The Pantheon #1: The Dark Knight (2008)

A new feature based on an idea from one of my favourite podcasts – filmspotting. There are films which I feel are just too over used. At times it may be a classic other times it may be a film that hits such highs in popular culture so quickly that I immediately get sick of hearing its name called. Every so often I will highlight a film that I feel (maybe not necessarily on this blog) but over all I what I see on the internet is getting maybe too much love (whether deserved or not) and I’m going to put it in the pantheon.

The Pantheon is a special section of the realm of film where all the best of the best films that we can all just admit freely is great. It will definitely be a contendor for Top Three in any list that it is applicable to and at times is our go to film when discussing a topic just because it’s so easily recognized by this point.

The point of this feature is not just to give the film it’s finally moment to shine but also to remind myself, as well all of you, why this film is great. Once entered into the pantheon this film will no longer be discussed (at least on this website) ever again.

I guess for the very first instalment of this new series of articles which is all about laying films out to pasture to enjoy a very long retirement I’m being a little bit overly dramatic by choosing such a recent select. The sequel to which is due out in less than a year. However, I guess I’ve just reached a point with people talking about The Dark Knight at every given chance. In almost every and any list I read where the tiniest aspect of which can be interpreted to include TDK as a contender has the film win top spot and I feel almost that people just can’t move on.

There are near 500, maybe more if I took a closer look, new releases making its way into the local cinema every year. It’s always a pain to find ten, if so many, films that truly stand out each year. However, I believe somehow we tend to move on year to year. I doubt the blogosphere, as well as the rest of the world, has ever truly moves on from 2008’s release of The Dark Knight.

In 2008, a mere 3 years ago, we were all wetting our pants in anticipation to see what Christopher Nolan had conjured up in his twisted mind for his reimagining of the battle between Batman and The Joker for Gotham City. Years afterward there isn’t a person alive today who isn’t still quoting lines from the film and trying their darndest to pull off that Joker makeup for Halloween.

In my review that I posted (and am not that proud to reread and link to) I went on to say such hyperbole as:

Now, I’ve never been a believer in giving out a perfect 10/10 score to movies. For the simple principle that we live in an imperfect world and that nothing [not even movies] can be perfect. So don’t think I didn’t spend hours pondering where the imperfection lies in this film. I did. I laid in my bed rethinking the experience of watching The Dark Knight and tried to find a moment when I was in the theatre, and for a second wanted to let my mind wander away from the screen. THERE ISN’T ONE. I love this movie and if you don’t go to the theatre and watch this movie it means you’re a Nazi!

The film still has all the great elements it had three years ago when it was released. Heath Ledger gives a performance that we could only hope was a true precursor to something even more engrossing, Aaron Eckhart played the other half of that methodically destructive tone wherein he kept us guessing by not knowing the answer to each of his own responses by the end of the film and Gary Oldman is that cop who isn’t just lucky he’s smart (even though the film doesn’t work too hard at getting that point across). It’s also an achievement in bringing big budget Hollywood to a level of consumer satisfaction that hasn’t been seen since Spielberg coined the term with the first Blockbuster, Jaws.

With that said about the performances I feel at the end of the day the true highlight of the film are a couple of simple sequences and how well Christopher Nolan (today’s king of the thriller) was able to put them together piece by piece for us. One of which was the opening bank robbery scene. There are few films ever made where a scene is able to put us into the middle of things and have us constantly guessing and at the same time loving every moment of it. It opens with a pretty unforgettable shot of Gotham City (Chicago in the real world) and we see two guys zip line across to the roof of a building. Then we see a man waiting on the corner with a clown mask in hand (who we learn later is actually The Joker). The scene moves with incredible pace having dialogue exposition occur in a completely unnatural form feeling completely natural due to the seamless flow of action and dialogue which just gets more and more intriguing which eventually culminates in the end with the Joker’s grand plan playing out perfectly. It’s almost as if we’re seeing the inner workings of the Joker’s mind as he’s planning this heist and we have to just accept that it actually happens this way. It’s probably the best scene in a comic book film because it’s one of the few scenes that actually feels like a completely panels comic book, without actually having silly comic book panels digitally worked into the scene’s pacing.

I love this movie and always will, I know this. However, I’ve come to the point, while still anticipating and ready to wet my pants again when The Dark Knight Rises is released next summer, where I don’t think I really need to talk about it anymore.

What’re Your Final Words on The Dark Knight?

  • Steven Flores

    A future piece on my Favorite Films essay. 

  • Andrew Robinson

    Yup… it’s one of those