Friday, July 25, 2008


By Reymundo Salao

Yes, I would agree that it is better than sex. Well, at least not unless it’s with Jessica Alba or Katrina Halili, anyway. I got this rating from the review website wherein their highest rating for it is “Better than Sex” and The DARK KNIGHT is the first movie to have this rating.

One of the reasons that my review was horribly delayed was that after I watched this movie, when I got home, thinking of it, I felt like I was in a state of intellectual speechlessness. The magnitude of how I loved this movie rendered me dumb and stupid. It's like my brain went on a Y2K breakdown. Same thing with my website. For an entire week I have not updated my site with articles. Just because I didn’t know what exactly to write, and also the fact that I was visiting Message Boards that discuss stuff about this movie. In addition, the delay is due to the fact that I am assuming by now that a whole lot of you have already watched the movie, so we can discuss some spoiler details. Moving on…

The movie BATMAN BEGINS boldly cleaned up the mess of the previous childish Batman movies and made us see what revolutionary graphic novels like Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke wanted us to see, that Batman is not a simple children's fairytale, it is more the adult crime fiction that it has become over the years. Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David Goyer understood the universe of Batman from a fan’s point of view. This is why Begins was a success. Batman Begins goes back to the beginning, telling the Batman origin which is both realistic and more or less faithful to the source material. As if this movie was great enough, its sequel, the rabidly-awaited The DARK KNIGHT was bigger, not only in flashy action, but in storyline as well, the result is what may now be a considered a masterpiece.

This is by far, the GREATEST comicbook movie adaptation ever made. Old-timers may have pointed to Superman: The Movie, but that fossil belonged to the lower standards of the 80’s comicbook movies. X2 may have been great but it is too focused on the action and a bit more predictable in comparison to Dark Knight. V for Vendetta was magnificent but too complex and cold for the typical moviegoer. Spider-man 2 WAS the best, but specifically due to the fact that it is the kind of movie that will please EVERYONE, from kids to grandparents. I’ve seen and heard many people point to movies like "300" and say that this is the most adult comic book movie adaptation, but only just because of the adult action content it has. Dark Knight is an adult movie because of its story and its script, and does not merely stand on its stunning and explosive action. The DARK KNIGHT is far more than those adaptations, as its level goes up high and easily stands side-by-side timeless film classics. As film director and Geek Lord Kevin Smith would put it: It's the "Godfather II" of comic book films

The DARK KNIGHT is such a powerful movie because it may have been marketed as this action-packed extravaganza, but when you watch it, you will find that is also this complex crime drama, a psychological character study, a thought-provoking drama, a disturbing semi-horror movie, and very unpredictable tension-thrilling suspense. Even though some of us familiar with the Batman universe who already have ideas on what happens to characters like Harvey Dent or Jim Gordon, even we were put on a position wherein we could not easily guess what was going to happen next as the movie progressed. Chris Nolan and Jonathan Nolan really did a superb screenplay that is utterly mindblowing.

Oh, and of course, the one really running the movie was the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Bat’s arch-nemesis The Joker. I am not kidding when I say that Ledger's and Nolan's Joker is the first Action-adventure villain to really scare me and give me the creeps in a similar way as movies like Hostel, Saw, and The Exorcist do. I am specifically talking about the “kidnap-torture video” scene with the fake Batman, which reminds many of us of actual terrorist videos and crime videos. Ledger is both unsettlingly frightening and hideously funny at the same time. The scene with Batman pounding Joker to a pulp while he’s just laughing at Bats tells a lot as to why these two are indeed arch-enemies. Joker always testing Batman’s and Gotham’s morality and sanity.

The slogan in one of its posters really says it all: “Welcome to a world without rules” As realistic as this movie as it can be, the movie even went to focus Batman's tendencies on going too far to the extreme negative side of what he does. I am not talking about a scene where he sort of cripples a mob boss, but what I am talking about is when Batman went so far as to using technology that is capable of spying upon each and every citizen in Gotham. As the character Lucious Fox points out in defiance to Batman's move --"This is wrong" This is actually not in violation of staying true to the comics, because the comics even point out instances like this when Bats have the tendency to push his quest on the edge; this tells a lot about his obsession for the quest that he lives on.

Aaron Eckhart was most especially impressive as well. The storyline focusing on Harvey Dent is one that is magnificently presented; his rise as Gotham City's "White Knight" District Attorney; one that Batman hopes would be the hero that will give him the best reason to retire and go back to living a normal life, and the eventual fall of Harvey Dent into madness and vendetta. Just when you thought the movie was at its last scene, thinking that in the current trend of big superhero/scifi/adventure movies that follow a trilogy style cliff-hanging second chapter, you think that they would reserve the Two-Face storyline for the third movie. Instead, you will find that the story continues on with a full-glory Two-Face storyline when the movie is over, you would have already realized that the story ran for almost three hours. Time flies so fast in movies this good.

There is an entire subplot about heroism, what a hero is, and what he is capable of doing. Somewhere along the lines of District Attorney Dent and the "vigilante outlaw" Dark Knight, there lies the definition of what a hero ought to be. This subplot should be relevant in our life and times because we live in a society moved and influenced by politicians, many of them claiming as heroes. The movie's character Harvey Dent, is himself (not only a crimebusting District Attorney, but also...) a politician. The scene with the mayor talking to Dent about where his quest will lead him “They will all come after you now; the mob, the press, the politicians” it speaks true of real heroism. It’s not easy, it will take all the risks, and it will take all the obstacles that would be bent to put you down. “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself as a villain” I wonder how many politicians started out as heroes and did not survive the dirt and the darkness of politics, as they themselves become villains. That is why in the end, Batman gladly takes the fall, he gladly takes the blame, because a hero would even risk his own reputation and life in order that good might be upheld.

I do not know how they will top this one. This is THE Batman movie serious Batman aficionados have been waiting for. I will say it again, The DARK KNIGHT is THE greatest comic book movie adaptation ever made. For a lack of a word of greater magnitude, it’s a masterpiece.

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