Brains + brawn = The Dark Knight

Published 12:19 pm Monday, August 25, 2008

So at this point we might as well just hand the crown of Biggest Summer Blockbuster to The Dark Knight, which has taken in an estimated $400 million in America, no small feat considering the fact that at an average ticket cost of $9, the movie would have to be seen by about forty-two million individual Americans to reach those unheard-of numbers. Factor in the fact that the economy is in the dumps and a tank of gas costs about as much as a kidney transplant, and you have to be impressed by the fact that people feel The Dark Knight is worth paying money to see. But the question must be raised: why has this movie made so much money?
Simply put, the secret to the movies runaway success is that The Dark Knight is a great movie. Major credit should go to director/co-writer/producer Christopher Nolan, the acclaimed director of such gems as Memento and Insomnia, who works within the parameters of the superhero genre to create a gritty and realistic Gotham City where a crime-fighting vigilante dressed as a gigantic, scary bat engaged in battle with a sociopath dressed in a twisted clown suit does not only seem feasible, it seems downright reasonable.
The Dark Knight functions as almost a modern-day, Americanized samurai taleBruce Wayne, the noble aristocrat is keeping lonely watch over the city, protecting the common citizens from a rampaging evil that, like a virus, exists solely for the sake of spreading itself. As with many superhero movies, there exists also the overt element of the allegoricalam I the only one who noticed that the Bat Signal was kind of shaped like a sideways cross, or that Batman had to metaphorically sacrifice himself in order for Gotham to be saved? On the other hand, the preferred method of conflict resolution for Jesus was turning the other cheek, whereas, Batman generally opts for a kung-fu kick to the face, so I guess the Biblical allusions go only so far.
Of course, the movie would not be the cinematic achievement that is it without the tour-de-force performance by Heath Ledger, in his final, and perhaps career-defining, role as the Joker. Played by Ledger as a mystery wrapped inside an enigma wrapped inside clown makeup, the Joker may very well go down as one of cinemas classic villains. The Joker is complex because in addition to being the chief bad guy, he is also the source of most of the movies humor, what with the pencil trick and cross-dressing and Jerry Maguire quotes.
What affected me personally in Ledgers performance was how he injected a sense of intelligence into the Joker, as if the Joker takes his actions with a wink to the audience, even going so far as to acknowledge his role as the natural foil to Batman. Whether Ledger will receive a posthumous Oscar for his role is anyones guess at this point, but he sure has my vote.
Bottom line? There still appear to be about 256 million people in this country who havent yet seen The Dark Knight. If youre one of them you might want to give it a look

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