Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Batman The Dark Knight (2008) - Movie Review

Movie Review: Batman: The Dark Knight (2008)

Originally Posted September 20, 2008

Well, I wanted to wait a while…after the dust settled… with my review of the monster-of-a-movie known as "Batman: The Dark Knight".

Off the bat, (no pun intended) I want to make it very clear, I'm a Batman fan. One of the first comic books I ever read was Batman. I'm familiar with the character's history and place in pop culture. With that said, I'm little bit more critical than those who I consider fair-weather fans.

I also liked the movie as opposed to hating it as some might think. There are things about it that I did not like which I will point out here.

I also spoke to three friends, I will name "Jay", "Ed" and "Rob" and will include their opinions here.

Rob saw the Dark Knight at a midnight showing. Jay and Ed saw it in September, weeks after its release.

I saw it over the first weekend of release.

I found it very interesting on the day of its release, people who saw it that first day including Rob was claiming it was the Greatest Movie Ever. Huh???

I started to backtrack movies I would put in that category…."The Godfather", "Citizen Kane", "The Lord of The Rings Trilogy", etc.

Batman: The Dark Knight….better than all those movies????

Could it be?? Hmmmmm

After seeing it over that first weekend….I concluded with this…


OK. Not sure why people were saying that including Rob. I'm still trying to make sense of it.

Alright. Here's my take on the movie. It was good but not better than Batman Returns. Heath Ledger's take on the Joker was very good…but not as menacing as the villain in No Country For Old Men (that guy will give you nightmares).

OK. Now for a breakdown. Batman The Dark Knight had a lot of things going on in a variety of different directions. I think a lot of the problems I saw had to do with the editing. I honestly believe there were some issues in the editing process and because of Ledger's untimely death, they were stuck with a movie that could not be edited to its full potential. I feel this way due to the movie's rapid jump from scene-to-scene and story flow.

Some of the concerns I had were these:

In all of Gotham City, not one cop was good except Jim Gordon?

The Joker comes up with a plan to use two boats, one with prison inmates and the other with innocent people and they must decide who lives or dies by a switch that will blow up the other. What The...??? That sounds more like The Riddler, not the Joker and especially this Joker, who really doesn't care about anything except anarchy. It seemed so out of character.

Batman uses a technology that sends images to his systems based on sounds and cellphones. Using this technology he will attempt to save hostages and prevent the Gotham City SWAT team from unknowingly killing innocent people. At this point, I felt the need to yell at the screen.."Hey, Batman. Don't you think it's time to call the Justice League". That whole stopping-SWAT-using-sound-signatures thing was a bit too much.

There really was no development with the new characters and their interaction with each other especially Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. And speaking of which, was it necessary to include Two-Face in THIS movie. Would it not have been a better to leave him out or around for the inevitable sequel?

Now, Jay who recently saw The Dark Knight, says that he like it for its realism. You see, Jay is not a comic book fan or a superhero movie fan. He believes comic book genre movies relies heavily on a fantasy angle. He felt that The Dark Knight was more realistic (another term even used by Rob, who is not a comic book fan but loves the Batman and Spider-Man movies). They both feel that it's realistic in the since that someone can actually by Batman. He doesn't have powers. He's just a man with "wonderful" toys. But isn't all movies a bit of Fantasy? Just because Superman can fly or Spider-man sticks to walls, does that make their characters and movies less than realistic? What is reality when you have the likes of James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, John Mclaine and others portrayed as regular guys who beat impossible odds and villains? Doesn't their extraordinary strength and resolve display an ability in and of itself even if they cannot fly? As a fan of Batman and comic books, I feel that both are coming into understanding Batman, like most, by movie only. I grew up with some Batman stories and art that would make the movie pale in comparison. I was into Batman and comic books when it wasn't cool. Not to say that their opinions don't matter but I think it depends on the viewpoint and motivation. And, by the way, both Jay and Rob agree there is no need to include Batman's sidekick, Robin. That's a subject I will address shortly.

My take on all this is that The Dark Knight is NOT the greatest movie ever. In my opinion, it doesn't make it in the Top Ten of all time. Now you can base it on sales, which it will make a list of top money making movies but as far as a great movie, that's another subject itself. It will, and should be, considered as one of the best super-hero movies. On that I will agree.

The Dark Knight story is pretty average compared to Batman Begins or even the summer's other comic book related moview, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man or Wanted. It has really no development but just a series of events.

One character or actor does not make a movie. Heath Ledger SHOULD get an Oscar for his performance as The Joker. Javier Bardemin from No Country for Old Men won for his performance but critics and moviegoers have said that the movie was great up to its flat ending. I think people are going to remember Ledger's performance more than the movie and that should not be the basis of "Greatest Movie". A movie is a combination of some many factors as well as the people behind it.

The movie has crushed box office records and raked in millions. But so did Spider-Man 2, which I came close to walking out on.

One friend, "Ed", summed it up this way: "The last 20 minutes we could have did without". I agree.

Christopher Nolan is an excellent director but, I feel, this would have been a great time to set up Robin in the story. Not to include him the overall movie itself, there were too many characters in it already. Some may disagree because Robin is viewed as the downfall of Batman. If you read the Batman comics, Robin is the HOPE of Batman. He's not like anything that resembles the 60's camp version. He's lost his family, like Bruce Wayne and is a younger version of Bruce Wayne at a time when Bruce had no direction. Wayne helps to give him direction and purpose. Not including Robin in the story is like denying the legacy of the Batman story which includes an assortment of characters. It's like taking Frodo out of Lord of The Rings because you don't like that fact that he's always complaining about the ring. Robin is a part of Batman just like Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent and Gotham City. I have faith in Nolan's ability to include all of the Batman mythology with care and excellence. (That is if Nolan directs anymore of the Batman movies to come)

With all that said, I felt the movie was OK. Great action and, as far as superhero movies go, very good. I would like to see it on DVD when it's made available to hear the commentaries by the director and actors. But the outrageous claims of "greatest" and "best" by fans and critics has me at a loss.

The debate goes on and I guess I will continue to be the odd man out.

-Torrence King

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