REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT

(Spoiler-free, I think)

Amazingly, this movie comes painfully close to living up to its hype. It's really, really good. I would not put it in the pantheon of great films, but there is little doubt that it is far and away the best "comic" movie ever made. Not sure if there's a close second.

This review will seem a little negative only because I'm not going to waste time being redundant and pointing out what every critic on the planet has already said: it's dark, compelling, well-acted all around, and not "fun" in the summer movie sense. Everything you've heard is true. I'll mention two pleasant surprises and one big negative.

First, Christopher Nolan got slightly less terrible at filming action scenes! He replaced his technique from Batman Begins – shaking the camera around so the audience feels like they're "in the action" (i.e. nauseous) – with a mildly irritating Michael Bay-style series of rapid cuts. It's not good, but it's a dramatic improvement. They could get someone to film the action better, but then they'd be stuck with all of the idiocy that accompanies those folks. Second, Aaron Eckhart acts like someone other than Aaron Eckhart, Smug Asshole. That's refreshing.

The problem: this was very, very obviously two films. The original plan was to make the third film in the series about Eckhart (Two Face) as the main villain, but instead the writers and director chose to merge that story into the second film. It showed. A lot. The last hour of this film is a condensed version of a third film, and Nolan struggles mightily to A) connect the second act to the first and B) keep the Joker involved in the Two-Face storyline. Several storylines in the film were truncated as a result.

I suppose a second negative is that I have no idea how they're going to milk a third sequel. What could possibly follow this? One big problem with the Batman franchise (as sharply noted by commenter Scott N.) is that the villains absolutely pale in comparison to the Joker. The only other charismatic villain is Two Face and, well, they shot that wad too. Given the gravity of Heath Ledger's and Eckhart's performances, it's going to be nearly impossible for the writers and whatever actors are tasked to play a milquetoasty villain in the next film to keep pace.

OK, last complaint. Christian Bale's "When I Dress Up As Batman, I Talk Like I Am Trying Really Hard to Shit but Failing" voice gets so ridiculous that he's barely intelligible at the end of the film. Seriously, it's so over the top that, among all of the sound effects and music, I couldn't even understand a few of his lines. At this rate they are going to need to subtitle Batman in the third film. Or pump the Caped Crusader with prune juice until he craps. A lot.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT”

  • I'm actually really enjoying trying to think of how they'll turn the remaining options for batman villains into gritty, realistic characters…

    I think they should turn that little chubby accountant who was going to reveal Batman's identity into the Riddler. But beyond that, here are some options that Nolan might want to consider for the third movie:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_Man

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Hatter_%28comics%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magpie_%28comics%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten-Eyed_Man

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventriloquist_%28comics%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra-Man

  • I agree with what you've said in the review, Ed, and I've definitely heard the same "ugh-jeez-Bale-crap-already" criticism from at least two other people (although it really didn't bother me that much). I thought it was interesting that Batman almost seemed like a side character in this film–his scenes weren't really that interesting to me when comparing them to Joker & Two-Face scenes. He wasn't really doing much of the emotional heavy lifting, though, and I still can't be bothered to care about the Bruce/Rachel thing (whateeever, SNORE). I thought that was due to me being constantly confused whenever Katie Holmes showed up in the first movie ("Wait, is that…? Oh yeah! Rachel or Becky or whoever!"), but it might also have been that Bale's much more interesting as Wayne than as Bats.

    You know, I always thought that the villain from the cartoon (the one with the ventrilloquist's dummy?) was pretty interesting/creepy. Ah, I see that Matthew has linked him.

    Anyway, come on: who doesn't love Catwoman? Ahahaha. At least it would marginally increase the chances of a female character who does something other than Need To Get Saved, Please!!! in the movie.

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