‘The Dark Knight’ Bestows Role of a Lifetime For Heath Ledger, Epic Proportions For Itself

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CHICAGO – With only three short words comprising the film’s enigmatic title, “The Dark Knight” also boasts three epic claims to fame: the role of a lifetime for the late Heath Ledger as the hauntingly deranged Joker, one of the best films of 2008 and one of the greatest superhero films of all time.

In a year when Hollywood has the superhero woody comparable to when westerns where the greatest thing since sliced bread, “The Dark Knight” not only fares well against blockbuster competition with films like “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” but also manages to rise above chartbuster status into a whole new league of undisputed justice.

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HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0
(rarely perfect)

Though a decidedly dark and outcast Batman is the heart behind the marketing machine for “The Dark Knight” from writer and director Christopher Nolan (who also directed the film’s first iteration in 2005 entitled “Batman Begins”), Christian Bale in the seminal role has his show stolen by Ledger’s villain.

While to some it may be surprising to classify Bale’s performance as “B” list and Ledger’s as “A+” list, you almost feel modesty in Bale’s screen time to honor the true man of this film’s 142 minutes.

While “The Dark Knight” completed principal photography prior to Ledger’s death, Bale delivers an intricately muted role as compared to Ledger. While entwined with the power inherent in his superhero marauding, Bale’s also humbled from working with another man who was delivering the culmination of his life’s work.

Health Ledger disappears so convincingly and completely into the Joker that you struggle to remember him in anything else.

This is a telling testament to an illustrious – albeit too short – career of an actor who memorably broke free in transformative roles in films including “Brokeback Mountain”. Nolan – who for this film was significantly influenced by the 1995 film “Heat” – says he selected Ledger for the focal Joker role based on his “fearlessness”.

Ledger’s Joker is developed to the finest of details even down to his unruly tongue action and the sounds of his excess saliva. Moreover, Nolan and co-writing brother Jonathan Nolan (David S. Goyer was also integral in the film’s story) deliver to Ledger the best profundities of any talent in the star-studded film.

“The Dark Knight,” which is directed by Christopher Nolan and features Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Colin McFarlane, Joshua Harto, Michael Jai White and William Fichtner, will open everywhere on July 18, 2008 in traditional theaters and in IMAX. The film will show in IMAX for a continuous 72 hours for its opening Chicago weekend.

Star Continuing reading for Adam Fendelman’s full “The Dark Knight” review.Star View our exclusive red-carpet coverage of “The Dark Knight” in Chicago.

Heath Ledger stars as the Joker in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger stars as the Joker in “The Dark Knight”.
Photo credit: Warner Bros., copyright DC Comics

Gary Oldman at Chicago's Navy Pier for the red-carpet premiere of The Dark Knight on July 16, 2008. In the film, Oldman plays Lt. James Gordon
Gary Oldman at Chicago’s Navy Pier for the red-carpet premiere of “The Dark Knight” on July 16, 2008. In the film, Oldman plays Lt. James Gordon.
Original photography for HollywoodChicago.com by Kris Kasperek of iKLiKphoto

Christian Bale as Batman on his Batpod in The Dark Knight
Christian Bale as Batman on his Batpod in “The Dark Knight”.
Photo credit: Warner Bros., copyright DC Comics

Star Continuing reading for Adam Fendelman’s full “The Dark Knight” review.Star View our exclusive red-carpet coverage of “The Dark Knight” in Chicago.

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