The Dark Knight
Star Campus Desk
IT isn't an overstatement to call The Dark Knight the most sophisticated and ambitious work of its kind. Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins is a dark, complex and disturbing film, not the least of which because it grafts its heroics onto the blueprint of actual reality rather than that of a spandex-clad superhero. And while such a distinction may make little difference to those already eagerly anticipating the return of the caped crusader, suffice it to say that The Dark Knight qualifies as the first official comic book adaptation that truly succeeds in being a great artistic achievement in its own right.
Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who moonlights as Batman. Having eased more comfortably into a lifestyle of excess, Wayne lurks on the fringes of his family's corporation as CEO Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) runs the boardroom. But when an ambitious district attorney named Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) comes forward to challenge Gotham City's villainy through proper legal channels, Batman sees an opportunity to replace his vigilante persona with a figure of virtue who will truly inspire the best in the citizenry.
Unfortunately, Batman's success as a crime fighter has generated new problems for Gotham, including a consolidation of the crime lords who once controlled the city independently. Meanwhile, a new adversary named The Joker (Heath Ledger) proves particularly dangerous because he seeks not only to advance the cause of Gotham's underworld, but also obliterate the foundations of liberty and order that Batman protects.
Bale is predictably effective as both Wayne and Batman this time around, playing both with greater assurance than in Batman Begins. Though Wayne is a necessary second-fiddle to Batman, he is a better defined and more poised character in this film even when he's indulging the excesses of his trust fund and he understands the value of being in a position to help someone like Dent, be it monetarily as himself or physically as Batman.
The great triumph of The Dark Knight is that it manages to transplant comic book theatrics into the real world and moreover, to examine precisely what it could mean if a person decided to strap on a super-suit and start attacking the world's criminals.