With Derby's Cinema De Lux positively buzzing with hordes of movie-goers, my wife and I entered the plush Director's Hall with great anticipation for the 11.00am screening of THE DARK KNIGHT. Almost 3 hours later, we emerged with the shared feeling that we had just witnessed a very special event in this years film calendar.
THE DARK KNIGHT introduces a fear-stricken Gotham City, where one massively unhinged individual seeks to deliver chaos to its citizens and, ultimately, "Kill the Batman". With its endlessly inventive script, THE DARK KNIGHT quickly establishes itself as the finest, most mature entry in this franchise, with twists and turns, white-knuckle set pieces and some fine performances making this the cream of the crop as far as super hero flicks are concerned. While Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman offer solid background support to our caped crusader, the beefy central characters continuously excel. Aaron Eckheart's Harvey Dent - the new Gotham DA - delivers a finely-tuned, often chilling, performance of light and darkness, while Gary Oldman's Lt James Gordon really hits the heights, earning himself true hero status in the eyes of citizens and audience. And what of the much-missed Heath Ledger? Visually, this insane criminal nods to THE CROW and CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and proceeds to tear up the screen with the same kind of machine gun etiquette swagger that possessed Pacino's Tony Montana. Ignore the BBFC 12A rating here (this perhaps should have been 15 rated) as Ledger reaches the epitome of cold evil, proudly boasting about his murderous escapades and recalling Brad Dourif's 'Gemini Killer' in the rather splendid EXORCIST III. Here is a man who absolutely relishes his work, and it's an icy cold pleasure to watch him perform.
On an entertainment level, this film delivers right down the line, with its 152 minute running time moving all too quickly. Of course, THE DARK KNIGHT is also tinged by a great sadness as it contains the final performance of Heath Ledger. I've long since given up on trying to work out why people are taken from us when their lives are still so full of promise. Ledger would undoubtedly have gone on to even greater things, and his passing at such an obscenely young age reminds us of the fragility of our own existence. He certainly gathered an impressive body of work during his short time amongst us, and his final role may well be awarded a posthumous Academy Award in 2009. Of course, there will be other worthy performances between now and then but, at the moment, he must be in with a shout.
I'm happy to report the Director's Hall auditorium lived up to the high standards of the film in question.Top-notch projection, and the latest surround sound equipment gave us a spectacular experience. Luxurious seating, a classy bar outside, waitress service offering food and drink (which we passed on) delivered to your seat. Just as important, the audience were a pleasure to be part of. No chit-chat, no mobile phones, just a group of people sitting in silence as they followed proceedings with their undivided attention. Going to the movies is an absolute joy in Derby, and this £30 million complex really has raised the bar in all areas.
For a beautifully written account of this film, please make sure you check out a blog by Ian Smith http://irascian.blogspot.com/ Ian has several blogs on the go, all of which are well worth your time, whether you are interested in movies or all things computer related. Some excellent pieces/reviews on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray too.
Our next outing to Cinema De Lux will be the new X-Files film, and this is an event I'm really looking forward to, despite all the negative reviews.