Throwback Thursday: The Dark Knight (2008)

Batman is one of the most iconic figures in American cultural history. On both the small and big screens, he has kept generations of fans entertained.

The 2008 film, The Dark Knight, is the sequel to Batman Begins (2005). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has a new foe that puts him to the test: the Joker (the late and very missed Heath Ledger). When he is not in the bat suit, Bruce is dealing with the new District Attorney Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart).

If this was not enough, his personal life is in pieces. His ex, lawyer, and assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, taking over from Katie Holmes) has moved on. Her new love is Harvey Dent. Though it appears that their past relationship is in the rearview mirror, Bruce has not quite gotten over Rachel and she is not completely settled on Harvey.

If you remember this movie for one thing and one thing only, it is Ledger’s performance. Even to this day, his approach to the character sends shivers down my spine. The only other actor who gave me the same feeling with the same role was Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019).

My only problem with the story is one that is all too common. Gyllenhaal’s Rachel is one of two female characters who play a role in the narrative. Like Holmes before her, Rachel was primarily known as the love interest/damsel in distress. The fact that she is an accomplished and respected lawyer is secondary.

Do I recommend it? For the most part, yes.

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Flashback Friday- Batman Forever (1995) & Batman Begins (2005)

There is something immortal about the superhero. No matter what era s/he was created in or the world that they inhabit, these characters continue to live on.

Hollywood has had it’s fill of superhero movies over the years. One of the most popular is Batman, who has returned to big screen again and again.

In 1995, Val Kilmer stepped into the suit in Batman Forever. In this movie, Batman must face not just one villain, but two. Harvey Dent/Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones) is of the belief that Batman was responsible for the accident that changed his face, his revenge is to create chaos and fear in Gotham City. The other villain, Riddler/Edward Nygma  (Jim Carrey) works for Bruce Wayne, the man under the mask. When his inventions are rejected, the Riddler will get his revenge by draining the brains of Gotham citizens and learn the secrets of his former boss. Adding to the mix of chaos is Robin/Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), a young man from a circus family whose family has been killed by two face and wants revenge. And there of course, the love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman).

I happen to think Batman Forever is the best Batman movie. While it is dark enough (as any Batman movie should be), there are pops of color and elements that remain true to it’s comic book origins.

Ten years later, Batman returned to the big screen in a much darker vision in Batman Begins. This time Christian Bale suites up as Gotham City’s protector.  After loosing his parents when he was still a young boy, Bruce Wayne travels to Asia to learn from Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). His goal is to return to Gotham City and fight off the forces of darkness that threaten to consume his city.

This movie and the following sequels are much darker than any of the previous Batman movies.  But it is a refreshing take on the story, especially considering that Batman returns to the big screen every 5-10 years to begin with.

I recommend both.

The Critics Were Wrong (Maybe)- Batman & Robin (1997)

In every movie franchise, for every individual movie that succeeds, there is one that bombs horribly. In the Batman movie franchise, for every Batman Begins (2005) or Batman Forever (1995), there is a Batman & Robin (1997).

Gotham City is under a two pronged attack. Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Dr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are looking to control the city. Poison Ivy uses her feminine charms and poisons while Dr. Freeze just wants to see the city frozen over. Our heroes, who were able to successfully defeat Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey) in Batman Forever, find that their relationship is at a crossroads. Can Batman (George Clooney), Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) defeat the villains and return Gotham City to peace and security?

Were the critics wrong? No.

I will give the production team points for trying. Sometimes when a franchise becomes too serious, a little lightening up is required. But this movie goes too far in trying to put the humor back into the story. It was just a little too over the top for me.

Do I recommend this movie? No.


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