Almost dark enough
A madman has brought his wrath to "Gotham City" (Chicago, Illinois) which is finally cleaning out the criminal element. That man is known to authorities as "The Joker" (Heath Ledger). And there is only one man who can stop him -- a masked vigilante known as "The Batman" (Christian Bale).
However, another man is trying to do, legally, what the "Caped Crusader" has been doing. That man is the District Attorney "Harvey Dent" (Aaron Eckhart), who eventually becomes what "Bruce Wayne" (Bale) fights to become in his dark alter-ego.
The two men who are trying to get "The Clown Prince of Crime" each have the same partner -- "Lt. James Gordon" (Gary Oldman), who is one of the only uncorrupt cops on the force. But, "Batman" has two more partners in his battle against evil -- "Alfred" (Sir Michael Caine), the "Wayne" family butler and "Bruce's" life-long confidant. "Batman's" other partner is the CEO of "Wayne Enterprises", "Lucius Fox" (Morgan Freeman), who is the man behind all of "Batman's" weaponry.
First of all, let me say that this movie is, in my opinion, as close to perfect as you can come. Especially compared to movies I've seen recently. There are way more pros than cons if you ask me.
First of all, most of the movie is just a little too bright for the world of "Batman." The scenes set during sunlight were just not dark enough to set the right mood for this world origincally created in DC Comics. Personally, I would have liked to have seen dimmer lighting in many day scenes where the lighting could be controlled.
Like in the last film, I really had a problem with the "Batmobile." It looked more like a military vehicle, and not something "Batman" should be behind the wheel of. Yes, it's painted black, but every version of the famed vehicle always reminded you of a bat in some way.
I also had a problem with how some of the characters were used. First of all, this movie, like all in the genre, expects the audience to know the background of the main characters for the most part. I still have a problem with Caine, an Academy Award winner, as "Alfred." I just can't picture him as a butler, and he was barely used in this film. Personally, I wish he and Morgan were in the film a little bit more -- especially Caine since Morgan was in the film a bit more often.
Despite the weak writing of the characters, I found the performances pretty strong. Heath Ledger, who died shortly after filming this movie, is almost perfect as "Joker". He captures the insane tone of the character very well, and completely brings you into the performance. Bale is really good as "Batman," although I thought his voice for the character was a bit much. He really did a good job as "Wayne" though.
Caine and Morgan, though under used in my opinion, did a great job with what they were given. You really felt that "Fox" knew why "Wayne" wanted the equipment, but knew not to ask. I also thought Caine made "Alfred" more a father-figure than a butler. In fact, I can't even remember one time when he acted more like a butler.
I was almost impressed with Eckhart until he became his evil alter-ego, "Two-Face." It wasn't until his change that he really picked up his performance.
If you ask me, Maggie Gyllenhaal had no chance at making "Rachel Dawes" her own. She had to fill the role created by Katie Holmes in "Batman Begins", and really didn't do anything that made you forget Holmes in the first movie. In fact, she just didn't make me feel for her when she met her fate in the film that was used as part of "Dent's" dive into madness. They tried to make her look like Holmes, but only made her look like a younger sister to her.
Of course, there is a lot of action in this film. These scenes are fast-paced, and done perfectly. These scenes are edited very well, and get the job done. Another special effect which stands out is the "Two-Face" make-up, which is actually CGI edited over Eckhart's face in post-production. It wasn't until I saw some production stills online that I thought it was some very elaborate makeup.
The music was done really well in this movie. Although I couldn't tell you any pieces of music used if I heard it again, the music really enhanced scenes. Like the soundtrack should, the music was used perfectly.
I wouldn't put this in the top five of your "Must See" list, but I would suggest that you check this one out the next time you find it on HBO, or even the next time you visit your local rental store or Netflix.