Thursday, July 17, 2008


When Midnight Comes...

...three guesses where I'll be (the first two don't count):

UPDATE: Getting home close to 4 AM, so the impressions will be brief. Will shoot for a fuller review this weekend.

In a word, brilliant.

Iron Man was a great comic book movie. The Dark Knight is a great movie, period. Christian Bale doesn't get as much chance to shine as he did in Batman Begins because Bruce Wayne is rarely seen. The costumed crusader drives this production. But that is not to say that the humanity that was in the first is somehow lacking in the sequel. Quite the contrary. Indeed, a major question that threads its way through the film is "Who is Batman?" Many pretenders step forward to lay claim to the cowl -- with often tragic results.

Heath Ledger as The Joker is as advertised -- a fantastic performance. He is the anti-Jack Nicholoson, who camped for every scene in Tim Burton's Batman nearly 20 years ago. Ledger captures every scene by holding back, holding back, allowing all the action and violence to come to him -- even as he his the catalyst for all of it. There is a scene early in the movie where The Joker stands in the middle of road, even as Batman's cycle bears down on him. The Joker remains stock still, refusing to get out of the way, even as the city burns around him. There are many scenes of that nature.

Almost lost in the archetypal battle between protagonist and antagonist is a fantastic Aaron Eckhardt as crusading DA Harvey Dent. Those familiar with Batman lore know the place that Dent plays in the canon. However, the writing is so tight and Eckhardt's acting is so good that the Dent character is not permitted to fade into the background, eclipsed by The Batman and The Joker. A sub-plot of this movie circles around an existential battle for Harvey Dent's soul, and what both Good and Evil will do in order to win that battle. In fact, the questions of duality and life-and-death choices are never far away.

And the choices forced are made by both hero and everyday citizen -- not always with successful outcomes.

Not just because of the title or the cinematography, this is a dark movie. It doesn't end with the light, obvious happy ending in which most action/super-hero movies conclude. A major sacrifice is made and various noble lies are told -- to protect both hero and everyday citizen.

If one only wants to be entertained, The Dark Knight will certainly be able to do that. But, what makes this a great movie is that it also provokes and engages on many levels. A truly superior effort.

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