Friday, July 11, 2008

FanBoyWonder Film Spotlight: The Dark Knight

The fanboy summer film festival reaches critical mass one week from today as the much anticipated Batman flick The Dark Knight hits theatres all over Gotham and from sea to shining sea.

FanBoyWonder began looking forward to this sequel to Batman Begins from the moment the houselights came up at the movies in 2005. From everything we’ve seen and heard thus far, it will have been WELL worth the wait.

Here’s the Upshot from Warner Brothers: Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective but soon they find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham known as The Joker (the late Heath Ledger).”

We have been hearing nothing but good buzz about Dark Knight and not just from the usual suspects in Fanboy Nation but throughout the mainstream media as well.

Case in Point—Time magazine’s Richard Corliss:

“[Dark Knight director Christopher] Nolan has a more subversive agenda. He wants viewers to stick their hands down the rat hole of evil and see if they get bitten. With little humor to break the tension, The Dark Knight is beyond dark,” writes Corliss. “It's as black—and teeming and toxic—as the mind of the Joker. Batman Begins, the 2005 film that launched Nolan's series, was a mere five-finger=2 0exercise. This is the full symphony.”

Now that’s what we’re talking about!!!

Christian Bale returns as the title character, as does Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon—this time it’s Lt. Gordon, a bump up from Sgt. Gordon in Batman Begins but not yet “Commissioner” Gordon in this character’s future.

Both Bale and Oldman are dead bang perfect in their parts. Even if they only give us more of the same, we’ll be happy but these are performers with serious acting chops and we would be surprised not it all to see them both rise to the occasion and take it to the next level.

Bale makes it look easy playing both Bruce Wayne AND Batman to perfection. Bale IS Bruce Wayne when it a suit and he’s the Dark Knight when the cowl comes on.

Yet particularly praise worthy is the viscerally intense portrayal of The Joker by the late-Heath Ledger that we’ve seen in the teaser clips.

We admit that long before Ledger’s untimely death earlier this year, we had doubts about his being cast as the Joker. That is until last summer when Warner Brothers released the first teaser trailer which was little more than audio with the Bat-Symbol on the screen.

When we heard Ledger as the Joker—in our mind’s eye we didn’t see Caesar Romero or Jack Nicholson, we saw The Killing Joke, death with a smile, Bat-s**t crazy Joker directly from the comics.

Aaron Eckhart is on board The DK as District Attorney Harvey Dent, helping Batman and Gordon clean up the corrupt from top-to-bottom Gotham, until as we all tragically know, evil claims him and Dent becomes Two-Face.

In other casting news, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Assistant District Attorney and Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend Rachel Dawes. We were glad to hear that the filmmakers were replacing the actress and not the character for the sequel.

Batman has never had a Lois Lane per se but the filmmakers saw fit to write one in to this Bruce Wayne’s life in Batman Begins. Consistency is important and by sticking with the character, it says that Nolan and company are committed to a character-driven drama that’s punctuated by costumed battles and not the other way around.

While it is all too fashionable to crap all over Katie Holmes and while we did find her performance in Batman Begins underwhelming, she didn’t seriously detract from the film either. We hope that Maggie Gyllenhaal can take things to a new level.

Rounding out the casting is Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s loyal manservant Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, CEO of Bruce Wayne’s company and Batman’s go-to gadget guy. These two master thespians class up the joint just by showing up for work.

However, like the man said, this is a DARK, grown up film. It’s ironic that what looks like the purest interpretation for comic book character to the big screen would be decidedly inappropriate for young children.

It may be a super-hero film but this isn’t kid stuff, which is why 7-year-old Brianna The Girl Wonder will NOT be seeing the seriously PG-13 Dark Knight anytime soon even as FanBoyWonder’s inner 7-year-old will be viewing each and every frame in total rapture.

The Dark Knight opens Friday, July 18. Check out the official website for more info and we’ll see you at the movies.


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