Josh Wilding Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT

As we get closer to the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I've already looked back at Batman Begins (find that review HERE) and now it's time for 2008's The Dark Knight. Is it really the greatest comic book movie of all-time? Read my verdict here.

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By Josh Wilding - 7/16/2012

Batman Begins may not have been perfect, but Christopher Nolan still had an awful lot to live up to in order to surpass the 2005 reboot. The Dark Knight not only does that, but to this day remains one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the sequel in 2008 after the sudden death of star Heath Ledger a few months before its release and it would be easy to look back and accuse critics of overpraising his performance as The Joker because of that. However, there's simply no doubting the fact that the actor deserved every bit of acclaim he received. The Joker is a well-written and terrifying villain, but Ledger's performance brings him to life in a way it's hard to imagine any other actor being capable of. Creepy, manic and utterly brilliant, Ledger was rewarded with a posthumous Oscar and delivered one of the greatest performances not only in the genre, but in film period.

Of course, it would be unfair to ignore the rest of the cast while looking back at The Dark Knight. Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) is on fine form as he continues to flesh out Bruce Wayne, showing a violent Batman who is clearly pushed to the brink as he faces off against The Joker. Whether the Caped Crusader's gruffer voice was a result of this wasn't clear, but it occasionally borders on being a little silly. Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent/Two-Face) is another new addition to the cast, and manages not to be too overshadowed by Ledger by delivering a fantastic performance throughout. Like Batman, Dent is a man pushed to his limits and he unfortunately lives long enough to see himself become the villain. It's a credit to the actor that he make's Dent's transition into Two-Face entirely convincing, especially as it feels a little rushed and features a few slightly unconvincing moments. Maggie Gylenhall (Rachel Dawes) replaces Katie Holmes as the main love interest, and while she definitely delivers a much better performance, it still never really stands out. Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon) is spectacular, while Michael Caine (Alfred) is as impressive as ever.

The story is as great as the performance, and despite some structural issues - it occasionally feels as if The Dark Knight jumps around a bit TOO much - it all pays off in the end. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan's screenplay is far better than that of Batman Begins, and the character work is particularly excellent. As mentioned above, The Joker is extremely well-written, stealing every scene he's featured in. A big part of this is of course down to Ledger's performance, but the dialogue in the interrogation scene or final confrontation between Batman and the villain is incredible. The movie feels a tad over-long at times (did we really need the subplot with Batman getting a new suit?) but never bores. Christopher Nolan shoots the film beautifully, replacing the brown and orange tones of Begins with a blue hue which makes this as visually stunning as it is wonderfully written.

The action in The Dark Knight is a big improvement upon the previous film, as fight scenes are far more cohesive and easy to follow. The major chase sequence in the middle of the film is brilliant and although Hans Zimmer's score is as fantastic as you might expect, the decision not to use any sort of music during this point in the film is a genius one. The Dark Knight also gave Nolan the opportunity to really utilize his preference for shooting with IMAX cameras and regardless of whether it's that chase sequence, the brilliant bank heist which kicks off the film or the stunning Hong Kong set scenes, the film is beautiful. Gotham City still fails to feel anywhere near as major a character in its own right as it should, but Batman thankfully doesn't look anywhere near as out of place as he occasionally did in Begins. Comparisons aside, The Dark Knight is filmmaking at its best and even managed to steal the summer of 2008 from Marvel's brilliant Iron Man.

A masterpiece. The Dark Knight is not only one of the greatest comic book movies, but also one of the best films of all-time. Can The Dark Knight Rises top it? We'll find out soon...



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PaulRom - 7/16/2012, 2:19 PM
Good review as usual. Agree on many points. Easily my favorite CBM next to The Avengers.
PanochaLibre - 7/16/2012, 2:21 PM
Great review josh! Lucky you got to see it... The fire rises!!!
PanochaLibre - 7/16/2012, 2:25 PM
I must be discombobulated.... I read that thinking this sounds familiar... It's about the dark knight! Lol... I wish this one was called the batman rises
Emanuel14 - 7/16/2012, 2:33 PM
blah blah vlah, the dark knight is a fraking boring movie, too much talk
blvdnoise - 7/16/2012, 2:35 PM
Nice.. Very nice Josh.
NerdyGeek - 7/16/2012, 2:35 PM
Good review Josh. The storm is coming in 4 days!
MarkV - 7/16/2012, 2:36 PM
"WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN??!!"

"...I believe that which doesn't kill you makes you....stranger."
NerdyGeek - 7/16/2012, 2:36 PM
Emanuel14:

superotherside - 7/16/2012, 2:36 PM
Great film, but I still liked Begins better. Why? Because it concentrated on Batman. Joker is great, but it's a Batman film we want to see.
TheTaskmaster - 7/16/2012, 2:36 PM
Is it just me or does Batman always seem like the supporting character in the Nolan movies? And he seems to always be outsmarted by the villain and he has to run around and fix it because he didn't see it coming.
WellDrawn - 7/16/2012, 2:37 PM
@Emanuel - Yeah, too bad it's not more like Transformers, right?
NerdyGeek - 7/16/2012, 2:37 PM
MarkV - 7/16/2012, 2:38 PM
"If you are good at something never do it for free."
ralfinader - 7/16/2012, 2:38 PM
superotherside - 7/16/2012, 2:36 PM
Great film, but I still liked Begins better. Why? Because it concentrated on Batman. Joker is great, but it's a Batman film we want to see.

Agreed.
MarkV - 7/16/2012, 2:38 PM
"Now, our operation is small, but there’s a lot of potential for “aggressive” expansion. So, which one of you fine gentlemen would like to join our team? Oh, there’s only one spot open right now, so we’re gonna have…Tryouts. Make it fast."
Steping - 7/16/2012, 2:41 PM
Marvelites crying in 3..2..1
NerdyGeek - 7/16/2012, 2:42 PM
Watching Begins again last weekend, I can definitely say that the film is not nearly as good as TDK.

Batman Begins is a lot of set up for a greater universe and Bruce's first Journey is fantastic to watch. But TDK has so many ideas and themes and is still an incredibly entertaining film which is freaking crazy and Nolan deserves a lot of credit for that. Still, just my opinion.
LAXtremest - 7/16/2012, 2:43 PM
3 things about the Dark Knight I hated- fight scenes, bat voice, ending, Katie Holmes replacement. Great cinematography, Ledger was amazing. As was Oldman.
NerdyGeek - 7/16/2012, 2:44 PM
LAXtremest: That's four things! LMAO
SebHope - 7/16/2012, 2:45 PM
Great film, technically begins is the better batman film, in the sense that its actually more about batman / bruce wayne, where as the dark knight feels more like the harvey dent/ joker show. Both great films find theirs positives and negatives to both together their perfect, hopefully rises offers a mix of the twos best, doubtful itll likely a very different film again like how TDK is different in many ways to begins.
BIGBMH - 7/16/2012, 2:47 PM
Haters gonna hate. Marvelites diss TDK. Nolanites diss The Avengers. They're all immature little morons.

In regards to this review, I agree with Wilding. The Dark Knight is one of the best films of all time. Nice article.
CBMJamie - 7/16/2012, 2:47 PM
Although a huge fan of the trilogy, with the approach Nolan took on Batman and his story, this film remains to this day a let-down for me. Over-reliant on Ledger's Joker, the film did not feel like a Batman movie but more a crime movie with Batman thrown in. Many claim that is what makes the film so original and impressive. I, on the other-hand do not. The film had too many sub-plots, including completely irrelevant moments such as Commissioner Gordon faking his death, and the script's portrayal of Rachel was everything Batman Begin's Rachel Dawes was not.

A very good movie. 3.75/5
PaulRom - 7/16/2012, 2:50 PM
I'd say Begins is definitely the better Batman film, while Dark Knight is easily the better film overall. Both are amazing though.
SkateandDestroy88 - 7/16/2012, 2:51 PM
seen Batman Begins way more times but this movie is a truly epic masterpiece. Just watching Superman vs The Elite and Heath Ledgers performance really opened the doors for something special. Being able to say something in context of the role. Things would of played out differently in the films had Heath not passed away.
Great Movie. Damn. Just a few more days. . . I can't believe how rad it is about the man of steel trailer. Then the future presentation. Holy Sh##########t I'm stoked. gonna blaze it up so hard
Minotauro - 7/16/2012, 2:54 PM
@Steping - They've been doing that since midnight.

@BigBMH - Marvelites have always suffered from double-standards. Nolanites are going to hug Nolan's movies. I wouldn't say immature. Just personal preference.
LAXtremest - 7/16/2012, 2:58 PM
@TheIrishAvenger- Haha I just realized that! Dammit. Okay, so 4 things. I enjoyed the film though. A solid 8.5 out of 10 for me.
DraculaX - 7/16/2012, 2:58 PM
"I'm an agent of chaos."
superbatspiderman - 7/16/2012, 2:59 PM
The greatest comic book movie for 4 more days until the Dark Knight Rises comes out.
LAXtremest - 7/16/2012, 3:01 PM
How many times are people going to re-post one critics opinion stating that this movie makes Marvel look childish. Find something new. One guys opinion means nothing.
TheDetectiveComicRises - 7/16/2012, 3:03 PM
TDK is Greatest Comic Book Movie of all time to date.No film is perfect Batman Begins is a great movie my favorite origin story along with Superman The Movie. Iron Man was very good but not perfect either. Begins is greatly done but something many of U must realize it is mainly about The Batman it is an origin story & TDK is our chance to catch up & see Bruce Wayne on his first total adventure as The Batman, some say it is mainly about The Joker but that is the point of The Joker he is unpredictable and is a scene stealer but I think it is about Harvey & even how a good man can fall to corruption. I learned alot from TDK mainly how one man (Batman) is willing to sacrifice his one name to keep his city safe in other words "endure" as Alfred said.

I am not taking anything away from Iron Man and The Avengers as films I love them both but to me Batman Begins & The Dark Knight are more superior films and TDK is the greatest CBM to date & I want to say after a good viewing and patient viewing this Friday TDKR will earn that title from me.
joe384 - 7/16/2012, 3:07 PM
I felt bad for Aaron Eckhart is great performance as Dent/Two-Face was overshadow by the one of a kind performance from Heath Ledger. I thought his performance was the most underrated piece of the movie, and felt he held his own very well standing next to what Heath Ledger was dishing out. One of the best scenes of the movie is Two-Face and the Joker talking in the hositpal room, I mean how many chances are we going to see two great actors give excellent performance of two major comic book viilians on the big screen. This movie was so epic, it deserves everything postive review he gardner.
I make my comments and opinions based on just being a fan and aspiring filmmaker on the quality of a film, and not the fact that I would be a fan of the source material.
I understand the fact that some people have different opinions or thoughts about the overall results of this film, which is all ok, because there's nothing wrong with your opinion, but it dosen't make anyone right or wrong. If you think about the fact that for the last 100 years which movie has been the number one or number 2 movie of all time on various movie list and website. *Citizen Kane* or if my list would be The Godfather or The Godfather Part II, and how many people other than film critics or movie snubbs agree with that choice. The movie has as many positive reviews as it does negative, and everyone from the last 30 years would pick The Dark Kight, Star Wars, or Titanic as a better movie than Citizen Kane, but everyone who thought that movie was not for them or didn't care for it, still understood why this movie was worth all the credit it received, because it was a epic film, that had so much dedicated to it, that no matter what your thoughts about the film are, you have to give credit or some respect to the hard work, and great effort that was put in that movie, along with The Dark Knight and many others, and understand why these movies will last forever in film history, they withstand the test of time, because the film makers made a film that they wanted to make, and knew what the hell they wanted, a great film can't happen if most of the people involved have to inspiration for the story. That's why no matter your opinion of the Nolan Batman Trilogy, and thank your luck stars we didn't have another round of the 90's Batman, or something if possible worst than those.
BooYah - 7/16/2012, 3:10 PM
I dont care what anyone says this movie is way better than Batman Begins. Although I still like BB.
marantaz - 7/16/2012, 3:10 PM
I found the story implausible - the Joker's ability to plan in advance his escape, the hospitals destruction, the bombs on the boats, and on and on and on (it was redundant to the point of being ridiculous) and the directing of the action scenes was very flawed. If not for Ledger's performance, this movie would have fallen flat. Not the best CBM ever, and soon to drop out of the top ten, I'm sure. BB was a better film. TDKR might be as well. TDK? ehhhh... no.
pintoman - 7/16/2012, 3:16 PM
As mentioned, there are significant...issues in the film and should at least warrant a downgrade to 3 or 4 stars.

There's no way the Joker could have planned all the events which lead up to his capture (before the interrogation) by a certain time. There's no way the police officer left with the Joker would have been encouraged to open the door. There's also no way the Joker, who has no super powers or weapons, could have taken out the police officer to escape from the interrogation room.

There's no way someone outside of the Gotham crime scene, could have taken control of Gotham crime that easily.

Dent's sudden transformation to crazy bad-guy, willing to kill friends and colleagues, is way too fast.

There'a also a lack of sync with the Joker's intelligence/plan and his message of chaos. In order for him to succeed, his plan cannot have chaos.

This Batman series strives to appear realistic. These unrealistic plot problems affect that goal.
FrankInStereo - 7/16/2012, 3:18 PM
One of the greatest films of all time? VERY curious to know what you'd rank in your Top 10 of all time, Mr. Wilding.
glasspleiades - 7/16/2012, 3:29 PM
@ irish avenger. not sure if thats your video review, but it was great.
there were two questions in the vid that you (?) posted. first: why didi joker lie about where rachel and harvey were. I dont think he did, i think batman made the hard choice, harvey over rachel. not joker.

2. harvey was called harvey 'two face' not because he was corrupt, but because he was I.A. internal affairs. he was the cop who investigated other cops. thats the two faced aspect. :)

thanks for the vid even if its not you. if it is, great job.
Greengo - 7/16/2012, 3:30 PM
brilliant brilliant brilliant brilliant brilliant
marvel72 - 7/16/2012, 3:34 PM
good film,not perfect it has its faults like all comic book movies do. 4/5
GuardianAngel - 7/16/2012, 3:35 PM
Great review Josh. I agree 100%. It's funny how people say it's not about Batman when we see it all through his POV. The only thing is that we are mostly not on the same page as him. But that't Batman. He's always one step anead of the audience.
Greengo - 7/16/2012, 3:37 PM
Btw... Bale's Batman voice was good in BB, kinda sucked in TDK, and I think it'll be good again in TDKR
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