By Parker MillarStaff Writer
“The Dark Knight” (sequel to 2005’s “Batman Begins”) continues the story of Gotham City’s Caped Crusader as he fights against corruption and injustice. Since the death of screen legend Heath Ledger earlier this year from an accidental overdose on prescription drugs, this film has easily become the most anticipated motion picture event of the year. Ledger’s final performance as Batman’s arch nemesis, the Joker, will be remembered for years to come as a testament to his greatness. Truly, Hollywood has lost one of its brightest and most talented stars. It’s worth noting that Katie Holmes doesn’t reprise her role from the first film. Instead, Katie Holmes is replaced by Maggie Gyllenhall in the role of assistant DA, Rachel Dawes (If this seems confusing, just try to think of a film where Tom Cruise has played a character that dies). However, the film doesn’t suffer because of the line-up change. On the contrary, Gyllenhall’s performance adds a complexity to the character of Rachel Dawes that was untouched by Holmes in the previous film. Those who are familiar with the work of “Knight” director Christopher Nolan will note that his signature use of time and place as storytelling tools seem to be absent from this film. Most will remember Nolan’s work on 2000’s “Memento” (the story of a man who is incapable of remembering anything that didn’t happen in the past fifteen minutes). “Memento” was an entirely linear story told backwards. Nolan used this device again in “Batman Begins” to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s childhood and his training under Ras Al Gould simultaneously. “The Dark Knight” is devoid of any “flashback” or memory sequences, and thus stands out among the director’s catalogue of work. Aaron Eckhart (who some may remember from 2005’s “Thank You for Smoking) portrays Gotham City’s “White Knight”, District Attorney Harvey Dent, a man who tries to use the law to take down Gotham’s organized crime racket and restore order to the city. In their desperation, the mob turns to the Joker, an anarchic sociopath who knows no rules to help them retain control over the city. The Joker, however, knows no allegiance and cannot be bought. In the words of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred (portrayed again by veteran stage actor Michael Cane) “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” The most interesting thing about this film for me was the fact that it didn’t feel like I was watching a comic book adaptation. The characters and situations all seemed real and plausible. This movie seems to be more closely related to a crime drama like “Heat” or “the Godfather” than it does to movies like “Iron Man” or “Superman Returns”. Ledger’s Joker reminded me more of Tyler Durden from “Fight Club” than any previous incarnation of the Joker. There are times during the action of the film that you will probably find yourself rooting for the Joker. I would say Project Mayhem is alive and well in Gotham City, but that would be a violation of the first rule of Project Mayhem. The audience is never given an explanation as to what the Joker is or where he comes from (we never even learn his real name). This is probably the scariest part about the Joker. “All his clothes are custom, and there’s nothing in his pockets but knives and lint.” There doesn’t seem to be any way to beat a man who holds no allegiance to anyone beyond the henchmen he uses to accomplish his short term goals, all of which involve the creation of Chaos and Widespread panic. This film is certainly the best adaptation of any comic book I’ve ever seen, and perhaps one of the best films I’ve ever seen period. Traditionally, movies based on comic books tend to get snubbed by the academy, however there is talk of a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger’s career defining performance as the Joker. I highly recommend this film to anyone, but I’m feeling obligated to warn you that the ending is a downer the likes of which I haven’t experienced since the first time I saw “the Empire Strikes Back”. Enjoy the show, and then take yourself out for ice-cream, you’ll probably need it. It really is hard, if not impossible, to write a review that does this film justice without ruining it for those who haven’t seen it yet. I was emotionally and physically exhausted after leaving the theater. I can’t remember if I’ve ever had that reaction to any film I’ve ever seen. There is no down time during the movie, it stays at a constant state of climax until the credits roll; and when it’s over, you might be upset. Not because you were disappointed at the way the movie ended, but because you’re disappointed that the movie ended at all.