The Dark Knight: An Extraordinary Cinematic Revolution
by Alex Billington
July 1, 2008
This is not a review of The Dark Knight. However, considering the film isn't even in theaters yet, it might come as a surprise to hear so much profound praise, but I can't help from sharing my feelings on this absolute masterpiece. In fact, I've decided to move beyond calling it a masterpiece to calling it potentially a cinematic revolution. Not since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King five years ago in December of 2003, did I walk out of the theater so moved, so amazed, and so extraordinarily impacted by the movie I had just watched. Instead of reviewing this film and its many brilliant elements, I must explain why it truly is a flawless masterpiece that the world will experience together on July 18th. Don't necessarily change any of your expectations, but be prepared for an unforgettable theatrical experience.
The biggest reason that I believe The Dark Knight is a cinematic revolution is its use of IMAX cameras and stunning cinematography. This was unlike anything I have ever seen before and that's because it literally has never been done before until now. I have never normally enjoyed watching movies converted to IMAX, but the work in this was breathtaking, a true look at a future where movies constantly push visuals to these extremes. It's a true revolution because when The Dark Knight arrives and the world is so drawn into how amazing the film looks on IMAX, it will instantly become the standard for the future, similar to bullet time from The Matrix. Christopher Nolan has shown us a world without filmmaking boundaries. And for the first time ever, I can't suggest you watch this anywhere else besides on IMAX.
One of the other elements of The Dark Knight that I consider a revolution is its brilliant viral marketing. Every last element of the viral "alternate reality game" ties in with the film - from the locations to the fictional characters to the events - they were all directly involved with some part of the actual story or the film. This isn't just a game that's set in a fictional Gotham City that exists solely on the internet, it felt like it was truly a part of the film. Without spoiling specific details, the viral marketing elements that connect with the film included: corrupt police officers, the election of Harvey Dent as District Attorney, TV newscasts from Gotham Cable News, defaced newspapers, locations (Gotham Ferry), buried cell phones in "things" such as cakes from last year, and much more. This is the ultimate in fan interaction.
The last major element that will incite endless discussion is the potential for The Dark Knight to change comic book movies forever. As for how exactly, it's tough to get into that discussion without the entire world having seen the movie already, but for the first time ever I actually cared more about the story and the progression of the characters than the action. Most comic book fans look for great action in superhero movies and that's it, but this is definitely not just another big budget action film. Christopher Nolan has showed us that a superhero movie with a fantastic story can achieve a level of brilliance that few thought was possible. It is only a potential right now because it is dependent on the financial success and how well both critics and fans receive the film upon its release.
Thanks to David Goyer, Christopher Nolan, and his brother Jonah Nolan, the story in The Dark Knight is entirely incomparable to any other previous superhero movie. It twists and turns nearly every twenty minutes and keeps you on the edge of your seat, gasping for air and accelerating your heart rate, throughout all 160 minutes of it. Not only is the story amazing, but the film combines that with phenomenal action scenes for a result that is an utterly flawless combination of an intricate story with intense action. This may not be new for filmmaking on a whole, as films like The Coen Brother's No Country for Old Men are this will crafted, but they're not a part of the comic book genre. It's up to the fans and moviegoers to embrace this style in this genre, but it certainly has the potential to change the comic book genre forever.
Given Batman Begins wasn't exactly the biggest box office earner for Warner Brothers, it's amazing to see that the studio has let Christopher Nolan have this much free range control over the film to create such a dark, thematic, and long feature. It's not just great filmmaking, but it's something that really breaks the general rules for studio summer tentpoles and yet succeeds at its progression throughout three finely crafted acts. What I must continue to emphasize is how much The Dark Knight accelerates past the limits of typical expectations for summer superhero blockbusters yet achieves an amazing level of brilliance that most movies in general don't even come close to anyway. At nearly 160 minutes, the film is immensely epic and races you through one of the most astounding cinematic experiences in the last few years.
The in-depth discussion of the cinematic revolution of The Dark Knight won't truly begin until July 18th. It may feel like a long wait, but it's worth it, every last minute of it. The first time I saw the film it was such a profound experience, that I want everyone to be able to walk out as completely moved as I was. The moment that the credits started rolling, I finally let out a breath that I had been holding the last few minutes. I didn't want it to end because I felt as if I had been personally involved in an intense and unforgettable experience. It's just that incredible. It might not change your life, but as Christian Bale said in Batman Begins, its filmmaking achievements will undoubtedly "rattle the cages" of Hollywood.