Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Release Date: 2009-01-23
Starring: Bob Kane, Christopher Nolan
Official Website: http://thedarkknight.warnerbros.com/
At two and one half hours, “The Dark Knight” is a great muddle of equivocal morality masquerading as a superhero skein. Helmer Christopher Nolan’s sequel to “Batman Begins” falls victim to a curse common to attempts to build a franchise: It has no compelling story.
Instead, it throws a filmmaker’s bag of tricks at a screenplay that is too long by an hour. The tricks come in the form of plot twists, largely incomprehensible because their visual clues are buried under special effects and their dialogue clues are buried under a pumped up soundtrack. That is too bad, because stripped of its silly subplots, “The Dark Knight” has the germ of a satisfying comic book flick.
The first rule of superheroes is that the superhero is the guy with the super powers. Civilians do not have super powers. If they did, there would be no need for a superhero. This is where “The Dark Knight” falls down. Too many civilians survive explosions, car accidents, and assassination attempts that should have killed them because they don’t have super powers.
The plot is roughly this: After cleaning up Gotham Batman (Christian Bale) is having second thoughts. Using criminal tactics to catch criminals may turn him into one. He also wants to marry his love interest, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, terribly miscast). She won’t have him until he gives up the cape and mask. Into this frittata toss The Joker (the late Heath Ledger) with a scheme to take over what is left of Gotham’s mob headed by Salvatore Maroni (convincingly played by Eric Roberts). Add handsome crusading DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who gains the confidence of Batman and alter ego Bruce Wayne, and you have the recipe for the end of the Batman saga. Predictably The Joker is the fly in Batman’s retirement ointment. Without Batman’s help, cops can’t prevent the agent of chaos from turning Gotham into a war zone – and from keeping Batman in costume.
Ledger’s Joker is totally competent, but in Jack Nicholson he has a tough act to follow. He comes across more like Christian Slater in “Heathers” than the cinematic master of madness. With the exceptions of veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, performances fall victim to special effects, some of which are cheesy. Even the once sleek Batmobile now looks like Hummer that has been sat on by an elephant.
With a PG-13 rating, nothing in “The Dark Knight” is objectionable to children, but it could bore them to death.