Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

I have been anticipating this film for quite some time. And when I say anticipating, I mean from the moment the credits rolled on Batman Begins after we saw the Joker card. I remember not being entirely sure if Heath Ledger could pull off the Joker. As an actor I really liked him, but I wasn’t sure if I could see him as a psychopath and then the first images came out and I knew…yep, the Dark Knight was going to rock. And then Heath Ledger passed away and some speculated it was because his portrayal of the Joker seeped into his personal life. Maybe it was or maybe he was just an awesome guy who accidentally took too much and combined the wrong medications. Regardless it certainly didn’t lessen the hype of the film. In fact the buzz only strengthened. Oscar worthy performances they said. Then the first reviews came up and said it was frakking brilliant. My expectations soared.

So then I finally got a chance to see it. Did it live up to my expectations? Is it as awesome as everyone says? Yes and No. And here is where the spoilers begin, so if you haven’t seen the film, don’t read the rest of my review. I will say that I did like the film. In fact there were parts I absolutely loved, but it didn’t leave me full of the geekasms I thought I would be feeling. But I will get to that. First we’ll talk about what I loved.

‘Why so serious?’ The Dark Knight lives up to its name in that it is deliciously dark in both its tone and its look. And you have one hell of a villain in The Joker. In fact, Heath Ledger pulled him off brilliantly. He is by far the best Joker on screen. He is charismatic, brutal, funny, and functional psychopath who is manipulative and can muster very little empathy for anything other than his own interests. He is everything I wanted him to be and more from his mannerisms, look and voice. Finally he wasn’t some snarky clown, but a brutal killer with a twisted sense of humor. He was the perfect villain for Batman always wanting to push, never believing that the bat could really be incorruptible. Alfred said it best, “Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Knowing that there will not be any more of Ledger’s performance makes me sad because I didn’t feel like I got enough of him in this one and I definitely want more. By the way…magic trick with the pencil. Made of awesome.

As I said I love the overall look and feel of the film. Gotham isn’t a happy place. Its dark and the idea that the escalation that is occurring, that a man like Joker even exists, is all due to Batman taking the fight to the next level is brilliant. There are a lot of lies in this film from Joker’s lies of how he got his scars, to Alfred not giving Bruce Rachel’s letter, to Gordon, and even Batman himself. And when the film ends the city is even darker. The white knight is gone along with the white hat of Harvey Dent, Batman is on the run his head full of demons of lost loves and guilt and the bad guys are still out there. Like I said, Gotham isn’t a happy place and I love that because in the next film I get the reason why I love Batman. I get the Dark Knight and that question of will he or won’t he stick to his rules? Will he live long enough to be the villain of the story?

It goes without saying that Christian Bale does a brilliant job. As much as I like Michael Keaton, I think Bale might be my favorite Batman. And the supporting cast of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman completely rock. Could you ask for more? Aaron Eckhart did a wonderful job as Harvey and the ‘face’ for ‘Two Face’ horrendous and wonderful. And well I already gushed bout Heath’s performance.

Other reasons I loved it: The Chase. When the semi trailer flipped I was grinning from ear to ear. The giddiness of the beginning, seeing new toys for Batman to play with, having Bruce Wayne steal away the entire ballet company, the little subtle hints of where Harvey Dent would eventually go and even having Bat fanboys/imposters.

So now we get to what I didn’t like about the film, some of which would probably get me some comments if anyone really read my blog. *smile* What bugged the most? The Harvey Dent/Two Face storyline. Of course I wanted a Batman vs Joker movie. In fact, that is what I thought we would be getting while the Harvey Dent storyline was weaved through out but we never got to see Two Face emerge until the next film. And I think there was every intention of having more Joker. Alas, we will never get to see any more of Heath Ledger’s Joker and thus it is bittersweet. I wanted more Joker.

For me I think the Harvey Dent/Two Face storyline should have stopped at the hospital when naughty nurse Joker shows up and talks to him. Harvey makes a choice there and with the explosion of the hospital later his whereabouts are unknown. We know what he has become now. We know he’s the bad guy and seeing him again in another film makes you giddy; a hero in one film and a villain in the next. Instead, they rushed his storyline. There wasn’t enough build up and the result is disappointing.

While I enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal replaying Katie Holmes (Secretary is one of my favorite films of all time), I really never liked the Rachel Dawes character. So I wasn’t entirely sad to see her go. The length of the film is a bit longer than it needed to be and if you trim out the Two face bits it would be a nice length. For some reason Batman’s voice was a bit more distracting than it was the last time. Though understandable why he couldn’t use his Bruce voice, the harsh guttural tones were just weird.

I did enjoy this movie as a whole and I think the more I watch the more I will like it. I had extremely high expectations and add in the death of a brilliant actor the film had a very high order to fill. Nolan continues to impress and I cannot wait to see what he come sup with next.

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