The Clown Prince of Chaos – The Dark Knight Review

[[image:darkknight01.jpg:Dunno why’s called the Batpod, but it’s hella cool:left:0]]No.

The Joker is not the Clown Prince of Crime in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the sequel to his 2005 movie Batman Begins.

Crime is just a tool and a means to an end. And that end is a total breakdown in the order of Gotham City. Not just anarchy, but absolute chaos. Heath Ledger is for me now the best Joker actor around (or not any more, as the case may be), edging out Mark Hamill’s performance who was previously in my top spot. He is a frightening character, not because he’s creepy or insane, but he seems to be the one most in control of everything, did the best planning, execute his plans, keeping everyone on their toes by constantly hitting them with his machinations left and right at the same time

Even if he aims to create chaos, his methods are far from chaotic. That’s what makes him frightening.

SPOILERS will manifest into words after this point. SPOILERS alert.

[[image:darkknight02.jpg:This costume needs more cowbell:left:0]]The Dark Knight is a very complex movie. It’s not just a superhero movie. In fact it’s barely a superhero movie and is more of a crime movie. Trying to condense the premise into a paragraph will be a difficult, but I will try.

Gotham streets are safer thanks to the events of the previous movie. Even, the mob gang leaders’ secret meetings are in broad daylight because they’re afraid to do it at night. However a new factor comes into town, and its name is the Joker. At first he’s just a bank robber, but (after showing a magic disappearing trick with a pencil) he approaches the mob bosses, sows discord with them, slowly taking over their power. In the meantime the Joker carries out a complex scheme to create panic and chaos in Gotham with three of the city’s most public and effective crimefighters unwittingly involved in his plans: the vigilante, the top cop and the unwavering district attorney… Batman, James Gordon and Harvey Dent.

The Dark Knight is truly a fantastic ensemble movie. It’s not just about the Batman versus the Joker. This movie is equally about Harvey Dent’s crusade aginst crime in Gotham and how Joker included it as a factor in his plans… ultimately and tragically turning him into Two-Face. In fact, you could also argue that the movie is more about the development of Harvey Dent rather than the Joker, whose origin is not even hinted at, much less told. It’s about Rachel Dawes who rejected Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins and is now about to marry Harvey Dent, and about Bruce’s reactions to it. It’s about James Gordon’s attempt to balance his belief that Batman is something Gotham City needs and his duty as a police officer to treat a vigilante as a criminal, and his work’s effect on his family.

[[image:darkknight03.jpg:This is the climax of Wayne vs Crane:left:0]]It’s about three mob gangs’ attempt to be top dog trying to save their illegal earnings while dealing the Batman and the Joker as wild cards. Alfred and Lucius Fox get to contribute to the story by being more than just Bruce’s butler and gadgeteer (to put it mildly). Even Cilian Murphy’s Scarecrow from Batman Begins gets a bit of a screen time. Finally it’s also about the heart and soul of the citizens of Gotham, which is more or less decided and portrayed by the actions of the convict played by Tiny Lister.

This is by far the Batman movie most grounded in realism while still having that comic book movie flavour to it. Kudos to the Christopher Nolan for conceiving and organising a movie of this complexity, retaining a great deal of suspense throughout, making 2.5 hours pass by unnoticed and concluding it with a satisfying, if not a happy ending.

As you’d see early on with the death of city officials and cops, Batman cannot save everyone. You’ll never know who’ll die next. I’d avoided a large chunk of spoilers out there, and the story surprised me at least five times throughout the movie.

Finally, Batmanuel is also in this Batman movie which is all kinds of awesome.

Posted in Movie Review and tagged , , .

Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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