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Movie Review: 'The Dark Knight' (2008)

Updated on March 30, 2021
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

"The Dark Knight" 4K Blu-Ray cover.
"The Dark Knight" 4K Blu-Ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Warner Brothers Entertainment
Release Date: December 9, 2008
Runtime: 152 minutes
Availability: On DVD and 4K Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, buy on Amazon or at your local store, available for digital rental or purchase, streaming on HBOMax

Story Summary

The Dark Knight (2008) is the sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and is the first Batman movie to not have Batman’s name in the title. Batman has stopped most organized crime in Gotham, so the mob turns to a man calling himself the Joker, hoping that he’ll be able to kill Batman, but Joker has his own agenda and it’s up to Batman and Jim Gordon to stop him, assistant attorney Harvey Dent wants to help, but Joker’s plans for Gotham’s White Knight will change Harvey Dent forever.

The Story Is Excellent

The Dark Knight is an amazing movie. The writing is excellent, the plot is intense and suspenseful, and the writers crafted a very original Batman story. Even though it borrows ideas from the Batman comics it’s not a direct adaptation of any particular Batman story arc from the comics.

The movie is both a terrific superhero movie and an involving detective story. If you want a good Batman movie, this is one of the best. It’s still an amazing film even when we’ve been saturated with superhero movies over the last decade.

Heath Ledgers iconic portrayal of the Joker.
Heath Ledgers iconic portrayal of the Joker. | Source

The Visual Effects Are Stunning

It’s easy to say that visual effects for movies that come out today are amazing, and the GGI and sure, CGI can look amazing, but that use practical effects can still be amazing.

There was a big push in marketing for the Star Wars sequel trilogy about the “practical effects” and “real locations and sets”, but Christopher Nolan’s movies never made a big deal about what they used to make their visual effects, they just went and made them.

Both CGI and practical effects are important when making a movie, but it will date the film depending on the genre of the movie. The Christopher Nolan films aren’t extremely dated when it comes to their visual effects because of the modern-day setting.

What will date the movie are the phones used in it, but that’s not a big deal.

The car chase scenes were done using practical effects and it was amazing how it turned out, it’s one of the most memorable moments from The Dark Knight (20008).

The visual effects are amazing, not because they were practical, but because they were used to create memorable moments in this film.

2:31 The Dark Knight (2008) Official Trailer #1

The Acting Is Excellent

Christian Bale’s performance as Batman is good when he’s using his “
Bruce Wayne voice”, he just becomes unintentionally funny when he’s acting in his “Batman voice”, he tries his best, but his Batman voice is still unintentionally funny, especially when he’s shouting or trying to be intimidating, he doesn’t sound too scary or threatening, his acting is much better when he’s acting as Bruce Wayne, but his Batman voice wasn’t Nolan’s best choice as director.

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is fantastic, everyone thought he would be a terrible Joker, but now everyone quotes and thinks of his performance as the Joker unless they watched Mark Hamill’s performance as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (1992). He did a terrific job and his acting was spot on. He received a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He deserved the award and it’s sad that he wasn’t alive to receive it.

Michael Cane was excellent as Alfred, delivering a terrific performance. He did a great job and he brought a lot of personality to the character of Alfred Pennyworth.

Morgan Freeman did great as Luscious Fox, and I liked his acting in this movie, then again, I like Morgan Freeman in everything I’ve seen him in. He gave a fantastic performance in this film.

Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, she’s a good actress, but I like Katie Holmes’ portrayal more than Maggie’s, it’s not that her acting was bad, it’s just I prefer the original actress more than her replacement.

Aaron Eckhart is terrific in his role as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, he portrayed the character perfectly and his role on screen was great. He handled both aspects of Harvey Dent and Two-Face very well, especially since both characters are different from each other.

Garry Oldman did an excellent Job as Jim Gordon and I loved his performance in this movie. He was a terrific portraying Jim Gordon and he was fantastic to watch.

Batman riding the Batpod.
Batman riding the Batpod. | Source

The Dark Knight (Full Soundtrack)

The Soundtrack Is Fantastic!

One thing that has always stood out to me about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is the soundtrack. The score is fantastic and it complements the film very well.

It has an excellent musical score that made this film trilogy iconic. It’s a very excellent score and both Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard each did a fantastic job composing this score.

If you like good film scores you’ll definitely enjoy the score for The Dark Knight (2008).

The Pacing Slows Down in the Middle of the Film

The pacing for The Dark Knight (2008) is a flaw of this film. It has uneven pacing after having a lot happening in both the beginning and the end. The middle feels really slow compared to the rest of the film.

The iconic hero and villain.
The iconic hero and villain. | Source

This Version of the Joker Isn’t Nearly as Interesting as the Comics

While I like this film’s portrayal of the Joker, it’s not nearly as interesting as how he is depicted in the comics. The Joker isn’t really an anarchist; he’s just being crazy because it’s how he wants to be.

While this film gives an interesting take on the character of the Joker, it’s not the best version of the Joker ever, but a lot of people feel this is the best film representation of the character, although it is the one a lot of people remember this version.

The comics were influenced by this film but the Joker will always be remembered by moviegoers as the one portrayed in this movie.

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The Dark Knight Is an Excellent Sequel That Surpasses Its Predecessor

Batman Begins (2005) was the film that proved that Batman could be taken seriously again as a character, a film, and a franchise. The Dark Knight (2008) proved that the trend could continue and that a sequel could be even better than the previous film.

The film also proved that superhero movies were not a fluke and could make big money at the box office, it’s still a very well-regarded film and not just by mainstream critics. It pleased both fans of the comics and casual Batman fans alike.

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Great story, characters and world-building
Christian Bale's Batman voice is unintentionally funny
The visual effects still hold up
Slow pacing in the middle of the movie
Great performances from the actors
This Joker is not the best portrayal of the supervillain, but it's unique and different
Fantastic soundtrack

My Grade: A+

I really loved this film. I hadn’t watched it in a while and I decided to watch it again on Netflix even though I own the DVD for the movie. It looked amazing in high definition and not just because of the visual upgrade when it came to the visuals.

The Dark Knight (2008) is an outstanding film that holds up despite being 10 years old now. It’s not held back by having dated CGI visual effects or being over-the-top too much with its set-piece car chase sequence and the action-packed ending.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy stands out because it defined Batman onscreen for moviegoers and DC Comics has never been able to replicate the success of these films using Batman as the main character of a superhero movie. The DC Expanded Universe could not replicate Batman’s popularity again when they brought Batman into the Man of Steel (2013) sequel Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves Batman movies or superhero movies in general. The Dark Knight is a must-own for Batman fans and a must-watch for anyone who loves movies, especially superhero movies. It’s well worth your time and money to watch it. I own it and it’s one of my favorite movies and it’s worth picking up for your own movie collection.

If you have a subscription to HBOMax stream this movie, it's a great watch!

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) ended The Dark Knight trilogy on a good note. The Dark Knight is considered the fan-favorite between all three films and it’s my favorite movie of the trilogy too. It’s definitely worth buying and if you have a 4K television it is available on blu-ray to buy. It has definitely held up over time, especially since there are so many superhero films that have been made since it was released. It’s a movie that made Heath Ledger immortal on screen before his untimely death. It is worth the money to buy, even if you’re not a big fan of Batman.

My Rating:

5 stars for Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

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