248. The Dark Knight (US 2008)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gilllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Cinematography: Wally Pfister (ooh-er!)

Music: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard

Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan

FACT: Liverpool was considered as a setting for parts of the film.

Lie: TV impressionist Mike Yarwood dubbed Michael Caine's voice in many of his best-loved films. Yarwood lost the contract after slipping into 'Frank Spencer' during many of the more emotional scenes in 'Hannah and her Sisters'. Director Woody Allen was furious when the finished cut contained the un-scripted lines "Mmm, Betty!", "Look, Jessica - it's the man in the moon!" and "The cat's done a shit in my beret!" and excised them from the DVD version. He kept the line "I'm a married man!" because it fitted in with Caine's character's predicament.

In one line: Gotham is threatened by organised crime and the psychopathic Joker.

 

Organised crime is trying to get rid of 'the' Batman. A new type of criminal turns up and starts to take over the underworld. The Joker sees himself as a degenerate obverse of the Batman and offers to kill his rival for a huge percentage of the gangsters' profits.

The Joker's violence escalates. Harvey Dent is Gotham's District Attorney and dubbed the 'White Knight' for his courage and his incorruptibility. Dent uses traditional methods to rout the various strands of crime in the city whilst the Batman is the vigilante force of the night. Both men are in love with Rachel Dawes, Gotham's assistant D.A. 

Both The Joker and the Mob have infiltrated Gotham's police force and all attempts to clear up the city are compromised by corruption and the violent deaths of both police and judiciary.

The Joker kidnaps Harvey and Rachel and compels the forces of law and order to make a terrible choice as to whom to save.

The Chief of Police's decision plunges the City into anarchy as The Joker and new crime figure Two Face set out to kill as many civilians as possible.

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An intelligently written, brilliantly realised film and a major improvement on the first film in this current incarnation of the Batman legend/franchise.

The Nolans' (doesn't seem right that, somehow) script has many elements of Greek drama as the nature of freedom, law and justice and the machinations of democracy in the city/city state are forged with the traditional notions of heroes and villains and good and evil to produce an outstanding piece of film writing.

Christopher Nolan's direction of the action scenes and sweeping storyline is pretty much faultless and Pfister's shots of the various cityscapes are also a major highlights of the film.

The Dark Knight starts off with a tense, brilliantly photographed bank heist, and the tension rarely lapses in what is a very long film. There are few longeurs and no dull scenes a la Tim Burton's take on the Batman/Joker story. This is way out of the league of the Jack Nicholson/Michael Keaton film* even if the massive leaps in GCI are discounted in the twenty years between the two films.

Ledger is as outstanding as has been claimed. His is a fantastic performance and although the actor's death has added far greater resonance and significance to the audience's perception of his performance, his best supporting actor award is assured.

Make sure you see it in a cinema - preferably an IMAX cinema.

*And thankfully, there's no sign whatsoever of Christopher 'F-f-f Francis F-Fogerty'/The Actor formerly known as Moxey' Fairbank in it, either. A man whose 'Scouse' 'accent' did more to damage the city of Liverpool than Hitler, Militant, Thatcher and Carla Lane put together.

"F-f-f fuck off, ch, ch, ch cheeky twat. I wasn't that b-bad."

 'accent'9/10