Best comic book movie ever made, Koon says | Rock Candy

Friday, July 18, 2008

Best comic book movie ever made, Koon says

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 4:02 PM



This'll run in next week's paper, but since it's kinda, you know, an event movie, here's David Koon's glowing review of "Dark Knight."

There are comic book movies, and then there’s “The Dark Knight.” The sequel to director Christopher Nolan’s series-rebooting “Batman Begins,” this is a sleeker, meaner, even darker Batman. Freed of all the self-important Origin Story business that weighed down the first installment and more than willing to delve deep into the Caped Crusader’s convoluted, one-moral-click-north-of-the-criminals-he-pursues psyche, I feel fairly confident in saying: “The Dark Knight” is the best comic book-based movie ever made.


Taking up close to where “Batman Begins” left off, “The Dark Knight” finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and his alter ego in an increasingly violent fight for the moral soul of Gotham City. Having lopped off the head of the crime underworld in the first film, Wayne finds that the criminals that rush in to fill the vacuum are of a different, more ruthless sort. Chief among them: The Joker (Heath Ledger), a mysterious psychopath with a wide, smile-like scar carved into his face. In a city gone completely off the rails, Batman’s instant justice style of crime-fighting has inspired admirers and allies; good cop in a bad town James Gordon (Gary Oldman); former love interest Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and – most importantly – the city’s new golden boy D.A., Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Dent is on a mission to clean up Gotham and is actually getting some results, leading the Batman to think that maybe the time has come for him to hang up his tights and return to a normal life. But with the appearance of the murderous Joker (introduced to us through the medium of a spectacular daylight bank robbery that rivals the final showdown in “Heat” for its uber-stylish impact), Bruce Wayne finds himself sucked into a downward spiral, forced to compromise the high ideals he once held himself to in order to match the anarchist madman blow for blow. By the end of the film, it leads to a final confrontation in which Wayne, Dent, Gordon and the populace of Gotham as a whole are forced to choose between what’s right and what’s safe.

While some of the fight scene choreography seemed a little wonky and the soundtrack tended to drown out some of the important bits of dialogue, “The Dark Knight” is, on the whole, a baroque masterpiece, full of the power, fury and philosophical soul searching of the best of the Batman comic books. Most of this rests on the stunning performances by Christian Bale and – especially – Heath Ledger. Ledger’s Joker is a terrifying take on the iconic character; part vagrant, part Lear’s Fool, part John Wayne Gacy in his clown suit. The dark humor of Ledger’s Joker frequently bubbles up through the bedrock of his madness and lends the perfect hint of gallows comedy to the film, something that “Batman Begins” sorely lacked. I especially liked how the character seemed to thumb his nose at the Origin obsessed comic geeks, providing no less than three different tales of how he obtained his scarred smile and penchant for violence. As with many of the subtlest points of the script (penned by Chris Nolan and his brother Jonathon), it seemed like the character had made the audience part of the show in an odd kind of way, letting us quietly smile at our own obsessions (another scene that left me feeling the same way was early in the film, when Batman arrives at a gangland drug deal only to find that chubby, gun-toting clones in rubber Batman masks have beat him to it. After he disarms both the criminals and his imitators, tying all involved up for police, one of the would-be vigilantes asks his hero: “What makes us any different than you?”  “I’m not wearing hockey pads,” Batman growls before peeling away in his armored, multi-million dollar Batmobile. Oh, snap).

Dark, thoughtful, maybe even beautiful in places, “The Dark Knight” is the Batman story the fans have been waiting for; not to mention a few more precious miles between us and the hellish days of the Joel Schumacher/neon fabulous/enhanced-codpiece-and-nipples-on-the-batsuit era that almost killed the franchise for good. Even if you don’t give a rip about comic books, it’s definitely one of the must-see movies of the summer.

David Koon 
    
 

Sign up for the Daily Update email
Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Dark Money Edition

    The coming primary and judicial elections, especially the dark money flowing into a race for an Arkansas Supreme Court position; also Leslie Rutledge and the ballot initiative process and the Razorbacks and War Memorial.
    • May 18, 2018
  • The Leslie Rutledge Sovereign Immunity Trap Edition

    The Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District, sovereign immunity and Leslie Rutledge and the Little Rock mayoral race — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • May 11, 2018
  • Samantha's again wins the Arkansas Times Second Annual Margarita Fest

    Congratulations to Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill for winning the Arkansas Times Second Annual Margarita Festival presented by Don Julio Tequila last night. The Pizzeria was the runner-up. Thanks to the 600 people who came out to the sold-out event, proceeds of which benefited the Downtown Partnership.
    • May 11, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017
  • New music from Isaac Alexander

    New music from Isaac Alexander.
    • Jul 14, 2017
  • No Small Talk Ep. 8: Katy Henriksen, Springs Arts preview

    A packed episode this week of "No Small Talk": a chat with Katy Henriksen, from Of Note on KUAF; Stephanie Smittle breaks down the Spring Arts issue; and we finish up with just a tiny bit of Oscar chatter.
    • Mar 9, 2018

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation