I've postponed this review for a long time. Because I never thought I'd get this right. I still don't think I can express in words, my euphoric reaction to The Dark Knight, but I have to try.
Nearly everyone who has seen The Dark Knight agrees that it is a fascinating movie and that Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is 'iconic'. So, I won't waste bandwidth by repeating that. I will though, try to explain why I liked the movie so much, and hopefully, that'll highlight a different perspective from the ones so far.
As a child, I was a prolific reader of comic books - Phantom, Flash and Batman were among my favourites. Of course, I read all the Indrajal comics, Super-,Spider-, Iron- and many other men, enjoyed Suppandi's jokes in Tinkle, Premchand's epics in the Chandamama, and a dozen others. Batman, though, was very different from the rest of them.
Nearly every character in Batman has a tragedy behind him/her. Batman and Robin's parents were murdered, the Penguin abandoned as a child, the Riddler was ridiculed, Mr.Freeze lost his wife, and Two-face was a staunch attorney till he was burnt and his girl-friend left him. (In the original; the movie says otherwise.)
That made the stories very interesting. Every character battled with their own history as well as with their opponents. A cloud of sorrow hung over the battles that were fought. The city of Gotham was dark, not because of a lack of light, but because of divisions, crime, and corrupt leaders, not unlike any modern Indian city.
Amidst all these, was the Joker, the prima donna of villains, the complete psychotic, who was was in a different league of villain.
Until Christopher Nolan came on the scene, no Batman movie came close to capturing the essence of these characters. The sets were too dark. Futile attempts were made to give Batman an aura of "batness" that never worked. The actors didn't know what they were doing (Tommy-lee Jones playing Two-face as a raving lunatic) or were too cute (nearly every Batman and Nicole Kidman) to portray the nuances of the Batman characters. In particular, Tommy-lee's portrayal of Two-face was more pathetic than Indian hockey - completely out of character, hopelessly out-of-depth, and looking for excuses to cover up bad performance. Catwoman and Mr.Penguin were better, but the directors did not succeed in freeing them from naive story-telling.
Nolan, with Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart and Christian Bale has done it right. Finally, we have a trio who understand what made the Batman comics a hit. We have a trio who are as comfortable with Frank Miller's dark knight as they are with Bob Kane's Batman. Add to it brilliant special effects, perfect support roles, and scintillating screen-play, and even while we have to forgive some mistakes like the story of how Harvey becomes Two-face, we get magic. Pure magic.
It's been a long while since a movie captured my imagination and brought back memories like this one did. Christopher Nolan has displayed amazing knack for portraying characters in The Prestige, The Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. Here's hoping that he gives us many more moments of magic. For Heath ledger - May your soul rest in peace.