In the past, superhero flicks were made for the fun that they brought to the yuppie movie-going populace. Action. Adventure. A really cool outfit. High-tech gadgets. The beautiful damsel in distress and the handsome knight in shining armor. A notorious villain. The battle between good and evil. But unlike then, most superhero flicks today dwell more on economy, politics, society, and psychologic & psychiatric imbalances. The Dark Knight delivers that and more.
I have seen countless Batman movies and series and have come to accept that they all will never be synchronized. Each feature film will always be different from the other even though each storyline has been based from the comic book series. Heck, I bet even the comic book series will never be perfectly synchronized. Stories will always differ from one another depending on the writer, the publisher, the producer, etchetera. But even though, they will still have a connection. And no matter how different the storylines are, the Batman franchise will always be big blockbusters due to its established foundation of fans of all ages. So even though the latest Batman flick doesn’t have the word “Batman” on its title (i.e., “Batman + verb, adjective, adverb, noun, article, whatever,” such as past flicks like Batman Begins, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, Batman and Robin), or even though some parts of its story have been manipulated to be different from its predecessors, it still went on to break the box office record for the highest first week opening (SF Gate).
In the current installment, Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Christian Bale) looms over the idea of finally giving up his “dark knight” escapades to live in his own ideal life with Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllehaal). He has also found his replacement in Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), someone he considers as Gotham City’s real hero, as well as an adversary for Rachel’s heart in marriage. But as the demented and utterly twisted Joker (Heath Ledger) play his plans, Wayne must done the bat suit to stop the Joker from winning and to preserve Gotham City’s hope.
After watching the flick, I decided to cancel my future trips to Gotham City (if ever there is a Gotham City somewhere). Actually, it wasn’t the flick–it was The Joker… or should I say, Ledger’s portrayal of the The Joker–that scared me. He did a great job of playing the dark knight’s arch-nemesis that I agree with critics that he deserves an Oscar, either a nomination or a win. There was a part where The Joker was dressed in a female nurses’ uniform, wearing a wig, with his back to the screen. He turns around and immediately shoots the police officer who tried to talk to the supposed nurse. After that part, I was left silent; not knowing if I should laugh at a clown in a nurse’s uniform or be scared at the sheer twisted and frightening antics of said clown in a nurse’s uniform. I was so scared of the Joker, I was afraid of sleeping for fear of having a nightmare. Ledger has really gotten me freaked out! The modern-day Joker has been born and I’m thankful he’s not real. He is actually the manic form of Jigsaw, the villain of the Saw movie series. *shudder* Aside from the Joker’s maniacal laughter, I was also edged out by the thrilling effects and stunts, mostly in car chases between hero and foe. Another element was the eerie music that supplemented the surprise shots. But in general, I would say that the Joker brought out most of the goosebumps, and that Ledger stole the show.
Joker’s dominance as the main opposite star throughout the film made Two-Face’s (aka Harvey Dent) presence less terrifying. As opposed to Batman Forever, he did not seem like a villain at all. He looked more like a victim of Joker’s psychotherapy–being under the Joker’s wings, rather than having his own demented mind. Also, I didn’t expect (spoiler coming) Dawes to die. And the ending plot where Batman takes responsibility for all the people who died, thus making him a criminal. I guess that was done to give us pointers to the next sequel.
The Dark Knight aimed for superhero fun. In turn, it became a superhero flick for adults. Parents can let kids watch it; if they want their kid to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Or they could take tips on how to create a maniacal Anti-Social Personality Disorder criminal. 😉
Points to ponder:
>Joker to Batman: “…You complete me.” What trait of Batman completes the Joker?
>What inspired Ledger in his portrayal of The Joker? Didn’t his portrayal trigger a neurosis?