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BMZ Review: The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience
By Ann Coates

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The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: August 15, 2008

     

Category: Reviews

The much hyped film, The Dark Knight, is an action heavy movie mixed with a suitable, though episodic storyline.  Where the previous installation, Batman Begins, is more concise and character-driven, The Dark Knight has placed its assets in visual, rather than emotional power.

Director Christopher Nolan chose to film six sequences using IMAX cameras, propping the action driven film to even more explosive heights both literally and figuratively.  For first-timers to an IMAX film, this is probably an excellent introduction into the film format.  Where other Hollywood films were simply letterboxed in their digital remastered version, certain shots of TDK make full use of the IMAX format, filling the entire screen.  The film toggles between the two formats in an easy, non-disruptive fashion, though admittedly I was eager for more images that filled the screen, and disappointed when they reverted back to 35mm.  The clarity of large format is also very distinct from 35mm -- once an IMAX sequence ends, it is quite clear (or rather blurred) when the standard format takes over.

With an opening sequence filmed in IMAX, a viewer is flooded with an overpowering view of Gotham City as well as an all-encompassing sound.  Probably one of the most impressive IMAX sequences is Batman's jump off a Hong Kong tower -- a short but exceptional use of the Giant Screen format which easily induces vertigo to even the most skeptical viewer.

The story itself is a cut above the typical comic book film.  Where most superhero films regress into hammy, uninspired storytelling, TDK avoids these characteristic traps by retaining traces of reality in a very unrealistic genre.  Nevertheless, nearing the end, the film confuses convolution with complexity.  The film is driven by the action, what events lead Batman to danger is beside the point.  Why is he on top of a roof?  Why are there hostages?  What is the purpose of this dialogue?  Ultimately it doesn't matter, it's simply another moment to build some tension and flaunt some jaw-dropping superhero capers to an audience eager to be wowed.

The players themselves are up to the task in this genre-defying film with Christian Bale giving the most evocative and interesting representation of Batman.  The peripheral characters also have more depth than what is usually alloted to them, particularly Michael Caine's performance as Alfred who gives the most poetic and haunting lines in the film.  As for the late Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, he does deserve praise for helping create such an original vision of a recognizable character.  In a film that relies so much on origin stories, a character with no origin would have probably been unremarkable in less capable hands.  Nevertheless, Oscar-buzz is quite presumptuous for this particular role.  It seems such words are only voiced because it his last performance, and Hollywood's last chance to give him such an honor -- one he rightly deserved but never received for his more complex and impressive turn in Brokeback Mountain.

Though the hype is there, it is quite a spectacular film not only in its technical respects, but its ability to rise above, not just films of the comic book genre, but contemporary films in general.  Though director Nolan is sometimes apt to hokey camera work (look out for the dialogue scenes where the camera incessantly circles the characters as they speak), he has envisioned and executed the most fascinating vision of the world of Batman cinema has ever seen.

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