Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film “The Dark Knight” is revered as the greatest superhero film of all time. Not only is it a great superhero film, it is a fantastic movie regardless of its genre.
There are a multitude of reasons why this is a fantastic film.
First, in praising “The Dark Knight,” one must commend the previous film in the trilogy, 2005’s “Batman Begins.” The first film in “The Dark Knight trilogy” did a tremendous job at setting up the character of Bruce Wayne, explaining why he becomes Batman to save the city of Gotham. “Batman Begins” is a fantastic origin story, delivering a narrative that not only introduces a character but sets up the tone of the franchise clearly and effectively. Nolan and co.’s decision to make a grounded, more realistic version of the comic book character created the world that delivers the story of “The Dark Knight.” The first film also introduces Hans Zimmer’s fantastic score, which is continued and evolves in the sequel.
“Nolan and co.’s decision to make a grounded, more realistic version of the comic book character created the world that delivers the story of “The Dark Knight.””
Speaking of story, another reason why this film is fantastic is because of its writing. Nolan is frequently praised for his film’s incredible visuals and technical execution, but often critics fail to point out his writing skills. Films like “Inception” and “The Prestige” work because of their articulately crafted scripts and the same goes for “The Dark Knight.” This movie has many moving parts, with multiple character arcs and thematic elements, but Nolan and co-writers Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer triumph through these difficulties. The plot is very well-paced, bouncing between characters almost effortlessly, delivering an incredible story in the process. The dialogue is also fantastic, with several sequences that will be sure to be remembered long after viewing.
As a superhero film, “The Dark Knight” must also execute on its fight scenes to be considered a success. And it does so flawlessly. Sticking to the grounded tone of the first film, the movie delivers several fights that combine fantasy and reality to produce truly epic action sequences. The visuals make sure to showcase the true scale of a cityscape, delivering some absolutely breathtaking shots in the process.
One could also not discuss this film without speaking of its performances. Superhero films are not often thought of as places where actors can showcase their acting prowess, but “The Dark Knight” refutes that genre stereotype. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are fantastic, reprising their roles as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Alfred, James Gordon and Lucius Fox respectively. The first shining newcomer to the franchise is Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Eckhart delivers a compelling performance, elevating the fantastic writing of the character in the process.
“Ledger is absolutely electric in this movie, playing the “agent of chaos” incredibly effectively. His voice, his mannerisms and the unpredictability all combine to produce one of the greatest performances ever seen on the silver screen.”
That being said, the true star of this film isn’t Bale as Batman, Eckhart as Dent or really even Nolan as the director; it’s Heath Ledger as the crown prince of crime — the Joker. It is one of the greatest tragedies of modern cinema that Ledger passed away in early 2008 as he had unlimited potential as an actor, showcasing his skill in this film. Ledger is absolutely electric in this movie, playing the “agent of chaos” incredibly effectively. His voice, his mannerisms and the unpredictability all combine to produce one of the greatest performances ever seen on the silver screen. Ledger posthumously was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the performance which he absolutely, unequivocally earned.
In conclusion, this film delivers on every front and can be enjoyed by every viewer, even those who have an aversion to superhero films. With great writing, direction and performances this movie can truly be called a fantastic film.
Where to Find “The Dark Knight” (and “Batman Begins”): Streaming on Netflix.