In Hollywood, how far is too far to go for a role? Jared Leto gained a ton of weight and ended up with gout to play the killer of John Lennon. Sylvester Stallone gained weight to play a sheriff. Renee Zellweger gained weight, lost it, and then gained it back to play Bridgette Jones twice. But, in order to really give a character their all, most good actors immerse themselves into the character mind, body and soul. (Think Denzel as Malcolm or Charlize Theron in her award winning turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster).
It’s a shame that Heath Ledger had to die for people to consider just how much roles affect these actors. His performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight is stunning in the sense that, he totally transforms himself into a weasely criminal whom no one understands – but doesn’t want to cross – the worst kind of criminal. The Joker doesn’t want anything in particular. He just wants to wreak havoc wherever he may; a real mental patient, if there ever was one.
The Dark Knight is about The Joker’s arrival to do his dirty deeds on Gotham City. The subplot of the film being that Batman is thinking of hanging up his black suit and is looking to someone else of non-superhero status to take his place, ridding Gotham City of evil doers, i.e., the mob.
Frankly, compared to The Joker, the mob seems like angels. Seeing this movie in its long entirety, I got a sense of despair for humankind and how man can be so cruel to one another. Then again, the film has one saving grace: a moral dilemma that surprises the characters and the audience. I won’t ruin this moment for you, because it can only be appreciated while watching the film. You’ll know it when you see it.
Screenwriters Christopher Nolan and Jonah Nolan tried to convey that even though many people may try to replace Batman, should he die or something, only a superhero can do a superhero’s job. It’s more like a propaganda tool, than a plot twist.
Also, director Nolan (Christopher) decided to make this Batman a little lighter in appearance than the first. The tone of the film is quite dark; which made me question the appropriateness of it being a movie kids can watch. Is the MPAA really checking these things out anymore? Questionable rating aside, Nolan did a swell job in directing; I didn’t expect any less. I felt the despair and had the slight nightmares that accompany a dark movie such as this.
Of course, the best actor in this movie is a man who lost his life earlier this year. Ledger had always been good at what he did. Even in his first role as a tough guy trying to win the affections of a prude in 10 Things I Hate About You. Ledger has shown that he had what it takes to be a successful, Oscar winning actor. Speaking of Oscars, there’s already buzz about his being nominated for The Dark Knight. Now, I never make predictions on the Academy Awards, but I’m willing to stake my pennies on Ledger, not only being nominated, but winning post-humously.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, is the usual stiff Batman. His portrayal is reminiscent of the previous Batman film. Meaning, he gave it his best stiff, tough guy, in need of a deep tissue massage act.
Morgan Freeman still holds strong as the gadget man with morals. Freeman is a great actor. I’m not surprised. Michael Caine’s turn as Alfred is still quite interesting. Alfred doles out advice like a dad, but is so loving about it, I almost wish he were my grandfather. Caine takes the simplicity of Alfred and makes him into an indispensable character.
Maggie Gyllenhaal takes Katie Holmes’ place as Rachel Dawes, the love of Batman’s life. Holmes did a swell job in the previous Batman and Gyllenhaal did an even better job in The Dark Knight.
For the two people who haven’t seen The Dark Knight, you owe it to yourself to see this film.