Sunday, August 3, 2008

'Knight' Soars Despite Darkness

The Dark Knight movie posterWhen Heath Ledger passed away in January, my friend said, “I sure hope it doesn’t affect the new Batman movie.” Her insensitive comment had nothing to do with distaste for the late Ledger, but rather her anticipation for The Dark Knight, which is poised to be one of the highest-grossing blockbusters in years.

I was certainly part of the hype, proudly predicting on my blog that it would be one of the 20 best movies of all-time (in other words: that I’ve seen). My family and I got to the IMAX Theater an hour early just to make sure we had the best seats. I bought my popcorn and Coke shortly before entering the auditorium and wouldn’t touch the kernels until I was situated properly. I was ready for the extravaganza.

It started with intensity that never once let up, with the opening scene and a couple others taking advantage of the six-story-tall screen. Of course, Ledger, as the joker, stole the show with as brilliant an acting performance as I’ve seen since Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow in the original Pirates. His body language alone was creepy: his eyes, accentuated by the makeup, seemed to display what he was thinking without his head moving. And his tongue moved obsessively, as if he needed taste to stimulate his senses to keep sane.

If you add his voice, Ledger was downright scary. He gave two different accounts of how he got his facial scars, making you wonder if either was true, each time delivering the line “Why so serious?” His voice was nothing like how I remembered it from 10 Things I Hate About You. I kept trying to visualize Ledger underneath the makeup, but I couldn’t do it. If I hadn’t known it was him, I wouldn’t have believed it. He was a sociopath, and a fairly likeable one that you almost feel sorry for.

The rest of the star-studded cast wasn’t bad either, including Maggie Gyllenhaal who replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. I presume Warner Bros. didn’t want anything to do with Tom Cruise’s negative publicity.

The action scenes were superb, with car chases, explosions, exploding car chases, and one very long free fall, but the twists and turns at the end of the movie were even better. I found myself forgetting I still had some popcorn left to eat. It was a darkly written and perplexing plot that has you wondering who to root for. It didn’t follow the traditional guidelines for most movies—namely a singular climax with fairly transparent characters—but ultimately that didn’t matter much. The film kept building on itself until it ends and you’re left with a buttery hand and a not-yet-full stomach. You certainly don’t realize 2.5 hours have passed, and you’d rather the movie not end.

I suggest eating your popcorn quickly because at some point you’ll be afraid your chomping will make you miss something. The Dark Knight is a can’t-miss; the best movie of the summer and probably the year. Although I can’t name 20 movies I enjoyed more, I won’t claim it to be one of my all-time favorites. However, after I see it a second time, maybe I will.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

BenJamin,
That is some sweet writing going on...I really liked your sentence about the joker's tongue...well done my friend. Keep up the good work...sorry I've been away...gosh I miss posting on your blog =)

Jamaar said...

Good post Benjy. While it didn't match all the hype, the Dark Knight was a damn good movie.

Michelle J said...

Great review! I totally agree about Heath Ledger's performance! Scary, creepy and oh so brilliant!!

movie buff said...

i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted...