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The Dark Knight
The perfect follow-up to a perfect movie.
The Dark Knight
Christian Bale is Back as Batman in the Sequel.
OPENING WEEKEND: $100,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $400,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 21st, 2008: The follow-up to the action hit "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight" reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne. In the new film, Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.

What to Expect: Batman is one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, permeating our popular culture. Unfortunately, there have been so many different interpretations of the hero that he really has lost his identity over time, especially in the late 90's with such films as Batman & Robin, Batman Forever and the Catwoman spin-off. It seemed that the filmmakers behind those movies assumed that since he is a comic book character its ok to make the projects comic. It appeared that after awhile, the actors themselves could not even take the role seriously anymore. The casting was awful, the writing childish and unbelievable, even the bat suit suffered with the addition of nipples. Fans became outraged, the studio lost millions and for all intents and purposes the live action Batman was no more. Then in 2005, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan decided to start over with Batman Begins and brought back Batman as a truly human, serious, believable and relatable hero. They not only reinvigorated the stale Batman franchise but in the process created the best comic book movie of all time. Now the Nolans are faced with the monumental task, creating the one of the most anticipated sequels of all time, The Dark Knight.

Article continues below

The Nolans have done a masterful job of controlling the flow of information. Almost everything we know about this movie has been released through carefully scripted press releases and clever viral advertising campaigns. As a result, we know very little about the plot of the movie, but here is what we have been able to piece together. We know for sure that the main villain is going to be Batman's classic arch nemesis, the Joker. However, the Joker is to be drastically different from the villain we are used to seeing, because this movie is going to return to its roots. When the Batman comic first started in the 40's, the Joker was a much more serious villain. He was a ruthless murderer rather than the charismatic prankster we are used to seeing today. The writers felt that the old Joker persona fit in a lot better with the new image of Batman that they have created. To fit his now ruthless behavior, Joker's entire look was changed. Instead of wearing flawless makeup, a costume, and using goofy clown weapons, the new Joker will have his smeared makeup, looking more like an insane transvestite than a clown. He is going to be extremely serious, not cracking jokes and hardly laughing, to the point that the smile painted on his face will be more ironic than anything else. We are not going to know much about him, where he comes from or what motivates him, only that he wants to kill Batman and bring chaos to Gotham. He arrives at a pivotal time. Batman has just finished locking up many criminals and mob bosses with the help of star prosecutor Harvey Dent. However, Batman's celebrity status has brought on a rash of imitators who cause more harm than good and end up tarnishing Batman's image.

That is what we know for certain, now I am going to have to start piecing some things together. We know that the movie had a part of the shoot in Hong Kong. One theory has it that the mob pooled all of its money and moved there. Batman goes to Hong Kong and recovers the money and valuable intel which leads to many arrests and crippling of the entire underworld. The Joker arrives and offers to recover the money in exchange for keeping half. Another theory has it that the Joker recovers or steals the mob money from the bank and forces the criminals of the city to help him kill Batman. That is all speculation at this point, but eventually the Joker becomes the most powerful outlaw in Gotham. He starts trying to smoke Batman out and to discover his true identity by killing people, blowing up buildings, and burning the police station. He even kidnaps Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes, threatening to kill both unless Batman reveals his true identity. Batman, using his detective skills, eventually rescues Dent. However, Dent, at this point from the combination of the stress of his captivity and the disappointment over his inability to stop the Joker, begins to exhibit split personalities. His mental condition continues to deteriorate to the point in which he begins to kill people himself. Batman, believing that the city needs a hero and a leader to prevent the city from slipping into complete chaos, starts covering for Dent and taking credit for Dent's killings. This split personality eventually leads him to become the villain Two Face. This transformation is really the central focus of the movie and will serve as a spring board for the next movie in the franchise, but Joker is still Batman's nemesis in The Dark Knight. Joker's actions completely destroy the pillars of society rendering its institutions, like the police and government, obsolete. Some people go crazy and turn to crime themselves, while the majority begin leaving the city. Now it is up to Batman to stop the Joker and save the city, but like I said before, most of this is just theories and a lot of it might be a part of a well planned misinformation campaign by Nolan.

Luckily, Nolan did not keep all aspects of production as much of a secret as he did the plot. One of the best publicized parts of the production process has been the casting. Obviously Christian Bale is reprising his role as Batman, as well as many members of the original cast like Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Eric Roberts (Sal Maroni) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox). One notable change is the part of Rachel Dawes. In Batman Begins, Dawes was played by Katie Holmes, who is considered to have done a terrible job. She clearly did not understand the look and feel that Nolan was going for. As a result Dawes came across as a stuck up, self righteous shell of a person. Her acting was extremely sub par especially in scenes with the more talented Bale. Now she is being replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who made no secret of the fact she did not like the job that Holmes did with the character. She promises to correct the mistakes of her predecessor by making the character "smarter and more human" in tune with Nolan's vision. Joining the original cast will be some all-star new comers as well. The most interesting of these will be Heath Ledger as the Joker. This casting has been one of the most hotly debated decisions of the entire production. Many better established actors really wanted this part including Robin Williams and the original Joker, Jack Nicholson. Nicholson was extremely hurt that Nolan did not even speak to him about the part. He blasted Nolan and Warner Bros saying that "it's a part I always thought I should play" and that Warner Bros "drove the franchise into the ground and I have no inclination to go see The Dark Knight." Well, he does have a point. He was very good as the Joker in Batman, earning the distinction of being #45 on AFI's top 50 villains of all time. However, as good as he was, I agree with the choice of Ledger, since a young Batman needs a young Joker. Nolan also vehemently defended his choice saying, "Ledger is perfect because just like the Joker he is fearless" and that is not just empty talk. At one point during filming, a piece of equipment tipped over and set Gyllenhaal's skirt on fire. Before anyone could react, Ledger leaped over and helped her put it out. So perhaps he is fearless. The other major addition to the cast was Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. Just like with the Joker, other big name actors were interested in playing that part including Hugh Jackman and Ryan Phillippe, but Nolan liked Eckhart's look. Eckhart, in turn, wanted to present Two Face differently than what we have seen before. He wanted Two Face to be a reflection of Batman: The good side being an exaggerated version of the good in Batman and the evil side an extreme reflection of Batman's vengeful side. This dynamic is truly original and is going to be played up in this movie.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the production is the amount of excitement Nolan has been able to generate through viral marketing. First, during ComicCon, dollar bills with Joker's face over George Washington's face and a time and location on the back were left around the entrance. Those who showed up at the prescribed time were given another clue setting off a scavenger hunt and those committed enough to complete the game were given the opportunity to actually be an extra in the movie. Then, while filming in Chicago, copies of "The Gotham Times" were distributed with clues about the plot. Finally, instead of airing a trailer, Nolan actually played the first six minutes of the movie before the IMAX versions of I Am Legend, giving the world a first look at the Joker. This video then made its rounds on the internet, generating a huge amount of free buzz for the film. Finally, Nolan did a lot to hide details of production. He released fake plot lines and to hide shooting locations, he even created a fake movie, "Rory's First Kiss," complete with a fake logo, and even a fake production office. Nolan also created a fake bat suit complete with nipples, taking a shot at "Batman and Robin." He released images of the suit and quickly let everyone know that it was all a big joke, but this let people know that he understood the mistakes that were made with B&R, which will not be repeated. Even the fact that he purposely left Batman out of the title of the movie, actually generated lots of discussion, but obviously by now, everyone knows what it is. All this marketing and misinformation gave him a lot of free publicity, and created a lot of cool collector's items like the copies of "The Gotham Times" and the fake dollar bills.

In Conclusion: I really did not think that The Dark Knight could possibly be better than Batman Begins, but I am pleased to say that I was wrong. This movie looks even better. We have a super serious, extremely dark Joker, who will resonate well with fans. Nolan also had much better technology to work with for his special effects including the new IMAX camera that was utilized for the action sequences. Batman will be sporting a new, more mobile suit and a much tougher, slicker Batmobile. Yet, most of the characters that we liked so much in the first Batman remain unchanged. Nolan did not deviate from what made Batman Begins so great: the serious nature of the story and the darkness of Gotham and its villains. Thus, it looks like we have another great Batman movie to look forward to this summer that is going to raise the bar for all comic book movies that will follow it.

Similar Titles: Batman Begins, Batman, Memento
July 18th, 2008 (wide)
December 9th, 2008 (DVD)

Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan

Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Nestor Carbonell, Anthony Michael Hall, Melinda McGraw, Michael Jai White, Cillian Murphy

Total: 1673 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.





The Dark Knight at AskMen.com

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