18 July 2008

My review of The Dark Knight

I attended the midnight showing of The Dark Knight yesterday/this morning. I think the last time I did that was probably for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was released four years ago. So suffice it to say I was more excited about this movie than any I've seen in a while.

In short, it was very good, but not excellent.

The one excellent aspect of the movie is Heath Ledger's Joker. I know the tendency here is to say his performance was great because he's dead now and you can't speak ill of the dead blah blah blah, but if he had been horrible, I'd be here quick to say he was horrible.

Television and movie adaptations have struggled at times on how to deal with the character. Is he a fun-loving guy? Does he use quirky, jokey ways to kill people? Is he all about defacing property?

Kind of? Maybe? But the essence of the Joker is that he's diametrically opposed to the Batman. He revels in chaos and destruction. He murders at a whim. He has no real goals. He's completely unpredictable.

And Ledger pulls it off perfectly. Never has a guy sporting green hair and a purple suit been so disturbingly frightening.

Gary Oldman as Gordon is excellent as usual, but I felt like Bale's performance was a bit off. That may be because the character is going through something of an identity crisis for much of the movie. It may also be because he almost feels like an ancillary character... in all there are six or seven "main" characters in the film, and Nolan struggles to fully flesh them all out, in my opinion.

Morgan and Caine are also very good, but again not quite as sharp as they were in Batman Begins. Maybe the bar was set so high in the prequel that I expect too much.

My other complaint is that the movie could have used a little tightening. I counted three main story arcs, which is too many for a movie (I'm looking at you, Lord of the Rings trilogy movies).

But enough complaining. The acting is stellar overall (Maggie Gyllenhaal is a welcome replacement for Katie Cruise), the action is intense and well-done, and the plot is interesting and complex.

The one theme that kept returning to my mind while watching this movie is competence. I was interested in seeing how the Joker performed when it comes to being a competent bad guy, and I discovered an interesting addition to my theory.

Sometimes, the Joker was too competent, and that's almost as bad as being incompetent.

Without giving too much away, the Joker threatens to blow up a random hospital in Gothan City. He makes good on the threat, detonating what appear to be bombs set in every single room in the entire complex.

Now look, the Joker is good, but I have a hard time believing he's THAT good. He managed to sneak bombs into every single room of the hospital? It's not like the building shuts down at night... there are people in almost every room 24 hours a day.

There are a couple more instances where it was hard to suspend my disbelief, but overall it wasn't too bad.

So again, a very good movie, but not an excellent one. I give it a B+ rating.

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section after you've seen the movie.


Josh said...

Amy went to the midnight showing. I'm not really a fan of Batman.

Amy said...

Agree with you on most everything - mostly about how Joker was spot on, but I too was surprised/couldn't believe that he was that competent. Not only did he put a bomb in every room in the hospital, but he had time to set up the ferry bombs and the elaborate set-up where he was that night all at the same time. Riiiight. It got to the point that I got tired of him being so darn competent and I wanted him to lose. Who really thinks of everything to that extent? And also has no real motive for doing the things he does?

I also felt Christian Bale's performance was off (although just as throaty as usual) - and I actually didn't like the new Rachel. I thought she was expendable, as usual.

All in all, it was okay. I don't know if I like the whole, "Anyone can go bad when pushed to their limits - even the really good guys" theme. It also wasn't as tight as the first movie and I got tired by the end — it just kept going.

Filbert Karo said...

I wanna see that. Batman Begins was really good.