By Eddie Prendergast
With content in movies becoming increasingly stupid and lack-luster to say the least, a movie like Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is not just the epic tale of good versus evil, but the concessions that a good man faces in order to reach the greater good under extreme scrutiny. Arguably the best "Batman" movie ever, the movie put new life into a classic character, The Joker, spawning a slew of Halloween costumes and cult-like status for the late Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker was bone-chilling. It was truly an experience to sit and watch Heath transform into a maniacal genius. He is possibly one of the top villains of all time, in my personal opinion. From the first scene of The Joker and his men robbing the bank, it becomes clear that this is going to be a worthy opponent for the caped crusader. Played by Christain Bale, Batman is a step away from perfect. At times Bale's voice seems a little forced but that would really be a judgment call. Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face, Gotham's District Attorney.
Harvey's campaign to wipe out the mob by cutting off their funds runs parallel to Batman's, which is where Police Commissioner Gordon played by Gary Oldman steps in to bridge the gap. In a joint effort to bring down Moronee (Eric Roberts), Gotham's D.A and Batman raid the mob banks only to come up short. The Joker, taking advantage of the mob's misfortune, proposes the idea to eliminate The Bat, plunging the viewers deep into The Joker's quest to take over the city. Nolan and his crew blend the visual and audio worlds seemlessly, making for an extremely believable right there feeling. The post-production work is practically flawless, with only some of Batman's physical impacts sounding slightly exaggerated. The love-story of Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes played by Maggie Gyllenhal doesn't overtake the film which is a plus in my book as movies like "Spider-Man" became a little too fixated on the boy-girl story then the super-hero's story. Nolan's perspective allows the viewer to see the character before they were villains allowing for a better understanding of the characters motifs. Bruce and Harvey's triangle relationship with Rachel really pulls at the heart-strings, especially when The Joker is holding the violin.
"The Dark Knight" doesn't leave much room for a trilogy, as "Batman Begins" offered a solid lead-in to The Joker. Also it seems that Batman could evolve more as a character, perhaps in the life of Bruce Wayne. It wouldn't be accurate to label the performance as stale, as I imagine it difficult to do something different being confined to that suit. However, that is a situation where lemonade could be poured because Bruce Wayne, other than being a cover for Batman, could have more of a story. Mr. Fox, Morgan Freemon, makes for a great tech-guy, as Batman's gear is crucial to his performance against villains. There is a playful chemistry between them that feels very natural. This was not so much the case when Aaron Eckhart was in the hospital scene with Gary Oldman, as I felt that each actor, maybe a mismatch, did not bring their A-game.
"The Dark Knight" offers an incredible story that transcends on so many levels. There is the obvious of good versus evil, but more so is the idea that a good man might have to do something morally questionable in order to achieve a greater good. The Joker in spite of all his insanity really has the right idea. He understands a human being's ability to walk away from someone even after doing something like cutting your face to make your wife feel better about her own. The Joker knows that people for the most part only want you there when they need you, and when they are finished they can't be bothered.
Batman being an idealist believes that people are good, and the scene of the prisoners and civilians capable of killing each other on separate boats is proof for Batman that he was right. Bitter-sweet though because Harvey Dent would succumb to his rage and ambitions for revenge, just like The Joker knew he would. The Joker symbolizes the ideas that money doesn't matter; it's intelligence that is the key. Because of how The Joker played his cards, (no pun intended), he was able to capture the Chinese money launderer and acquire half of the mob's life savings. What was interesting is that he burns his share of the money because the money is useless to a thief, or rather a worker who has cheap supplies. He knows that his position of power, the ability to take the Russian gangsters thugs' right from him shows that the fear of The Joker was much greater than a paycheck. His ruthlessness was all he needed to control the criminals who otherwise would be against him. "The Dark Knight" is a combination of beautiful destruction and twisted morals that somehow seem logical. Comparable to Scarface, movie-goers walked out of the theater wanting to be like The Joker. It is not often that people so unanimously agree to be the bad guy, but I'd be lying if I said I too didn't have the slight urge to introduce a little chaos.
"The Dark Knight" shines during a time when movies seem like jewels and turn out to be cubic zirconium. It saddens me that Heath Ledger will not be able to reprise his role, but maybe seeing it once is what makes it so great. Now in the same breath as James Dean, Ledger will be forever remembered as the murderous-lunatic he embodied so well. Bale and cast were nothing shy of great, making for one of the finest pictures I have had the privilege to watch.
Eddie Prendergast is an undergraduate student at St. Thomas Aquinas College, studying Communications. He plans on interning this summer hopefully in the field of communication or marketing, with a concentration in sports. He's expected to graduate in the Fall of 2010.