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COLUMN: Revisiting 'The Dark Knight (2008)'


Christian Bale and Heath Ledger starred in "The Dark Knight," which was released July 18, 2008.  Movie Stills Database Buy Photos

Intense, action-packed and dangerous, "The Dark Knight" boasts great cinematography, gripping storytelling and an iconic performance from Heath Ledger as the Joker. Just in time for the 10-year anniversary IMAX rerelease, let’s revisit Christopher Nolan’s classic 2008 film "The Dark Knight." 

The film has been ranked by critics and audiences alike alongside some of the best cinematic sequels and comic book films of all time. If this film is anything, it's unadulterated, intense, dramatic entertainment. 

From the first scene with the bank robbery, to the car chases and various explosions, director Christopher Nolan wants you to watch and keep watching. Batman, aka the Dark Knight, aka Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, isn’t trying to save the entire world from some fantasy mega monster, he’s just trying to save the city of Gotham from its own high ranking hoodlums, which is one of the many things that make this movie great. 

Comparisons are made between the Batman representing order, and the Joker representing chaos. The hero turned villain, Harvey Dent — or as comic book fans may know him, Two-Face — played by Aaron Eckhart, is a more literal representation of this double-sided sword metaphor. 

The use of his two-faced coin is a prominent aspect of storytelling in the film, with the luck it draws bringing out one of his two alter egos, good or evil. His 50/50 chance of living when he and Rachel Dawes, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, are each taken hostage by the Joker’s goons makes for a heart-pounding but ultimately gut-wrenching moment. And his face is literally split perfectly symmetrical down the middle, one side having been accidentally soaked in gasoline and then caught on fire. 

"The Dark Knight" is an incredible movie simply because the performance from Heath Ledger as the Joker was so good. Ledger abruptly passed away right before the film was released, and he won a posthumous best supporting actor Oscar for his role as the Joker. 

Everything from his voice, to his posture, to his makeup and the way he smiled seemed so meticulously thought out, yet effortlessly executed. The artistry it took for him to make this character was raw, riveting and totally original. It's the type of performance actors should still strive for today. 

The Joker's sinister scenes are crafted in a way that moves the plot along perfectly, and it's almost weird how something so unsettling could run so smoothly for cinema. Each scene weaves in and out of scenarios that are intertwined and it makes for the best kind of visual storytelling — the kind that keeps it easy to understand and hard to look away. 

Bale, on the other hand, had every quality Batman should have. He was handsome, brooding and deep-voiced, but his performance in this film dulled in comparison to Ledger's. Even so, revisiting this film is worthy of your time, comic book fan or not. Come for the edge-of-your-seat action. Stay for the Joker's antics.

"The Dark Knight" will be playing in select IMAX theatres in New York, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles starting Aug. 24 for a special weeklong engagement. The showings mark the 10th anniversary of the film's release, and celebrate it as the first major feature film to be shot using IMAX cameras. 

As of Aug. 13, "The Dark Knight" can be streamed on Netflix.

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