The highly anticipated sequel to “Batman Begins” is everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s so good, that I have now placed it in my Top 50 Favorite Movies Of All-Time. Heath Ledger is so good that he should definitely be in the running for “Best Supporting Actor” and, to this point, I believe he is the frontrunner for the Oscar.
The thing about this movie is that it’s not all about The Joker. It is very much a team movie. Everyone in this film carries some weight. I want to break this down in a series of Pros & Cons (with the cons be very negligible)…
The cast. Seriously, they are all outstanding here. If I had to pinpoint one weakness in this bunch, it would probably be Christian Bale, and only when he has the cape on. Sometimes when he is wearing the Batman costume he growls so much and lowers his voice to such an extreme, it can be difficult to understand him. I don’t know if this is by design, to give the Batman a little more security, maybe scare his enemies a little more, whatever. But it got a little old as the film went on. Other than that, everyone was spectacular. Let’s give props to…
- Morgan Freeman – As the maker of Batman’s gadgets, Freeman’s Lucius Fox is brilliant. And as an actor, Freeman is ALWAYS brilliant. He brings an integrity to the character that makes you believe that he understands the plight of Bruce Wayne, but he isn’t willing to sacrifice his own beliefs in order to get the job done.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal – Newly remodeled as Rachel Dawes (Batman’s love interest), Maggie G. brings a little bit of more well-roundedness to the character. It’s still a second-hand role, but she did a good job with it!
- Aaron Eckhart – As Harvey Dent and Two-Face, Eckhart is able to bring out the split personality role and make it his own. Soooooo much better than the first Two-Face (played by Tommy Lee Jones), not only for the effect itself (the Two-Face character is AWESOME!) but also for way that Eckhart allows us to see that even though he comes across as the Angel of Gotham, he can also be dragged to the dark side.
- Gary Oldman – As Lt. Gordon, Oldman gets a much bigger role in this movie, and deservedly so! He is the true white knight in this film, and his ability to bring life to what could be a dreary character is a testament to his acting abilities!
- Heath Ledger – Yeah…The Joker is now an icon, up there with Hannibal Lector, Anton Chigurh (No Country For Old Men) and Frank Booth (Blue Velvet), as the most evil bad guys of our time. Ledger is brilliant, and his Joker will be remembered as one of the greatest performances ever. Definitely Oscar material!
Editing & Pacing. As I sat watching this movie, I found that my heart was racing through a majority of it. I don’t know if it was the anticipation of what was going to happen with each appearance of The Joker, or if it was the anticipation of what was going to happen to Harvey Dent? I don’t know what it was. All I know is is that the vision of Christopher Nolan is amazing. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire film.
Special Effects. The best thing about the effects in this film is that they never distract or look fake. From Batman flying from one building to the next to the amazing split face of Two Face, the effects are always there, yet I never thought about them for a second. Fantastic job by Nolan to keep it real and use mostly stuntmen and real effects (at one point the Joker blows up a hospital! Wonder how much THAT cost!). The Batpod and Batmobile are both hot and the effect used to show the “Bat Vision” was cool too!
The audio level of the score. Not that the music was bad, because it actually adds to the suspense in quite a few places. However I don’t know if it was the theater I was in or what, but a couple of times I couldn’t hear the actors as the music swelled up. It was a slight annoyance at best.
The Scarecrow. How excited was I too see Cillian Murphy make a reappearance in the opening of this film, only to have him swept away and never seen again? Vastly underused in both films, I think if done correctly the Scarecrow could have been a really cool villain. But the character never really gets on track in “Batman Begins” and then is simply disregarded in this one. Here’s hoping that maybe the character will get a little more opportunity at some point. But to be simply tossed aside as a character and as the actor playing the role, I would have thought at some point Murphy would be allowed to show a little more depth to the character. It was my only true disappointment.
Aaaand…those were pretty much it for the CONS in this movie.
Some might complain about the length of the film (2 and a half hours), however I believe that Nolan did a great job keeping it moving and never once did I ever think about the time. For me, the movie flew by! Anyway, as I ramble on, it is my belief that this is just the beginning of the amount of super hero movies that we will be seeing. If you think about it, there are so many untapped story lines in the comic world that we now have the technology to translate to the big screen. Starting with Batman back in the 80’s to now, the world of super heroes on the big screen has taken a turn for the better. The “X-Men” films started the trend, but I think this film will take it to a new level. This could very easily win a couple of Oscars, and then it will be a cat and mouse game as everyone wants in on the action. “The Dark Knight” is that rare diamond that will shine brightly for the genre and will create a standard that now all of them must try to beat. I think it’s gonna make for some really great moviemaking!
Overall Rating: A+