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(Review originally written at 24 July 2008)

In all fairness, I wasn't jumping and screaming when "Batman Begins" got released. Although it was a good movie, it just wasn't without its flaws. I even must admit I preferred Tim Burton's "Batman" over it. It's great to see that almost all of its flaws and other inconsistencies are fixed for this sequel to Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins".


Still it looks at first in the movie its first halve that the movie starts to make the same mistakes all over again. The movie doesn't have a clear main plot-line in terms of knowing which directing the movie is going to head towards and there are many (new) characters again who also all are getting introduced all over again. The movie takes its time to tell what happened to all of the characters in between "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" and it shows who are going to be the new characters in this one. Luckily when the movie reaches its halve way point this all changes and the movie basically becomes a great thrilling and spectacular movie to watch. Its story starts to make some great turns and even presents some unexpected welcome twists in it. Without spoiling too much, some people are dying in this movie but perhaps not the people or person you would expect to. Also Harvey Dent/Two-Face plays a much bigger and more important role in the movie than anticipated. I expected his character to be developed and first set up in this movie and that he would later continue on playing the main villain in the third new Batman movie but he's already an established and important character in this movie and it also definitely features more of Two-Face than I anticipated in advance.


It's a true superior movie that gets uplifted by its exciting plot and sequences. it's still obvious that Nolan just ain't no action director but he certainly did a much better job with it in this movie. It's a fast going movie, that features quite an amount of action but with never forgetting or loosing its main focus on the more realistic and humane aspects of the movie and Batman character. It's not as 'poetic' as "Batman Begins" but still it continues on the same trend with its approach of story and characters.


Luckily this movie has one clear main big villain this time, something "Batman Begins" was really lacking, with its many- and very different villains. There is no doubt that the biggest and craziest crook of this movie is the Joker. More or less the Joker really makes the movie, which not in the least is of course thanks to the way he gets very memorably portrayed by Heath Ledger, in one of his final film roles before his unfortunate early death before the movie its release. You can perhaps even say that it was the Joker that killed Heath Ledger. He was suffering heavily from sleeping problems, right before, during and after wrapping up his Joker role, which resulted in his accidental overdose of prescription drugs. The character also must have really been an absorbing one, since he obviously gets sucked right into his role. He just is the Joker in this movie and there is no holding him back.


But is it just me or are with all this talk about Heath Ledger people are forgetting or simply not seeing that the biggest and most important role of this movie is not being played by Christian Bale or Heath Ledger but by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. From both the good guys and the bad guys perspective he is the most important and influential character of the entire movie.


And in all fairness and objectivity, since all this talk is going on, I don't think Ledger will get an Oscar for his role in this movie. it just isn't the type of role and movie for ANY actor to ever win an Oscar, though he most likely will still (deservingly so) receive an Oscar-nod. But most important and sad thing- Oscar win or no Oscar win, is that Heath Ledger is no more. One of the most talented new young actors in the business, with the potential of becoming one of the best and respected actors in the business, who would had continued to play more memorable roles, like he did in this movie, as well as in some of his previous ones. It wasn't his last movie role though and he can still be seen next year in Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus", which release date got pushed back due to Ledger's death since he died during the filming of that movie.


But back to "The Dark Knight", it's true that Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne are being pushed somewhat to the background in this movie, with the presence of the Joker and Harvey Dent/Two-Face. But somehow I have the feeling this was intentional from Nolan, who obviously constantly doesn't want to portray Batman as a superhero and he allows more the other characters around him to play the true heroic parts of the movie, also in order to let the Batman character himself seem more humane and realistic.


Realism is obviously an approach picked by Nolan for his Batman movies. Still the movie features some over-the-top action, which is welcome though, since it makes the movie a greatly exciting as well as spectacular one. The storytelling, character handling as well as the overall look of the movie are being kept as realistic as possible, which make this movie, as well as the entire Nolan Batman franchise (no doubt he will direct more Batman movies) different from the usual superhero movie franchise. "The Dark Knight" is more clever, more subtle, which makes it also more original but it luckily doesn't go at the expense of the movie its entertainment.


Already one of the best, most exciting and spectacular movies of 2008.


9/10


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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