There are so many things about The Dark Knight that are masterful, but if I’m being honest, I think it’s the weakest of the three. I said this on Twitter the other day and was met with tens of responses telling me how wrong I am and how much of a troll I am, but I wasn’t trolling. I mean it. I think Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises , while both being flawed, told a well thought out and connected story about the League of Shadows and what makes Batman Batman and what makes Gotham so special to him. The Dark Knight , while terrific, is little more than the one that came between them and didn’t really offer much in terms of overall plot.
The Joker showed up, wrecked havoc, and sent Harvey Dent into madness, causing Dent to be killed and Batman to go into hiding while on the run from authorities and his own demons. That’s about all The Dark Knight does for Rises . That being said, I’m not criticizing it for that. It’s the one movie that’s free from any chains and is allowed to go wild with action pieces and crazy stunts, and I think that that works for the best.
From the opening shot to the opening heist sequence to the introduction of the Joker and depiction of Batman’s ongoing war on crime, it’s clear that Nolan and company aren’t messing around. This movie is a non-stop blast of exhilaration, with set pieces and memorable action sequences that seem to never end.
But the crowning achievement of the film, the trilogy in general, and I’d even go as far as to say any comic-book movie ever, is Heath Ledger as the Joker. No one expected the guy from 10 Things I Hate About You and Brokeback Mountain to be cast as the Clown Prince of Crime, but what was even more unexpected was just how great that guy would be. His performance is legendary, one of the greatest in the history of cinema, and I’ve said all I need to say on that subject. No one disagrees.
My main issue with this movie is the final act, and I’m not talking about the Two-Face stuff as much as the Joker’s “blow-up-the-other-boat” morality test. I’ve always thought that entire sequence was shoehorned in and a bit tiresome, even though in retrospect its randomness may have been intentional given the randomness of the Joker in general.
Apart from that and a few other minor quibbles, The Dark Knightreally is a game-changer. I see why it has gained so much of a devoted following, even if I don’t think it’s as perfect as some fans think it is.
It’s a great example of a modern action movie that does all the right action movie things. The scope is much bigger than Batman Begins , and it really works for Nolan’s vision. The chase sequence in which which ultimately results in the emergence of the Batpod is one of my personal favorite chase sequences of the 21st century (maybe one of my favorite action sequences as well). It’s masterfully done.
And a lot of things in this movie are masterful. I just don’t think the film itself is. But it’s crazy good. There’s a reason most comic-book movies nowadays are dark and gritty, and that is reason isThe Dark Knight . Only difference is, in this case, it worked.