PG-13, 152 min.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Bob Kane (characters)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriella Curnen, Ron Dean, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han, Nestor Carbronell, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Anthony Michael Hall, Keith Szarabajka, Colin McFarlane, Joshua Harto, Melinda McGraw, Nathan Gamble, Michael Vieau, Michael Stoyanov, William Smillie, Danny Goldring, Michael Jai White, Matthew O’Neill, William Fitchner
I recently called “Iron Man 3” “…possibly the best superhero movie yet.” I wrote that with full awareness of the “Dark Knight” issue. And I stand behind that. “Iron Man 3” is not better than “The Dark Knight”, however. Oh, “The Dark Knight” is far better than “Iron Man 3”. It isn’t really a superhero movie, though. Yes. It has superhero elements. It has action. It has spectacular special effects. It has a broadly conceived villain, however delicately portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. It has a message. It comments on our society. These are all elements of a good superhero movie. And yet, “The Dark Knight” transcends all of these elements to become something more.
I’ve only seen the movie three times at this point, which is surprising considering what a Batman fan I am and how much I admire this movie. I’ve been amazed by just how good it is each time I’ve watched it, however. It is extremely well made by Christopher Nolan and his production team. It never stops rolling. That’s one of its most impressive elements. It never stops for a breath. Often that is an aspect attributed to movies that are very fast paced. This one isn’t always fast paced and yet it still retains that non-stop quality to it. Unlike, other films that bring the kinetic energy of the plot to a halt for things like exposition or thematic emphasis, “The Dark Knight” continues to roll, if only on idle at times, even through its deeper moments.
And while the deep moments involve such themes as the line between protections and infringement on people’s freedoms, or the multiple sides of a personality; its deepest level is a commentary on itself. It isn’t simply a superhero movie, but it is a movie about what it is to be a superhero and how and why we need superheroes, on both literal and symbolic levels. Superheroes comprise an incredibly complex ideology, and we still see them as something essentially for the child’s imagination. Today it’s OK for an adult to embrace their inner child; but the worlds superheroes inhabit and reflect are trickier than we like to think children can handle. Somehow a child can handle these complex themes and messages of comic books, and yet it is only as adults that we begin to have trouble interpreting the world’s complexities. Batman represents all of these ideas in this movie, and it is awesome.