“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: The Dark Knight

It’s always darkest before the dawn, and even though The Dark Knight offers a few slivers of hope by the end, this is a very bleak movie indeed. In a nutshell, Bruce Wayne / Batman (Christian Bale) is fighting to rid Gotham City of the Mob by targeting money launderers, and is so successful that The Joker (Heath Ledger) takes it upon himself to kill the Caped Crusader. Behind the cartoonish superhero posturing, however, is a very serious meditation on America’s approach to the so-called ‘War on Terror’ – Batman engages in the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of a suspect from Hong Kong, and isn’t averse to torturing a prisoner when the occasion demands. There’s also a fascinating double-act between Batman and Gotham’s new District Attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), aka ‘the White Knight’, who distrusts Batman’s vigilante approach and wants to fight crime in a clear and transparent fashion. The director, Christopher Nolan, has crafted a thoughtful and often philosophical movie, but he hasn’t neglected to include a number of powerful action sequences, most of which – the lumbering and unconvincing Bat-bike apart – are expertly executed via Steadicam. Bale’s bass growl when voicing Batman is still an unnecessary irritation, but The Dark Knight is much more concerned with exploring the psychology behind Bruce Wayne than his alter ego, and here Bale is in superb form. Surrounded by an excellent cast – Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine all shine, particularly Caine – he is magnificently intense and introspective, offering an unusually realistic portrayal of a superhero beset by self-doubt. The star of the piece, however, is Heath Ledger as The Joker. Combining the expected range of tics and quirks of the clownish psychotic with a pathos-laden performance that offers real depth to the character, Ledger burns where Bale smoulders, leaving a scorching reminder of what his talent might have achieved. – Declan Burke

This review was first published in TV Now magazine

4 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

"Bale’s bass growl when voicing Batman is still an unnecessary irritation"

I think I'm the only person who thinks the voice is necessary. It requires total suspension of belief that brushing the hair back and removing the glasses would make Clark Kent unrecognizable as Superman. Even with Batman's disguise, given the technology available, face recognition software would certainly be an option for criminals and cops if they were motivated to try to narrow down the suspect list. We can go with the idea that the cops have their hands full and the criminals aren't that techno-savvy, but to not disguise your voice is just plain silly. Since Batman deals with many people Bruce Wayne deals with, it wouldn't take any special equipment to identify him - just two ears.

But I know not many agree with me. :) I'm also one of those people that feels it's harder to play a character with duality than it is to play a pure good guy or a pure psycho, and for me, that's where Bale shines. His body of work - from Swing Kids to American Psycho to The Dark Knight - show someone capable of being believed as both good guy and villain within the same movie. To me, Ledger and Bale are both excellent in their roles - as is the entire cast.

Declan Burke said...

Sandra, there's a 'bass growl', and then there's coughing up a coalmine ... I just think he sounds ridiculous. Cheers, Dec

Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm not saying I like the voice, just that I accept the reasoning behind it. It threw me at first, but I adjusted quickly. :)

Colin said...

Is the Joker mocking Albinos with his make-up?
'Bateman'