I’d like to come out of the gates by admitting I’m not much of a Batman fan. However I do fancy many of the foes that he squares off against and the Joker is an interesting character to say the least. In this case nothing is known of the Joker including where he comes from, what he’s done previously in his life or why he really got those scars. I opened my eyes wide during the brief story Alfred shared in the movie about a man he met earlier in his life that was similar to the Joker. I’ll get to that excerpt later though as I would like to now state that I believe this movie was too elaborate for its own good. Now it will take me time to explain why I think it was but I trust you’ll understand what I’m talking about throughout the review.
The opening scene is a common bank heist but it’s done cleverly enough to avoid complications. I like the clown masks they wear to add a comedic spin on the robbery. The clown robbers take turns killing each other to get a bigger share on the loot throughout the robbery itself as advised by the Joker before the actual heist. It’s a brilliant tactic to use against greedy fools. The clown thugs don’t know that the Joker is actually with them and he ends up killing everyone in a clown mask. I do admire the life threatening risks the Joker takes to see how far he can go leading such a life. A man in the bank also stands up to the clown robbers, specifically the hidden Joker; he fires off some shotgun rounds killing one of them. The Joker injures him and reveals his real face while escaping in a school bus strategically crashed into the bank. The getaway is slick and just in the realm of not totally unbelievable, well I liked it anyway.
Harvey Dent is the man with a plan to take down the mob. He has his life severely threatened in a courtroom case; it’s a solid intro type scene for the character. Gordon approaches Dent in an offer to help rid the mob from Gotham, which is just Chicago I do miss that imaginative Tim Burton created Gotham but that’s for another review. Dent accuses Gordon of having paid off cops in his private unit while Gordon denies working with the Batman. I tell you the entire “corrupted by mob” aspect of this movie goes to extreme situations that are used for excuses on anything, it gets overdone. Dent wants to meet the Batman when Gordon insists Batman is to be arrested on sight, nice lie there it’s not even convincing ha-ha. Rachel Dawes is dating Dent.
Enter the Joker – BEST scene in this movie
The best scene without a shadow of a doubt is when the Joker barges in on the “group therapy session” the mobsters are having with Lau their “trusted” accountant. It’s hilarious as the Joker makes fun of them for being cowards and fearful of the Batman. Gambol is the one mobster who is not buying into the Joker and wants him killed. The Joker dispatches of his goon with a “magic trick”. The sheer dominant display of the Joker in this scene is powerful considering the company of high level mobsters he’s with. He offers to kill Batman for half of their money. He makes note that Lau can be caught, even while in Hong Kong, saying Batman has no boundaries. The Joker is crafty and smart while ignoring Gambol calling him crazy. The Joker denying that is perfectly performed by Ledger. The Joker has grenades inside his classic purple jacket and warns the mobsters to think about his offer as he exits in commanding fashion.
Batman, Gordon and Dent all meet on the rooftop with the bat signal with a circling camera shot, ahh I hate that! It’s so “amateurish” to circle around like that, I loathe it and make it well known that I despise it. So, Batman decides to go to Hong Kong to bring Lau back for his spankings. A lot of people want to lay a hand on that accountant let me tell you, he’s a calculator thief! Meanwhile the Joker takes another one of those risks I like by faking his own death to gain access to Gambol’s secure hideout. He didn’t appreciate having a bounty on his head so he took the fight to Gambol. The Joker goes over his first story of, “Do you want to know how I got these scars?” What a great icebreaker for any conversation! He kills Gambol and forces some of his men to join him. Ruthless maniac! The times seem to be riding high for Dent, Gotham’s white knight, as he puts away a sizable portion of the mobsters thanks to Lau’s cooperation. How did Lau get back to Gotham you wonder, well Batman went all the way to Hong Kong to bring his corrupt behind back. It’s an incredible capture scene as Batman “flies” into action like a real winged terror; I’ll admit it’s cool to see him gliding through the night skies in Hong Kong. He crashes directly onto the floor Lau is hiding on and one of those silly action sequences occur as Batman never catches a bullet and all the bad guys drop like flies. The escape is neat as Batman catches a ride onto an airplane he set up to carry him away with Lau. Now Batman is taking life threatening Joker type risks which is interesting. The Joker was right, Batman has no jurisdiction.
Dent is warned by the mayor that if he slips up and is found to be corrupt in any way then the mob will go free bringing crime right back. The mob eventually hires the Joker to kill Batman and he begins right away. The Joker kills one of the copycats and puts a video on the news for Batman to reveal himself or people will die. Bruce Wayne is now learning how demented the Joker is. A judge, commissioner and Dent are all targets of the Joker. He blows up the judge using the “corrupt cops” of course. Money is the root of all evil they say. The Joker has enough to bend the will of almost any man at this point. The commissioner dies drinking toxic liquor, that moment is a bit sketchy. How do you not know it’s toxic as its steaming like acid after it spills on the table. It’s part of the entire “too elaborate” deal I mentioned earlier. Did “corrupt cops” again do this to their own commissioner? Are they that greedy or in such an impossible situation to turn on him? It leaves far too much to question if you ask me.
Bruce Wayne throws a fundraiser for Dent on the night all these killings are occurring, good timing Joker. Bruce knocks Dent out and hides him as the Joker crashes the fundraiser party in brute style with some of the “corrupt cops” on site. The Joker truly shows that he really is crazy as he says how beautiful Rachel is in front of everyone. The camera is doing that spinning thing again, ahh! Batman shows up and a better action sequence takes place as the Joker gets in on the action. Rachel eventually gets in the grasp of the Joker and held out of a window. I love the blind gunshot the Joker does to blast the window out. “Let her go!” Batman yells as the Joker releases her out the window saying, “Poor choice in words.” Batman dives out of this high rise building while catching Rachel and they land on a car completely unscathed! Time-out, how are they not dead from that height? Not even an injury occurs for either of them, it’s one of the most questionable scenes in the entire movie and gets brushed off as an everyday occurrence people always walk away from. It’s like office talk the next day in Gotham as people discuss how they jumped from a hundred stories up so they could catch a cab! Unless I missed something it’s awful indeed.
The Joker reveals the mayor being his next target and the reeling good guys have no choice but to go all out to protect him. It’s here that Alfred tells his story to Bruce Wayne about how he once was trying to catch a man who simply wanted to watch the world burn. It comes as a surprise to Bruce as he keeps assuming the Joker wants something. It’s a better moment in the movie as you finally get some insight as to what the Joker is all about. At a parade the mayor has a public appearance which I don’t know why he would make clearly knowing Joker has it out for him. With plenty of people and guns everywhere why be foolish enough to leave protective custody? Oh, because he knows all the cops are corrupt anyway so why hid when that’s no safer than being out in the open right? The Joker is in disguise as an honor guard or something near the mayor without his trademark clown paint on. He gets a shot off at the mayor that Gordon takes in the back as he lunges to protect the mayor. The Joker escapes of course since the crowd panics and causes a frenzy for him to slip away. It’s another wild risk by the Joker that I like. Gordon for all intensive purposes is now dead and Batman sulks heavily for it. He wants to quit being Batman and has a pity party over it but Alfred straightens him out enough by finishing the story he told earlier. They had to burn down the entire forest to catch him which probably is the result the man in the story wanted.
Bruce plans to turn himself into the police to meet the Joker’s demands. Dent opposes it strongly though. Rachel and Bruce have a heart to heart about being together and Bruce tells her he is turning Gotham over to Dent. It’s a silly love angle that is really a waste of time in the overall aspect. At a press conference Dent tries to convince everyone to support Batman now to catch the Joker then handle Batman later for his crimes. It ends with Dent saying that he is “the Batman” so he gets taken to jail. The next scenes are car chase material which you all know I love so much, detecting sarcasm yet? An armored truck, with a mysterious man driving concealed head to toe, heads out with Dent in the back. It was broad daylight when Dent revealed he was Batman then night when he was being taken away. I don’t know.
A fire truck is on fire blocking the top side streets. Let’s pause a moment there to wonder how the Joker pulled that off. He has corrupt firemen now in his pocket? How nuts would a fireman have to be to set fire to a rescue truck and place it blocking the road like that? The questions are mounting as the wheels are falling off a bit here in the movie. The armored truck detours underneath in the tunnel and the action boom boom begins. It’s nothing spectacular as the explosions go off and no lead character meets his demise. The chase goes back topside where Batman catches up to the Joker in his semi-truck. Batman now on a motorcycle does manage to create a nifty finale to the chase by using cables to cause the semi-truck to flip straight over crashing to a stop. How the Joker walks away from it are unknown to me, I guess he was wearing his safety seat-belt. An epic Batman vs. Joker standoff occurs as Batman avoids running over the Joker, why? Finish him off, why let him survive? He is just going to continue his sinister ways if left alive. It makes little sense, I always hate when characters get put in situations to finally do something only to break off and prolong the moment.
The Joker excitedly walks up to Batman as he lay on the ground after his crash. Surprise, Gordon busts the Joker in a twist that he wasn’t dead! I don’t understand this one either, how did he recover so quickly or did body armor absorb the previous bullet? Questions continue to mount don’t they? The Joker gets jailed at Gordon’s special unit cell. Rachel and Dent after the confusion and craziness of the night’s events get taken by “corrupt cops” yet again to unspecified locations. They are also separated and no one knows they’re missing. It becomes questioning time for the Joker as Batman begins his fearsome interrogation. It’s an interesting scene for the two as the Joker tries to explain to Batman how they are viewed as freaks to the people living within the world of “rules”. I do believe the Joker makes intelligent believable statements that get Batman furious. The Joker does take quite a beating that seems unlikely, but he eventually tells where Dent and Rachel are in a tricky type of way. He’s so devious it’s quite admirable I’ll say.
Off to the rescue Batman heads to rescue Rachel, his love. Gordon and his “corrupt crew” head for Dent or so they think. Joker switched where the two captives were located to Batman, so bad! Dent and Rachel are tied to chairs, at their respective locales, with enough gasoline to blow up the entire buildings they’re in. The Joker likes overkill. So Batman shows up to see Dent as Dent screams he didn’t want to be rescued but Rachel instead. Everyone really wants to save her, huh? Gordon arrives to an exploding building as Rachel perishes in the flames. Batman saves Dent as half of his FACE catches fire. The Joker meanwhile talks some trash to a cop in the interrogation room which is so bad the cop tries to beat the crap out of the Joker. The Joker apparently bests him while demanding his simple phone call he uses to detonate a phone bomb inside the jail cell. He escapes with Lau as the Joker takes charge of the situation.
A weenie employee of Wayne enterprises, Coleman Reese, goes to the media as he thinks he knows Batman’s true identity. You’d sell out your own employer? You’re so fired! The Joker doesn’t like the idea of that as he wants Batman to turn himself in willingly. He decides to threaten to blow up a hospital unless Reese is killed, where does he get means to wire an entire hospital with bombs? He seems to be able to do such incredible tasks so easily all the time. It’d be neat to know exactly how he did it, a “corrupt doctor” who takes a pay day in exchange to terminate all his terminal patients? The questions build. Gordon sets out to rescue Reese from the gathering mob of people trying to put a cap in him! The Joker pays a visit to Dent to turn him into a reckless vengeful killing machine. How the Joker makes it into an evacuating hospital is odd but he’s a slippery fellow isn’t he? The Joker takes another insane risk by letting a coin flip decide his fate as Dent gives into the rage of blood. Dent uses his double-sided coin and it would seem Joker got lucky as he survives. Was the gun loaded though?
Dent goes after one of the mobsters and gets into a car with him. The mobster tells Dent who the corrupt cops are and Dent flips his “fair trial” coin. The mobster gets lucky but his driver doesn’t as Dent shoots him in the back of the head as the car flips end over end. Dent is fine though somehow! How does he survive something like that? He doesn’t even get injured! He continues on killing more people involved in the corruption. Meanwhile the Joker blows up the hospital anyway and takes a bus of hostages. Again how does he do that? “Corrupt bus drivers”?? The ridiculous events begin to pile up as the elaborate length of the movie forces such occurrences.
We’re finally approaching the end as Bruce Wayne unveils his sonar cell phone machine to Lucious at Wayne tower. Lucious says, “This is wrong.” A well performed and delivered line by Morgan Freeman. Bruce is desperate to find the Joker and invades the privacy of Gotham to do it. The Joker’s last attempt to cause chaos involves two ships. For some reason one of the ship’s is filled with prisoners! We must save the criminals! Gordon is afraid the Joker will use them to control the city but to sacrifice a ship full of innocent people instead is uncanny. The idea is both ships are filled with explosives, yawn of course, and one ship must blow up the other testing the morale of the people on board. Let’s take a vote! Batman tracks down the Joker with the help of Lucious and determines the Joker using the hostages as apparent clown masked thugs. Batman along with a S.W.A.T. team go into the building for an iffy action sequence that is dark and a bit difficult to follow overall. It’s too over thought for its own good.
The ships refuse to blow each other up as Batman defeats the Joker in a less than epic finale for them. Dent is all that’s left as he captures Gordon’s family. Gordon, Batman and Dent all go at it in the final, final finale. Dent dies as Batman knocks him off the side of a ledge. He dies from that? He survived far worse earlier. Gordon and Batman decide to blame Batman for all of Dent’s actions to keep him the pure hero of Gotham. The city now turns on Batman as he decides to make the decisions that no one else can make as he becomes the dark knight.
I rag on the movie but it’s still enjoyable in the end. Heath Ledger gives the worthy performance to save this movie. If you like Batman you’ll gush your heart out and pee your pants over this movie but I’m not a true BatFan. It’s a good sequel and what more could you ask for right?