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The Dark Knight (****)
directed by Christopher Nolan
written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, with characters created by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson
The Dark Knight
Principal Cast
Christian Bale -- Bruce Wayne / Batman
Heath Ledger -- The Joker
Aaron Eckhart -- Harvey Dent
Michael Caine -- Alfred
Maggie Gyllenhaal -- Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman -- Gordon
Morgan Freeman -- Lucius Fox
Monique Gabriela Curnen -- Det. Ramirez
Ron Dean -- Detective Wuertz
Cillian Murphy -- Scarecrow
Chin Han -- Lau
Nestor Carbonell -- Mayor Anthony Garcia
Eric Roberts -- Salvatore Maroni
Ritchie Coster -- The Chechen
Anthony Michael Hall -- Mike Engel
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The Dark Knight certainly gives action fans their money's worth -- there is enough action on the screen for a double feature, a Batman vs. The Joker movie and a Batman vs. Two Face movie. This film is much better on all counts than Batman Begins, where I cannot even remember who the villain was -- oh, yes, Ras Al Gul, but not the memorable Neal Adams version of that character.

On the other hand, it is Heath Ledger as The Joker who raises the movie above the standard of a very good action adventure film and makes it memorable. Praise for his acting is not just sentimental twaddle due to Ledger's untimely death. He gives a great performance, as memorable in its way as Peter Ustinov in Topkapi or Brad Pitt as the Gypsy boxer in Snatch.

It is not his madness that makes The Joker memorable, but his unpredictability. Every other character in the film is one-dimensional. Batman is just, Alfred loyal, Gordon is a good cop, the love interest is the love interest. None have any of the complexity of real human beings. Even Harvey Dent switches between all good and all bad at the flip of a coin.

Heath Ledger plays The Joker as a person who hesitates, who changes his mind, who surprises even himself with what comes out of his mouth. The Joker is scary because not even he knows what he is going to do next and he is capable of anything.

Is The Joker on drugs? Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Was he taking drugs when he played The Joker? I don't know, but I hope not. Good as The Dark Knight is, it is not a film worth dying for.

Questions about drugs and art have no simple answers. Drugs cause most of the crime in the United States today, and we spend billions of dollars pretending to try to solve a problem that the rich and powerful do not want solved. Why should we even try?

Would you take away William Faulkner's bourbon? Bob Dylan's pot? John Lennon's LSD? Ok, you're with me so far. Now, how about Lenny Bruce's morphine? Janis Joplin's heroin? Jimmy Hendrix's speed? Suddenly, the answers are not so easy.

The drug laws in the United States are insane, the worst in the world. We have more people in prison than any other country, because we love law and order. But the President of the United States did drugs when he was in college. He didn't go to jail.

We continually hear about the War on Terror. Drug dealers murder more than ten times as many people as terrorists, year in and year out, but we laugh and make jokes. Imagine the mother of a kid who's been sent to jail, watching a sitcom about a 600 pound felon who calls his new cellmate "Honey." The kid is Black, of course. White kids go to rehab, but Black kids need to be taught respect for the law.

It's a lot easier to fight crime when both the crime-fighters and the criminals wear fancy costumes.

Sorry if this review has been a downer. Go see the movie. No credit cookies.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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