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TOPIC: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight (2008) 9 years 4 months ago #5934

Greetings again from the darkness, my fellow pursuit posse. My review this time is of not only the most highly-anticipated car chase of the summer, but of the biggest blockbuster movie to be unleashed upon the world this year.

Sure it has gained critical acclaims and accolades for being a thought-provoking crime epic along the lines of classics like Heat. Sure everyone is raving about Mr Ledger's post-mortem performance a la Brandon Lee's The Crow. Sure it has pulverised not only Spiderman 3's opening day takings, but also its weekend box-office moolah. But we're not interested in all that, are we? What I'm sure y'all want to know is whether its chase can measure up to our expectations.

I'm proud to say, it most certainly does, and dare I say it, gives Vantage Point, my current favourite, a run for its money. Below is a summary of the chase. As usual, MILD SPOILERS, but the film ending will not be given away.
The chase starts when Harvey Dent, after falsely admitting to being the Batman to lure the Joker out of hiding, is being escorted across the city to the lock-up. The Joker takes the bait and along with a semi and garbage truck full of his army, systemically takes down the convoy in an attempt to kill Dent. The garbage truck rams the police vehicles aside while the Joker, who is travelling in the trailer parallel to Dent's SWAT van, uses a series of weapons in escalating firepower (using first a handgun, followed by a shotgun, before settling on a bazooka) to get to Dent. It is at this point, that Batman arrives on the scene in his Batmobile, and then promptly proceeds to disable the garbage truck in a head-on collision. The Batmobile then crashes in a spectacular jump and rollover when it takes a missile shot from the Joker to protect Dent.
Batman deploys his Batpod and goes after the remaining semi. After taking a shortcut through a shopping mall and alley, he plays a game of chicken with the Joker who is now driving the semi, before swerving underneath and away from the trailer at the last minute. The trailer is then upended by its own forward momentum, as a result of a cable Batman has hooked to its undercarriage and attached to several lampposts. The Joker climbs out of the wreckage and stands in the middle of the street to taunt the Batman in a final showdown. Batman does an impressive vertical 180 against a wall and bears down on the Joker, but eventually swerves in a skidding crash to avoid running him down.

The chase, on the surface, is reminiscent of Batman Begins' police chase in both setting (under freeway bridges) and timing (at night). However, this chase, like the Bourne Supremacy, has lived up to its predecessor and in some ways exceeded it, in terms of stunts and carnage. The scope is grander, instead of the limited views of narrow highway ramps enveloped by fog, we get some nice shots along the wide streets of Chicago with its towering skyscrapers looming against the night landscape. There's more vehicular carnage this time round, with the climatic 18-wheeler flipping end over end on Chicago's famous LaSalle Street, that has been heavily featured in the trailers and TV spots. The lack of background music like in Ronin and Heat, also makes you focus on the action more, which is a good thing in this instance.

A second plus is no infernal CGI! After the computer-generated stunts of Indy and Wanted, this gritty, back-to-basics return to form is a breath of fresh air in a relatively mediocre summer of car chases. As far as I could tell and remember, everything was done by, as the Joker puts it, good old-fashioned, "dynamite, gunpowder and gasoline". And yes, the infamous trailer flip is 100% real, on location, no strings attached.

Another bonus is no shakey cam! Every shot was steady, precise in its purpose, and tracked the action fluidly. I was surprised to see even the in-cabin shots of the driver were not jittery, when it would have been in other conventional pictures. I know it's a sad state of affairs when the twins of cinematic motion-sickness CGI and Shakey-Cam are so prevalent nowadays, that a film has to be lauded for not using them, but, oh, well...

The little slices of humour was a great addition, too. The pun on a famous saying along the side panel of the semi, the boys pretending to shoot cars only to see them blow up in real-life, and the Joker's nonchalant reaction to Batman's crash all add comic relief to the mix.

One minor thing that could be improved on is, again, more fancy driving, which, with the exception of the Bourne series, seems to be lacking in modern movies. Yes, there are some cool manoeuvres like the SWAT van fishtailing, the semi smashing the freeway support columns, and the Batpod's impressive "has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed" vertical 180 turn up a wall. But this chase is more in the vein of wanton-destruction like LFODH, then say, Ronin.

After all is said and done however, the Dark Knight's chase still remains an excellent pursuit befitting the film it is in. It is a testament to Nolan, Bale, Ledger, and all the stunt team's vision and efforts to deliver a car chase for the series and the superhero genre that rivals some of the best in film history. There are many 'cinematic' shots: The beautiful overhead opening shot down the 'canyon' of Gotham's skyscrapers which tracks over an ominous burning fire-truck, illuminating the darkness, warning of the danger lurking just around the corner. Heath's Joker standing still in the middle of the street, a proverbial and literal unmoving, uncaring, unstoppable force of nature, in a nihilistic last stand against his twin on the other side of the law. The dolly of Batman's final crash and burn, IMO a powerful visual signifier of Batman's downfall to his arch-enemy.

I could go on and sing praises about this. But I'm going to shut up now. In my reviews of the latest (and rather "Meh") movies, I would tell you it's worth a watch at the cinemas, you know, if you want some mindless fun, there's some nice stunts here and there, it's pretty cool overall, oh, and be sure to check your brain in at the door. This time though, for this entertaining film with its philosophical musings on world order, a diametrically-opposed symbiotic relationship between the hero and the villian, and the breathtaking chase that truly sets the benchmark for the series, I'm going to say this: Go See It. Now. It really lives up to the hype.

If you need further convincing, here's two previews of the chase in question. If you've blown $10.50 at the box office like Yours Truly last Friday to be the first few to see this, I'd like to hear your opinions. Awesome? Overrated? Batty? Let's get some discussion, discourse, and debate going on here, people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9DixtwuOsQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O2PdoK9Mhc

Oh, and I'd like to drop a shameless plug for my latest trailer mash-up, this time of another car chase movie Hancock with TDK. If you liked it, please rate and comment. If you didn't, that's just tough cheese. :)

TDIT's exhilarating mashup of the coolest car flick with the best animated film of the year! Fast & Feathered 5 Click sig to watch!
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Re: The Dark Knight (2008) 9 years 4 months ago #5936

Just saw The Dark Knight, and like AndreTeh, I was impressed with the car chase sequence and with the film as a whole, although perhaps would not rate it as highly as currently rated on IMDB. The pursuit sequence, when considered in its entirety, is amongst the best action sequences I've seen in a long time. Nolan got the balance just right between elements of a chase with that of gun and bazooka play. It is also an incredibly well shot sequence with great atmospheric nighttime cinematography. On visuals alone, it was a pleasure to watch. I was a fan of the chase of its predecessor, but this definitely surpasses it.

re Heath Ledger's performance: it deserves all the praise that its been receiving with Ledger well deserving a postmortem Oscar.
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Re: The Dark Knight (2008) 9 years 3 months ago #5983

I agree wholeheartedly with CCK's praise for Mr Ledger. He brings a certain nuance and 'heart' to a heartless villian who just "wants to see the world burn". Who didn't love his 'execution' of the now infamous "disappearing pencil" magic trick?

I'm surprised more members haven't commented on this landmark film's car chase. It's been Number 1 for an incredible four weeks (one month!) now, both in the US and Oz, and given this or the Titanic, I'd prefer Knight to steal the crown of celluloid cash coffers.
This is the only film I've watched a second time in cinemas this year (and is probably the first as far as I could remember) and I took the opportunity to see it in Imax yesterday. The aerial shots are gob-smackingly breathtaking, and the car chase looks that much more spectacular on a screen six stories from ceiling to floor. The semi thundering down the road, the Batmobile exploding, and the towering skyscrapers flanking the Joker's last stand looked that much more awe-inspiring. It's so immersive, and 'life-size', you feel you're in the thick of the action. Oh, and the sound system literally shakes you in your seat! One thing I noted about the soundtrack though, is that background music is virtually non-existent during the chase, only to rise in a high-pitch shriek of violin strings towards the climax. Real intense soundtrack, and very reminiscent of Ronin. If you can pony up the *cough*ridiculous*cough* admission price, I'd strongly suggest you go see it on Imax, if not, just the conventional big screen.
There are a couple of nice tracking of fast vehicles too. Besides the Tumbler and the included Batpod, Mr Wayne also has a MV Agusta F4 bike and a Murcielago at his disposal, and he does get to put them to good use in a race-against-time and intersection crash sequence respectively. There's also another race-against-the-clock scene where Batman in his Batpod and Gordon in a Town Car ("Mount the kerb!") hustle to two different venues to save two of Joker's victims. Finally, there's a wince-inducing car rollover caused by Two-Face's coin-flipping decision.
Given that more of ya have seen this movie by now, (if not in cinemas, at least through, uh, 'questionable' means. :P ) I'm interested to hear what the rest of you have to say. Seriously, do you guys think this is the most outstanding car chase in recent memory? Or do you think it could have done with some improvements (I, for one, wished it would be longer, and with one or two more stunts)?
Irregardless of what you think of the car chase, you can't deny the fact that this film is not only a cinematic experience, it has evolved into a cultural phenomenon not seen since LOTR or Titanic.

TDIT's exhilarating mashup of the coolest car flick with the best animated film of the year! Fast & Feathered 5 Click sig to watch!
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Re: The Dark Knight (2008) 9 years 3 months ago #5993

Have to agree with you, AndreTeh. I'm surprised as well that the The Dark Knight hasn't received further comment in the forums. It is indeed a major cultural event, having just passed Star Wars at number 2 in all time domestic (US) box office earnings as is on track to break the $500 million barrier. Whether it will surpass Titanic I'm not sure, but clearly it is the superior film. And it had a great pursuit sequence!!
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