Batman: The Dark Knight - On Imax!!
I remember it like it was yesterday. 11 August 1989. I was 11, 12 in just 14 days. But this was the first 12 rated movie, an I so desperately wanted to see it. I queued around the block on the opening day memorising my new date of birth as they were checking everyone as they bought a ticket...
When I first saw Tim Burton's adaptation of Batman in 1989, the story of 'The Caped Crusader' had been updated, modernised and given new meaning. The film was openly violet, dark and atmospheric. It was brilliant!!
Then, after Joel Schumacher almost destroyed the franchise, Batman was rescued in 2005 by Christopher Nolan in 'Batman Begins'. Here we saw a modern Batman story, mixed with the original deep, story telling that is tackled in Graphic Novels.
And now, almost 3 years later, we're rewarded with the cinematic event of the century in 'The Dark Knight'. A film touch by tragedy with the death of leading bad guy and sometimes gay cowboy, Heath Ledger. But let's not allow that to tarnish our view of Ledger's performance, as there has already been too much praise for the late actors performance that stings of Hollywood speaking too highly of the dead.
However, believe the hype. I repeat, Believe the Hype!
Ledger is amazing! Now don't get me wrong, Jack Nicholson's Joker was a study on the maniacal, and insane. He was great! However, his performance was too show stealing. Ledger's is amazing because it's not too showy. He's not just creepy, he's 'keep you awake at night worryingly' scary! But he does the role justice, with the right balance of humour and scares. But he never once seems to lose sight of the fact that this is Batman's movie, and he is just the villain of the piece.
However, this is all so annoying. And pangs of a similar gothic comic book adaptation from 1993. When I watched 'The Crow' 15 years ago, I remembered thinking, "Shit! Brandon Lee was a really good actor, given the right material. It has taken his last role to get that across. What a waste..." Previously I'd seen Brandon Lee do awful - I mean truly bad - action movies. Heath Ledger, I'd always felt indifference to. Sure, he acted 'Brokeback Mountain' well, but the film had been overly disappointing. And now this... His masterpiece... His final, complete film. What a fucking waste...
But Ledger is not the only acting talent in this film, which is surely the reason why it is such a success. Morgan Freeman has some really comedic moments (I'm really developing a fondness for his witty, but cool, comebacks). Michael Caine returns as the father figure in Batman's life, still offering advice and still in Caine's witty fashion. Gary Oldman returns as Lieutenant Gordon, adding some true grit to the character.
Only with a cast as strong as this can you pull off the kind of deep, dramatic stories that Graphic Novels can achieve because their is only a Writer and Illustrator involved. It only takes one poor performance and the whole thing topples like a house of cards. And here we have a tight cast...
But what a vehicle for Batman. The first film had strong themes of fear, looking into the deep psychological aspects of what really makes a man dress up as a bat and fight crime. Are they really any different from the criminals they fight? In this sequel, we see that theme developed further, as a discussion on what makes a hero. Just what should a hero be considered to sacrifice in order to protect the ones he loves.
This is Batman brought into the real world. It makes it almost believable that someone could do these things. But it also shows the consequences of such actions. We see a modern day 'New York' city, fighting against an unstoppable force of organised crime, and looking for the hero to pull it off.
The Imax version is truly not to be missed, and if you do have an Imax near you, do go and see it. The film has many scenes shot just for the Imax version. On the large cityscape, sweeping shots, the view opens up to some amazing, and dizzying heights. Giving such impressive depth to the film that just adds to the whole experience. It really makes the film more of a roller-coaster ride than a movie.
I will be watching this one again. It really is that good...