Stu-Ents











The shock of Heath Ledger’s tragic passing increased the excitement for his role as the joker in The Dark Knight ten-fold. What was already set to be a great, iconic performance would now become the actor’s swansong. As the prospect of a post-humus Oscar looms with near-certainty, the quality of Ledger’s performance is difficult to ignore.

Despite this, the film isn’t called The Joker, and leading lad Christian Bale is the guy we should be focusing on. Rightly so, as Bale’s performance, aside from the questionable ‘gravely’ voice, is nothing short of outstanding, bringing more depth to the character than the teenage brooding of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

The story follows on from the teasing ending of it’s prequel, with The Joker’s clowns robbing a mob bank, only to be taken out one-by-one after they’d done their job. The opener owes a lot to Michael Mann’s Heat, which also features William Fichtner in a bank robbery, and sets the tone of the film exquisitely.

Director Christopher Nolan, who also co-writes, has pitched the balance between action and character perfectly, giving the audience just enough explosions and acts of mayhem from The Joker to spice things up, but leave the audience wanting more.
The returning supporting cast enhance their performance, and Aaron Eckhart is masterful as twisted attorney Harvey Dent, but newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s efforts as childhood friend and romantic interest Rachel Dawes falls short of the mark, and it soon becomes clear that the role was written specifically for Katie Holmes, who donned the dress in Batman Begins.

The film earns its record-breaking reception, delivering one of the most nail-biting comic-book action flicks for a generation, rivalling Richard Donner’s original Superman in terms of impact.

There have been numerous parallels drawn between The Joker and terrorism, none more apparent than in the Gotham Hospital scene, which destroyed the actual building as its climax, but to limit The Joker’s larks as mere reactions to world-wide terror would be unfair, Ledger’s Joker is sarcastic and personal, pushing the Batman’s buttons and providing the most convincing scene of the film with his ‘magic trick’.

Hi-def Blu-Ray does this film the justice it deserves, but this is a film that everyone should own, since it sublimely transcends it’s genres to offer a comprehensive cinematic experience.

James Parry
Entertainment Editor
Pluto Student Newspaper
jmparry@uclan.ac.uk

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