Friday, August 15, 2008

Can the Dark Knight win an Oscar?

I have finally seen the Dark Knight (not once, but twice!) and I have to say that it is one the best movies I've seen. Not only is it a great comic book movie and action movie, it is a very exciting and layered crime drama. I believe it transcends the usual light comic book fare and will go on to be nominated as a Best Picture of 2008. Make sure you see it.

Besides the top prize, I feel that the hype over Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is well warranted. He is spectacular and terrifying - actually SCARY. There is a fantastic and gruesome magic trick early on that illustrates this definite difference from Jack Nicholson's Joker - who, let's face it, wasn't really scary. Heath deserves a best supporting actor Oscar.

"Here's my card..." - the Joker

The rest of the cast is on form, with Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman doing their usual good work. Christian Bale seems much more comfortable as the Batman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, while not as pretty as Katie Holms, acts her pants off as Rachel. Gary Oldman gets to act more as Commissioner Gordon. I feel the most underrated but solid performance in the film was by Aaron Eckart, who played district attorney Harvey Dent. He had the most challenging character arc - from Gotham's White Knight to Two-Face (see the movie to figure out what the hell I mean here!) He was great.

The movie is a tragedy and is not very fun. In fact, it is very dark and mean. But that makes it more interesting and it stand out from other comic films, such as Iron Man, the Hulk, and even from it's prequel, Batman Begins. It is not a kids movie. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN! Nor is it just another summer blockbuster. It is dark and disturbing, more like Heat, Scarface or the Godfather.

Watching the Dark Knight drains you and leaves you shocked and breathless at the end. It feels like a roller coaster ride that begins fun, then turns a bit scary as drop after drop, climax after climax hits you and you can't move, you just have to bear it, and then it drops you suddenly into a different theme park, punches you in the stomach and gives you ice cream. You leave the theater stunned and wanting to do it all again.

"You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain." - Harvey Dent

With such a great complete movie, where does the story go from here? I have no idea. It is wide open. If Chris Nolan* and the cast decide to make one more Batman film, the story could go anywhere. Any of Batman's villains could make an appearance, and rumors are already circulating around the net - Johnny Depp as the Riddler, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin, and Angelina Jolie as the Catwoman. It is way to early to take these casting rumors seriously.

As for my bet on which of Batman's rogues with feature in a third film, I think Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul (Ra's daughter - Ra's Al Ghul was Liam Neeson in Batman Begins). Catwoman would work as a copycat inspired by Batman, and Talia would be seeking revenge on Batman for killing her father. Any more discussion about a future film would cross into spoiler territory. Email me if you want to continue the discussion!

Even if the Dark Knight is nominated for a best picture or best supporting actor Oscar, can it win? I say yes! If we look at the history of the Oscars, one movie was nominated for best picture that didn't fit the standard, such as Titanic, Million Dollar Baby and No Country for Old Men (What was with the end of that movie!? So boring!! Great villain, though.) This one film was a fantasy movie and it still won best picture in 2004 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!

If the Lord of the Rings can with the top film prize, then The Dark Knight surely can as well!

Be sure to see the Dark Knight, as it's just a great great movie.

*Chris Nolan is the director of both the Dark Knight and Batman Begins and the man we give credit to for the great realistic interpretation of Batman we have today. Long live Nolan! Please direct one more!

"Why so serious?" - the Joker


leslie said...

I have not yet seen the movie, but based on your review, I am excited to see it!
What a great reviewer!

Paul Clarke said...

Great review, Peter. I took my 13-yr old son, Jordan, and we both loved it...sort of...completely! We both left feeling like we'd had the total best movie experience: complete and sated, but disturbed and a little rattled. Its darkness stops us from being gushingly joyous, but it also leaves us wanting more, or wanting to understand it more perhaps. We both enjoyed Ironman, purely as an action flick with occasional laughs, but there is much more "stuff" to be found in Dark Knight. Perhaps we'll go see it again, now that I've read your excellent review.

Zach said...

Great, great movie. Best I've seen all year. I just discovered your blog, sir, while looking for gorgonopsid images on Google. :-) I love it!

I think that Clayface would be an interesting villain to explore. I loved the way he was portrayed in the animated series, much more human than that stupid Sandman. They've gotta get Catwoman in there, though.

Honestly, I think they gave Peter Jackson the Oscar because he made three movies that made everyone involved rich as kings. That's not to say the films weren't good (though I don't care for LotR lore), but it was an unusual choice for a lot of reasons.

Dark Knight, though. Unquestionably Oscar-worthy.

Darnell said...

yejnhThe Dark Knight is certainly the greatest Superhero film for it strays from the bright, flashy and predictable hero films of the past. The darkness, tragedy, and epic portrayed by Christopher Nolan shall finally have critics taking hero films more seriously, especially for future Oscars. I feel the Dark Night deserves to be Nominated for Best picture, Best Director, Best lead Actor for Legers SPECTACULAR performance, Best Supporting by Aaroon Eckart for the Tragic role of Two Face and Best Script.
R.I.P. Ledger and All Hail The Dark Knight

Peter Bond said...

Leslie - You will love The Dark Knight (I've seen it three times in the theaters so far!)

Paul - Did Jordan enjoy it? I would think that a 13-year old would be too you for the dark themes in the film. But I don't have kids, so maybe I just don't know what is age-appropriate! Glad you loved it though! What do you think - "Batman the Panto!"

Zach - WELCOME to BOND'S Blog! I have been a fan of yours for a while. I'll be sure to comment more! Glad you loved the movie too. Clayface would be interesting, but how would he work in Nolan's realistic universe? It quickly becomes very Spiderman 3 Sandman... And of course Catwoman, mmm! Good point about LOTR - I had forgotten!

Darnell - I completely agree with everything you say about the great Dark Knight! Especially about Eckart - often overlooked over Ledger. He played Two-Face so convincingly and tragically that I would love to have seen more of him in the next film. But, alas, Eckart himself has stated that he won't be in another Batman. Too bad!

All hail the Dark Knight and please bring us another, Chris Nolan!

twity13 said...

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