Thursday, August 21, 2008

Film Review: The Dark Knight

Yeah I know this is late. Yeah I know you've probably seen it already, but fuck you I'm going to talk about it anyway.

So...The Dark Knight. It's dethroned Star Wars as the #2 highest grossing film of all time in the United States ($475 million at the time of this writing). Is it really good enough to go see six times like a lot of people obviously have been doing? No. Is it a pretty good movie? Yes.

Aside from Droopy Dog Gyllenhaal's stale acting (and face) and Bale the Barking Batman there is a good movie to be found. This is mostly due to Ledger's performance as the Joker. I found myself not giving a shit about what Batman or Harvey Dent was up to (although Eckhart's performance is second to only Ledger's) and more in anticipation for the next scene with the Joker. Ledger took this character to a whole new level and this will most likely be his most memorable performance. The scene where the Joker is walking away from the hospital dressed as a nurse is classic and probably my favorite of the film.

Before I get ahead of myself....Mr. White, what did you think?
I would have to agree with you Mr. Black, Ledger has forever cemented himself as the Joker. His performance was flawless right down to the quirky facial ticks and tongue laps. I would never have imagined that Heath Ledger would fit this role so well but I'm happy to see that my earlier skepticism was put to rest. And like you said, he really brought a new new life to the character.

I'm not familiar with anything pre-Tim Burton so I can only make comparisons to Jack Nicholson's Joker from 1989. Ledger's Joker seemed more organic and a product of a broken mind as opposed to a psycho clown in some video game. And what's even better is he came out of nowhere without so much as a hint to his past which lends more to the charcter.

I could go on and on about the Joker but I'd like to touch on some of the other players in the film.

The Batman:
Christian Bale, like Daniel Craig, is proving himself more and more to be the "perfect fit". What I like about Bale is his clear understanding of both his roles. It seems to me that in the previous Batman films, the actors payed more attention to Batman and less to Bruce Wayne. This is not the case with Bale who really paints a picture of an arrogant playboy billionaire who seems almost bored with his stature. I will agree with you Mr. Black, that his voice when in costume was a bit over the top. However, I've often wondered weather or not Bale was actually directed to approach it that way.

I actually found myself really enjoying Michael Cane in this movie. He serves as the voice of reason to Bruce Wayne and does so with a warm fatherly charm. He's less stiff than the Alfred played by Michael Gough and lends a more realistic quality to the project.

Realism, that's another of the Dark Knights stronger points. Christopher Nolan takes a potentially whacky story of a grown man dressed like a bat and turns it into something dark and gritty. Nolan's approach is grounded in practicality and believability unlike the Broadway comedy that was 1997's Batman and Robin.
I won't do a role call review here, but I want to respond to a couple of things. Christian Bale is probably the best Batman/Bruce Wayne since the property ever was put to film. However, he is a much better Bruce Wayne than Batman. I don't blame him wholly on this because I'm sure he was directed to bark like a dog while in the Batman suit....and I GET it, it's to further mask his true identity, blah, blah blah. BUT I still think it's laughable when he has lines that are more that three words in length. That tone of voice just doesn't mesh well with conversational dialog.

Nolan does treat the Batman property with much more realism, but I didn't buy the whole "networking all cell phones in Gotham City so I can see like Daredevil" approach. That was a little too far into the realm of typical comic book storytelling. And I can't say the Batgoggles were too cool either.

To me Aaron Eckhart was a huge addition to the cast and really brought a lot to the character that could have easily fallen flat. Even though and the end of the film it appears as Two Face is dead, I hope he's not because I'd like to see a lot more of him in the coming films.

The biggest problem I had with the film, is it should have been called "The Joker featuring Batman In a Few Scenes." I can hardly remember any memorable scenes with the "supposed" star of the film. In fact, if I ever see it again, I'll probably just skip to the Joker scenes, most everything else is filler.
Well I have to disagree with your last comment. Although I will admit that the Joker stole the show I wouldn't say there weren't any memorable batman scenes.

I especially liked the sequence when Batman explodes from the Tumbler into bike form. I also really loved the bit when he rides up the wall and spins around. Now I know those were just action scenes but I think Bale's performance of Bruce Wayne while not equally captivating was still very enjoyable. One scene comes to mind when he's walking down the hallway in his penthouse and socks the piss out of a thug using a shotgun. He does it with calm and cool like it's as simple as taking a morning dump.

Now to address your comments about the super vision. This movie like every other is not without its' faults. There is a scene in particular where Batman and Rachel Dawes plummet from an incredible height and land on top of a car. The problem is that after their decent they seem completely unharmed even though there was no explanation of what broke the fall. That's of course only one example but when a movie like this shines so much, it blinds you to any imperfections that may otherwise be more noticeable. You can walk away from the experience feeling like you got your moneys worth. Was the cell phone being used to emit ultrasonic frequency cheesey? Sure, but so is a man in a bat suit.
" Was the cell phone being used to emit ultrasonic frequency cheesy? Sure, but so is a man in a bat suit."

You're contradicting yourself though. You go on about how Nolan makes his movie "realistic" then you give him the freedom to choose what's cheesy and what's not because he happens to be making a Batman film. It's like those turds that think just because something is a comic book, video game, or toy line, the movie MUST be lame because of the property origins.

I'm not saying these things ruin the movie, I'm just pointing out the things I disliked. And an unexplained fall is a lot more forgivable because it is not a major plot point, whereas the cell phone thing is.

I think we've beat the fuck out of this dead bat, so I'll say no more.
I'm not contradicting anything. I'm simply saying that Nolan puts forth an idea that doesn't require the viewer to extend their disbelief beyond the absurd. Everything from the Tumbler to the Bat suit is all fashioned in a very "Weapons of the Future" sort of way. At least they took the time to foreshadow the event with a little explanation rather than drop it on you at the end and say "here, buy this". After all we're talking about Wayne Industries here.
I thought I mentioned something about beating a dead bat...

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