Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight

I went to see The Dark Knight this afternoon. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

It was worse.

I think the thing has been overrated mostly due to Heath Ledger's death, which is a bit ironic, since both his character as written and his performance are the best things by far about the movie. It's unfortunate that just about everything else about the movie sucks.

I was trying to remember the last time a movie villain was far more intelligent and interesting than the hero, and I can't. The most striking thing about this film is how utterly stilted, boring, lame, hammy, and flat-out stupid Batman is compared to The Joker. Batman glares through his batmask and spews out wretched dialog in a raspy, gravelly, and ultimately silly performance.

In the first part of the movie, he drastically underestimates The Joker, and when he does start paying attention, he says The Joker is "just like every other criminal." It takes Alfred to lecture him on the fact that some bad guys aren't like all the others. But should he really need this lecture? Was the guy he fought in the last film "just like every other criminal"? When Batman does get around to taking The Joker seriously, he's always at least 3 steps behind him. When Batman does take action, it's always with his fists or with his vehicle.

[spoilers ahead]

I actually got the feeling that The Joker wouldn't have been caught at the end unless he wanted to be.

Anyway, the souped-up Prisoner's Dilemma at the end was just ridiculous, but it was actually topped by the even-more-ridiculous bit about Batman taking credit for killing 5 people (including 2 cops), so that Harvey Dent could live on in people's minds as some kind of pristine martyr. The whole thing seemed pointless and stupid (why not just blame the extra deaths on The Joker? In many ways, he was the person responsible for their deaths). But no, we had to get some bullshit line about Batman "being able to take it", and then the worst lines in the whole movie at the very end, when Batman says something like "People deserve better than the truth...they deserve to have their faith upheld."

Excuse me while I vomit all over my shoes.

The movie was obviously trying to make some socio-political comment about the dangers of surveillance (with Batman's goofy universal cell-phone sonar set-up). But then it ended with a line about how people can't really handle the truth, so they need to be lied to to make them feel all warm and fuzzy. What a crock of dogshit.

The fight scenes were poorly shot and edited, the whole ending segment with Two-Face dragged on too long, and the movie itself overextended its welcome. But I might have been able to forgive some of those transgressions if its central message wasn't just idiotic to the core.


Jill said...

I normally would never, ever go to see a movie like this (action, comic book movie) but the only reason why I went was because of Heath Ledger. I was not disappointed (in his role as the Joker) but, yeah, you're right...during the rest of the movie, I mostly surfed the net with my iPhone and read email, only to come back to the movie when Heath was on.

After about 1/2 hour into the movie, I wanted to plug my ears every time Batman spoke and I was rooting for almost anyone in the flick to win other than him.

mark said...

I can't tell how you really feel here. Your commentary is just too nuanced!!

Sorry you didn't enjoy the movie. However, if you went and enjoyed Momma Mia this weekend like I did then you would probably have enjoyed Batman. Man, I thought I was comfortable with my feminine side but I discovered there are things in this world that are way too gay for me to enjoy. And I usually enjoy musicals.

btw, I did go with a girl so I can be excused. I will say the lead girl was radiant and captivating. Meryl streep and Peirce Brosnan were miscast.

Kenny Wyland said...

lol! That's a damn harsh review, Derek. :)

I really enjoyed the movie, primarily The Joker though. He's always been one of my favorite villians in literature and I finally got to see him on the screen the way I saw him in the comic, so I really dug it.

As a side note, you know that weird gravel-voice that Batman has is a voice modulator so that people can't identify his voice... right? :)

As for Batman being behind The Joker the whole movie... yeah, he was. That's the point. Up to this point, the Batman has been dealing with common criminals and then Ra's al Ghul. Now, Ra's wasn't a common criminal, his goals were epic, but his tactics were still fairly standard. His plot was essentially a bomb in a building that would "destroy" the whole city. The Joker's goals and tactics were abnormal. Ra's was trying to kill people because he didn't think they deserved to live. The Joker didn't even want to kill people. He wanted to corrupt other people and get THEM to kill people. He wanted to be able to twist someone's view on the world and get them to justify murder to themselves. So, yes. The Batman was 3 steps behind The Joker the whole time. He was supposed to be, because just as we think we're catching up to The Joker... we're supposed to see that he's still way ahead of us.

Re: faith > truth... yeah, I don't agree with it. I don't agree with it, you don't agree with it. However, it's attempting to make the argument for the other side. A lot of The Batman's part in the movie is often about the question "do the ends justify the means?" For The Batman.... almost, yes. He has his own personal lines he will not cross, but the reason he is the "Dark Knight" is because he'll cross the line. Lie, cheat... even torture. He won't cross the line into killing though.