“The Dark Knight” Ledger has the Last Laugh

Genres: Action/Adventure, Crime/Gangster, Adaptation and Sequel
Release Date: July 18th, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Christopher Nolan

JJ Rating:

Gotham City has a new District Attorney by the name of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and he’s the White Knight that is to save Gotham from the bad, bad mob like men. Then The Joker (Heath Ledger) plays his cards and makes things difficult for the new DA and Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman). But Batman (Christian Bale), the Cape Crusader, the rat with wings, Gotham City’s hope, the Dark Knight swoops in and tries to protect the very city he loves from the madness, the chaos, the destruction of the laughing clown of satanic seduction; The Joker. The Dark Knight.

The storyline was believable. It was dark, gritty, witty, fitting and cold. That makes The Dark Knight the closest to Batman ambience as the first, if not closer. Ledger and Nolan’s depiction of The Joker is as gruesome and disturbing as he should be. Harvey Dent was well played by Eckhart with a glow of goodness shadowed by a vale of darkness. Alfred is played by a dry wit Michael Caine with comfort and great regard to the character’s integrity. Batman and Bruce Wayne had Bale’s historic comic book touch that will, and mostly have, canonized him as one of the best Batmen to ever grace the silver screen.

The problem that I have is that Gotham City is nothing. It’s bland and it has no markings that would distinguish it from other cities other than names on buildings that have to inform what city Batman is in, otherwise one wouldn’t know. The Statue of Liberty tells you you’re in New York City. Big Ben and the London Eye show that you’re in London. The strip lit up shows you’re in Las Vegas. The Eiffel Tower shows that you’re in Paris. What marking shows you’re in Gotham City? A sign that so happens to state Gotham City General. Otherwise it’s as bland as any other city that has a superhero. Oh wait it’s one of the few that do and plus it’s a fictional city. The Dark Knight accomplishes many feats but what it does not accomplish is cinematography. Vibrant and attractive as it is in story and character the actual visual of what Gotham City should be just wasn’t there, and that is, because of everything else, a major letdown.

I understand that Christopher Nolan wanted to have a realistic approach to The Dark Knight and what he gave is just that. I appreciate his hard work in making that happen and giving us comic fans a film that takes one of the best superheroes seriously. It’s just that Gotham City is a major city in DC Universe and it’s depressing to see it so drab in a way that makes it plain.

The action is engaging, thrilling and sufficient. There wasn’t too much action and when there was action it was believable. Batman fights the bad guys with cunning and heart. The Joker fights with heart of darkness, viciousness and bloodlust that goes unmatched by any other villain in Batman’s catalog. As The Joker points out in the film he has no rules and as his actions dictate he has no rules and yet Batman has them, making it difficult to threaten someone that laughs at everything; even his own pain.

The story was really good. It was a long movie and seeing it at midnight did pull at my eyelids a bit, but it was a story full of lots of things. It tried to tug on heart strings and it almost worked for me. It made a valiant effort in that regard. Dealing with Harvey Dent as a second villain was creative in a way that was slightly shocking. I wasn’t really shocked in this movie because most of what The Joker planned I caught on to what was going to happen. I don’t know if that’s because I could be him or that I’ve seen enough movies to make such valid predictions. Ha. Even though it was predictable it kept my attention the entire time.

The serious moments were dark and brooding as they should be. They were handled well because there was no camp throughout this film even with The Joker’s laughing. It was chilling and exciting to hear his cackling as he takes a human life or makes things explode. His joy and excitement for his vile doings were amusing even though what was going on was not at all close to that. Ledger could not have given more to the role of The Joker if he were perfect.

There are moral issues in this film with what is justifiable and what is not. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox gave a moral touch to the film with his clam and collected character that rarely heard shocking news. The Joker lacked any morals and did as he saw fit no matter if it were against city law or bad guy law. Batman had rules and things he did not intend on doing and The Joker used that to his benefit. The question that vibrates through those pointy ears of his is how far is too far and what can be done that won’t make him just like The Joker?

There is humor. Bruce has humor with his jealous actions because Harvey was with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) Gyllenhaal brought about an indecisive muse to the Batman/Bruce Wayne double trouble problem. She was a good choice to take on that character. There was The Joker and his whacked one liners that were, of course, dark humor. Then there’s Alfred and his one liners to Bruce and what he was or was not doing. Caine and Bale’s chemistry during those times was like locker room banter.

The Dark Knight is a great film that many will enjoy because they enjoyed the first one and because they enjoy Batman as a superhero and The Joker as the villain. I enjoyed it and liked the first one. I don’t own the first and most likely will not own this one. Batman is not one of my favorite superheroes. This year I’d have to say I enjoyed Iron Man far more than The Dark Knight. But I’m not naïve to take from the greatness of this movie. Though I wish Harley Quinn was in The Dark Knight going around stating Mr. J, but even though she wasn’t I thoroughly enjoyed Ledger as The Joker and that was well worth the ever staggering ticket price at the movie theater. Lots of things have been said about Heath Ledger and the one thing that matters after viewing this film is that he got, and rightfully so, the last laugh.


trench said...

Great Review man!

Ria said...

Good review, however I don't agree with you when you say that Gotham City was bland and boring, especially since it was filmed in my hometown of Chicago. C'mon, we all know that Gotham City is a fictional place, so what kind of landmark are you looking for?

J_Jammer said...


Gotham City is a major city in DC Universe. In Metropolis the Daily Planet has a massive Globe on top as with man buildings with Lex Luther's name or logo.

Gotham City needs to have some sort of value other than Oh look that name there dictates we are in Gotham City.

When showing the sky line in New York the movie doesn't have to state that they are no in New York. The viewer knows.

So too it should be the same with Gotham, by now.

Hollywood Dump on Facebook

In addition to the articles we post here, we also link to stories we think are interesting and post them to our Facebook page. If you're on FB, become a fan!