Why So Serious? asks the principal villain The Joker in the latest Batman movie to hit the screens this weekend – The Dark Knight. One would think that with the facial make-up of a clown & a nickname as the joker, the character would be funny, witty & sarcastic. Dead Wrong. TDK’s The Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, is one of the darkest villains one can remember in an English flick and certainly THE best villain in a comic-book movie. If Salim-Javed were the scriptwriters for this one, I’m sure they’d have included a line like Sholay – sojaa warna Joker aajayega (sleep well or The Joker will get ya!).
I’m not gonna bore you with the plot details (if you still wanna know, see here). In a nutshell, its the same ol’ Good Vs. Bad battle but this time, the bad is certainly more determined and badder than ever. The movie has a constant dark undertone to it (something the Spiderman movies went through in the 3rd part) and then there’s the whole gamut of endurance and making the best choice – the right one and the night’s darkest just before dawn!!! IMO it betters Batman Begins as the best Batman movie – counting even the older ones.
And though every review I’ve read is saying so, I’ll repeat it again – the Late Heath Ledger is marvelous as The Joker. He’s menacing, psychotic, crass and & even funny at times. His brazenness, lack of morals, cunningness filled plans (though he brags that he hates plans) is excellent. I haven’t seen his earlier movies nor remember much of Jack Nicholson’s portrayal as the joker but Ledger’s is first rate. Another first rate performance comes from Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two Face. He’s Gotham’s White Knight as opposed to Batman being the dark one. Dent’s transformation is quite graphic and Eckhart puts in a fine performance while at it. Christian Bale is commendable though he seems less intense than in the first part. His “Bruce Wayne” is less in the spotlight this time around. ‘Sacrifice’ becomes his motto….’Endurance’ his mantra. He’s ‘Of Gotham, for Gotham’, even if it means losses…costly losses. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are good in their respective advisory roles as Alfred and Lucius Fox. Gary Oldman has a more meatier role as Lieutenant Gordon and he does a commendable job as well. I liked Katie Holmes better as Rachel Dawes than Maggie Gyllenhaal who isn’t as feisty & torn-between as Katie was in BB.
Story and Screenplay is where it drags a bit. I confess I shall have to see it a second time to understand some of the plots/sub-plots. Another gripe is the length. At close to thee hours, its long maybe by half-an-hour. There’s a whole lot of mobile mumbo-jumbo that is too complex to understand and which forms an important part in the climax. Wish they’d have kept that simpler. Action and stunt sequences are top notch. The entire Hong Kong sequence is unbelievably good. Ditto the….err…umm…..”incident” towards the latter part of the second half. A huge crash involving huge rigs and 16-wheelers is mind-blowing (it puts the entire firetruck -crane sequence of Terminator III into the shade). The Joker’s ‘well-laid-but-unplanned-or-so-he-says-traps’ are clever, if somewhat convoluted and hard-to-get. The Movie has lesser gizmos this time around but there’s the Batmobile, which turns into the Batcruiser Batpod. Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan may have nailed this as one of the best-ever comic-book movie and if the box office returns are anything near to the pre-release hype, then we may well have a Smash Hit movie on our hands.
Pluses: Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two Face, The twists ‘n turns, Evil triumphs, but a sacrifice makes it look like the loser.
Minuses: Length, some hi-tech stuff, too many crazy sub-plots, few unbelievable happenings.