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Movie Review - Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight

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The Dark Knight is a 2008 crime superhero thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, and Syncopy, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based off of various Batman comics by DC Comics. The film stars Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. This is the seventh film in the Batman franchise, being the second in the Dark Knight trilogy. It was preceded by Batman Begins and followed by The Dark Knight Rises. It was nominated for and won Best Supporting Actor and Best Sound Editing, while also being nominated for Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. In 2020, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant.

"Why so serious?" - The Joker


When district attorney Harvey Dent cleans up the streets of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne starts to believe that he can hang up the Batsuit and live out his days with Rachel Dawes. However, when a psychopathic criminal known as the Joker begins to terrorize the citizens of Gotham, Batman fights back against the Clown Prince in an epic battle for the soul of the city.

The Sweet

You may ask yourself: why is Aiden randomly publishing a review of The Dark Knight? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, I just rewatched it. Second, today is the fifteenth anniversary. And third, this is my favorite movie of all time and I've never reviewed it properly on the blog. So what better time to do it than the fifteenth anniversary?

It's hard to choose my favorite thing about The Dark Knight, but if I have to pick something, I will go with the story. This movie has one of the most complex and intricate plots ever. So much happens in this movie, yet it all feels earned and flows within the timeline of the story. It's such a complicated and layered piece of storytelling where actions have consequences and events lead into each other. It's crafted so well. On the surface, the movie is about Batman trying to stop Joker as he terrorizes Gotham, but there's so much more when you get into Gordon and Two-Face and Rachel and even Bruce's character. It's woven together beautifully. It hooks the audience immediately and does not let up until the credits roll.

One of the most underrated aspects of The Dark Knight is actually the editing. This movie got absolutely snubbed at the Oscars, and the fact that it didn't win Best Film Editing baffles me more than the fact that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture (and that baffles me a lot). Take the scene immediately following the interrogation scene, for example. There are literally four different things going on. The Joker is being held in the interrogation room. Some random guy is complaining that his insides hurt. Batman and Gordon are racing to save Harvey and Rachel. And Harvey and Rachel are tied up in warehouses. All four of these things are happening simultaneously, and the editing makes the transitions between the four different events feel so natural and graceful. It's one of the small things that adds up into making this, in my opinion, the greatest movie ever made.

I've put it off for a bit, but did you really think I wouldn't talk about the Clown Prince of Crime? Heath Ledger's Joker is one of the most celebrated movie characters of all time. Right behind Darth Vader, he is one of cinema's greatest antagonists. And there are so many reasons why. He breaks the normal tropes of giving the villain a complex, deep backstory. We don't know his origins. He doesn't have any motivations. He's just a nutjob that loves being evil. That's a great idea for a villain, especially when adapting the Joker, but the thing that makes him one of the all-time best is Heath Ledger. The actor famously received backlash for the role when he was cast, because no one could see the teenage heartthrob from 10 Things I Hate About You as Batman's terrifying arch-nemesis. And guess what? He's not. Heath Ledger does not appear in this movie. He just disappears into the makeup and the Glasgow smile and becomes the Joker. Everything; the voice, the laugh, the licking of the's perfect. He is just perfect. I could write an entire blog post on Ledger's Joker. He's amazing.

Another thing you have to talk about when it comes to this movie is the rich thematic thread that ties this whole shebang together. This movie has such deep, resonant themes about corruption and chaos that are so present in everything that happens. The movie essentially plays out through the Joker's various games, all of which have some moral dilemma and some consequence that just makes it so that no one comes out entirely clean. Bruce screws up a lot in this movie. Harvey Dent screws up. Jim Gordon screws up. The chaos theme really resonates because it shows how the Joker can cause madness through these little moments that he influences. It's so interesting and just takes the movie to that next level.

I also absolutely adore the various relationships in this movie. Obviously, the standout here is the relationship between the Dark Knight himself and the Clown Prince of Crime. Heath Ledger drew from Batman: The Killing Joke for his portrayal of the Joker, and that graphic novel does the best job of exploring the Batman-Joker relationship, so it translates over into The Dark Knight. Joker states it perfectly during the interrogation scene; "You complete me." It sums up everything that you need to know about these two. Their similarities and differences cause fireworks, and you see that play out here.

I also love the trio of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent. This element of the film is heavily influenced by Batman: The Long Halloween, another one of the great Batman stories of all time. Each of these characters have very distinct personalities and ideals that often clash with each other but also work well with each other. They explore this see-saw between the clash and the collaboration. I believe they are the core of this movie. If you follow the arc of their relationship, it sums up the themes and the story incredibly, incredibly well. God, I love this movie.

This is also one of the best examples of a movie being smarter than its audience. People can nitpick little plot holes and things that don't quite add up, but overall, The Dark Knight is a pretty logical movie that is always one step ahead of the viewer. The film does a great job of escalating and becoming higher stakes as the story progresses, which creates great amounts of tension, but you never are able to predict where it is going. It is always able to outdo whatever the cliche would be and create a scenario that is more satisfying for the viewer. It's a great example of perfect screenwriting mixed with great direction.

Speaking of direction, I can't believe I haven't even mentioned his name yet. Christopher frickin' Nolan is a master. He absolutely nails this movie. First off, he makes The Dark Knight feel even more grounded than Batman Begins by shooting in an actual city with these huge IMAX cameras. He famously flipped an actual eighteen-wheeler and blew up an actual abandoned building for this movie. That's dedication. But Nolan also knows exactly how to craft this film to give the audience the best experience possible. He understands the dynamic between Batman and the Joker in the best way, and he constantly applies that in his direction. Without him, this movie just is not the same.

There are so many other things I could talk about. I haven't touched on how much I love Two-Face. I think Batman is given a great arc in here as he understands that he's the hero that Gotham deserves but not the one it needs. I could talk about the iconic, quotable lines. I haven't discussed the interrogation scene, which could make a case for my favorite movie scene ever. If I wanted to dissect everything I love about The Dark Knight, I might as well write a full-fledged novel on it. That's how much I have to say.

The Sour


Final Thoughts and Score

Upon rewatch, The Dark Knight remains as my favorite film of all time. It is perfect in every sense of the word.

I am going Sweet, Sweet, Sweet. Age range is 11+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)

"The Dark Knight"

Fun Factor: 10/10

Acting: 10/10

Story: 10/10

Characters: 10/10

Quality: 10/10

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Rated PG-13 for moderate superhero violence and action, language, frightening themes and images, thematic elements

Released on July 18, 2008

2 hours and 32 minutes

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face

Gary Oldman as James Gordon

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes

Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox

Eric Roberts as Sal Maroni

Michael Jai White as Gambol

Ritchie Coster as The Chechen

Chin Han as Lau

Joshua Harto as Coleman Reese

Néstor Carbonell as Anthony Garcia

Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow


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