I have wanted to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, since it opened nearly two weeks ago, but with other commitments and four young children, my desire to get to the movies these days doesn't always match up with reality. But Lori and I finally got the chance to see it yesterday and it was well worth the wait. The movie has already brought in over $300 million and could possibly go onto challenge Titanic as the highest-grossing film ever.
The Dark Knight picks up where Batman Begins ends with Batman (Christian Bale) bravely fighting crime in Gotham. However, a slew of impostor Batmans have risen up to "help" and actually cause more harm than good. The citizens of Gotham City begin to turn on Batman and a new villain, The Joker (Heath Ledger), has emerged. District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) seeks to fight the criminals of Gotham as Batman contemplates his future.
Not only have moviegoers been kind to director Christopher Nolan's take on the Batman franchise, but critics have also loved the movie. Bale's second turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman showcases his acting skills and there are a number of other fine acting jobs exhibited, but much of the focus has been on the performance by the late Heath Ledger. Oftentimes when someone in the public eye passes away at a young age, there seems to be a glorification of their accomplishments and an over exaggeration of just how good they actually were. But in the case of Ledger, the attention he is receiving for this movie is well-deserved.
Showing a much different Joker than Cesar Romero's cartoonish act in the original Batman television series or Jack Nicholson's goofy role in Batman (1989), Ledger's performance was simply brilliant. Far from the previous campy representations, Ledger's Joker is demented, psychotic and pure evil. From his voice, his cackle, his walk and wicked sense of humor, Ledger gets lost in his character and demonstrates his true acting ability.
Already nominated for an Oscar for his role in Brokeback Mountain, Ledger will most surely receive another nod from the Academy for The Dark Knight. Truly one of the best actors of his generation, you can't help but wonder how many Oscar-worthy performances we'll never see because of his death. Whenever I think about his death, I experience a similar sense of sadness to when I think of others like Tupac Shakur, Chris Farley, Kurt Cobain and Len Bias who were very talented at what they did, but left this life too soon.
Although much of the press on The Dark Knight has focused on the acting job done by Ledger, it is a great movie overall. It deals prominently with issues of good and evil and how to see justice lived out. But because of its dark themes and subject matter, parents should heed the PG-13 rating and not take children younger than their teen years.