Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Dark Knight

On the other hand, The Dark Knight, which Jana and I saw on a rare child-less evening recently, was freaking awesome. Yeah yeah, the movie's been out forever, but those of you with more than one little one know how hard it is to get out.

Let's get this out of the way now: Heath Ledger is going to win an Oscar posthumously. Forget all the drama surrounding his unfortunate premature death. His performance was amazing, a masterful portrayal of a brilliant madman. What Jana and I found especially interesting are his multiple accounts of how he got his facial scars — anyone have theories on what that was about?

Beyond the expected crime caper fare, the movie got at current political issues. When the Joker demands Batman reveal his identity or he will keep killing innocent people, the comment is made that he shouldn't give in to the whims of a madman. Sort of like we can't give into the terrorists, so we keep fighting and hoping to inspire people while death and destruction continues to happen around us ... or something like that. On the way home I said to Jana that I bet upon seeing the movie, Dick Cheney would think "I'm Batman!"

My main criticism was that the whole Harvey Dent transformation into Two-Face hinged on the understanding that Rachel Dawes was the absolute love of his life and he couldn't live without her. Never bought that, they seemed like a couple that had been dating for a few weeks. So when she dies, yeah, he would be bummed, but would that turn him from a good guy into a criminal mastermind? It's a stretch, sort of like the stretch that Anakin Skywalker would turn to the dark side and eventually become Darth Vader because he had a dream that Padme would die — not buying it, the love connection was never convincingly built.

As a kid, I used to watch the old Batman TV shows in syndication on Channel 18, and it was great campy fun. I always enjoyed how the criminals would capture Batman, then leave an obvious flaw in their plot to kill him. The opposite was the case in this movie, where the Joker was allowed to escape from jail because of incredibly inept police work.

Dark Knight is about as far from campy fun as you can get. It was 2-1/2 intense hours in the theater. But it was well worth it.


Corby said...

Funny. Jill and I just saw the Dark Knight last night (Saturday). I loved it too. I thought it was all very well thought and the special effects were very good. My one criticism, if I have to find one, is that Harvey Dent would have been in far too much physical pain after what happened to him for him to do what he did as Two Face. But overall, I thought it was well done, and I can see the next installment with all of Gotham chasing the Caped Crusader being another good story. Money well spent. If you have not seen it yet I think it is the kind of movie that is better seen in the theater.

Scott Tappa said...

Wasn't it cool how they made Two Face's skinless, exposed face look? Every time they showed it I was looking close to see where the jawbones, teeth, etc., were. You know, in case that ever happens to me and I ask the doctors to not fix it.

Corby said...

They did a great job with his face. But here is one question Jill and I had...why did Joker have so many different explanations for the scars on his face? Is that just part of his maniacal personality? I kind of wanted one explanation for it, not numerous.

Mr.Man said...

I think you hit it-- he's "the Joker" and, as they make abundantly clear with his weird little monologues about chaos, is an amorphous, anarchy-loving freakshow, like the Coyote of Navaho myths or Loki of Norse mythology. No one knows what he is or why he's doing what he's doing, except that he loves craziness. Given that, I think it would actually be weird if he told the same scar-origin story more than once. Also, how awesome was the scene when he's walking out of the hospital in a nurse's outfit? Hilarious.

Eckart going evil was definitely a little rushed. I bet some build up scenes got cut. They did foreshadow his tendencies a bit with him beating up the henchmen earlier.

What I didn't get is why they needed to blame Batman for Dent's murders. I mean, wasn't the city in total anarchy with people fleeing like mad when they happened? And since when does Batman shoot people? It wouldn't make any sense. That was the weakest bit in the film, I thought.

Scott Tappa said...

The Joker leaving the hospital and fidgeting with the remote made us laugh out loud. I suppose blaming Batman for Dent's murder gives people a singular scapegoat to rally against, when in reality the crime and anarchy were wider-spread (insert Bin Laden/Sadam/faceless terrorists comparison here, then stop me before I make a movie more political than it was really meant to be).

Will said...

I think they also needed Dent to maintain his image as Gotham's shining Knight (or bright Knight, I forget the language they use in the film, it's been a couple of weeks) despite the fact that he turned into Two-Face. The Gotham citizens' morale would have been crushed if the one person they put their faith into had turned to evil as well. I believe Batman even says that Dent was a better person than he was and had more courage.

But I agree, they kind of rushed that plot and wished they would have saved it for a third movie.

The movie's political message is interesting to review, because at times the film takes a pro-War on Terror/anti-War on Terror is funny that the two best pictures I saw this summer (Batman and Wall*E) both kind of slipped messages into mainstream movies.

The joker's pencil "trick" was interesting. And i loved that he sounded like a demented Al Franken.

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