Movie News

Drew’s Review : The Dark Knight

Drew’s Review : The Dark Knight
Drew Turney

It’s funny what happens to entertainment ideas if they stay popular for decades. Batman began with no dark depths beyond an original, simple conceit, but given 70 years to foment in the cultural consciousness and it’s evolved from a funny pages icon to a serious dissertation on the nature of society and the psychology of the criminal mind.

Such is the treatment Christopher Nolan brings to his first Batman sequel, ”The Dark Knight”. By treating his characters and the subject seriously it becomes his ”Empire Strikes Back” – a movie that in every way builds on and surpasses its formidable predecessor, revealing a filmmaker in full maturity.

It also gives the Batman mythology a thrilling new edge. Nolan’s dropped this one-time hand-drawn cartoon into an all-too real world, a Gotham city nothing like even the matte paintings of Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster. Filmed amid the gleaming office towers of Chicago in grimy docks, pristine boardrooms and SWAT police emblazoned with GPD (Gotham Police Department) jackets, we’ve never seen Batman in a world so like our own, and doing so makes it feel all the more threatening and lifelike.

It’s threatening because in such a realistic setting, maniacs like The Joker (Heath Ledger) become terrifyingly possible rather than just comic book thrill rides for the hero to outshine. As you’ve heard, it’ll be the role Ledger will be remembered for after his January 2008 death, a cackling ghoul frightened of nothing and with as much menace as he has glee. What you haven’t heard is how the Joker isn’t all Ledger – cinematographer Wally Pfister’s lighting, Nolan’s framing and James Newton Howard’s horror-movie score all contributing.

In fact, it’s these elements that give ”The Dark Knight” most of its kick. We’re treated to several screaming crescendos as something horrible builds, and the shadow and light of Gotham is bought to breathing, sweating life.

Plot-wise it’s an extension to the final, tricksy coda of the last film, one that at the time didn’t look like it was going to be taken this seriously. Almost a comment on the pre-emptive strike, Batman seems to give rise to evil like The Joker (a fact alluded to by the man himself, in his chilling hiss of ‘you complete me’) after he’s done his part in cleaning gangsters off the streets.

The rest is up to Gotham’s new hero, DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), a smug idealist who’s also romancing Bruce Wayne’s old flame Rachel, this time played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Dent puts half the Gotham mob away, but like Batman is a different class of crime fighter, The Joker is a different class of crime, and whether Gothamites still realise it or not, they need him as The Joker’s rise to power picks up speed and leaves a trail of bodies in its wake.

It’s not perfect – the harsh, guttural growl Christian Bale adopts when he’s in the suit is outright silly, and at times the soundtrack threatens to overwhelm the dialogue. As the gatekeeper for every aspect of the story, Nolan also takes some ideas too seriously, and the final scenes are infused with more glory and gravity than the idea warrants.

But he’s proven himself that rarest of movie directors, one who can take any idea and not only make it very cool but not give in to the studio marketing committee.

Share this story!Share on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisBuffer this pagePrint this pageShare on LinkedIn
(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Movie News
Drew Turney

An Australian-based film critic and celebrity interviewer now based in Los Angeles, California.

More in Movie News

FARGO "The Heap" -- Episode 108 -- Airs Tuesday, June 3, 10:00 pm e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Keegan-Michael Key as Agent Budge, Jordan Peele as Agent Pepper -- CR: Chris Large/FX

Key and Peele will end after current season

AshJul 27, 2015
arrives at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 21, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

Michael B. Jordan to star in Just Mercy adaptation

AshJul 25, 2015

Will Smith, Jay Z developing real-life HBO miniseries

AshJul 25, 2015

Veep stars developing college football comedy

AshJul 25, 2015

Our Brand Is Crisis gets awards-season release date

AshJul 25, 2015
Actor Garret Dillahunt arrives at the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 26, 2011 in Santa Monica, California.
2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA United States
February 26, 2011
Photo by Steve Granitz/

To license this image (63699099), contact

Garret Dillahunt joins Rounding Third

AshJul 25, 2015
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 30:  Naomi Campbell poses during a photo call for Australian TV show, "The Face of Australia"  at Carriage Works on November 30, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Naomi Campbell checks in to American Horror Story: Hotel

AshJul 25, 2015

Mission : Impossible – Rogue Nation : The Reviews Are In!

ClintJul 25, 2015

Ant-Man actress nabs tiny role in Masters of Sex

Editorial StaffJul 25, 2015