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'The Dark Knight:' A Shock to The Senses and Some Food for Thought


For quite a while, moviegoers have been expecting a Batman sequel. Now, the moment is here. But don't expect an off-the-rack superhero flick. Not only is Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" an adrenaline- pumping extravaganza, it is also a raw and moody drama about the human condition. VOA's Penelope Poulou has a review.

Batman moves swiftly, effortlessly. There is never any hesitation. His moves are so flawless, it is actually difficult to believe there is a human being under that suit. And yet, Batman is as human as can be.

After seeing some heavy bruises on his boss's back, Alfred Pennyworth, Batman's butler warns him to be careful. He says, "Know your limits Master Wayne." But Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, counters: "Batman has no limits."
"Well, you do sir," continues his trusted servant.
Bruce Wayne: "I can't afford to know them," Batman retorts.

In "The Dark Knight," there is no specific moment when Batman reaches a breaking point. But his struggle against Joker, a psychotic killer, will gradually turn him rageful and revengeful. Batman makes mistakes. And finally, to the Joker's glee, he faces tragic consequences.

The showdown between Batman and the Joker is riveting. Both appear undefeated. In previous superhero movies, good triumphs over evil. That's not certain in "The Dark Knight." Both Batman and the Joker are locked in an endless battle.

Christian Bale plays Batman. The recently deceased Heath Ledger portrays the Joker. Both actors embody their greater-than-life characters seamlessly. But Heath Ledger's performance is this movie's crowning achievement. Ledger makes the Joker horrifying. His Oscar- worthy performance -- the last before his untimely death -- is part of why people want to go see this film.

" I thought Heath Ledger looked awesome in the trailer. So, I am excited to see what he did in the role," says a young woman. "Yeah, we want to see Heath's last movie. I think he was really good in it. That's what everybody is saying. So we want to see it," says a dad of a pre-teen son.
"See Batman again and the Joker face off. That's gonna be awesome!" Says a ten-year old boy.

Whether Heath Ledger's menacing Joker and Director Nolan's dark take on Batman make this a kids' movie, parents must decide. But adults are in for a treat. The star-studded cast includes: Aaron Eckhart as Gotham City's incorruptible District Attorney Harvey Dent, Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne's butler Arthur. Gary Oldman plays Lt. James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman is Bruce Wayne's technical guru, Lucious Fox. Finally, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Rachel Dawes. She's both Batman's and Harvey Dent's love interest, a role she says she thoroughly enjoyed.

"I would think 'O.K. in this scene, I think, probably am leaning toward Harvey.' And then we would play the scene and I would think 'Oh! but Bruce!" says Maggie Gullenhaal tenderly.

As for Bruce Wayne, Gotham's handsome billionaire, Christian Bale says he is torn between the woman he loves and the life he's chosen.
"You have the fight between what is good for Bruce Wayne and what is the right thing to do for Batman," says the actor.

"The Dark Knight's" cinematography adds to the intensity. The special effects are spellbinding especially in the IMAX version. As for Batman's Bat Pod, Warner Brothers chief technician Moses Paskowitz described it in one word:
"Deadly! It's completely unconventional than all the other motorcycles out there."

Unconventional, difficult to drive, dangerous, the Bat Pod, like the rest of the film, takes you on a wild ride.