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Dark Knight

29 Jul

Finally saw the Dark Knight. It was amazing. Jon and Chris Nolan engineered a script – on the level of a Dickens or John Irving novel – with a huge cast of of characters and their subplots, that all converge in the end. The story is a dizzying array of characters: Batman, Alfred, Lucius, Rachael, the Joker, criminals galore, the District Attorney, Mayor, and cops (good and bad) who are all working towards their own ends. And it never lets up, not for one moment.

That said, a couple of things were funky. First, the pace never stops! I’m a fan of films that take time with a visual moment or two, but there’s really none of that here. About halfway into the film I was thinking, “Could I just get a moment to think about something!” But, after it was over, I realized that the pace was an essential part of the story. The pace of crime never stops, nor does the job of fighting crime, and therefore the career of a crime fighter is endless. Batman’s job is not easy and the pace of the film only adds to this.

The other thing was the voice. I’m surprised no one else mentioned this, but does Bruce Wayne suddenly feel constricted when he puts on the costume? It’s a little overdone. And I found (like Brian) that I liked the scenes with Bruce Wayne a lot more fun to watch.

The references to 9/11, wiretapping and terrorism are obvious but they never ruin the film. In fact they are woven into the story with surprising results. The giant sonar cell phone was a brilliant take on wiretapping and then becomes a great visual action sequence. In fact, its one of the best visual action sequences I’ve seen in a long time. It also condenses what could have been a long drawn action sequence into a quick and concise portion of a larger finale. It’s brilliant.

On the acting side, I loved Michael Caine in this film. Yes, he’s a bit character and obviously Heath Ledger is the sole focus, but when you hear Alfred speak, you believe him. He adds depth and historical perspective to the fight that Batman faces. Bruce Wayne is overwhelmed by the infinite struggle that he’s taken on and Alfred is his only counsel. In one scene where Bruce tries to understand the reason for the Joker’s rampage, Alfred says, “Some men just want to see the world burn.” Alfred is a veteran, and he’s seen the Joker’s madness before. He’s the part of the story that shows us the depth and longevity of evil in the world. It has always been and probably always will be.

And finally, Dark Knight is one of first comic book films to show the complex planning and machinations that are needed to take down the criminals. Sweeping the streets isn’t as easy as it used to be, now that the world is flat and crime is played out on a geo-political landscape. And Batman isn’t limited to Gotham city anymore. When a billionaire criminal flies back to China to hide out in his corporate fortress, Batman enacts a plan to extradite him right back to Gotham. It’s an operation that would take months to plan, but with Bruce Wayne’s resources, it is orchestrated with classical precision.

The best part of this franchise is that they’ve set this storyline up to last forever. Whereas other comic movies are usually about a hero fighting a new super villain, the Dark Knight is two parts of a titanic struggle against evil. You get the feeling that even after the movie has finished there’s a fight still going on. You just got a 152 minute peak of the action, and now your left wanting more. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next.