The Dark Knight is nothing short of a magnificent achievement in filmmaking. Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan have crafted an incredible script while Wally Pfister does outstanding cinematography as Gotham feels like an actual city.
I am amazed and astonished that this movie was executed so successfully when the script required so much from the actors to create such complex characters, and when the storyline, which of course, was peppered with epic action sequences that used little-to-no CGI, was so dense and deeply twisted.The performances by all actors involved, especially the late Heath Ledger, are absolutely enthralling and believable.
I have little criticisms about the film. The acting overall was incredibly strong thanks to the omission of Katie Holmes and the addition of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who gave Rachel Dawes an actual personality. Maggie Gyllenhaal, as an actress there is no question that Gyllenhaal is far superior to Holmes, and goes above and beyond the norm for a role such as this.
Aaron Eckhart stars as Harvey Dent, the newly elected District Attorney of Gotham. It is his character that drives the narrative arc of the film. Eckhart turns in a stunning performance as a by the books DA who seems incorruptible. Anyone who is familiar with Batman as a character knows what will happen to the White Knight of Gotham.
For those that are ignorant of his fate, rest assured the movie creates compelling and realistic reasons for Dent’s to do what he does. The nagging point of the film is that Eckhart’s Dent get sort of the short end of the stick by not getting enough screen time to fully appreciate his change in characters. However, it is a very minor thing and upon further viewings of the movie may have been the right choice.
Not much can be said about the performance Heath Ledger gave in The Dark Knight that has not been said. Heath simply took an excellent script and development of The Joker and made the role his. You simply see and hear nothing but the Joker. The Joker is a complete and utter force of anarchy. Heath Ledger worked so intensely, and you can really see how hard he was on himself to get every little sound, mannerism, and movement right.
He never once broke out of The Joker to become Heath Ledger again as, say... Jim Carrey did when he over-acted t The Riddler in Forever. Heath Ledger was the Joker. I forgot it was even Heath Ledger. You must see it to believe it.
While Heath’s performance was phenomenal, let us not discount the work of the other fine actors and actresses involved. Christian Bale is Batman. This time around Bale has found how to separate Bruce Wayne from Batman while still keeping them same.
As Bruce Wayne, Bale is flashy and flamboyant. He shows up to a party in a helicopter surrounded by beautiful women while sleeping in the middle of a board meeting. As Batman he is rigid, stoic, and all business.
The best part about Christian Bale is how he can switch into these roles on a whim. A skill that is essential in this film, because he has to use his skills as Bruce Wayne to achieve Batman’s goal of stopping the Joker. Finally, Bale makes you feel his moral dilemma when it comes to handling the Joker. You really wonder if he’ll cross the line in order to protect his city.
Finally, the character that experiences the most growth is Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon. In Batman Begins, Gordon is an honest man broken by the corruption that surrounds him. In T he Dark Knight, thanks to Batman and Dent he has become the glue that holds the Gotham police force together.
His sense of justice and dedication to his job is so strong that he makes a desperate move to bring in the Joker, even though it might hurt his family. However, he is also a family man and cares about the people around him. Oldman makes you see why Gordon was promoted to Commissioner.
With plot twists, a great cast, and subtle social commentary The Dark Knight is a textbook example of how a sequel should be done. Eschewing the traditional sequel formula of ‘bigger equals better’ that causes so many sequels to fall flat on their face, The Dark Knight builds upon what was established in Batman Begins and moves the characters forward, allowing them to grow but keeping their core the same. The integrity of this film really can't be questioned. It had exceptional direction. It was well written, well executed, well acted, and well produced. It is the movie of summer 2008 that will be remembered as a legend.