After restoring credibility in the 2005 hit Batman Begins, British director Christopher Nolan returns to Gotham City with this highly anticipated sequel. In The Dark Knight, Batman (Christian Bale) squares off against a new foe: the Joker (the late Heath Ledger).
Nolan’s second Batman film is a more gritty, darker and brooding story. Certain scenes will leave a lasting impression that you never imagined and the sense of drama will continue to sustain disbelieve in how fantastic this film is. The Dark Knight is certainly the most violent, gripping and thrilling in the superhero series.
Christian Bale once again plays the Caped Crusader, sworn to fight the evil and injustice, though his perception of justice is causing an emotional and personal shift. It’s fascinating to see the talented actor playing on these themes that you emphasise with Bale’s flawed hero more than Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Bale is probably the best actor to play the Bruce Wayne/Batman character and his performance in The Dark Knight is first-class.
But it is Bale’s late co-star that steals the film. Heath Ledger is simply outstanding in the role of The Joker. He makes Jack Nicholson look like a cartoon figure! Yes, Nicholson was great in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman but he takes it to a whole new level. Ledger’s character reveals a more sinister, twisted and psychotic side that it becomes deeply disturbing. With a cynical smile, he proclaims in a scene where Batman is a freak to the public, like the Joker himself. This also explains the balance of righteousness that Bruce Wayne is going through. The Joker is downright evil, and Ledger makes this performance legendary.
As for the rest of the cast, Aaron Eckhart performs superbly in the role of district attorney Harvey Dent. The transformation into Two-Face is truly fascinating and shocking.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is a great replacement for Katie Holmes as Wayne’s love interest Rachel Dawes. She shows a more sensitive and caring side towards Bruce, other than Holmes’ nearly flat performance in Batman Begins.
Sir Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are perfect as Wayne’s ancillary staff playing the loyal butler and CEO of Wayne Enterprises respectively.
And special mention goes to Gary Oldman, who does a marvellous job of portraying Lieutenant James Gordon.
Moving on to the set pieces in The Dark Knight, the action sequences are nothing short of remarkable. It is really exhilarating in particular the opening scene with a high-tension, high-anxiety bank raid. Another outstanding moment was the duel between Batman’s bat bike and The Joker’s 18-wheelier. Fantastic!
The cinematography is also breathtaking. At one point, Batman travels to the Far East to track down a lead and to see Hong Kong in all its glory is stunning. Alongside the new Gotham City, the atmosphere and mood in The Dark Knight is a work of art.
I must applaud Christopher Nolan for his hard work in this film. Not only for writing a great story about corruption and chaos but also in casting great actors. Yes, The Dark Knight is Heath Ledger’s final performance but he is the main reason that makes this film so entertaining and thrilling.
This is by far the best Batman film. It certainly lives up to the hype. See it for Bale, for Ledger, for the music, the action and for Nolan’s flawless direction.