The Dark Knight UK Review
We have the UK review for The Dark Knight. Read on:
With The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan has rewritten the rules for making a big budget summer event movie.
Since the days of The Godfather in the early ’70s, Hollywood’s film studios have been, almost without exception, scared stiff of peppering their populist cash-cows with grandiose, weighty and thought-provoking themes, preferring instead to programme lightweight, action-packed fare for the summer and prestige, serious projects for awards season.
Yet The Dark Knight sees these sensibilities outrageously and stunningly collide; the film is an unbelievably intense, kinetic head-rush of a movie yet, simultaneously, a two-and-a-half hour meditation on the breakdown of society, the morality of vigilantism and a multi-layered rumination on good and evil.
We pick up a year after the events of Begins, with Batman, together with allies Lieutenant Gordon and crusading District Attorney Harvey Dent, apparently winning the battle against crime. The presence of Batman on Gotham’s streets has law-breakers on the run, with criminals afraid to go about their dark misdeeds with the famous Bat-Signal lighting the night sky. Things are seemingly on the up – that is until a mysterious, scar-faced psychopathic criminal mastermind called ‘The Joker’ appears, intent on unleashing chaos throughout Gotham City.
It was inevitable that thousands of column inches would be devoted to the man who plays him – with writers first pondering how Heath Ledger’s untimely death would affect the movie’s marketing and box office, and then pushing his performance for an Oscar win (he’s currently odds-on to posthumously receive a statuette) – something his simply electric turn would doubtless deserve.
We knew his portrayal would be something special from the trailers, but the full, magnetic force of Ledger’s turn as the charismatic, amoral sadist can only be truly appreciated in its full, furious glory. Every moment the actor’s on screen, it’s impossible to take your eyes off his panda-eyed post-punk anarchist. Whenever you think he’s going to slip into a comedy pastiche, Ledger shows us a glimpse of the true darkness and nihilism lurking within his character. It’s a tour-de-force and its power overshadows the raft of similarly fine performances in the film.
Indeed, despite Ledger’s showy brilliance, we think director Christopher Nolan is the real star of The Dark Knight. The canny helmer draws superlative turns from his multi-garlanded cast. Bale, Caine, Freeman, Eckhart and Oldman make for a powerhouse ensemble, imbuing their roles with an emotional depth – and the odd flash of humour – that fits marvellously with the opaque morality and bleak tone of the movie.
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