Does the follow up to Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005) live up to the hype and expectations? It has more action, more bad guys, and runs twelve minutes longer. However, these attributes do not necessarily mean it is better than Batman Begins.
As alluded to in the previous film, the Joker is plaguing Gotham. Batman has to work with Gordon and a lawyer, Harvey Dent to put a stop to the Joker’s humorous, yet destructive antics. The scope of this film is far wider than Batman Begins. The Dark Knight focuses more on the interplay between heroes and villains, heroes and society, and villains and society than on the personal struggles of Bruce Wayne.
Christian Bale (Public Enemies) reprises his role and Batman, and does an excellent job. He is outshined by Heath Ledger (The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus) as the Joker. Ledger’s performance is truly amazing. He captures the hatred, cynicism, mania, and generally unbalanced emotions of the Joker. Unfortunately for this film, Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) did not portray Rachel Dawes. Dawes was instead played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (Stranger Than Fiction). For some reason, the makeup department decided against doing anything to Maggie Gyllenhaal and as a result, she looked like a moose would if you shaved its face. Aaron Eckhart’s (Meet Bill) Harvey Dent was good, but nothing to write home about. Michael Cain (The Prestige) and Morgan Freeman (The Bucket List) were great in their roles.
The Dark Knight offers up many positives, but there are some serious flaws that drag the movie down. This film suffers from having an ensemble cast trying to make a lone hero film. For the way this script was written, there are too many major characters. There were quite a few villains in Batman Begins, but they were all part of the same organization. In The Dark Knight, there are two distinct main villains, which diminishes the Joker’s screen presence. There are also four or more good guys that are explored.
Besides the rampant use of characters and the fact that Maggie Gyllenhaal not being pretty enough to be Batman’s girlfriend, The Dark Knight is an enjoyable film and continues the Batman series with vigor. I just hope that this franchise does not suffer from the X-Men Syndrome of having too many big stars for any studio to be able to fund.
© Nate Phillipps 2008