Flashback: The Dark Knight (2008)

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 *****

22 thoughts on “Flashback: The Dark Knight (2008)

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    1. Ha! Your question made my morning and day. Currently, we are in the midst of a hybrid “Welcome Week,” where we get to meet our students in quarters per class, and it’s a marathon. It’s great seeing them again and being in the classroom, but I don’t know how long this will last until someone reports a positive case. Prayers. Anyway, I bring this up because having movies to look forward to in the near future – especially horror movies – makes me smile, and I’m hoping to start up my watch list and viewing as soon as I see the first autumn leaf fall to the ground here in Colorado. Thank you for asking!

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      1. Eagerly awaited through the film world! Like you, I’ve got some educational stuff to do, but it’s mainly blended right now; I guess we have to kiss goodbye to certainty about the future, and just deal with what we can. Greeting to Colorado from Scotland; off to see Tenet on Monday, we’ll see how that feels!

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        1. So nice to know where you’re from! Yup – even next week is an unknown! The local theatre near me finally opens on Friday, and my wife and I are seeing BACK TO THE FUTURE! After that, YES, Tenet is a must 🙂

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      1. I could not write because I am a little busy these days. okay i’m always at home but even when i’m at home it can be a lot of work sometimes . after the korona i started blogging , i am a new blogger

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      1. Yes!! That might be my favorite shot in a comic book/superhero movie — ever. The first time I saw that scene it hit me viscerally. What a total freak this guy is. There’s no stopping him. Absolutely love this movie.

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  1. This is absolutely the best Batman film there is, and probably the best superhero movie ever made. The comparison to Empire is a good one. Both go dark and both stand out for that exact reason, though Ledger’s Joker goes to places not even Vader would dare approach!

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  2. I agree with this; I’m not a comic book fan, but really dig what Nolan did. I wasn’t mad about batman Begins, although it was a cut above the norm for the genre. But Michael Mann and specifically Heat seems to have inspired this film, and all for the better. For what it’s worth, I though this year’s Harley Quinn movie had a similar feel; these are just strange people who choose to wear masks, rather than strutting, mega-powered superhumans. Good article!

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    1. Thank you. Heat is a great parallel. Back in the day, I called it “The Departed with Wings” in regards to Scorsese’s current flick. I can’t lie, though – I still quite enjoyed Nicholson’s almost parodic performance in Burton’s flick. It was crazily egotistical and scene stealing…

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  3. I thought it was a very good film and the best of the series. I didn’t think it was a perfect movie though.

    Whew, Bernie…I’m going to be unpopular on this one. Yes I liked the film…maybe it was the whiplash of the hype that got old.
    I didn’t like Batman’s “voice”…that got on my nerves…Now The Joker…yes he did a great job but was it the Joker? No, I didn’t expect the near camp Jack Nicolson performance…but to me, he was just another psychopath. I know I know…I’m probably alone on this.

    But saying all of this…yes I liked the movie. I still watch it at least once a year.

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    1. No, man, you’re right on. To me, the further away from the cartoony Joker, the better. The closer to ripping off Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, the worse. (Did you see what I did there?) But, I see your point on psychopath vs comic book character. Bale’s voice as Batman is a suspension of disbelief thing for me – it takes getting used to, but when you’re in the movie zone (and just saw the previous Batman movie to this one), it’s easier to take. As you know, I’m in the minority because I think the entire DC/Marvel universe is the same 73 movies with different titles. This is where T.D.K. stands out for me: It’s not really a comic book movie, or is it?

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      1. They paid so much attention to detail in the movie…to have that voice…that is what I was confused by.
        What did Scorese say about the Marvel movies? They are like Amusement Parks and I agree with that…purely for escapism.
        Oh yes I saw lol. That doesn’t make it a bad movie…like I said I’ll watch it…but when I saw people voting it over Citizen Kane…I was in disbelief.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Good stuff. Ugh, yeah, that American pop culture mentality that places the current, cool trend over historical groundbreakers that had a blank canvas to work with at the time. I remember when Inception came out, and it was the “greatest movie on earth, the universe, and in death.” Give me a break. It’s a one-trick pony.

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