The Dark Knight (2008)
Article 5787 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Featuring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
What it is: Superhero movie
The rise of an incorruptible DA in Gotham City coincides with the appearance of a chaotic madman known as the Joker who is intent on taking over the underworld and ridding the city of Batman. Is Batman willing to pay the price it will take to get rid of the Joker?
Outside of a weakness for parodies and bizarre variants, I’m not a big fan of the superhero genre. I can pinpoint the time when I realized this; it was when I emerged from a viewing of the Tim Burton BATMAN (which had been critically lauded at the time) with the same feeling that I had when I emerged from a viewing of SUPERMAN II (also lauded in its time), which was that I had been moderately entertained at best, but hardly thrilled. So when this movie was released and I found myself inundated with hype about it being the finest superhero movie ever made, I felt no obligation to run to the theater and catch it. It was only after the passage of several years that I decided to give it a try.
Now, upon my second viewing of the movie, I can say that I feel that it does mostly live up to the hype. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is one major plus; it was the first time I felt that the Joker amounted to something more than just a self-satisfied criminal prankster in clown make-up; he had a purpose, a point and a goal, and he mattered. Also a plus is the excellent, complex script in which the moral issues of the situation are well explored. The excellent direction is also a plus; the movie succeeds in holding the attention during its two-and-a-half hour running time. My complaints are very minor; there is an occasional false note to the proceedings, and there were some moments where Nolan’s stylistic flourishes get a little annoying, but these are very minor quibbles. If I loved superheroes, I might consider this one of the best movies ever made; as it is, it will have to settle for the best superhero movie that I’ve seen to date.