The Dark Knight

Roger Ebert : "Four stars!"
Kevin Smith : "The The Godfather part II of comic book films!"
The users of : "#1!"

So what can a small Belgian boy stuck in a dead man's town add that's newsworthy? Why even bother to write this review? Well, because I owe it to my audience (7 men and counting).

I'm not a Batman fan. I deliberately skipped Batman Begins, the 2005 prequel to The Dark Knight, in the cinemas. I still had a bad taste in my mouth from Batman And Robin and I could not believe a new Batman movie could resparkle (is that even a verb in English?) my interest in the caped crusader.

Then came the first trailer and I - along with the rest of the world - couldn't wait to see the movie. The second trailer further raised the anticipation level, to the point where Karel Crombecq - noted Belgian film critic - would say : "Stop hyping it! Enough already! It won't be the best film of 2008, because that distinction goes to There Will Be Blood!"

We had to wait 7 more days compared to the Americans, but yesterday evening Dark Night time had finally arrived. I won't spoil the story, because you have to see and experience everything for yourself.

The movie : brilliant. Absolutely blinding. Near-perfect.

While most reviewers raved and raved about Heath Ledger's performance, I have to point out that the entire movie consists of excellent ingredients. Music? Pompous and chilling. Christopher Nolan's direction? No less than marvellous. The screenplay? Believable conversations without hollow technobabble. The cinematography? Unbelievable.

And the cast, of course. Christian Bale never made me wail (I did dislike his gruff Batman voice, though), Michael Caine is all gain, no pain, Morgan Freeman's acting is more powerful than He-Man, Aaron Eckhart broke every girl's heart and I'd like to dance with Maggie Gyllenhaal on a ball. Her performance is much more subtle and layered than Katie "Valium" Holmes's.

Heath Ledger? "Unrecognizable. He is The Joker." (Johnny Betts,, "a dead cert to win the Oscar" (David Edwards, London Daily Mirror), "As audacious an actor as Marlon Brando, and maybe as great." (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly) etc.

My opinion : hilarious, haunting, hardcore, handsome, headstrong, huge, hyperactive, hypnotizing, hysterical and (unfortunately) heavenly. The best Joker of all time. Period.

The Dark Knight is the best movie of 2008 so far, because Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is the only other movie I have seen. My opinion may change once There Will Be Blood becomes available as a rental.

The biggest achievement of The Dark Knight is its universal appeal as a movie. This is not a superhero movie. This is a genuine, exciting and intense piece of pellicule that could be about anyone. You can show this flick to your aunt or grandfather and she or he will think it is a good movie. You don't have to be a fan of the source material, you don't have to like comicbook movies, you don't have to see Batman Begins first (only a few very minor bits and pieces may appear vague). This is cinema, not pulp.

You really, truly, thoroughly rock, Christopher Nolan.

Julian De Backer, 24 July 2008

P.S. Look what 'the cinema in Antwerp' wrote on their electronic billboard. Who is Christian Ball? Who is B. Cane and when did he direct the movie? Is he related to Bob Kane, maybe?

How stupid can you be?