An excellent contribution to Nolan’s Batman series. I know its hyped to heck with death of Heath Ledger, but that doesn’t take away from its deserved pole position.
The returning actors – Bale, Caine, Freeman, Oldman, Murphy, etc. put on a very good show, and Maggie Gyllenhaal steps surprisingly seamlessly to replace Rachel Holmes character from the first film. Ledger’s Joker is a definitive one – a mix of the Dark Knight Returns and the Killing Joke. He really can do comedy.
Indeed, all the ensemble get some development, though there is a little strange curve ball of Alfred’s ‘little work for the Burmese government.’ Not to denigrate Alfred’s oldschool cool, of course. The cast , when the opening features a star of Prison Break going down – you know nobody is safe.
Harvey Dent’s role is strangely bewitching. The concept that Batman desires to hand Gotham over to a white knight more effective than his playboy Bruce Wayne, and purer than his dark one, thats a clever one, and brings the love story into higher relief more subtly than many superhero movies are doing at the moment. The CGI for his disfiguration is immaculate, much more than I’d expected.
The role of justice dominates throughout the piece. Particularly, there are some not-so-subtle references to extraordinary rendition and phone monitoring in the face of terrorism. The dark role of Batman, and the fine line he walks exists, ultimately, as something that has to be disavowed, blamed, chased and feared.
The twists and turns do get a bit repetitive after a time, particularly in a 3 hour movie, especially in those that either condemn or redeem humanity. But the overall sense of shifting terror only builds throughout. We know, by the point of the film’s conclusion, that the clowns are captives and vice versa, before we have to be told. But, we also know the ferry’s occupants won’t kill each other. When the biggest, baddest, scariest prisoner on the boat asks for the trigger, you know hes going to toss it out the window. We didn’t know things at the start of the movie. It changed the way we thought for a brief time. Interesting.
Oh, and the Bat-pod? Best Bat-Bike ever.
Book Update: Red Son and Hellboy, Seed of Destruction received – Emma still en route. Picked up Heroes graphic novel (the online comics accompanying the tv show) and Robert Rankin’s The Da-De-Da-Da Code book. More on those stories next week.