The Dark Knight (2008)
The Night Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn
When I first saw "Batman Begins", I thought that was the best "Batman" movie by far. However, after seeing "The Dark Knight", it completely surpassed "Batman Begins" in every fathomable way. Not only did the story become darker, it also allowed the audience to experience a super hero film like no other. A film where the lines between good and evil isn't always that clear to see when it comes to justice, nor does catching the main adversary necessarily mean a victory. Many dark and cryptic scenes about the corruption and darkness of society, as "The Dark Knight" will leave a deep imprint on anyone's psyche with it's vast array of symbolism.
The story takes place a few years after the first movie, where Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has successfully managed to strike fear in the hearts of the criminal underworld. Often too scared to wander about at night because of him, as mafia leaders are forced to have secret meetings in the daytime to avoid the Batman. Then as luck would have it, Gotham City elects new DA, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), whom has become the city's new shining ray of hope. Uncorrupted like most politicians in Gotham City, as he becomes aptly dubbed as the city's "White Knight." For a time their alliance along with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), does seem to wipe up crime in Gotham City, as the mafia's life savings are in jeopardy. Forcing them to turn to sinister and psychotic Joker (Heath Ledger), whom only purpose in life is to reign chaos and destruction everywhere he goes. At first Batman dismisses this new threat as nothing more than some nut job, but what he fails to comprehend is just how much of a threat the Joker truly is. Unlike Batman, Joker has no morals or rules to follow, which forces Batman to cross the line between hero and vigilante, in order to catch him.
Christopher Nolan does a great job using elaborate array of symbolism and tension to give the film it's dark tone. Having each symbolic meaning symbolize not only how wretchedly dark Gotham City is, but he uses it as a way to depict the darkness and corruption within our own society metaphorically. Even some of the lines of the movie help depict the dark nature and foreshadowing of the film. Using such lines like, "Some men aren't looking for anything logical like money. They can't be bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn", as it depicts the psyche of the Joker, who has no morals as he even betrays the mafia whom hired him.
What I love so much about the Joker character is that he's such a diverse character, to where you don't know what his motives are throughout the film. This helps as it keeps the viewer constantly guessing about what he'll do next. Even though the film never explains Joker's true origins, this actually helps create a lot of suspense, as it demonizes an already disturbingly dark character; making him less human in the eyes of the viewer. As Sir Ian McKellan said in "X-Men", "people fear most what they don't understand", which helps as it gives the Joker a sinister presence. Believing that all human beings are at heart just as evil and corrupt as he is, as he constantly puts the lives of many innocent civilians in danger for his own amusement. Sure, Joker could easily have killed many of the civilians himself, but he'd rather tempt others to do it. Thus, giving him an almost satanic presence, as he tempts people into doing it for him. In various scenes, like when Coleman Reese (Joshua Harto) is about to reveal to the world, Batman's true identity, Joker decides to threaten Gotham City publicly by saying, "If Coleman Reese isn't dead within an hour, then I blow up a hospital." Or as he tries to make DA Harvey Dent's life a living hell, as he literally takes away all that he holds dear. Making him question his own belief in justice and fairness, as he tries to clean up the city. This along with many other scenes, show just how terrifyingly dark the Joker is in this movie, as Heath Ledger's portrayal will leave a lasting imprint on anyone's psyche.
Christian Bale does a great job as the caped crusader, as he plays a man that tries to maintain order within a chaotic society. However, as the Joker's reign swoops through like a force of nature, Batman finds himself having to cross the intricate fine line between hero and vigilante. Even sacrificing his relationship with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), as she symbolizes Bruce's one connection of hope that he may someday have a normal life. Sadly, as his work as Batman becomes sorely needed, his relationship with Rachel diminishes. Pushing her away as he desperately wants to be with her, but life isn't always that simple. As Bruce's butler and long time friend, Alfred (Michael Cain) said, "That's the sacrifice he makes. By not being the hero, he's being something more." Even the line Batman makes around the end portrays the accurate picture of the protagonist, "Sometimes the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. They deserve to have their faith rewarded."
Such strong underlining themes are what makes "The Dark Knight" such a poignant and powerful film, as it reigns true about society. Where the lines between good and evil aren't always clear. As even the right thing can be deemed evil and corrupt, within our complex society. Perhaps that's why if there was a flaw in this movie, it's that the film's dark tone and powerful themes may be too mature for younger fans, but it's still the best Batman movie by far.
Even Aaron Eckhart has a powerful performance as Harvey Dent, whom starts off as a mere boyscout of a DA. Where his only desire is justice, and the heart of Rachel Dawes. However, as the Joker makes Harvey's life a living hell, he soon finds all his morals falling into question as he sees everything he holds dear being taken away. Questioning his own morals and ethics as he soon becomes as dark and as twisted as the criminals he once put away. Aaron does such a great job having his character turn from a boyscout to being a man thirst for revenge so gradually, that the audience can't help but feel compelled to his character.
The special effects were very impressive as to be expected. However, even more impressive is that Nolan chose not to use any CGI to produce them. Which makes the truck flipping over scene, that much more impressive to say the least.
"The Dark Knight" is the best super hero film, I've ever seen. Featuring strong performances, a great story, a great director, and top notch special effects. This film has definitely set the bar high for all super hero movies, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Definitely a must see film for anyone that loves the genre.