Take a Bow, Knight of Gotham

The much talked about sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Batman – The Dark Knight hit the big screens last week and how! Stellar cast, stellar technical cast, stellar performances mark the return of Gotham City’s caped crusader against crime as he rattles up the numbers at the Box Office, and also settles in snugly with all the critics around Tinseltown.

Christopher Nolan started the journey with Batman Begins in 2005 with a mission to portray his vision of Batman in the truest form possible, and he only takes it forward with his second movie in the ensemble piece. Gotham City is dark, gritty and always has a dark cloud looming over it. Nolan’s greatest achievement with his movie is that he shows us a Batman for who he is – a normal human being disguising himself to fight crime without superpowers, without a web sprouting from his wrists and without the comical ‘Krrack’ and ‘Thwwack’.

Christian Bale is the most definitive Batman ever. What sets him apart in the movie is that he plays Bruce Wayne playing Batman, and not the other way round. Bale shows a remarkable believable transition between the bratty billionaire and the Human Bat. Along with the Nolan brothers (Jonathan Nolan has written the tightest screenplay you will find), Bale’s understanding of the conflict between the Bruce Wayne-Batman alter egos is the truest representation of the graphic novels. Michael Caine is probably the closest you come to a real life Alfred Pennyworth, who is not just the butler, but a father figure to Bruce Wayne and Batman. A surprise addition to the cast is Morgan Freeman, playing the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox. He is a designer extraordinaire who helps Batman with his gadgetry, which incidentally looks cooler than ever in this one.

Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal play their roles to the T, as the Gotham City public prosecutor and his girl friend respectively. What is a testimony to the sparing, yet amazingly well done use of CGI and special effects is the Two-Face make up. Gary Oldman is his consistent self with a strong role as the wily old Commissioner James Gordon, Batman’s police liaison and friend.

If the movie was limited to the aforementioned characters, it would have been a good summer blockbuster. But Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker brings that something extra to it. The late actor delivers another performance of a lifetime as the maniacal Joker. The comprehensive research on the part of the actor about the character shows as the Joker is scary, cunning, intelligent and truly the Batman’s worst nightmare. Ledger was indeed a brave actor, and his stunning attention to detail shows with the Joker’s ticks and his voice.

Along with all this, the latest installment in the Batman series is a success because it inspires a connect in the audience. There is a fair share of the chaos and the anarchy that ensues in an everyday affair. The portrayal of the conflicts within the Bat and the Joker and the love triangle between Dent, Wayne and Rachel Dawes is well played out. The emotions in your head when you watch the movie fly by you, and at the end of the seemingly long two hours thirty-four minutes, you are left yearning for more and more and more.

My only grudge with the movie is the underplayed Two-Face. I am sure that the Nolans could have found a grander stage for another strong Batman villain to go out on. Further, although the film ends on an ambiguous note, I am sure everyone who watched it will hope for another installment of the unending adrenaline ride that is The Dark Knight.

To anyone reading this, I will quote what a friend of mine said to me – do yourself a favour, go watch the film.

Vineet Kanabar

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