Batman: The Dark Knight
Usually, when a movie gets as much press as The Dark Knight has, I have to think really hard about whether or not I really feel the need to add ‘yet another’ random voice to the din being created in the press, on blogs, and on websites everywhere. Basically, if I get sick of hearing about something, I generally can’t be bothered writing about it myself. However in the case of THE DARK KNIGHT I think that just about all of the praise being heaped upon it is absolutely deserved… So, rather than add another voice to the choir, and sing along with (deserved) praise for Heath Ledger’s portrayal as The Joker, I’ll just make a couple of quick comments about the film and then shut the hell up about it.
It’s pretty obvious to anyone who reads the junk that I post here that I’m a Marvel guy when it comes to comics, but that’s not to say that I’m not a fan of quite a few DC characters too. In particular Batman has always been one of the DC titles that I’ve gravitated towards and, with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005, it finally felt like the uninitiated got to see the character that readers of the comics had been familiar with for decades. To paraphrase myself, from a conversation with friends recently, Nolan (and writer David S. Goyer) had done something that neither Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher had felt necessary when they directed the Batman movies during the late 80′s / early 90′s. And that something was actually bothering to read a Batman comic.
In The Dark Knight, Nolan (along with Goyer and Jonathan Nolan) introduce film-goers to the real Joker: a psychotic anarchist who is far from the previous on-screen incarnations (not taking anything from Jack.. you gotta love jack!). But the Joker and Ledger have been getting far too large a slice of the accolade pie as far as I’m concerned.
Again, not wanting to take anything away from Ledger’s penultimate performance, but it really frustrates me that, while calls for Ledger to be nominated for an Academy Award ring out across the internets, there is little (read: virtually none) noise being made about the best director Oscar being thrust in Nolan’s direction. Since his nomination in 2000 for ‘Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen’ (which he shared with Jonathan) for Memento, Nolan has been essentially overlooked by the Academy.
With The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan has not only presented fayboys everywhere with the greatest graphic-novel adaptation to date, but with The Dark Knight, standing on the shoulders of Batman Begins, Nolan has created a giant piece of cinema. Alone, The Dark Knight is a masterpiece which holds its own alongside any of those movies that people like to recite the names of when they want to sound like they know what great cinema is.
Rock solid performances from the entire cast of a movie don’t happen by accident. A brilliant script and even better direction presented Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Gary Oldman the opportunity to capture the screen in the same way that consummate professionals like Morgan Freeman and Micheal Caine can as a matter of course. But it’s so easy to be distracted by Ledger’s Joker — hell, you miss him when he’s not on screen — that many have overlooked the finely crafted offerings from the rest of the cast.
Behind Ledger, who was granted the most neon of roles and blinds the audience with darkness at its most brilliant, stand some of the most praiseworthy performances we’ve seen in recent times. For mine, most impressive was Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent. Eckhart, who I’ve always considered something of an ‘also ran’ manages to hold his own with the best of them…. and the best of them, are in this film.
Now, I’ll shut up.