Christian Living


The Dark Knight: Movie Review

Star Rating

Movie Info


PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.


Action/Adventure, Crime/Gangster, Adaptation and Sequel


July 18, 2008


Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman


Christopher Nolan


Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

CBN is not endorsing the films or TV shows CBN.com reviews. Our goal is to provide information about the latest in entertainment, both the good and the bad, so you may make an informed decision as to what is appropriate for you and your families.

Like everywhere else, fads sweep Hollywood movies. A new teaching in Hollywood advertised in script workshop contends that “you don’t need plot, you don’t need character, you don’t need dialogue, because all you need is emotion.”

Evidently, the current creators of Batman found this approach intriguing because the movie is full of emotional moments, some of which are great, to the neglect of plot, character and dialogue. Thus, Batman in The Dark Knight does not go through a character arc and (SPOILER ALERT) hardly seems to wince when a terrible tragedy occurs in the middle of the action, and the Joker does not go through a character arc. People who like emotive moments, video games, and eye candy will walk out satisfied, but people who like to be touched by the story and the characters will be disappointed.

Dark Knight starts off with much promise. There’s a new criminal in Gotham City challenging the mobs. He is ruthless, senseless and chaotic, a true psychopath. He sends his goons to rob a mob bank. He tells each goon to finish off the goon who completes his job, first the driver, then the safecracker, then the bagman so that only Joker leaves alive. He tells the mob that he will get rid of their biggest problem, Batman, after driving a pencil through a mobster’s head to show his cruel superiority.

At the same time, there’s a new good guy on the scene, Harvey Dent, the District Attorney. With Batman and Detective Gordon’s help, he arrests the Chinese mob leader, Lau, who has been the lead banker for all the mobsters. Using Lau’s information, Dent is able to indict a courthouse full of mobsters.

Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, thinks Harvey may be able to solve the crime problem so that Batman can get back together with his beloved, Rachel. Rachel, however, has fallen in love with Harvey.

The Joker leaves a clue that he’s going to kill the judge, the police commissioner and Harvey Dent. (SPOILER ALERT) In his chaotic, psychotic way, Joker kills the judge, kills the commissioner in a crowd of policemen, kills Rachel, and causes Harvey to lose half his face so that one side of his face looks like a skull and tendons. This causes a psychotic break in Harvey, who turns into a villain himself, though somewhat more conflicted.

Batman makes it his goal to capture Joker. He almost goes over the top and becomes a vigilante, especially when Joker kidnaps two people and wires them up to two bombs.

Movies with two villains often have problems, because once you finish with the first villain, you have to defeat the second villain, which is almost like a second movie. Thus, for those who don’t revel in exciting eye candy, the last 20 minutes of this movie become tedious. As said, some of the interactions between the characters are brilliant emotional moments. They have been used to make good ads and YouTube clips of the movie, but they do not hang together cohesively. Upping the ante on emotional moments can bring fatigue. What works traditionally is a plot point early on in the movie to propel it in a different direction and a plot point introduced in the third act. The Batman script has one noticeable plot point in the middle and several repetitious plot beats. Joker is psychotic and mean from the beginning. He’s shown to be psychotic and mean several times. A little character growth would have helped him a great deal. Those who think playing psychotic and mean is great acting will love this role. They may want to look back at Jack Nicholson’s Joker, who made more of a haunting, lasting impression because of his deep-seated humor in the midst of real pain and suffering.

The music, sound effects and special effects are very good. These are some of the best explosions in movie history. The Dark Knight is not a very bad movie, although it seems to suggest in no uncertain terms that a hero can be a liar without tarnishing his heroic qualities. This is not a movie for children or young teenagers who may pick up scripts of bad behavior, however, though they probably will flock to the movie. Parents must take a strong stand, therefore, and not let their children and teenagers succumb to media hype. From our point of view, consider renting Batman Begins, the first movie in this incarnation of the caped hero, instead. It’s a much better scripted, acted, and directed movie.

NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.

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