Saw the movie last night at the Empire Cinema and as promised, I went there wearing my black Superman T-shirt (read here to know the story behind it). Coincidentally, I saw a guy wearing a white shirt (or sweater I think) with the bat logo. Talk about being opposites hehe..which is kinda appropriate because one of the main theme of the movie was duality; not just between Batman and Joker but also between Batman and Dent or Dent and Gordon.
***Warning: Possible Spoilers***
The Dark Knight is not just a Superhero movie, it’s a two and a half hours long epic crime drama that touches on themes like law & order, the price of heroism and what people can do when their comfort zone get disturb. Did I mentioned that this movie is tragic? Things just get worse and worse every minute till the end. Nop Batman doesn’t die at the end but his victory comes with a heavy price. Hell, I think Batman isn’t quite the main character of the movie. The movie is about Gotham City and the efforts of three men (Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent) in saving it from the Joker, the self proclaimed agent of Chaos.
Let’s talk about the Joker first. I knew that they were going for a darker take on the Joker but one important aspect of the Joker is that he’s funny…well at least he thinks he’s funny and the fact that he thinks it’s funny makes me laugh therefore I find him funny (does that make sense). Funny in a twisted and wrong way, that’s what I like about Joker.
So I was afraid that in this movie, he’s just going to be crazy and evil but not ‘funny’. Well, let’s just say he “put a smile” on my face after his ‘pencil magic trick’. We all went ‘Ooooo!!’ followed immediately with laughs. Other funny moments includes him sliding down the pile of money, Joker cleaning his hands at the hospital and his amusement of getting beaten up by Batman. It was suppose to be an intense scene where Batman sort of crossed the line with his temper and two lives were in danger but I laughed when Joker seemed to enjoy the beat down.
There’s all this posthumous Oscar buzz for Heath Ledger and I think he deserves it. You don’t go “oh it’s Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain wearing a makeup“. His movement, his voice and everything changed.
Another highlight character is Harvey Dent played by Aaron Eckhart. Dent is an idealistic and a badass District Attorney who’s determined to clean up the streets of Gotham. Courage and confidence are his greatest strength which even impressed Batman who considered retirement because he saw Dent as Gotham’s new hero or hope. We get to root for Dent which makes his inevitable transformation to Two Face more tragic. I also like the way that Two Face isn’t exactly a villain in this movie which is fine because I never get why he suddenly turned into a mob boss like in the cartoon. I mean I kinda cheered for Two Face when he starts hunting down corrupted cops and mobs (led by Eric Roberts!! 😎 ). But he went overboard at the end.
Joker saw Harvey’s descent into madness as his achievement and this reminds me of the Batman comic called the Killing Joke. Remember reading it in the High School library, it’s about the Joker trying test his theory that it only takes one bad day to make someone crazy like him. In that comic, he tried it with Gordon by tying him up and force him to look at pictures of his daughter’s paralyzed and bloodied naked body after being shot by the Joker. Joker failed of course when Batman came to rescue Gordon.
***Highlight to see spoiler***
Harvey Two Face dies at the end. This shocked me because I was so sure that Two Face will be the main villain for the third movie. But I’m fine with his death because, like I said earlier, I’m not a fan of the “ex District Attorney turned Mob Boss” storyline. As for the Joker, it was a good decision to not kill him so that we get more Joker vs Batman storyline but Heath Ledger’s death complicated things. Recasting?? No way.
Btw, this movie is dark and might not be suitable for children. Examples: a villain pointing a gun on a kid in front of his dad or the part where the Joker put a knife into someones mouth while telling a story of how he supposedly got the mouth scar is scary.
The movie also touches on heavy themes like post 9-11 fear culture and how it drives people to break moral codes (Just wait till you see Joker’s big Social experiment involving ferries and bombs). Gordon, Dent and even Batman are bound by moral codes and laws. Joker comes in and tries to push them over their breaking point and exploiting their flaws. Gordon knows that he’s leading a police force that’s mostly corrupted but he needs all available men to fight crime. Batman is a vigilante and not bound by the law but refuses to kill because that would make him just as bad as the criminals. Dent has a bigger problem because he’s a very public figure therefore has to keep up with his image as a promising, charismatic and strong District Attorney. He’s Gotham’s best hope in saving the city, the white knight. But beneath that image is a normal human being with emotions that sometimes overcome logic (his temper and his love for Rachel).
Image or symbol is another theme that plays a big part of the story especially the ending. The most important thing that can save Gotham is a symbol of hope which should be uphold at any cost. By the end of the movie, the characters die, lie and willing to be hated by many in order to keep that symbol/idea of hope alive. At least that’s how I saw it, I don’t know, I’ve only seen it once and I have to watch it again to dig up more.
So yeah, go watch Dark Knight!
Oh, you might also be interested in hearing the Joker theme from the movie. Really freaky and random