No CGI-infested, Jack Nicholson-spectacled, comic book-possessed entry of the Batman filmography can ever top the mastery behind Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).
When it was first released, this masterpiece with wings had three audiences: One for the sequel of Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005), one for another interpretation of what was the sixth Batman-related motion picture at the time, and one for the mind-blowing, Oscar-winning performance of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker.
With such audience appeal, it’s no wonder the film achieved the biggest three-day opening weekend of all time with $155.3 million to put in the bank. That’s quite a comic book movie, eh?
Only, The Dark Knight isn’t a comic book movie at all.
One could argue it’s a film noir adorned in fatalism and menace with some action to boot. If anything, The Dark Knight‘s ability to defy superhero tropes continues to place it above the “theme parks” of today. (Whether you agree with Martin Scorsese’s infamous analogy or not, he alludes to the phenomenon that is The Dark Knight—a perfect blend of “worldwide audiovisual entertainment and cinema.”)
The fact that this film can entertain with good old-fashioned stunt work and minimal CGI effects is icing on the cake. Batman himself (gravel-voice Christian Bale) loses the spotlight as he struggles with living a double life and watches his Gotham City get overthrown by the likes of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), and, of course, the slithery Joker. Every character’s action has a consequence, and to our unexpected delight, Heath Ledger chews up the scenery (and the screenplay).
Theoretically, The Dark Knight is a sequel to Batman Begins like The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. Both films isolate themselves as landmarks in unforeseen character development, and, peculiarly, draw more attention by turning to “the dark side.”
This movie’s worth taking for a spin a third time, a fourth, fifth…
The Dark Knight (2008) ***** out of *****