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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Dark Knight (2008)

#1 - 2008 Box Office: Gross $533,345,358

Why so serious?
Roughly six months after the events of Batman Begins, Gotham City is terrorized by a new kind of villain—one who doesn't steal for personal gain but rather one who simply enjoys spreading chaos—the Joker (Heath Ledger).  Christopher Nolan returns as director/co-writer, as does Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as his butler/friend Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Wayne Enterprises CEO & Q to Batman's 007 Lucius Fox & Gary Oldman as Lt. Gordon.  New to the cast are Maggie Gyllenhaal, who replaces Katie Holmes as Bruce's love interest Rachel Dawes, and Aaron Eckhart, as love interest to Ms. Dawes DA Harvey Dent.  Joker sets forth a plan to turn the city's White Knight, Dent, into a villain, in the process creating Two-Face.  Batman's ally turns into his enemy and he suddenly has to decide whether he wants to continue being the city's Dark Knight, fighting for what's right or should he hang up his Bat-Belt and be the playboy billionaire Rachel said she'd wait for?

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • Set several records by reaching the $200 million mark in only 5 days, the $300 million in only 10, $400 million in 18 days and $500 million in only 45 days
  • Made more money than Batman Begins' entire domestic run in only 6 days of release
  • This is the first Batman feature film that doesn't incorporate the word "Batman" in its title
  • Off-duty Chicago police officers played Gotham police officer extras
  • Nestor Carbonell (Mayor Garcia) coincidentally played Batmanuel, a parody of Batman, in the live action TV series, "The Tick" . Michael Jai White (Gambol) coincidentally played Spawn, inspired in part by Batman, in the 1997 film Spawn 
  • Vermont Senator, Patrick Leahy cameos as the older gentleman who confronts the Joker in Bruce Wayne's penthouse. A huge Batman fan, he has also appeared in 1997 film Batman & Robin and as a voice in the TV Series "Batman"
  • First Batman film with no live-action or CGI bats
  • One of only four IMAX cameras in the world was destroyed during the filming of the Lower Wacker chase scene
Here's my card...
This movie's success is due mostly to the fantastic performance from Heath Ledger.  I remember loving the film on first viewing (and then proceeding to watch it twice more in theaters, once in IMAX).  Rewatching it now, over two years later, I realize what a shame it is we lost Ledger.  From heartthrob in 10 Things I Hate About You to gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain, he had a decent career which could have really taken off after his amazing work here.  Nicholson created an iconic Joker in Burton's 1989 film Batman, and somehow Ledger created a unique villain wholly his own.  Some complaints I had with this film are Bale's gravelly Batman voice—is there really a reason he needs to disguise his voice in front of Fox or Dawes?  Also, the addition of Dent/Two-Face was fantastic thematically, however it seems like the usually-fatal mistake sequels make of adding more villains.  Also, Dent's transformation into Two-Face is too drastic; could what happens to him really push him over the edge?  I feel his arc could have been better served in its own standalone film (yet we've already heard how Nolan's third film will feature Bane and Catwoman as another pair of villains).  Finally, the bat-sonar is an annoying addition—the effects hurt my eyes and the "science" behind it seemed too unreasonable.  In the end, the film is a brilliant character study in Ledger's Joker, however it's a little long and yet somehow really rushed at the end.

Ponch's Rating:

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