Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Dark Knight

Well, we've been silent on this one long enough. It would probably be good to write out a quick review on this movie without the background of it sitting sweet as the number one movie of all time on imdb. But how can one ignore such a thing?

First of all, after Batman Begins made me believe there could be such a thing as a good Batman movie (no predecessors had ever convinced me of this), I had looked forward to this movie as much as many others. I actually went to see it during its opening week - almost unheard of movie promptness for me. And it was not at all disappointing. It was a good, solid follow-up to the previous movie.

I was even as impressed as others by Heath Ledger's Joker (I felt the character lacked a bit in consistency partway through, but then inconsistency is exactly his trademark so I didn't feel I could hold this against him.) It was a brilliant new version that was all the more brilliant by reminding me enough of the original TV version in spite of its new interpretation.

And while I wasn't particularly critical of Katie Holmes as many others were, Maggie Gyllenhaal was a clear improvement. She has an amazing ability to combine toughness with vulnerability.

Philosophically or thematically, I saw no improvements over the last one - a little more diverse in its deep thoughts, but at a price of being a little scattered. I think the final choice lost me, but I guess one shouldn't fault a movie for having a different point of view.

This is where a simple review of good movie should end, but something has to said about its #1 status. And that is: please no. This is simply not #1 of all time movie quality. Yes, it is very good for what it is, but it did not have the universal quality or even internal consistency of quality required for such status.

I don't want to provide a list to bash a good movie, but here are two deal-breakers that stop me from seeing it as #1:
- the whole sonar glasses thing: one big distraction from start to finish, very disappointing and pointless
- the whole Harvey Dent storyline just didn't quite work for me. It didn't win me over. I don't think I can say more without getting into spoiler territory (which I'm very proud at avoiding so far) so I'll stop there.

Nevertheless, when judged as a comic book action movie it's worth **** with mug held high.

Soon, I'll add another review for the other big summer movie which actually impressed me more (partly because I expected it less).


  1. Wow! You beat me to The Dark Knight - impressive!

    My mug is also held high on this one, but apparently you enjoyed it more than I did (I think that was also true of Batman Begins).

    I enjoyed the atmosphere, Heath Ledger's Joker, and the attention to ethical dilemmas (particularly regarding means and ends). But most impressive was the message, in this very dark tale, that humans (even convicted criminals) are generally good at heart, despite the Joker's claims to the contrary. Of course, as you suggest, this causes problems with the Harvey Dent story, but I'll say no more on that.

    What botheremed me most in this film was the huge action scene in the middle (the one with police vans and trucks, etc.). It was very hard to make sense of it and even harder to make sense of it in retrospect (when you supposedly realize what was really going on). The sonar was also basically a distraction for me.

    I completely agree that this film is grand entertainment but should in no way be considered for greatest film of all time. That just suggests that people have not been watching enough films (if you only watch films aimed at 13-year-old boys, then yes, let's consider The Dark Knight as one of the very best).

    Being very stingy with my four-star reviews, I am only giving The Dark Knight a very solid ***+.

    Stay tuned in September for another attempt to describe my rating system.

    So what's the other movie you're doing? WALL-E? I'm considering a review of it, if I can still remember it by the time I have time to write it (***+). Have also seen X-Files already, which is not as dire as many critics suggest, as long as you go in in with low expectations - it's worth watching, for me, just for all the snow (***).

  2. I liked the X-Files even more than Dark Knight, but that's likely because I found all of the action scenes in DK terribly disorienting; they detracted from my enjoyment of the story in a way I found genuinely disturbing. (Also, the theatre was full, and lots of people were whispering/murmuring, and I honestly could not understand a good 10% of the dialogue b/c the music was so loud, and someone around me smelled like they hadn't showered in a week. I kid you not!) The X-Files, on the other hand, truly engaged me, creeping me out in just the way I was hoping for. My experience with Mulder and Scully was made even better by the quiet-as-the-Arctic theatre and my ardent love for the series. So, were I in the business of attributing mugs to things, I would give the 3+ to Scully and Mulder and the 3 to DK. But I admit that this was probably influenced by my experience of the respective theatres. :-)

  3. I saw Dark Knight last night (I'm a little behind, I know). I loved the scenes with the ferries and I loved Heath Ledger's performance throughout the movie. I also liked the Harvey Dent character. While the people on the ferries represent the good and nobility in people, he represents the side that CAN be manipulated. Most people will make the choices they believe are right, and I think what the movie is showing is that you'll never know what category you fall into until you've been pushed.

  4. i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted...