The Dark Knight Trilogy: Part 2 – The Dark Knight (2008)

Here it is, the best of the trilogy. Christopher Nolan has delivered an epic sequel to an already great film and surpasses on almost every level.

The film deals with the themes of Chaos, Escalation and Corruption, the Joker has come to Gotham City to wreak non-stop havoc, that pushes the limits of not only Batman, but also Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, as well as the citizens. It puts morals into question, whether human errors lead to Evil and can Evil outdo Good?

Batman’s costume gets a bit of an upgrade a third of the way through, which looks more flexible, and his new cowl looks a little more sinister. In addition to the Tumbler, we’re treated to the Batpod, which is a motorbike with large wheels and built-in weapons – it’s awesome. Instead of the Joker being chemically bleached, he’s wearing messed up clown make-up over a Glasgow-smile, which make him look scruffier, scarier and crazier.

The Joker has always been Batman’s greatest enemy because he is his polar opposite – Batman wants to save the world and inspire goodness, the Joker wants to create chaos across the world and inspire corruption – Batman is dressed in black to blend into darkness and frowns to strike fear in his enemies, the Joker is dressed in all colours to stand out and is smiling to make evil look fun – just the perfect contrast.

This film can’t be talked about without mentioning the late Heath Ledger’s jaw-dropping performance as the Joker. What Ledger brought to the Joker was breath-taking, he’s incredibly frightening yet you can’t look away from him because of how engaging he is. Never have I been so fascinated by a villain and performance since Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in The Silence Of The Lambs. And like Hopkins, Ledger doesn’t actually have that much screen-time but he’s so powerful that he steals the show.

I do not believe his death heightened the popularity of the film; his performance would still be amazing; imagine if he was still alive and all the interviews and promotions he could’ve done. Not to mention the potential he could have had in future movie spin-offs – not that I want to take anything away from Joaquin Phoenix, but imagine Ledger leading a Joker movie. RIP Heath Ledger.

The rest of the cast are also incredible powerhouses – Christian Bale, regardless of what you think of his bat-voice, is still fantastic continuing Bruce Wayne’s journey. His struggle to lead the double life as a playboy billionaire and the masked vigilante, both of which aren’t even his true self as they’re just personas everyone else sees. The more he is Batman, the less he is of himself and this is Batman in his prime – he’s brutal, moody and awesome.

Michael Caine as Alfred is still excellent, being the only character who truly knows the real Bruce Wayne. The chemistry between Bale and Caine is really heart-warming. Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman get expanded roles as James Gordon and Lucius Fox; Oldman is particularly engaging while Freeman gets a lot of humorous lines. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes and is a much stronger actress, and being a weak love interest actually serves a purpose that parallels Bruce and Harvey's infatuation for her.

Aaron Eckhart delivers a particularly underrated performance as Harvey Dent. It’s fascinating to watch the character’s decent from the likeable ‘White Knight’ to the disturbing menace that is ‘Two-Face’. His role is the most devastating and tragic, as you’re desperate for him not to go down the dark path, when he does he becomes even more terrifying than the Joker.

There are countless memorable scenes, pretty much every scene with the Joker I could list, such as the ingenious heist opening, the magic pencil, crashing the party, the threatening video, the hospital and that epic chase scene with the flipping truck. But it’s the interrogation scene that deserves special mention – the dialogue between Batman and the Joker is engaging. The Joker questions Batman morals, claiming everyone is evil like himself and it’s only a matter of time, pressing Batman’s buttons until he finally beats him up. The most powerful scene of the whole trilogy.

There are other amazing moments such as the birth of Harvey Two-Face, the ferry scene that actually puts the fate of the city on the citizens themselves, the hostage climax which is so suspenseful and the ending itself was really brave.

The action is amazing and still holds up over 10 years later, due to Christopher Nolan’s clever use of practical effects, with minimal CGI. The Two-Face look is probably the most CGI thing I’ve noticed and even that still looks amazing.

The Dark Knight is the best Batman film and arguably the best superhero film of all time. You don’t have to agree with that statement, but there’s no denying the impact this film has had on the superhero and action genres. The bar this film set is so high; several filmmakers go back to this film for inspiration.

Written by Jack Parish

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