B_atman Begins_ was fabulous, an excellent reboot to a cinematic series that had previously been filled with corn and hash and cheesiness more aptly suited for the 1970s TV show than for the silver screen. It was a great flick to bring a little respectability back to the Batman franchise. Good as it was, however, _The Dark Knight_ was so much better.
Usually, when a superhero flick has more than one villain, the movie suffers from dilution of the plot. The writing demonstrates shortcuts for the sake of time that ultimately only serve to undermine the integrity of the film as a whole. Not so with _The Dark Knight_. The plot was beefy and fulfilling from start to finish, and when it was all done, I wanted even more.
If possible, the cast for _TDK_ was even stronger than the one for _Batman Begins_. Christian Bale continues to hold a strong presence as billionaire Bruce Wayne and dark avenger Batman, with Michael Caine as the loyal Alfred Pennyworth and Morgan Freeman as Lucias Fox, the genius maker of toys for Gotham’s greatest hero. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a more than suitable replacement for Katie Holmes as love interest Rachel Dawes, bringing a vibrance to the role that Ms. Holmes was simply unable to accomplish. Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of DA Harvey Dent was strong, doubly so when the disfiguring tragedy that cost him the love of his life shatters the mind of Gotham’s white knight.
But perhaps the strongest player in this film is the much talked about Heath Ledger as the Joker. Never before have I enjoyed the role of the Joker so much, but Ledger made this most famous of Batman’s arch-nemeses stand out from the screen. Everything from the insane makeup to the suicidal and chaotic schemes to the final showdown was energetic and enjoyable. He was the epitome of the villain that you loved to hate. It’s a shame that Ledger’s talents have been lost forever. He was by far the best Joker ever.
I certainly hope that Christopher Nolan continues to work with the Batman franchise and that he is able to keep this incredible cast of actors. These last two films have been more than redemption for abysmal failures that came before them. Nolan has taken Batman to the silver screen and made this iconic hero his own.
I think perhaps the thing that I have enjoyed most about these two films as the realism of the circumstances, the way the events play out to make me think, “Yeah! I could see that happening in real life.” Nolan never once forced me to suspend my disbelief all the way to the breaking point, and so I never once found myself slipping from the storyline in disbelief. His characters are all deeply sympathetic and moving, and I look forward to seeing more from him soon.