Let me tell you a story...

Almost 20 years ago, Jack Nicholson, dressed in outlandish purples, greens with an electronic Prince soundtrack thumping in the background bellowed “Wait’ll they get a load of ME!” It was one of several memorable quotes from Tim Burton’s successful vision of Batman that re-ignited the series as serious blockbuster entertainment, if even with a dose of camp.

The new version is dark. And not just in tone. Also visually it is dark as dark, with only a few scenes that I can recall filmed during the day. After all, it is the Dark Knight, and he does his best work in the shadows.

The opening bank heist, slightly reminiscent of ‘Heat’ is fast paced, with a clever twist or two that sets the movie in motion. From there, we learn some things in Gotham are the same, and perhaps some are changing. There is standard political intrigue combined with unending curiousity over who really is beneath the cape crusader’s mask.

And then there is the joker. HA HA HA HA. Is it really funny if the joke teller is the only one laughing?

A lot has been written about Heath Ledger’s movie stealing performance. It is everything I expected: quirky, menancing, disturbing, classic and wild. Where Jack Nicholson’s Joker was two parts fun, and one part insane, Ledger’s is the opposite. With no ambition other than chaos for the sake of chaos, he is perhaps the most complicated character in all of cinema. Maybe.

  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Rating
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • Tom says:
  • “Exactly what you’d expect: a dark, crafty and entertaining comic book movie. A little long and predictable. The ending is strong.”
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40 minutes into the film, my wife asked me to turn it off. It was too dark, too violent, too depressing. She yearned for Mamma Mia! or House Bunny. After a few minutes she gave the ok to resume. It seems The Dark Knight is indeed a challenging world, but dull is one thing it is not. It pulls you in while testing your nerve.

The Dark Knight is a good movie. But I’m surprised that it sits as the #5 best movie of all-time according to IMDB.com. It is possibly the best comic book-based movie yet. However, by classic movie standards it’s love story, overall plot and dialog are not exactly North by Northwest or Gone with the Wind calibre.

The special effects are predictably excellent, although when creativity lapses, it’s back to the shattered window trick a little too often.

Monica Turner
Contributor to Stark Insider for tech, the arts and All Things West Coast for over 10 years.