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Fred Loves The Dark Knight

Published July 18, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros
The Dark Knight Poster The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight has everything you would want to see in a movie. I'm not going to give away all those fantastic elements because that would be depriving you of the experience. So, sorry for not backing up my claim with evidence, but this isn't my high school English class.

Review: The Dark Knight

I will try to broadly discuss why I loved the film so much. I like to be moved. I've seen everything before so some of the old tricks might not work on me anymore. The Dark Knight is the scariest movie I've seen in my adult life. True, I wussed out of Pet Semetary back in '88, but now I watch Saw and Hostel like they're Discovery Channel.

It's like the Reservoir Dogs of comic book movies, meaning everything is real world. There's no safety net of a fantasy world. Anything goes. The Joker has really devious, manipulative plans. The film shows no remorse for putting its characters through hell, so there's tragedy around every corner.

Seriously, a warning to parents. There are some images that will give kids serious nightmares. Hell, I'm gonna have nightmares. I love it, and I applaud them for being real, but let me put it this way. I'm going to show my kids South Park for their sense of humor. I'm going to show them Final Destination so they can learn to be tough. I don't know when I can show them The Dark Knight. That could just be too traumatic.

Even expository scenes are chilling and tense. Whether it's a philosophical debate foreshadowing future tragedy, or the unreliable backstory of a villain, you're just on edge because it could go anywhere. It was literally heart pounding for real. That could have been the Imax rumble but I'm pretty resilient so I think it's the film's overall sense of unease.

I wanted to applaud after every scene Heath Ledger performed. You know I'm not a very reverent guy. Maybe sentimental, but I don't buy into the whole public honoring of tragic figures. (I even wanted to try to do all the interviews without ever mentioning him.) But his performance as charismatic, cool, deadly and real won me over.

I don't usually like to talk about acting, because I'm a story guy, but since Heath already one me over, I've got to give props to Aaron Eckhart too. What a tragically noble portrayal of a character. Bale continues to rule Batman/Bruce Wayne and Gary Oldman and Michael Caine return in top form. Even Morgan Freeman transcends his wise old sage persona. Biggest surprise: Anthony Michael Hall as the news reporter.

Back to the story, it makes everything make sense. This is how Bruce Wayne plays with his dual identity. This is how Harvey Dent tries to be noble. This is how the Joker rules anarchy.

The Dark Knight features Batman's most wonderful toys yet. His gadgets are awesome. Homer Simpson would be proud, as this movie shows Batman IS a scientist.

The full Imax shots look as clear as Blu Ray. It really uses the height of the city. It may be silly to go full Imax for one establishing shot and then back to letterboxed, but the shots still look amazing, and the full sequences in Imax are awesome.

There were a few scenes that had me feeling iffy. That's fine, I'm never out for perfection. I'd rather have a movie go for something special and get there 90% of the time. Here, I would say even the problem moments serve a purpose.

If it's a plot point that seems abandoned, it's kind of because resolving it doesn't forward the bigger themes at work. If there's a philosophy that seems obvious or preachy, it's because it comes at a busy moment where they just have to get to the point. If there's a real convenience of plot to allow them to get somewhere, it's because the idea they are building to is way more important than the mechanics of who knew what about whom and who set what up to save himself later.

The length worked in the movie's favor to me. It's so packed with weight that it never lags. It's what the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels should have done with their stories instead of just rambling on.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros

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