“The Dark Knight” Six-Minute Teaser Review (Spoiler Alert)

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Earlier this evening I was invited to a hush-hush, six-minute teaser of The Dark Knight at AMC Loews Lincoln Center in New York.

Being the nice guy that I am, I’ll break down the not-so-breaking details (the six minutes of Dark Knight glory have been previously shown at various locales throughout the week) of the entire affair.

Spoilers start here:

After an opening shot of Gotham City in the daytime, the pace picks up with clown-masked robbers in the midst of a major bank heist. The Killer Clowns bust through the bank’s doors, creating chaos out of order as they take control of the room, save for one unnamed employee (William Fichtner) keeping his cool, plotting against his newly-made adversaries.

Emerging from his desk Fichtner wields a shotgun, shattering the glass around him and emptying shots on the clowns, who safely duck behind a service area. “Do you really know what you’re getting into?” he says, hinting towards the bank being controlled by the mafia. After he runs out of ammo one clown jumps up and shoots his side, dropping him.

Throughout the hail of bullets in the bank lobby the other clowns in the operation, knee-deep in cash, are double and triple-crossing each other. With loads of money on the line, each clown’s motive is to kill the guy they’re next to, hoping to flee with all the earnings.

With the brave banker on the floor, helpless, the last living clowns sort out the details. “I bet The Joker told you to kill me as soon as we loaded the cash,” one says, pointing a gun at the unarmed clown.

“No, no, no,” the unarmed clown says, “I’m supposed to kill the bus driver.”

At that moment a school bus comes crashing into the bank in reverse, killing the gun-toting clown. The driver drops out of the bus, eager to help the sole survivor pull the bags of cash into the vehicle. That plan is cut short when the last living clown caps the driver effortlessly.

Fichtner, still alive, starts in on the last remaining robber, asking him about his honor and motives.

When the psycho killer is asked about respect and what he believes in, the clown takes off his mask: Heath Ledger emerges as The Joker, standing above the bloodied-up Fichtner: “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you… stranger.”

A grenade with a string attached is placed in the bank manager’s mouth with The Joker holding the string, dashing to the front-seat of the bus, screeching out into the street. The pin is pulled on impact and blammo – instant insanity on the streets.

Crushing through dust and debris the bus joins the rest of the school-day traffic with perfect-timing, as expected. Hidden amongst a series of buses, the cops show up late (of course), without a lead to follow. A quick montage ensues, and the teaser comes to a close.

In closing: I was very impressed with the film’s direction and the acting skills of Ledger. Then again, this was a six-minute clip – all judgment will fall on the finished product when it’s released in July 2008 (yikes). I’m slightly concerned that the marketing heads of The Dark Knight are over-saturating The Joker’s presence: his part is important, but with several more months leading up to the film’s release a backlash is destined to happen before it hits theaters. While I heavily enjoyed watching the trailer I think I’m ready for a break from Batman news, if only for a few weeks.

If any of these juicy tidbits make you salivate for more, don’t worry: the six-minute clip will be shown before I Am Legend next week on December 14. So much for exclusivity.

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