So I’ve seen it. Last night at a free screener in IMAX no less! The movie was scheduled to start at 6pm but didn’t till 6:30 due to projector issues. I heard word that the first people in line got there at 2pm and when I got there at 4:30pm a good 300 people were already in line. Typically your allowed to find your own seat at these things. This time ushers directed people into rows like cattle making sure no spaces were empty. So you better have liked who you were in line with. Security was tight as I’ve ever seen it. Even as the lights dimmed the head security bellowed out one last time “Cell phones better be off. If we see a glow for any reason your gone.”
If you don’t want to read further then you can stop with this. IT WAS WORTH THE HYPE!
Two Thumbs UP
4**** out of 4****
I gave Iron Man an ‘A’ score, Hellboy 2 a ‘B+’ score, TIH a B+ score and Indy 4 a ‘B’ grade just for reference.
The movie starts with the bank job and at the very end of the heist you get your first reveal of the Joker. It’s a great opener and sets up just how twisted he is and how he really doesn’t care.
Batman is reintroduced during a parking garage drug raid. Our friend Scarecrow is meeting with his dealers when the exchange is interrupted by some
Batmen. Your left to figure out how Scarecrow isn’t in prison but my guess is that his mob connections got him out somehow. The brawl is interrupted when The
Batman shows up in the Tumbler.
We are told that Gotham has seen a marked decrease in crime in the ONE YEAR that Batman has been on the streets. Wayne however isn’t pleased with these copycats that are toying about…and with guns.
We are reintroduced to Lucius Fox as he is overseeing a meeting with a Chinese company that Wayne Enterprises may go into a joint venture with. The head of LAO industries, like the head of Wayne Enterprises, is more than he appears. Turns out Bruce has suspect this and is using the joint venture as a way to observe his accounting books. Turns out LAO is tied in with the Gotham mobs.
LAO and the Gotham mob lords meet, although LAO by remote camera, to discuss the recent heist by the Joker. Turns out the Joker stole from the mob and the mob has 5 banks about Gotham where they launder their money. It is decided a decision must be made about this clown. Que, Joker, he busts into the meeting with a proposal. His intrusion is not welcome and a strongman attempts to remedy that. How Joker dispenses with him in an incredibly quick fashion and will have you thinking about it after he’s done it and while hes still talking to the mob. Pencils are deadly kids! Lao tunes out at this point. The Joker proposes that the real problem is The Batman not him. Due to his arrival a year ago their seemingly tight grip on Gotham matters has been challenged and his departure will solve that. He agrees to do it for a price. He wants half of all the mob savings. This doesn’t go over well and as a few thug strongmen prepare to toss him he reveals he’s rigged with several grenades.
This doesn’t go well and one mob boss offers a reward for the Joker dead or alive.
Harvey Dent meanwhile has been getting accolades since coming into his newly elected role as DA. He is dating Rachel Dawes and of course that means Bruce is keeping an eye on both. He runs into them at dinner where they chat and Bruce offers to throw a fundraiser, even though his reelection is still some 3+ years away. Still a politician always needs cash.
Some hoods show up at the doorstep of the mob boss who placed the hit on Joker. They claim to have his body. They drop him onto the pooltable and upon inspection the mob boss is pleased. Until Joker raises up and turns the table. Short story here is Joker takes out the mob boss and this is yet again another gripping scene of how, for us the audience, he makes you fear him and what he’s going to do despite not seeing it all.
Wayne and Fox make a side trip to China to tell LAO in person that they will have to postpone the merger due to questionable practices. The real reason for the trip is to extradite Lao back to Gotham. Because of course China isn’t going to do so. This is a very well done action piece. The escape is really fun.
Back in Gotham Joker has caught a ‘fake’ Batman and hangs him outside the police commissioners window. A tape follows displaying Jokers interrogation of the fake Batman. He says people will die every night until the real Batman reveals himself. He’s left clues as to who is next targets are as well.
Lao shows up the next morning on the steps of Gotham Police Central. Dent has to make statements about how its unknown that Lao returned but claims no cooperation with the Batman and that no one can confirm Batman had anything to do with Lao’s surfacing.
That night is the Dent fundraiser at Waynes penthouse. Its also when the police key into who the Jokers next victims are based on the clues he placed on the ‘fake’ batman. Dent, the police commissioner and a judge. The short is Joker gets the commissioner and judge.
As the fundraiser is going forward Joker shows up. This is where our first Batman vs Joker match happens and I’ll save that for you.
Its now some days later and a public memorial is being held for the judge and former police commissioner. Joker manages to infiltrate this and while he doesn’t kill Dent he does get Gordon! One of the Jokers goons is caught and Dent, in the confusion, gets in his ambulance and speeds off with him for a personal interrogation. Its at this interrogation where we first see Dents rough side and his 2-sided coin. Batman busts it up and says to leave this type stuff to him. Dent must remain the “White Knight of Gotham” and that if anyone else saw this then all they’ve worked for would be lost cause Dent’s credibility would be gone.
Bruce talks to Rachel and reveals to her that this madness must stop. He must reveal himself so that no more innocents are maliciously killed. He tells her to arrange a press conference with Dent and he will turn himself in. At the press conference Dent actually stands up to declare himself the Batman and he is taken into custody.
Dent is being escorted to a secure facility and this is when the Joker strikes on the streets of Gotham. All the scenes you’ve seen of the Batpod vs Joker standoff are here. The tractor trailer scene is during this sequence and its all very, very good. Especially in IMAX.
Confusion ensues after Joker is caught but all is not what it seems. The Moroni crime family still has police ties and now of course Moroni is in league with Joker. During this mess Rachel is kidnapped and Dent is as well.
During the Joker interrogation it’s now revealed that Jim Gordon is alive and well. His death was faked during the funeral memorial. They anticipated the Jokers interruption and planned Gordons death and Dent being Batman as way to ensnare the Joker. Gordon leaves the interrogation room and out of the shadows steps Batman. This is a great scene and Joker utters a famous line from another Ledger movie here although in this instance its quite creepy.
Turns out though that Joker is never fully caught off guard and anticipated his capture, no planned for it. After all the mob wants Lao and Lao is in police custody so Joker is right where he wants to be. During this Joker/Batman interrogation its revealed that Dent never made it to the hospital for an evaluation and Rachel is missing as well. Joker tells him he can save one of them but not both. He tells them where they are and is left with a minimal security detail as so many cops are now cleaning up from the street brawl, going after Dent and Dawes that minimal is all they have. Joker uses this to his advantage to get to Lao.
Both Dent and Dawes are rigged to barrels of gasoline with a 5 minute timer ticking down. A speaker phone has been opened and the two are allowed to talk to each other. Dent is comforting her that all will be well and that if there is a choice she will be the one saved. Dent, trying to break free, falls onto the floor still tied to his chair and half of his face is soaked with gas. As the timer ticks down Batman busts into the room and pulls Dent out just as the room explodes. However they are still close enough and his gas drenched face catches fire. Gordon and the other team arrive at Dawes location just seconds short though. Rachel dies in a fiery explosion.
Joker has escaped police custody with Lao and taken him to meet the other mobsters. They want their money that Lao has and to which Joker gets half. While the other mobsters are there Joker sets fire to the pile of cash but assures them its just his half.
The Joker isn’t done with Gotham though as he still wants Batman to reveal himself. He informs the city that more will die unless he gets what he wants and that now hospitals will fall. It so happens this is a distraction to get to Dent. Dent is in immense pain with cloth covering half his face. Gordon goes to see him but Dent is showing signs of not being fully Dent. He forces Gordon to repeat the derogatory term that many on the force referred to him as. Which was Two-Face.
As hospitals are being evacuated Joker confronts Dent in the confusion and the two come to an understanding that only unbalanced men can come to. Joker turns Dent into an unwitting ally after laying out who is to fully blame for Rachel’s death. Not he but the cops are to blame.
Dent sets out to punish those crooked cops responsible while Joker goes about continuing to terrorize Gotham. The hospital comes crashing down and in the confusion word gets back to now Commissioner, not Lieutenant, Gordon that Harvey has been lost among the hospital evacuation.
Joker has told Gotham that those trying to escape the city by tunnel or bridge will get a surprise. These means ferry’s are brought into get people out. One ferry has prisoners and the other has citizens. Joker has rigged both with explosives and left the detonators with each. A letter has been left with each boat that a social experiment is underway and that both boats have until midnight to make a choice. It states that the detonator is for the opposite boat. If one blows the other up then that boat will be allowed to continue on. If however neither does Joker blows both.
Meanwhile Dent has been tracking down those involved with Rachels kidnapping and death. He has been using his coin, also scarred in the explosion, to decide the fate of those involved. Some cops have died, some have lived. He catches up to Salvatore Moroni in his car and while the coin says he lives Dent flips the coin again and says its not the same for the other guy. All the while pulling a seat belt on. Moroni says what guy? Your driver. Dent shoots the cars driver and the car flips. He moves on to torture the one person who didn’t arrive in time…Gordon.
Gordon is busy trying to triangulate the Jokers position with Batman who is monitoring all phone activity. Word comes in from his wife that she and their kids have been kidnapped by Dent. Batman takes off to deal with Joker while Gordon heads to the rendezvous laid out by Dent.
Batman fights his way to the Joker and while this fight is nice is more anticlimactic. Joker gets disappointed when neither boat blows, proving that madmen don’t lurk in the souls of everyone(which was an argument he made to Bats in the police interrogation room). He ties Joker up as Gotham P.D. SWAT arrives and heads off to Gordon.
Dent tells Gordon that while you may not be crooked your lack of effort caused Rachels death. He forces Gordon to do what he did and assure his family all will be well, despite how things are going to turn out. This is a great scene where Oldman shines IMO. And he has performed well with his increased screen time this movie already.
Batman shows up and puts the final cap on this standoff. He pushes himself and Dent over the 3-4 story ledge. Dent falls but Batman catches himself. Its very unclear to me if Dent is truly dead. Gordon tells Batman that if its revealed Dent killed a number of cops that its highly likely all the progress Dent made in the force will be reversed. Gordon and Batman agree the blame has to go the vigilante. You will hunt me and pursue me because it has to be done to preserve progress.
A public funeral is given for Dent but after the subterfuge of Gordons death earlier in the film I’m not positive it’s a for real death. Gordon stages a press conference where he declares a hunt for the vigilante Batman who has ultimately betrayed the citys trust and he smashed the batsignal.
The movie ends with Batman careening down the streets of Gotham on the batpod with police in pursuit
Believe it or not I left some details out. Your minds eye is likely to create as grisly a moment for the Joker kills before he actually does them. Its quite a mind game Nolan and company have crafted. Only once I was forced to recall its Ledger in there under the mask. He utters a line that any astute cinema fan will catch. However, the scene pulls you right back and isn't enough to distract my grade. Buff, Angel and LOST fans will see sidebar cameos as well.
I will be seeing this again for sure over the weekend. I feel you really do need a second viewing to fully digest this movie. Even as I typed this I kept thinking that a second viewing might shed some further nuance on some matters