The Dark Knight.

§ July 22nd, 2008 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight is about as good as you’ve been hearing…a truly affecting and even thoughtful movie, but not skimping on superhero action while simultaneously posing some questions about morals, ethics, and human nature. It’s not as terribly deep as all that…the moral dilemmas aren’t anything we haven’t heard before, but the actors’ uniformly-strong performances give the material the support it needs. It’s nice when an action film gives us something more than “I hope the good guy beats the bad guy up,” and that’s what Dark Knight delivers.

As per usual, I have a handful of SPOILER-laden comments that I wish to make, and I’ll do so right after this pic of Heath Ledger as the Joker. The SPOILERS end when you see Michael Caine as Alfred.

  • Of course, Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was the stand-out, giving us something just familiar enough to previous filmed Jokers to latch onto, while giving it enough of a horrifying, grotesque twist to keep us on edge. There was a lot of nervous laughter in our theatre at the Joker’s behavior.

    The occasional moments when you see the Joker just sorta mumbling to himself…that’s what struck me. The Joker isn’t a guy playing up the clown motif and acting like he’s crazy. He really is crazy.

  • Boy, they couldn’t foreshadow Dent’s eventual transformation into Two-Face enough, could they?
  • For some reason, I found Christian Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne in this film to be a lot more acceptable to me than in Batman Begins, where he seemed just too young and too…well, dorky to be the alter ego of the Dark Avenger of the Night. Wayne by and large looks more haunted in the new film, more weighed down by his history and his Batmanly duties. Even when he’s in action out of the Bat-costume, he still exudes a Batman-ness about himself. I never got that with his previous performance.
  • The film appears largely informed by the hypothesis presented by the Joker in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke: that all it takes is one bad day to transform a regular joe into something beyond normal moral behavior…like, oh, say, the Joker. There’s a lot of testing of characters’ moral boundaries in this film, as the Joker prods them into discarding their ethics for their own benefit, to largely similar results as in the comic…with the exception of Dent, of course.
  • Speaking of Dent…unlike the “let’s throw in as many villains” recipe of other Bat-films, having Two-Face and the Joker in the same film actually worked thematically. The Dent/Two-Face character arc was in service to Joker’s ethical challenges, not in addition to them.
  • Dude, Batmanuel as the mayor of Gotham. Fantastic. Was that particularly heavy eyeliner he was wearing, or does he normally look like that?
  • I can’t help but think of the first Tim Burton Batman film upon seeing the conclusion to this film’s Batman/Joker conflict. In the Burton film, Joker falls to his death, whereas in the new film Batman manages to save the Joker from a similar fatal fall. I don’t recall specifically the circumstances around the Joker’s death in the earlier movie, but I seem to remember that Batman could have, you know, done something about it. It certainly strengthens Batman’s moral position in the new film.

    Okay, he does end up tackling Dent who then falls to his death, but Dent was about to kill Gordon’s kid so, you know, we’ll give that a pass.

  • That said, having Batman use guns…even motorcycle-mounted guns, not even handguns…seems wrong, given what we know of the character and of his long-standing aversion to firearms.
  • I like the more-or-less understated conclusion to the subplot involving the Wayne Tech guy discovering evidence that Wayne is Batman. The knowing look exchanged between Wayne and that fella after Wayne saves his life — the one that said “you owe me BIG” — I was pretty amused by that.
  • And the ending, leaving Batman on…well, he was already on the wrong side of the law as a vigilante, but now he’s really on the wrong side. That was a nice Empire Strikes Back-ian way of wrapping up the second installment, and establishes some important differences between Batman and other superheroes, regarding his willingness to be the scapegoat for the greater good.

Well, there you go. Good film, worth watching. I would have more to say, but I’m posting this very late at night…well, early in the morning, actually, and I’m going to bed. I have some other general thoughts on the film that I’ll transcribe when I’m not half-asleep.

Let me know what you think of the film in the comments…or post links to your own reviews. Go ahead, I don’t mind.

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