Fashionably “dark” comic-book movie, the first one to think of putting the darkness right up in the title — a synonym, that, for “the bat man,” as he is frequently and unfamiliarly referred to, or simply Batman to you and me. Aside from the title, the second installment in Christopher Nolan’s restyling of the DC Comics superhero earns no points as a trailblazer. It would earn none even were it the first installment, although we must acknowledge that this trend-follower sets itself apart as an exceedingly oppressive, grinding, grueling, torturous experience. (The relentless, rumbling, theater-rattling background music alone could be a health hazard to anyone with mild depressive tendencies.) It requires the stock figure of the Joker — banish all memories of Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 edition, “dark” though it was itself, as well as Cesar Romero in the glaringly light TV series from the Sixties — to carry the banner and the burden of the post-9/11 terrorist. “Some men,” Batman’s manservant succinctly sums up the emblematic evildoer, “just want to watch the world burn.” To strive to invest some psychological realism and topical relevance into this figure — the parched and cracked face paint, the raccoonish circles around the eyes, the greasy stringy hair, the obscenely writhing tongue, the adenoidal voice pitched somewhere between Al Franken and Bugs Bunny — is not only a losing battle but a foolish one. (Heath Ledger is the vanquished.) However high Nolan might pile on the gravity, however long he might stretch out the agony, the comic-book iconography inevitably simplifies and trivializes the moral debate: Can you fight fair when you fight terrorism? The truth is that Nolan’s lack of faith in the superhero of olden days — the White Knight — goes hand in glove with a larger lack of faith in the fairy-tale form. He can’t trust it to convey its import (in spite of all the scholarly efforts of Bruno Bettelheim, Joseph Campbell, et al.) without an additive of grand-operatic bombast. Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman. 2008.

0.0 stars

— Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

luvinbeans Aug. 17, 2008 @ 11 a.m.

I loved the movie! Heath Ledger's performance was great! To see him playing the role of the Joker was different than the other roles he was in. I never would see him this way. I didn't realize this could be Heath. It was the best! As for Maggie Gyllenhal to take over for Katie Holmes wasn't a good idea. I hate when movies goes to sequeals and the main charaters are changed! As for Christian Bale as Batman, not bad at all. He's a breath of fresh air. He did better than Val Kilmer!! My hat goes off to Aaron Eckhart too. I can't wait for the next Batman to see his charater Harvey two face. Hopefully they keep the same actors in the next movie! I rate this movie as Ebert and Roper would, two thumbs way up! Doesn't matter how long was the movie, I just couldn't believe it was over when it was.

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3KITMOM Sept. 7, 2008 @ 9:12 p.m.

I finally caught "The Dark Knight" in IMAX, which really does make an amazing clarity difference. The movie was - as expected - full of noise, crash, mash, dash, smash, bash. Pretty fun! Lots of laughs, lots of violence. Too many disposable people. Waaaay too many. Heath Ledger's performance was indeed magnetic; just mesmerizing. Too mad, too scary, all too believable insane. Such a sick, broken little kid. He did go - perhaps - too close to the dark side. Mr. Ledger does deserve a posthumous Academy Award for this incredible creation of the Joker. Let's hope it is awarded.

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MarkScha Dec. 27, 2008 @ 8:22 p.m.

I finally caught The Dark Knight on pay-per-view, with the sound low enough not to induce ear trouble. For all the hullabaloo about this being a drug or a scripture to a lost generation, I was not sure what to expect. Unless I missed something, the strongest sentiments were those of the older generation, telling the younger one not to go to the dark side. *

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