Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 31
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

HERE HE COMES TO SAVE THE DAY: In a dramatic entry through a window, Batman (Christian Bale) arrives on his newly designed Batcycle in his attempt to foil the Joker’s latest plan to defeat our Caped Crusader hero.

The Dark Knight: The Joker and Batman Match Wits and Muscle

Kam Williams

You heard it here first: the late Heath Ledger will win an Academy Award for his spine-tingling performance as the Joker. Forget Cesar Romero’s hamming in the sixties TV series, ditto Jack Nicholson’s over the top rendition in the first screen adaptation of Batman back in 1989.

Ledger eclipses each of them with an inspired interpretation of the character as a misanthrope who is more menacing than mirthful. However, he does have a full complement of laugh inducing lines like “Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger,” “I love this job,” and “You know, you remind me of my father. I hated my father.” Still, what makes this version of the Joker unforgettable is that under that garish clown makeup is a philosophical and scary psychopath.

The accolades for The Dark Knight are not limited to Ledger’s performance, because the picture happens to be not only the best blockbuster of the summer, but arguably the best comic book adaptation ever brought to the big screen. And although it’s early to be talking Oscar nominees, nominations should also go for director Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale.

As for the plot, at the point of departure we find Gotham winning its battle against the underworld, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Batman. However, everything changes when the Joker comes to town and pulls off a brazen bank robbery in which he steals laundered money that belongs to the mob, and simultaneously kills each of his accomplices the moment he no longer needs their services.

Next, the double-crossing clown approaches the city’s crime bosses and offers, for a price, to eliminate Batman, who has almost completely shut down their lucrative syndicate. They reluctantly agree, which means Batman must match wits as well as muscle in his duel with this worthy adversary.

Fortunately, Batman’s alter ego billionaire Bruce Wayne, together with the help of his loyal butler, Alfred (Michael Caine) and brilliant inventor Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), has the benefit of being outfitted with a line of new and improved Bat weapons, including a Batmobile, Batsuit, Batpod, Batdarts, Batsonar, to name a few.

Despite all the bells and whistles and eye-popping special effects, The Dark Knight will be remembered as Heath Ledger’s swan song. Sadly, his best performance was also his last.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for intense violence. Running time: 152 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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