As we are all surely aware, it’s a rare occurrence when a sequel can not only hold its own with the original, but can additionally go well beyond it and actually surpass its predecessor in almost every way imaginable, delivering an unquestionably superior film. Christopher Nolan has done just that with ‘The Dark Knight’ which for the two people not already aware, is his truly phenomenal follow up to ‘Batman Begins’.
Christopher Nolan directed and co-wrote all three films in the Dark Knight trilogy, including ‘The Dark Knight’ naturally. He is one of the few big name directors that has continued to impress me, from my first viewing of ‘Memento’ back when I wasn’t really aware of him by name, to his more recent efforts such as the marvelous ‘The Prestige’ and ‘Inception’ as well as ‘Insomnia’ which while probably his weakest film in my opinion is still pretty great and features a brilliantly eerie performance by Robin Williams. Top that all off with an absolutely perfect (at least in my humble opinion) Dark Knight trilogy and it’s no wonder I’m so in love with this man. His brother Jonathan Nolan is also incredibly talented. For those who aren’t aware, he helped pen ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and was also involved with a number of his brother’s other projects in terms of writing and more, as well as being the creator and frontrunner for one of my favorite current running TV shows ‘Person of Interest’ which is very similar to the concept of Batman in a lot of ways, not too surprisingly as Jonathan himself has noted the story of Batman as being a large inspiration for the series.
To this day I can still vividly remember just how blown away I was when I walked out of the midnight showing of ‘Batman Begins’ and as a huge Batman fan (hands down one of my favorite comic book characters, up there with the Ninja Turtles) I had without question just seen the most amazing Batman film I could have imagined and a film adaption of this character that was not only amazing, but far superior to anything I had ever dreamed of seeing on the big screen. Now, imagine my complete and utter surprise when Nolan delivers the sequel to this magnificent film and it ends up being even better than ‘Batman Begins.’
‘The Dark Knight’ delivers everything a Batman fan could possibly hope for. It brings all of the gadgets and smarts we expect from our hero. There are more than enough insane action sequences, nonstop insanity and of course (probably) the most notable Bat-villain The Joker portrayed by the incredibly talented late Heath Ledger in a way that once again far surpassed fan expectation (as well as my own). I certainly never expected to see such a flawless and disturbing incarnation of the The Joker on the big screen and I could not have been more pleased by Ledger’s delivery of the character. Ledger is certainly not the only notable talent here either, as the film is filled to the brim with impressive performances, including the return of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and of course Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon (a role I think he was born to play). In addition to the returning favorites, we are also treated to impressive and spot on performances by Aaron Eckhart who portrays Harvey Dent, the talented Maggie Gyllenhaal who replaces Katie Holmes in the role of Rachel and far too many other talented individuals to list here.
Christopher Nolan notes that a large influence on ‘The Dark Knight’ was the film ‘Heat’ which when first mentioned seemed like an odd choice for a basis to use on a Batman film, but of course naturally (consider Nolan’s track record) worked incredibly well and you can really see that influence in a number of sequences as well as in the overall formula used. I think the one moment that really gives off that vibe more than any other is at the beginning of the infamous prison transfer scene where a cop tells an impatient trucker to wait his turn and The Joker pops up with a shotgun and blasts him. This moment is inserted in between overhead views of the city and I thought that specific moment really gives off a perfect example of that vibe and influence.