‘Dark Knight’ provides ups and downs in Batman saga | SummitDaily.com
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‘Dark Knight’ provides ups and downs in Batman saga

K.J. HASCALLSummit Daily NewsSummit County, CO

Lets cut to the chase: Heath Ledgers role as the Joker in The Dark Knight in the latest installation to the Batman saga, is eerie, darkly comic and surprising. Ledger, who died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in January, reinterprets the clown into a childs worst nightmare with his smeared makeup and an adults greatest fear with his desire, to quote Alfred, to watch the world burn without reason or any discernible intent.Ledgers versatility is evident when one compares his twitchy, gleeful velvet-clad brilliance as the Joker to his tight-lipped and emotionally stunted Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain. In short, his acting is superb and to agree with the buzz in Hollywood, he does indeed deserve a posthumous Oscar for the role.His performance relegates Christian Bales Bruce Wayne to but one of many actors on Gothams stage. Unlike the inner turmoil and conflict Bale infused in the gothic hero in Batman Begins, there is little room for Bale to explore the depths of his characters tormented soul in this film. He is less human and more the operator of neat gadgets.This attention to breadth while neglecting depth is the major failing of the film. Director Christopher Nolan has created a visually stunning film which showcases just how far CGI has come. It glimmers with all the glitz and pizzazz of trust-fund diamonds that a large budget can provide. Yet there are definite holes in the plot. How did the Joker find time to wire buildings with dynamite, to lace Scotch with a poisonous substance and to kidnap various characters? Where did the Joker come from? Who spawned the freak? Harvey Dents transition from the White Knight DA to Two-Face is too brief to make his descent into madness convincing. And the fate of both villains is left hanging literally without resolution.Many of the actors are not given real workouts, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine specifically, though Maggie Gyllenhaal shines in her version of Rachel Dawes.In addition, Gotham City is not as it was in Batman Begins. It has lost its dark gleam and mystique in the fact that it is so obviously Chicago. Scenes shot under the L, shop names like Sweet Home Chicago in the background and the too-visible Illinois license plates on the vehicles during chases jolt the viewer from comic-book fantasy into the real world.However, The Dark Knight is without a doubt still a great movie. Its focus on choice and the consequences of ones actions whether intended or not takes the forefront, which a memorable scene on two ferries, one filled with orange-clad convicts and the other with Gotham citizens, highlights. Each boat is given a remote to detonate the other boat, and if one of the ferries does not explode by midnight, the Joker threatens to blow both sky high.Also, plot twists are rampant and intriguing and characters like Police Lt. Gordon pad the viewers faith in the goodness of humanity. Comic book and graphic novel junkies will undoubtedly geek out during the film and for days afterward (a preview for the 2009 Watchmen film adds to this excitement).And while some may interpret it as weakness, Bruce Waynes continued unwillingness to directly kill the villains is admirable, reminding viewers that a central tenet of justice is compassion.Wayne constantly denies that hes a hero, but I beg to differ. Gothams fate is not something Batman can leave up to chance.Note: Disturbing images are sufficient to deserve more than a PG-13 rating. Those with coulrophobia – fear of clowns should see Wall-E instead.K.J. Hascall can be contacted at (970) 668-4653, or at khascall@summitdaily.com.


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