While working on issue D of the zine I got chatting to the brilliant guys over at the film education organisation, Into Film. Into Film puts film at the heart of learning and personal development for young people aged 5 – 19, and their Young Reporter Programme provides the opportunity to become the voice of the organisation. Members of the programme are given the opportunity to develop film reporting and reviewing skills, receive media training and attend exclusive behind-the-scenes events. Now, specially for Shelf Heroes, 13-year-old reporter Billy takes on Christopher Nolan’s epic second instalment in the Batman series, The Dark Knight.
The character of Batman is one of the most famous and iconic superheroes of all time, standing proudly alongside other heroes like Superman and Spider-Man. Created by Bob Kane in 1939, the character has proved to have long-lasting appeal, and the world he inhabits, along with the equally popular cast of side characters, has captivated audiences throughout generations. Of course, the character has been adapted into countless other pieces of media including shows, video games and several films. Some of the most famous movies starring the hero are Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, which has been praised by critics and fans alike.
Released in the summer of 2008, The Dark Knight is the second film in the trilogy and tells the story of the age-old battle between Batman and his maniacal arch-nemesis the Joker. Many have adored the film but what did I think of the comic book movie? Let’s find out...
The Dark Knight is a masterfully executed, amazingly acted and beautiful spectacle that really does the caped crusader justice. The story, which is carried out over quite a lengthy running time, is complex and moves through many, occasionally seemingly independent, stages and set pieces but which are tied together in a continuous arc that follows the central characters and their trials and tribulations. Although it twists and turns a lot, the story is still easy to follow and really gets you invested in the horrible circumstances.
However, the best thing about the plot is its execution – specifically the tone. Like many 13-year-olds, I’m used to my comic-book adventures being light, easy viewing, but Nolan decided to move away from the style of previous Batman movies to present a much darker superhero world. The Dark Knight is bleak, gloomy, and often it seems as if things will never go right for the heroes. The sombre atmosphere helps to set the stakes and gives the audience an idea of what’s to come. It’s also often very scary, with the famous ‘Why so serious?’ scene and the video of the Joker interrogating the fake Batman being notable chilling moments.
The film looks absolutely gorgeous; set against the backdrop of the looming, industrial state of Gotham City, Nolan uses wide, sweeping shots to portray the sheer size of the location and isn’t afraid to get close up with the camera either, especially when the Joker is delivering an evil speech. The visuals used are great and employ a range of practical and CGI effects when needed. For example the jaw-dropping truck-flip sequence and Two-Face’s terrifyingly real face both use practical and computer-generated effects to their advantage, respectively. The film’s costume and make-up (something I don’t usually look out for when watching films) are also exceptional, with Batman’s costume and the Joker’s face being stand-outs (I had to contemplate whether the red make-up around the Joker’s mouth was blood!).