Monday, November 03, 2008

Danny Fisher - Film Review: The Dark Knight

Chaplain Danny Fisher, Buddhist blogger extraordinaire, reviews The Dark Knight for Journal of Religion & Film.

Film Review

The Dark Knight


Danny Fisher
University of the West


Vol. 12, No. 2 October 2008

The Dark Knight

[1] There was little doubt before its release in July that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was going to be a hit for Warner Bros. As the big-budget follow-up to the Memento auteur’s brainy and emotionally affecting 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins, it was practically assured that there would be an excited reception from audiences and critics. The only surprise was the level of success: The Dark Knight currently stands as the U.S.’s second highest grossing film of all time, and one of the best reviewed films of the year thus far—inspiring the studio to re-release the film during Academy Awards voting this January, as they did with last year’s multiple nominee Michael Clayton. What makes this unprecedented triumph all the more extraordinary and also worthy of attention is the quality of the material: as the title suggests, the film is an exceedingly dark, politically charged meditation on the problem of evil that speaks loudly and clearly to our troubled times. Much more than simply another entertaining diversion, The Dark Knight explodes the comic book superhero genre and sends its audience away mulling over important philosophical and spiritual questions.

[2] Picking up several months after the conclusion of Batman Begins, the new film shows us what has become of Gotham City since billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) first donned the cape and cowl. The Falcone crime family, now led by Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts), is running scared. Things are so bad, in fact, that they have decided to launder their ill-gotten gains offshore through crooked Chinese mogul Lau (Chin Han)—a move that threatens much-beloved District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart)’s case against the mob. Batman and Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), an ally in the police department’s major crimes unit, are subsequently approached by Dent. With nothing left to do within the bounds of the law, he asks Batman to commit an act of extraordinary rendition, and bring Lau back from Hong Kong to testify for the prosecution. Soon Lau is in police custody and turning state’s evidence, and Maroni and his colleagues have nowhere to turn but to the Joker (Heath Ledger)—a scarred, war paint-wearing psychopath who makes his living stealing from their syndicate. It quickly becomes clear that Pandora’s box has been opened, as the Joker unleashes a brand of terrorism so singularly horrific and utterly insane that combating him practically demands further ethical breaches. Though he must rely as ever on his closest confidants—butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal)—Batman “plays it close to the chest” as he faces a villain with no apparent agenda besides plunging Gotham City into complete anarchy. Will he keep any of his moral integrity? Or will he go the way of “white knight” Dent, who is slowly transformed by the Joker’s madness into the vengeful, murderous Two-Face?

Read the whole review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout-out, William!