Director Christopher Nolan’s (Memento, Inception) follow-up to the terrific Batman Begins, this is possibly the darkest movie based on the comic character Batman that you are likely to find (parents should note – this is not for younger viewers). It’s also one tinged with sadness – this was the last movie that actor Heath Ledger completed before his death in January 2008 (he hadn’t finished filming The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus), and contains one of the most memorable performances of his career.
In fact, Ledger’s mesmerising performance as bad guy The Joker almost threatens to detract from Christian Bale’s central role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the millionaire with a secret dark alter ego. The Joker and his gang are brutally and swiftly taking over Gotham, but our Brucie is busy brooding about being seen as a hero and vigilante by the public, when he’d rather have a normal life with Rachel (sparky Maggie Gyllenhaal, taking over from Begins‘ wishy-washy Katie Holmes). He may be too late, though, as she’s moving on with district attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart).
There are some stunning set pieces here – including the Joker’s bank robbery, complete with Joker mask-wearing accomplices splattering blood everywhere, and a memorable twist that leads the DA to become Two-Face – and equally superb performances. Bale is perfect as the tortured soul at the movie’s centre, and he is ably supported by Gary Oldman as cop Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as the scientist behind such jaw-dropping toys as the Batbike, Eckhart (who has one of the most moving moments in the movie) and Michael Caine as the wise, sarky butler Alfred.
It’s Ledger’s movie, though, from the moment his white make-up caked face, complete with blood red smeared grin and wild hair, first appears on screen and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, and he holds your attention throughout the impressive bangs, crashes, spectacles and action sequences, each word from his jagged mouth (“what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger”) delivered with just the right mix of twisted madness, horror and sadism. Proof, if it were needed, of what a great director Christopher Nolan is, this is a superb movie that’s haunting and scary, clever and surprising.
Is The Dark Knight suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
As mentioned in the review above, The Dark Knight is aimed at adults and children over the age of 12. There are numerous violent scenes including one where a man’s legs are broken and another when a character’s face is burnt.
Children will be scared by Two-Face’s face and also by the Joker, who is particularly sinister.
Parents should also note that the tone of the entire movie is very dark. It is over two and a half hours long, so not best suited to younger viewers.