the dark knight (or, how to correctly make a sequel)
But I have a different take. First of all, kudos to Chris Nolan for not just remaking the first movie with a different villain. “Batman Begins” was about reconciling the demons within with the world without – the duality of becoming that which you fear in order to strike fear into those around you.
The Dark Knight is about the demons in ALL of us. It’s much darker, much grittier, and a tale of not compromising who you are just because it is easier – not becoming that which you are fighting in order to defeat it.
Yes, Ledger is great. GREAT. His performance is not just “playing crazy” but true character work as the Joker. If you see it for no other reason, see it for that.
But equally great is Eckhart as Harvey Dent. His transformation into Two-Face is believable, not only because the story is written so well, but because Eckhart imbues Harvey Dent with the passion he needs to be so great as a crusader against crime and, ultimately, a man who is so betrayed by the system he fights within that he gives up all responsibility to the haphazardness of chance.
And let’s not forget Bale. Bale’s Bruce Wayne is what shines. We know that Batman is a symbol, an idea – not a person. Wayne is the person, and the nuance and fear and anguish that Wayne shows as a result of letting Batman consume him is worth mentioning. As “V” says in V for Vendetta, “Beneath this mask there is an idea… and ideas are bulletproof.” Batman cannot be destroyed, he is infallible – but Bruce Wayne is a human, and thus can waver.
And he almost does, if not for Harvey Dent. Bruce says at one point, “I believe in Harvey Dent,” and so he must.
It seems frivolous to say so, but I must also commend Gary Oldman for Gordon – as we know from the last film, for a man that seems like a natural to play an over-the-top character like the Joker, his subtle, driven Gordon is refreshing, and wonderful.
Chris Nolan is a great writer and filmmaker. And that shows in The Dark Knight, not as a superhero action movie, but a film about human nature, and all its facets: Batman’s sacrifice, Harvey Two-Face’s chance, Gordon’s justice and the Joker’s unpredictability. This is a story, a compelling story, first.