July 21, 2008

The hype was wrong


The movie was actually better than the hype suggested that it might have been.

I'm a bit stumped on trying to write any sort of literary critique of the film, so I'm just going to go with a series of thoughts here...if it's hidden, it's got a spoiler in it...highlight at your own risk...
  • It's too long. There were three or four times when I found myself wondering how long I'd been in the theater, and the perfect movie (Hero, so far) isn't going to have those moments.
  • Ledger is terrifying, creepy, horrific. His shambling, hunch shouldered departure from the hospital, cross-dressed in a nurses's uniform was every bit as brain-burning as was his bit about being a mad dog chasing cars, not knowing what to do with them if he caught one. The wordless image of him with his head out of the police car, reveling in the mayhem that he created is chilling.
  • I was initially disappointed that the Joker was given a sympathetic backstory (the dad who drank bit) but then realized, as Ledger broke into a different explanation of the origin of his scars, that giving a sympathetic backstory and then making it an obvious lie left the character even less sympathetic than no backstory at all. I heard a review describing the Joker like the shark in Jaws - you don't care where it came from or why it does what it does, you just want to enjoy the mayhem. And that's appropriate.
  • I'm amazed at the quality of casting that Nolan has come up with - Bale, Oldham, Freeman, Ledger, Caine, Gyllenhaal, Eckhart - even the too-heavily-eye-makeuped mayor who played Batmanuel on "The Tick".
  • The exploration of "does the world need Superman" in the last Superman flick seemed stupid and forced. The exploration of the same issue here worked for me.
  • A line in the Salon review says There's no dramatic arc in "The Dark Knight" -- only a series of speed bumps. I saw some truth there as it would be hard for me to find the truly biggest, climactic scene in this film. There were a number of big scenes but many of them seemed equally big to me.
  • I'm glad - like Katydid is - that Dawes is gone. The occasional romantic entanglements in the comics were few and far between, and the continual pairing of Batmen in the previous series (Nicole Kidman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Basinger) didn't work for me. Hopefully we'll get a flick without a love interest for the Bat.
  • I have no clue who should be the villain in the next film or if there should even be a next film. The ending of this one - Batman as the hero they need, taking the lumps so hope can live - seems almost too perfect to come back to. If they do bring in another villain next time (and I hope they don't keep expanding by making it three villains again), then I'm thinking that Talia, Deadshot (in a new costume), or Black Mask might work. I really don't want anybody showing up with superpowers (no Clayface), with a horrific/comic deformity (no Penguin), an laughable jokes (no Riddler), semi-supernatural powers (no Man-Bat), and by the same token, I would've said that the Joker would've been much too cartoonish for the grim & gritty Gotham of Christopher Nolan...which would've been wrong.
  • I was impressed that almost none of this storyline came from the comics. There weren't nods and in-jokes for the fanboys (and fangirls) in the audience. Some assistance DA wasn't renamed Bob Kane, and there wasn't a Sprang Drive-Thru for us to pass by in the chase scene.
  • The S-Laughter is the Best Medicine line on the truck was brilliant.
  • The sight of a man in a big black costume still looks silly to me at times.
  • The fake batmen aspect, real people picking up and 'helping' the vigilante was well done.
  • Bale's Batman voice seems really creepy and odd to me. I don't know that I think it's a good choice, almost as though he's screaming a whisper. Doesn't seem all that threatening to me. Ledger's voice shifts, however, were impressive. His use of the full register - high, low, growling, impish - made for a character seemingly even more random than his actions alone could have created.
  • I still see Bale's lisp from time to time, though less in this film than in the previous Batman flick.
  • In one of the reviews, they mentioned the two people in the warehouses thing and said that Batman went to save Dent because he was the true hero of Gotham. Am I correct in thinking that Batman actually went to save Rachel Dawes but that the Joker had lied about who was in which location?
  • So, how much of the Joker's actions were we supposed to believe were planned out? The Girl said she thought the creation of Two-Face (via Dent's scarring and living) was planned by the Joker because he knew Batman would try to save Dawes (though the Joker sent him to the wrong address). She argues that the Joker mentions that Dent was the key, that at the end, the Joker says that he knew he couldn't defeat Batman alone and had to create Dent's alter-ego to finally break Batman. My thoughts are that the Joker set things into motion hoping human nature would go one way but being fully flexible and willing to go with whichever choice was made, to use the chaos from either choice (aboard the bombed boats, in the two warehouses, wherever) to his advantage.
  • I dug the film. I easily moves into the realm of the best super hero flicks yet made.
Your thoughts?

Reviews:

2 comments:

Mr. Echt said...

The Joker lied about the locations. What really got me (other than one of the trailers at the beginning) was the mechanisms on the two ships. I thought that if one was pulled, it would work on the ship that pulled it. I think that a third movie should center around the people of Gotham taking in a new hero with a dark agenda as Batman reclaims what he's lost.

andrew said...

On the flip side (to the knowing who batman would save bit)...

Maybe the Joker realized that whoever lived would be driven mad by their guilt (survivor's guilt) and become the requisite villain. Both Dent and Dawes were close to Wayne, so either one cracking could have a huge psychological impact.

idk about a sequel, as this one didn't leave a very good segue into another story line.