest Comic Book Film Ever Made. It's no lie, forget all the praise around Iron Man, or even Batman Begins; The Dark Knight may be the first comic book film truly worthy of an Oscar nomination. What's most notable is Nolan's direction of the film. Begins was created to reboot the Batman film franchise, leaving it open for sequels. However, with The Dark Knight, Nolan wanted to create a film that could be viewed and appreciated in its own right, hence why the title lacks the Batman name, opting for a relative title instead. This direction is noticeable, and really makes the film that much more special.
And lastly, this is really outside the film itself, and more about presentation. The IMAX experience is truly a magnificent way to see the film, especially when IMAX technology was used to film it. Sure not all the scenes are filmed using IMAX, and you can tell when it is and isn't used, but when it is in use, the film is truly captivating. The engagement of motion, the incredible sound, it truly is the best way to see this film. I'd also like to note about the marketing of this film. The viral websites leading up to the films release gave the movie a very real world feel long before release. Whether it be the Why So Serious? campaign, or getting fans to "vote" for Harvey Dent, Wanrer did a fabulous job of getting word out there. And I'm also quite thankful for the lack of media tie-ins like cereals and video games, it gives the film the direct attention of what it's worth, and a crappy video doesn't ruin the experience.
All in all, this movie is the pinnacle of what comic book movies should be. The acting and cinematography is just breathtaking, and will keep you in suspense the entire time. It should be noted that like Batman Begins, this Batman is not the kid friendly image portrayed in the Joel Schumacher films. In fact, The Dark Knight raises the bar over Begins, just clearing an R rating. The real special part of the film though is indeed Heath Legder performance as The Joker, which will make you laugh, and will also frighten you. In what is basically his final film, Ledger has given us a masterpiece, and he will surely be missed. I will honestly be truly surprised if this doesn't win some sort of Oscar, Ledger's performance alone grants it so. If you were a fan of Begins, then chances are you already plan or have seen The Dark Knight. If you're new to this whole comic book movie thing, see it anyways. If you've never even seen a movie in your life, see this film!
Overall Score: 10/10