Posted by Rande Iaboni on July 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm
As the release date of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy draws closer it is time to take a look back at the previous entries in the series. I analyzed ‘Batman Begins’ earlier this week discussing the pro’s (the cast, setting, costume, realism, and heroine) and the cons (the origin, the fight scenes, and the villains), and in the end determined the film was a solid SEE IT. Now it’s time to take a look back at the second entry in the franchise, ‘The Dark Knight.’ I must disclose that ‘The Dark Knight’ is one of my favorite films of all time so the pros are going to very much outweigh the cons. Let’s take a look!
The Joker: It should come as no surprise that The Joker is the first item on my Pros list. The Joker has always been my favorite villain from the original Batman comics and I was thrilled that Nolan would be taking him on in the second installment. While ‘Batman Begins’ lacked in the villain department, ‘The Dark Knight’ more than made up for it. The Joker was a fully fleshed out developed character. What I loved so much about him was even though The Joker was on screen 3/4′s of the movie we still never grew bored of him or less scared. He was absolutely menacing and one of the most realistic terrorist characters to hit the screen in a long time.
The New Cast: The originals that returned (Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman) still brought their A-game but the new additions to the cast were phenomenal. While I’m not a big fan of re-casting characters, Maggie Gyllenhaal proved to be an excellent replacement for Katie Holmes’ Rachel. She was stronger than ever but still had a feminine vulnerability to her. Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of Harvey Dent was crucial to the film. For me, ‘The Dark Knight’ was about one villain’s control over three good men. Batman (Bale) and Gordon (Oldman) were already familiar to audiences, and Eckhart fit right in with them. Physically he perfectly fit the role of “The White Knight,” the golden boy of Gotham. But emotionally he nailed it as well, specifically in his relationship with Rachel (but more on that later). And last but certainly not least, the late Heath Ledger. While I had some serious doubts about Ledger taking on the role of the infamous Joker, I couldn’t have been more wrong. He WAS The Joker, and wholeheartedly deserved his post-humous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Everything from his physicality, mannerisms, and delivery was spot on, a legendary performance in my book.
The Action: While ‘Batman Begins’ had some pacing issues and poorly shot fight sequences,’The Dark Knight’ improved in every way. The pacing was excellent, there was never a dull moment in this film and every action sequence was shot beautifully. From the car chases to the hand-to-hand combat scenes, Nolan perfected the action.
The Love Triangle: While many films have failed attempts at love triangles, ‘The Dark Knight’ succeeded tremendously. The relationship between Bruce Wayne-Rachel Dawes-Harvey Dent was believable and lacked any form of cheesiness that so many other films fall prey to. The character of Rachel manages to love both of these men and not come off promiscuous, we sympathize with her because how can you choose between The Dark Knight and The White Knight? Most of the credit for the success of the love triangle goes to the three actors involved.
Batman’s Voice: What else would be at the top of my list of cons? I don’t know one person that hasn’t complained about this aspect of the film. While in ‘Batman Begins’ Batman rarely had many talking scenes in his costume, in ‘The Dark Knight’ he spends a large majority of the film speaking in his Batsuit. For some odd reason Batman’s disguised voice is a combination of nasal congestion and a deep growl. It was difficult to understand at times, but mostly just irritating. Let’s pray this is fixed in the third installment!
The Scarecrow: As much as I complained about The Scarecrow’s role in ‘Batman Begins,’ it was even worse in this film. It was nice that Nolan wanted to acknowledge the character here, but he was once again under-used. He had about 3 lines and was on screen for a total of 2 minutes. And once again we were given no closure to his character. There was never any development or explanation for his motive! Possibly Nolan plans on bringing The Scarecrow back for a cameo in the third entry to provide real closure on this character but it doesn’t seem likely.
Two-Face: Despite Aaron Eckhart’s wonderful portrayal of Harvey Dent, the character of Two-Face was kind of a throwaway character. While Two-Face is a great villain and the transition from good boy Harvey Dent to monstrous villain is memorable, up against The Joker he came off kind of anti-climactic. Not to mention ridiculously unrealistic. I know this is a comic book movie but Nolan strives on making these films realistic, the probability of Two-Face being able to function in his condition is just absurd. It would have been more effective to have the film end with Harvey Dent waking up as Two-Face and leave his actual mischief for the third chapter. But alas that’s not what Nolan intended, and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt because he usually knows what he is doing!
That about wraps up the pros and cons of ‘The Dark Knight.’ While ‘Batman Begins’ was a solid origin story for the caped crusader, ‘The Dark Knight’ was nothing short of epic. Although it had some flaws, they were very minimal and most can be overlooked. If this were a first time review I would give the film a MUST SEE. It was my favorite film of 2008 and was totally snubbed at the Oscars for a Best Picture nominee. Hopefully ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ can live up to the quality of ‘The Dark Knight.’ It seems impossible to do, but if anyone can do it it is Christopher Nolan!
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ hits theaters later this week on July 20th!
What did you think of ‘The Dark Knight’ Banters?