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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 3, 2008
Film review
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The Dark Knight
September 3, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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This movie had spectacular success written all over it. The long-awaited sequel to the 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins aimed to eclipse its predecessor in all respects. In terms of statistics at least, this has been accomplished.

The Dark Knight has shot to the no. 3 spot on the all-time movie chart of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), right behind The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont and The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola. In terms of the box-office earnings worldwide, The Dark Knight has only ever been beaten by James Cameron's Titanic. Still, during the 152 minutes in the theater, anyone who is not a devoted fan of comic books may wonder if such success is fully deserved. The script abounds in plot inconsistencies, some of the characters are one-dimensional, while others remain faithful copies of what moviegoers previously saw in Batman Begins.

For example, although played by some of the world's most famous actors, the characters of Alfred (Michael Caine-Get Carter, The Cider House Rules), Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman-Leon, Dracula, Harry Potter series) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman-Driving Miss Daisy, The Bucket List, The Shawshank Redemption), make it impossible for the actors to contribute anything more than they did three years ago. To a certain extent, the same is true of Christian Bale in the main role, as his attempts to give Batman psychological depth come across as highly unnatural. A different problem, the replacement of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal (Adaptation, Secretary, World Trade Center) as Rachel Dawes, robs Batman's sweetheart of any charm. What a relief that the screenwriters got rid of this character, as more sequels are probably just a matter of time.

With one notable exception, the villains in the movie are pretty bland. Tom Wilkinson as Mafia boss Carmino Falcone looked dangerous and repulsive in Batman Begins. His alter ego in The Dark Knight, Salvatore Maroni (Eric Roberts-Star 80, The Specialist, Purgatory) looks and acts like a superannuated model for expensive suits.

Viewers also remain indifferent to the Chinese criminal lord named Lau (Chin Han, a Hong Kong actor mainly known from CitiBank commercials) who is a stereotypical silent Asian. Finally, Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy-The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Red Eye, Breakfast on Pluto), the deranged psychiatrist in Batman Begins, only makes a very brief appearance in one of the opening scenes.

The exception is Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain, Casanova, The Brothers Grimm) as the Joker, a role which many believe may earn him a posthumous Academy Award nomination. Deservedly so, as Ledger shines in the role of a psychopath, even when he skirts with kitsch while dressed up as a female nurse.

The motley crew of characters in The Dark Knight is completed by Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart-No Reservations, Paycheck, Nurse Betty), who is clearly hindered by his makeup. When he becomes Two Face the actor, who up to that point did very well as the incorruptible district attorney in the film, transforms into something from a low-budget horror flick. That has viewers cowering in their chairs and giggling aloud in turn.
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