I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Dark Knight

I got an email from Scott L. requesting a review of THE DARK KNIGHT, because he’s seen all these HYPERBOLIC!!!!!!!! reviews that have been springing up on all the websights and thought I might be a good outsider perspective to temper his expectations. I was happy to oblige because I liked the BATMAN BEGINS movie so I was already planning to see this one at a midnight show with a bunch of kids dressed up as the joker and jacked up on Monster and Mountain Dew High Voltage.

This story is about Batman, the caped vigilante of Gotham City, who is trying to stop some crime. There are many other characters such as Bruce Wayne, etc. I won’t give away who is Batman because I’m gonna try not to have spoilers. Also if you were a little confused because “Batman” is not in the title you are not alone. I kept wondering “is this a Batman movie?” Pretty weird.

The Dark KnightOkay, disregard that last paragraph, that was just typing practice. Scott L., I have failed you. Although I haven’t read too many of the other reviews, I’m guessing I loved it at least as much as those weiners. THE DARK KNIGHT is a hell of a movie. It’s not so much a comic book movie as a super hero procedural. They took Batman and the Joker and put them in an epic crime drama – I thought Michael Mann more than I thought Tim Burton. Hell, Batman even talks like Clint Eastwood. It’s only slightly about people in funny costumes punching each other – mostly it’s about a cooperative effort between the well-funded vigilante, the head of the Major Crimes Unit of the police department, the district attorney’s office and the mayor, with the goal of breaking the back of organized crime and giving hope to the citizens of Gotham, showing them that not everything is corrupt and broken.

Even BATMAN BEGINS, which was so smart about being a reality-based character drama, turned a little “comic booky” as it got to the end and had a big special effects based monorail/bomb-to-destroy-the-city thing going on. For this one they got out the mops and scrubbed clean every last drop of that “comic book atmosphere” that Tim Burton did so well back in ’89ish or whenever it was that Batdance came out. The opening is like a ’70s caper movie, the city is always shot like a real city, no gothic exaggerations. Lots of epic overhead shots of the buildings and most of it even takes place during the daytime (which is when the mafia comes out because they’re afraid of Batman).

In BEGINS I thought Bruce Wayne was a great character but I was a little less into it whenever he actually turned into Batman, partly because that armored costume (as great of a job as they did explaining it) looks kinda stupid. So although the little tag at the end left me excited for the next chapter there was also part of me thinking maybe a second one wouldn’t be as good because he’d have to be Batman more. Well, luckily this Batman has stepped up his game. The costume is still goofy but you almost don’t notice because what he’s doing is so exciting.

(Keep bustin’.)

All super heroes have one weakness. Superman is allergic to Kryptonite, Captain America is afraid of mice, Wonder Woman has horrible B.O., Popeye once got E Coli from spinach and Blade alienates friends and loved ones by being too awesome. Oh yeah, and Spider-man will start dancing if you put a chair near him. In BATMAN BEGINS Batman’s weakness was not-good-enough staging and photographing of action. I mean there was that great car chase, but I didn’t like how the fights were close-up and handheld, you couldn’t really tell what was going on, plus they committed the all time number one movie sin of having a scene where the hero betrays an entire clan of ninjas on top of a mountain in a burning temple and then not going into an awesome martial arts battle royale. I mean come on, who does that?

For this one the style is similar and occasionally confused me but they upped the ante so much that it almost didn’t matter. Sometimes the disorientation is intentional, because Batman is this force that appears out of nowhere behind a guy or all the sudden comes through the window like a man-sized brick and the note attached is a serious ass-whooping. He glides on his wings, he jumps off of skyscrapers, he goes to Hong Kong to kidnap a guy, he takes a guy’s rifle and dismantles it as he continues down the hall. (That seems like a good approach to gun control.) And the car chase scene in this movie is jawdropping. I’m not sure the one in the last movie will seem as cool anymore, this one is so good.

I’ve seen a bunch of reviews saying Batman’s not in it enough or is overshadowed by the other characters, but I don’t agree with that at all. This is by far the smartest and most capable Batman I can remember seeing. He does detective work, he does cutting edge forensics, he uses his business deals as undercover missions to ferret out crooked companies, he plans and executes complex operations with soon-to-be-commissioner Gordon.

He also goes over the line, beating the Joker in a police interrogation room, illegally wiretapping the whole city (whole world?). Usually Batman has these batplanes and shit but you don’t really question the ethics of how far he should go. This one intends to make you wonder where he should draw the line with the technology he creates. But the movie is so awesome the relevance doesn’t set in until later.

I have one major complaint, and that is the character of Two Face, the half-scarred villain that Aaron Eckhart’s district attorney Harvey Dent turns into. Unfortunately this new version is not very faithful to the original version played by Tommy Lee Jones in BATMAN PART 3. For some reason this one is half normal and half burned, half good and half vengeful. That is not at all true to Tommy Lee’s version which was half normal, half purple-zebra striped. He would flip a coin and if it landed on the bad side he would turn into a totally outrageous party animal. But if it landed on the good side he would re-flip it. That was way better.

Nah, just fuckin with you. Actually he’s one of many great characters in this movie, even (maybe especially) before he turns super. You’ve already heard how amazing and scary poor Heath Ledger is in it, and they ain’t lying. Such a great twist on this type of villain too. It used to be cool that they would have some tragic backstory, but now it’s such a part of the formula that they were smart to avoid it. This Joker tells more than one story about his origin, so you realize he’s lying and you’ll never know where the fuck he actually came from. And he’s real smart and devious but his schemes don’t seem like your usual super villain scheme. Even Liam Neeson in the last one had some silly machine involved in his plan. The Joker is more like a terrorist or a serial killer. He made me think more of the Zodiac killer, or at least Scorpio in DIRTY HARRY, or the threat to blow up schools in DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE.

The city is in a total panic, complete post 9-11 bedlam, and the beauty of it is that it’s kind of Batman’s fault. At the end of BEGINS Gordon talked to Batman about “escalation,” and it seemed like a clever way to explain the use of cartoony characters like The Joker. But it turned out to mean alot more than that. There are numerous copycat Batmen in home made suits trying to help, and when the real Batman tries to stop them they question why he should be allowed to do it and not them. The various gangs have to team up and follow the Joker’s plan in order to stay in the game with Batman on the scene. Cops and loved ones get killed, lives get ruined, buildings get destroyed. He’s rich enough to create all these weapons, and smart enough to use them well, but is he really just fanning the flames? The movie seems to lean in that direction. Poor bastard is trying to make things better but he’s making them worse. But he’s still a beginner. Stick at it, Batman. I had to write reviews for years before most people stopped calling me illiterate.

I want to mention the score. It’s perfect, even more minimalistic than the first movie. Sometimes it’s just simple keyboard riffs or drones, sometimes a violin squeal that goes on uncomfortably long. About as different from Danny Elfman as you could get, so it’s not what you expect in a movie about a guy in a cape.

I would also like to point out that this is a $180 million movie that features Michael Jai White, Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Eric Roberts and Anthony Michael Hall, and all of them do a good job! So there’s hope for Dolph Lundgren in my opinion.

My colleague at The Ain’t It Cool News Mr. Beaks described the movie as “devoid of hope.” He meant it as a compliment, but I gotta disagree. There’s a very important scene showing that the Joker is wrong and that people are not inherently cruel. And unlike many movies (including HELLBOY II) where the people turn on the hero for no reason, Batman makes a conscious decision to not be seen in a good light by them. (hard to explain without spoiler). The movie is all about giving people hope even if it’s not by believing in Batman. And if the text of the movie isn’t enough how about the fact that it only took 11 years for this character to go from literally one of the worst movies ever made to a triumph like this that people are seriously talking about as a best picture contender? Doesn’t that give you some hope, Mr. Gloomypants?

This is a movie I think most people would like – except maybe not kids. It’s kind of a miracle that they even got to make this movie. Not so much because it’s disturbing and scary but because it just never seems like it even occurred to them to make a movie that a kid might watch. This is squarely aimed at adults who don’t mind if the one guy happens to have bat ears. It never feels like they’re following a marketing plan or even a comic book movie formula. It honestly feels like it’s a story that’s about something, that happens to have a Batman in it, and not the other way around.

When the movie ended I had fuckin goosebumps. The guy sitting next to me told me it was “a triumph,” so I re-used his word in this review. As I was leaving the theater I did hear one guy listing off the things he was disappointed in, such as “the appearance of the Joker.” Man, I get nitpicking but this is minutes after the movie ended and he’s already in talkback whiny mode. I should’ve told him to give it up because, sorry dude, a movie this good is one in a million. If that direct shot to the heart doesn’t get you high then you are immune. The movie you want will never be made. Time to head to the mountains or somethin. Forget about comics and movies and learn to grow organic fruit and vegetables to sell at the farmer’s market.

In my expert opinion this is probaly the best comic strip movie ever made. Yes, better than POPEYE. Yes, better than BARBARELLA, although if I was stranded on a desert island please forgive me for choosing BARBARELLA, for personal reasons. And yes, there is a vague possibility that it is even better than the BLADE movies, although that has not been proven in clinical trials and probaly is better left unexplored. Anyway, the point is I never expected a movie this good. I don’t care what anybody says, this is the best movie summer in fuckin forever. I don’t know what we did to deserve it, but I accept.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, July 20th, 2008 at 10:16 am and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

76 Responses to “The Dark Knight”

  1. Well, ladies and gentlemen (There are ladies who read this sight, right?), as promised/threatened, I have rewatched The Dark Knight in an effort to see what the rest of the world finds so amazing about it, and I have posted what I feel is a fair critique of the film’s themes and techniques (with only a modicum of cheap shots) here: http://www.theplothole.com/index.php/mr-majestyk/75-by-mr-majestyk/183-the-dark-knight

    Anyone who has enjoyed/tolerated my thoughts on this film should read it so that they can better understand where I’m coming from. I promise I won’t say another word about the movie until somebody brings it up.

  2. ZOMG!!11 U dun lkie it a$ much as me so must be da gay!!11 And R stoopid!!11 And u and your family should die!!11 lololololololol

    There I typed it for you guys so no AICN/IMDB reject has too. Let’s move on now.

  3. Ironically, after writing that negative review, I now feel a little more positively about the movie. I guess I’m ready to let the healing begin.

  4. I’m not really a fan of it either.
    My problems with it were:

    -th e script, that starts something like every 10 minutes a new subplot that leads to nowhere (Batman’s Tokyo adventure, the Guy who knows Batman’s identity, the vigilante’s in Batman costumes, Two Face…) and usually ends with the Joker blowing some shit up,
    – the uneven tone of the movie (In one moment it tries to be a serious crime drama, in the next moment we have a truck flipping over and a clown dressing up as nurse and jumping silly around, while he blows a hospital up),
    – the anticlimactic showdown (for something like 15 minutes we should care for two boats, full of people who we’ve never seen before?) that ends with a corny speech,
    – the lack of ANY character who I would care for (even the “white knight” Harvey Dent came along as an arrogant prick)
    – and – the reason why I have trouble with being taking seriously on this subject – Heath Ledger’s unbelievable annoying overacting. The only somehow threatening things about the Joker, were the things he did, but apart from that, he was like right out of “Batman Forever”. Speaking with a crazy voice and always doing some “funny” little things to entertain the audience. He was pissing me off in pretty much every second that he was on screen, licking his lips, waving his hands, rolling his eyes, chewing with his mouth open and so on.
    And to this date nobody could explain to me, why Batman had to be blamed for the death of Harvey Dent. I understand that, because he and Gordon are the good guys, they can’t blame the Joker for it, but why can’t they just say something like: “We are still investigating and don’t know what happened yet”?

    But I think on a technological level, the movie is pretty perfect.

  5. I’ll agree with you on everything else, but you can’t expect subtlety from the Joker. No matter what interpretation of the character you’re working with, whether it’s the Golden Age’s Clown Prince of Crime or the modern psychopathic agent of chaos, he’s always going to be a show-off. Guy has green hair and wears a purple suit. He wants to be noticed.

  6. Again, the problem with the Joker was the uneven tone of the movie. You can’t put a silly clown like him into the serious crime drama, that TDK most of the time tried to be. But I’m sure you can put an interpretation of him in a serious crime drama.
    That they were going for realistic scars, to give him the clown face, was a good idea, but almost everything else went too far. If he would have been “just” a sadistic fucker with a scarred mouth, who makes fun of himself and the constant grin that is caused by it, and maybe bursts into laughter whenever someone dies a gruesome death, it would have been enough. Hell, I would even be okay with it, if he had Clown Make Up on his face, just in the one scene where he is crashing the party! But the voice, the tongue, the nurse outfit and so on, that all was too much! It would totally fit in Schumacher’s Batman world or even in Burton’s, although Pfeiffer and DeVito were pretty subtile and more Oscarworthy, compared to Ledger’s Jack Sparrow on speed.

  7. But isn’t that the problem? It’s not a crime thriller; it’s a superhero movie. No matter how realistic you try to make it, you’re still left with a guy in a rubber suit. I like that the Joker doesn’t fit into the world Nolan has made, because his over-the-top presence is the only thing that makes it start to feel like the kind of place where Batman could exist. The Joker finally makes it feel like a comic book movie, if only when he’s onscreen.

    I don’t have a bad word to say about the interpretation of the character or Mr. Ledger’s performance, so congratulations, CJ. I pass the mantle of Resident Dark Knight Disliker on to you. Use it wisely. It is a position fraught with many perils and few rewards.

  8. Boy oh boy, I respect your opinions, guys, but I can’t agree with most of them.

    I’ll agree with you on one point: I didn’t like the Joker-dressed-as-nurse. It felt at that point as though he’d gone from being chaotic-terrifying to some kind of self-parody there. But for the rest of the film he just worked for me.

    And please note I’m the guy who was saying I wasn’t looking forward to this film because it was taking a step back from Batman Begin’s fantastic “Order of Shadows” into “just some other guy with a scary costume and a mask”. The film completely converted me. I didn’t think there was anything uneven about the batverse in this one. (Having said that, my most recent point of comparison is the day-glo Gotham of “Batman and Robin” so anything compared to that is going to be better.) It felt like a well-realized place, both in terms of physicality and morality, where the conflicts that occur and characters that appear could happen. Yes, it’s not the “real world”, but it’s close enough to it to be convincing, while just fantastic enough that I could buy into some of the comic-book stuff.

    Also, I liked DeVito too, but Pfeiffer? Every scene she’s in in “Batman Returns” is cringe-inducingly bad. “I don’t know whether to shoot or fall in love…” AGH. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Nothing to do with her performance, it’s just an appalling script. Come to think of it, I think Catwoman is like Storm from the X-Men movies – there is literally no way to make the character work on film, so best not to try.

  9. I will, my friend. I will.
    But seriously, the whole superhero/crime drama thing, is pretty much my main problem with Nolan’s take on Batman. He just tries to violently squeeze something into the real world, which doesn’t belong there and fails doing so. We see the guy in the Batsuit, but Nolan is penetrantly yelling in our ears “IGNORE IT! THIS ISN’T A COMIC BOOK! THIS IS SERIOUS!”
    “Iron Man” came out in the same year, and while I don’t think it’s a special movie (despite its entertainment value), I think it was more successful in terms of grounding a comic book in the real world. Just because it embraced it roots, instead of trying to hide it.
    I’m not saying Nolan’s Batmen are bad, btw. They are not all that and would be better if he could finally decide what kind of movie he wants to make.

  10. I totally agree, CJ. I’ve always said that Nolan was embarrassed to be making a superhero movie, so he pretended that he wasn’t. The Joker is the only time he says, “Aw, fuck it” and embraces his roots.

  11. “But seriously, the whole superhero/crime drama thing” !

    Yeah HOW DARE HE! How dare he try! Bad Nolan Bad!

    He just can’t hold up to Burton’s BATMAN!

    do the Bat dance!

  12. Weirdly, I agree with you folks wholeheartedly — about “Batman Begins.” That was one which everyone seemed to love but to me seemed like a poorly imagined drama which turns into a parody the second its tortured protagonist puts on… a big rubber suit… in the shape of a bat…

    Yup, you can take the batman out of a comic book, but you can’t take the comic book out of Batman. I really struggled with the goofy plot of “Begins” being presented not only completely deadpan, but as it if was some kind of thoughtful drama (fuck, it sure wasn’t an action movie, that much is sure). Mr M, I agree that it just seemed like Nolan was embarassed by the more pulpy aspects of the source material and just tried to pretend they weren’t there by making the most self-serious comic book movie ever. Ugh.

    But weirdly, I loved the crap out of Dark Knight. I think mainly due to Ledger’s crazy charismatic Joker, some great location filmatism, a few better aqction sequences, and an increased sense of tension and vulnerability (and a really solid cast in general) I was able to take “Dark Knight” as seriously as it took itself. Which, strangely, is kind of less seriously than “Begins,” it seems to me. It’s not as insistant on being REALISTIC as “Begins” was, which is what I had such a hard time with. Instead, its SERIOUS about its ideas and points, but willing to indulge in a more fantastical plot. It’s internally consistent about the level of reality it wants to maintain, rather than trying to convince us that Batman could really exist in the real world (that’s what “Watchmen” was supposed to be for).It actually kind of reminded me of reading comic books as a kid. I mean, what in the fuck is more silly and ridiculous than the whole “Dark Pheonix” saga from X-Men? Nothing, that’s what. And yet, if you can just sort of buy into that world and accept the fantasy, then you’ll find it a rich emotional experience. I didn’t buy Nolan’s world the first time. But the second time, I was there with him every step of the way.

    Well, except a few steps. I don’t think there’s anything I really disagree with in your excellent review; I have problems especially with the very tail end of the thing, which to me feels oddly stagey and akward (I’m in love with Eckhart as Harvey Dent, but the CG dramatically reduces his ability to emote and I’m not sure I ever quite “got” him as Two-Face.) And yeah, the “Batman Voice” is just waaaaay over the top unnecessary. There’s tons of underdeveloped plotty stuff in the script (–Hong Kong, Vigilantes, Secret Identity, Gordon dies — although, I tend to think of those things more as interesting window dressing than genuine plot threads).

    My one major disagreement with you would be on your criticism that the story doesn’t let Batman succeed enough and doesn’t do enough with Two-Face. I always try to just take the story for what it is, and not judge it against everything it is not. Although Batsy\does fail pretty consistently, I think his character still has a nice arch and is plenty proactive throughout the script, and Two-Face, as written in the script, also ends up exactly where he should. You may love these characters enough that you feel like the script doesn’t do them justice — which is fine, and plenty legit. I mean, it is kind of a shame to kill off an interesting villain like Two-Face so quick. Still, I think the script itself is a pretty solid work which gets a lot of milage out of the characters it creates, and don’t think its exactly fair to ask it to tell a different story than it does. But hey, that’s the pain of fandom, I guess. We’ll see if I can be so calm when they make “Cat’s Cradle” into a crime drama or something..

  13. I’m curious to hear everyone’s opinion on the photorealistic look Nolan gave Gotham in THE DARK KNIGHT. As you’ll recall, Nolan went for a more expressionistic/heightened look for the city in BATMAN BEGINS, constructing much of it from sets and CG, giving it a weird hazy/steamy look, full of shadows, etc etc. TDK, on the other hand, presents us with less of a METROPOLIS-esque nightmare and attempts to make Gotham look like a plausible city (essentially Chicago).

    I know some people dug the new approach, and others didn’t. Me, I like it. I think the highly stylized look had already been well covered in Burton and Schumacher’s films, and that visually BB had brought little new to the table. The more photorealistic look of TDK was an interesting change of pace, plus if you are trying to make a more psychologically plausible Batman, why not make the rest of his world more plausible too?

    What does everyone else think?

  14. It’s not so much that I wanted them to tell a different story. I liked the story they were telling. I just wanted them to tell it better. Even in the context of the movie, without any of the baggage I carried in from the comic, I think Two-Face is utterly wasted.

    And I totally agree about Batman Begins. I think Dark Knight has a lot going for it even if it doesn’t stick the landing, but Begins doesn’t engage me as drama or as action, so it ends up being kind of a nothing movie for me. I’ve given it a second and third chance now, and the only thing I really like is when everybody gets all loopy on Scarecrow juice at the end. Other than that it just leaves me cold.

  15. I think its also worth a mention that “Begins” fails as a horror movie too. For a movie that’s all about fear, the scariest thing they can come up with is… horse blowing flames? Weak. Again, it feels like Nolan is taking this too seriously to attempt something surreal and scary.

    I do see what yer sayin about Two-Face, though. I think the character’s story works fine, but when we see his “crime wave” juxtaposed with the Joker, it seems kind of like laughably small potatoes. I think they were hoping to give it some heft by putting Gordon’s family in danger at the end — you know, making it more personal– but that’s the one scene in the whole movie which really kind of fizzles for me, with Eckhart mostly hidden behind CG and the whole thing coming across as kind of contrived and easily resolved. So in that sense, yeah, I can see how you think the opportunity to really bring that story to a satisfying conclusion was wasted.

  16. Dan — well, weirdly, I love the location shooting but I actually don’t think it exactly heightens the sense of “Reality” — even with the exaggerated Gotham of “Begins” I actually think that movie’s trying for realism way more than “Dark Knight.”

    Rather, I think the use of a real city merely means that the world of Gotham is more fully realized and well-developed than the expressionist nonsense from the previous one. It makes it easier to buy the internal reality of the plot, since it seems to take place in a city that is alive and bustling in a way which the old one wasn’t– but if Nolan’s idea was to use location shooting to ground the film in some kind of external reality… well, thank God he failed.

    (and I do love Chicago, so that might be part of it)

  17. I know what you mean. I think the key word in my post is “plausible.” It’s not a realistic world in TDK (note that I said “photorealistic,” not “realistic”), it’s just meant to look more like a physical city and less like an abstraction.

  18. yeah, exactly! Which, in a cool way, actually makes the fantasy world seem more engrossing. Maybe Tim Burton could take a lesson.

  19. I agree with Dan and Subtlety. For what it’s worth. I can take any ridiculous fantasy world (and there’ve been a few very good films that were set in places that could only have been imagined by someone very very very “shroomed”) but if it doesn’t draw me in and make me believe in the characters and the minituae, it won’t work. This one does. “Plausible” is a good way to describe it.

  20. One of my main problems with BEGINS was that Nolan tried to maintain this realistic tone throughout the whole movie, but at the end they pull out this ridiculous doomsday weapon on a stylised monorail and it’s such a big shift in tone that it kind of lost me. DARK KNIGHT kept things grounded in reality with the Joker’s terrorist plots, even if they were ridiculously complex and pretty much impossible to pull off in the real world. There are a lot of plot holes and under-explored subplots but I still bought into it and found myself swept along regardless. I also like that it touched on a bunch of issues related to vigilantism that I always like to see in a superhero movie (the copycats, the escalation, the abuse of power, innocents caught in the crossfire) but it didn’t get bogged down in them. I loved THE DARK KNIGHT (except for the lousy shaky-cam fight scenes – I would really like to see Batman effortlessly chew through a bunch of henchmen Seagal-style) but I can see where the backlash comes from. It’s not a perfect film by any means.

  21. Okay, I think we’ve all conclusively busted the myth that all nerds came to the consensus that this is the greatest movie of all time. Even those of us who do love it (myself included) think it’s flawed and problematic in areas.

    For the record, if I made a top 10 list of 2008, it would probably be on it (in the 7 to 10 range) and I certainly don’t consider it an all-time great movie.

  22. This is too the greatest movie of all time cause remember how Batman was all like I’m gonna stop all organized crime in Gotham even if I have to jump off a building in Hong Kong to do it and Eric Roberts was all like we can’t stop him he jumped off a building in Hong Kong how can we compete with that I know let’s hire that crazy dude who stole all our money surely that plan can’t backfire and then The Joker killed some dudes and then he killed some more dudes and then he killed Lieutenant Gordon or did he and finally Batman was all like I’m gonna stop The Joker even if I have to do a sweet one-eighty on a motorcycle to do it but then The Joker was all like I’m gonna blow up the woman you love or Harvey Dent you don’t even know man I’ll put a phone in a fat man you can’t stop me I’m crazy and Batman is all like yeah whatever dude I’ll just use my super sweet cellphone technology to see through walls and oh no the clowns are the hostages don’t shoot the clowns and people are inherently good they won’t blow each other up and then I’ll kill Two-Face and take the blame because I’m spoiler The Dark Knight I do this sort of crap all the time even though I refuse to kill people I’ve done it twice at the end of two consecutive movies I ain’t afraid and it was the best movie ever.

  23. Crusty — yup. The end is a particularly egregious break in the movie’s tone, although in all fairness it was going strait downhill ever since he puts on the suit. The fact that the action is so poorly staged is the nail in the coffin. “Knight” however, goes a long way towards correcting those issues.

  24. I haven’t read all of these posts yet but I don’t get alot of the complaints. For example CJ lists a bunch of “subplots that go nowhere” and to me not a single one of them fits that description! For example, Batman’s Hong Kong adventure is not a subplot, it is the best action sequence in the movie which also is a piece of the whole police procedural structure of the story, it is one of the many things that Batman does in this movie where supposedly Batman does nothing, and it is a piece of the whole “war on terror” subtext that is one of the bonus layers that people like so much about the movie. I don’t see how you could say that “goes nowhere” and in fact even if it did it would still be a great sequence in the way that a kickass James Bond action sequence is.

    Here’s a question for all you negative nellies. If DARK KNIGHT is not the best super hero movie ever, then what (the hell) is(, smart guy)?

    also if you want to get into it I am ready and willing to defend “Batdance” because I don’t care what anybody says, that song is the shit. Keep bustin.

  25. Best superhero movie ever? It’s gotta be one of the twos: Superman 2, Spider-Man 2, or X2. None of them are perfect, but they create pleasurable feelings in my brain when I watch them. SM2 nearly makes me tear up. What can I say? I like emotion with my tights.

    And I don’t mean to be a negative nelly. I didn’t go in wanting to pick The Dark Knight apart. It just didn’t satisfy me for some obscure reason that I couldn’t put my finger on, so I tried to figure out why. None of the faults I brought up are really the answer. They’re just the closest I can come to articulating the intangible whatever that made my viewing experience an unenjoyable one. Who can really say why we do or don’t like a movie? We can come up with reasons, factors, etc., but in the end, we either have fun or we don’t. It’s a little like love, I guess. We can’t fight chemistry, or lack thereof.

    I have the collectors edition of the Batman soundtrack, the one in the tin. What I think is awesome is that you learn from the (round) liner notes that all the songs are sung from the characters’ perspectives. See, I’m not a total purist. Comic book Batman would never say lines like “Feel what U’ve been dyin’ 4/Touch it and explode.”

  26. comic book hero movies I like better than TDK:

    Spiderman 2
    X2
    Blade 2
    Hellboy 2
    maybe Superman 2
    (it’s always the sequels for some reason)

  27. Look out, Dan, it’s Spider-Man… Spider… Hyphen… Man. You get that wrong and comic book nerds will beat you down in the street with their limited edition Elektra busts (with certificate of authenticity).

    Anyway, the superhero sequels are usually better because the first one is always bogged down with the origin story (I mean, is there really anyone who needs to be told that Superman came from Krypton or that Spider-Man got his powers from a spider bite). It’s only in the sequels that the writers get a chance to flex their muscles and tell an original story. I guess by the third film things become pretty mercenary and profit-driven (hence fanboy favourite Venom in SPIDER-MAN 3 or the blatant cast re-arranging in X-MEN 3).

    I think THE DARK KNIGHT is the best superhero movie, but it’s tone is so different from most other superhero movies it’s weird to compare them. It’s like comparing THE WIRE to CSI: MIAMI. For all of you people who didn’t think that much of THE DARK KNIGHT, where do you think it ranks compared to the other Batman films? Better than the Burton ones?

  28. Dan, you’ve raised an interesting issue. Does Vern prefer Dark Knight to Blade II?

    And I dont get the love for Superman II.

  29. Oh, I get it. “Spider-man.” I just always thought he was Jewish. Peter Spiderman.

  30. Rusty: If you read the end of Vern’s review he says it’s an issue “best left unexplored” and I’d tend to agree. I’m not a huge fan of SUPERMAN II either, mainly because of all the goofy comedy and crap that probably had them rolling in the aisles back in 1980. Apparently a lot of that is remedied in the Donner cut, but I don’t think I care enough to find out.

  31. While I am not one of the aforementioned negative nellies since I do think THE DARK KNIGHT is the best superhero movie ever, I’d still have to tie it with THE INCREDIBLES. And possibly BLADE. Those three are the best superhero movie of all time, in my opinion.

  32. Reading this debate, and no offense to anyone, but I think arguing fantasy or reality is…a misnomer debate.

    Take two good Batman movies: THE DARK KNIGHT and MASK OF THE PHANTASM. Each have Batman and Joker, and tell their stories in different styles/methods and varying degrees they handle the character’s comic book/fantasy/pulp tradition and background.

    Both are also fucking excellent, in their own method of madness. Except one pisses some folks off apparently because its supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread…and instead its uncut sourdough for them.

    Is TDK perfect? No, but neither is THE GODFATHER 2. Still a masterpiece. If we use pro wrestling methaphors, THE DARK KNIGHT for the superhero genre (based off real comics) the Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat: The gold standard that everything else is compared and scrutinized against.

    Or another way, I paid to see BATMAN & ROBIN back in the day. The fact that some peeps take the Nolan pictures for granted is……disapointing?

  33. MASK OF THE PHANTASM doesn’t count as a real movie since it’s a childrens animated family cartoon for kids.

  34. CrustaceanHate – No offense mate, but that’s a bullshit exit excuse.

    PIXAR are also “childrens animated family cartoon for kids.” Also happen many of their films are better than most “real” movies that come out in those years. That’s why Jake has a arguable good point of INCREDIBLES maybe the best of the superhero pictures. I won’t disagree.

    I think I’m trying to make with MASK was that the story certainly didn’t try to ground it in reality or no trying to realistic frame the Joker or Batman or whatever. Yet because of a well-crafted script and STORYTELLING (like TDK), you really give a shit about what happens.

    Sorry that it might detonate any possible argument of yours, but tough titty.

  35. I think Crustacean was joking around because of my history of saying the same types of things about children’s cartoons and comic strips.

  36. Vern, the thing with the “Hong Kong adventure” is, that after 30 minutes into the movie, Batman just flies around the world to end a MacGuffin. Neither the guy he caught there, or the money he “took care” of, is really important or that prominently mentioned in the movie again. And the whole trip takes less than 5 minutes.
    I agree that it IS a good action scene (Like I said: On a technological level is TDK pretty much perfect) and also shows that nothing can stop Batman to do his job, but it’s just clumsy storytelling IMO. It feels like a cut away scene. “Oh no, he is in Hong Kong!?” “Well, let’s get Batman to Hong Kong and get him. It won’t take long.” “And then?” *shrugs* “He flies back to Gotham and we never talk about it again.”
    It maybe is the catalysator that gets the Joker’s foot into the door, but for such a simple MacGuffin they spend too much time on it and end it in a pretty silly way. It’s just an excuse for another action scene (which is technically not a bad thing, but a movie that pretends to have a real story shouldn’t do this) and it makes the movie feel episodic, like all the other subplots that follow afterwards and are solved within 20 or less minutes, without having a real impact on the story itself.
    (I got no idea if this makes gramatically sense. I just got up.)

    And the best superhero movie ever is X-Men 2, IMO.

  37. Vern – MASK OF THE PHANTASM aint THE SPIRIT.

  38. CJ – still gotta disagree. In a mystery or a police procedural the hero follows a trail of clues to get to the solution. Dirty Harry sets up various stings and investigates a bunch of different angles before he finally nabs Scorpio. (He also foils a bank robbery during his lunch – don’t tell me that’s too episodic. That’s what Dirty Harry does and Batman is also allowed to do it in my opinion.)

    In DARK KNIGHT the Hong Kong scene is one piece of Batman and Gordon’s dismantling of organized crime in Gotham. In other versions of Batman (and in real life) this guy would get off scott free but this Batman shows that he has no jurisdictional limits. He can do what the police want, which is kickass and eventually morally questionable.

    I think it’s much more than a standalone action sequence, but I still can’t abide by this rule that “a movie that pretends to have a real story shouldn’t do this”. Says who? And why not? And what pretending? Don’t we all love great action scenes here? It sounds to me like you’re reacting based on all the critical acclaim or nerd acclaim or whatever more than the movie itself, because I don’t believe you would normally hold up action movies and good stories as separate categories.

    To me a movie that has great action scenes and also works on other levels is the best thing to reach for. (Unfortunately the hand-to-hand stuff in these movies isn’t as good as the vehicle stuff, so it’s not perfect in that sense.) I can’t remember if every single fight scene in CROUCHING TIGER was necessary for the story and would never think to complain if they weren’t.

  39. oh, and RRA, I’m not sure what that one means. I sure hope it ain’t THE SPIRIT because one THE SPIRIT is enough.

  40. RRA, I take umbrage with the idea that everyone who doesn’t think this movie is excellent is just bitter. I do not hold with the theory that because Nolan’s movies are better than Schumacher’s that I should suck it up and be grateful, even though I don’t actually like the movies. Sure, they’re better made and I appreciate the realistic approach, in theory. But there’s the little snag that I don’t actually enjoy watching them. They do not excite me, and I watch movies about badass vigilantes to be excited. The fights are terrible, the hero is goofy, and the plots are unsatisfying. Thus, they fail for me. Points for effort, but I’m not gonna get down on my knees and thank Nolan for making movies I don’t like. I’m not gonna rag on the guy, either. Me and him’ll just have to agree to disagree, and I’ll wait patiently for him to move on and leave the director’s chair to somebody else, preferably Aronofsky.

  41. RRA: Man, I gotta stop trying to be satirical on the internet because it clearly doesn’t work too well. Although I haven’t actually seen MASK OF THE PHANTASM, I love the Paul Dini animated series, probably one of the best representations of the character I’ve ever seen. Vern is right, I think we’re on the same page here. I’m not sure what you meant when you mentioned THE SPIRIT though.

    MR MAJESTYK: If you think the Nolan’s Batman is too goofy then how do you feel about Spider-Man? Or Burton’s Batman? Did you think that the film shot for too much realism so that the guy running around in a bat costume was fucking distracting? I’m not saying you should like the film, I’m just curious.

  42. I’m backing Vern on the Hong Kong matter. It’s not anticlimactic and it’s not a subplot that goes nowhere. It resolves itself in a satisfactory manner, with a mostly well-crafted set piece (except for the parts where people are punching each other, which Nolan has never figured out how to film), it just happens that this occurs relatively early in the film.

    However, to play devil’s advocate, I will mention a sequence I do feel ends abruptly. The party at Wayne’s penthouse, when the Joker and his men take over. The scene ends with Batman jumping out of the window to save Rachael, they land safely, and… we never find out what happens next. The Joker is still upstairs with all the innocent partygoers. What happened to them? The film gruffly cuts to the next scene without explanation.

    Not a major flaw, but one that irks me every time I watch it. And I feel like there are a few other examples throughout the film where Nolan just kind of drops the ball and neglects to follow through on something.

    Hence one of the reasons that, although I love this movie, I think it has problems and I don’t consider it to be some sort of towering masterpiece of the genre.

  43. Yeah, that’s a big part of it. The movie just never made me believe that dressing up like a bat was the only way to go. It’s not like the suit is scary or anything. It’s clearly just body armor with a cape on it. The second the suit showed up in Begins and Bale started talking, my brain rejected the character. I can’t take him anywhere near as seriously as the movies are asking me to. That pretty much kills them for me. You know how some people think Ang Lee’s Hulk looks real and others think it’s the fakest thing ever? It’s like that.

    As for Spider-Man, well, Peter Parker is a dork. His goofy costume is just the sort of thing a nerdy teenager would come up with, and it fits the cartoony world of the movies. And the Burton batsuit seemed of a piece with the way the rest of the production design. Plus, they characterized Bruce Wayne as kind of nutty, so it made sense that he would do something wacky like wear a rubber suit and fight crime. Bale’s Batman was such a sourpuss that I just didn’t buy him doing anything that whimsical. I always thought he looked embarrassed to be dressed like that in public.

  44. Aronofsky was attached to Batman at one point. Him and Frank Miller churned out a script that was well… interesting.

    Despite being called ‘Batman: Year One’ and being co-written by that one’s author, it took quite a number of liberties with the actual ‘Year One’ comic and established mythos.

    In it Bruce Wayne runs away after his parents are murdered and is raised in the ghetto by automotive shop owneres ‘Big Al’ and ‘Little Al’. He eventually becomes Batman but the gimmick was that all his Bat-tech (ha!) was homemade and very low budget (he even gets most of the ideas from the ‘Anarchist Cookbook’ ! Yeah in this one Bruce is very mentally disturbed and Miller and Aronofsky play that up big time. Like the source comic, there is a secondary story about Gordan investigating Batman that more-or-less actually followed the ‘Year One’ story. There was no supervillain or anything just the Bat & Gordan vs corrupt police.

    Google it and you’ll bring up information on it. It’s also where the ‘…has a beer and cheats on his wife.’ meme came from curtosy of a AICN script review.

    Like I said ‘interesting’. Oddly enough it doesn’t infuriate me like McG’s & J.J. Abram’s ‘Superman: Flyby’ script does. I guess because I could actually see Batman in this script as where ‘Flyby’ I could see absolutely nothing that was Superman. Oh and that ‘Flyby’ script was terrible didn’t help either I imagine.

    So don’t hold your breath for Aronofsky to be asked to take over and show Nolan how it’s done.

    I’m pretty much with RRA here. In the ‘Public Enemies’ talkback I mentioned my ‘Mask of the Phantasm’ love and I’ll reiterate that depending on my mood I may say that one is the best Batman movie and on another TDK is.

    If you haven’t seen it I strongly recommend you give it a try Mr. Majestyke as it’s based on both ‘Year One’ and ‘Year Two’ (and it makes the story to ‘Year Two’ not suck to boot). It embraces it’s comic roots, the ‘scary voice’ is a very natural, even though it uses the flashback structure it pretty much focuses solely on the plot of ‘Batman investigates murders’ plotline. That is unless you turn your nose up to animated fare and only watch mature (aka live action) films for mature individuals such as yourself.

    I recommend it to Bat-fans because I don’t see how a Batfan (ha!) could go wrong with ‘Phantasm’ but even then I’m kind with vern and RRA wondering what Batfans have against TDK. Even after reading the very well-written and structured criticisms written by them I’m still scratching my head. Like vern I’m kind of like ‘what the hell do you want these movies to do?’ I hate being like this so I’ll stop right there but I wanted to recommend that to you as a fellow Batman fan.

  45. I have a couple issues with DTK but I still would probably say it’s the best comic book movie yet made. I have plenty of love for Raimi’s Spider Manses, the two Blades, and the two Hellboys (not a fan of Supes, no offense to Donner)– they’re all fantastic, complete works in their own right, and a couple of em (Namely, Spidey II and Blade II) are pretty much note-perfect achievements. Still, I think TDK is much more ambitious and rewarding on more levels than any of ’em, and I truly respect and enjoy it. I think its arguably fair to hold it up to a higher standard than other flicks because it is trying harder and it has maybe been over-praised by some. But then again, as RRA points out — even Godfather II has potential areas for criticism, sequences and plots which won’t work for everyone, etc. It’s still way better than we deserve. The way I read you, Mr. M, you’re pretty much saying the same thing, just that kind of on a gut level, it doesn’t quite get you going the way it seems to do with everyone else. Am I right?

    As for the Hong Kong bit, I loved it, and I think it absolutely necessary to the script in two ways. It’s the first major play by Batsy we see, and its a crazy success for him. It sets the tone that this thing is gonna be like a Seagal movie, where Bats just keeps winning against these guys who will just never be safe anywhere (its also analagous to Joker’s crazy robbery at the beginning… Bats needs a similar victory to put them on equal footing). This makes it way more unexpected when things begin to start going the other way. Which brings me to the second advantage of this part – as a red herring which puts everything else in doubt. They make a big deal about this plot, and then Bats gets in there and wins big. But then it turns out this was the least of his problems – his big victory didn’t amount to a crock of shit. By the time you see Lhou (sp?) on the top of Joker’s big pile of money, you can’t help but reflect that he probably wouldn’t even be there if it hadn’t been for Batsy’s hero antics. Plus, it plays into the ideas about chaos, the limits of control, the morality of vigilantism, why there are no good roles for Asian actors, etc. Plus (aside from the car stuff) as Vern notes, it’s hands down the best action in the whole movie. What’s not to like? I mean, you could take it out and have the movie still make sense, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re going for an epic scope, a few colorful tangents are par for the course.

  46. I agree that the Hong Kong scene is the best part of the movie. It shows ingenuity in its action and is really the only time in the movie where Bats makes himself useful. You can see how he can accomplish things that the cops can’t.

    Geof: Yeah, you nailed it. I can see all the great things you guys are talking about but it doesn’t add up to a satisfying film for me. This is one movie that is way less than the sum of its parts. On a gut level, I do not find it rewarding. Believe me, I would love to love this movie. Is there some Kool-Aid I can drink?

    I have seen Mask of the Phantasm, and it is pretty good. I watched the TV show every damn day in high school, but for some reason, I don’t really like animation anymore. I have no desire to see animated movies. I can’t really explain it. I like comic books and eye candy, people I respect tell me they’re great, yet there’s nothing in me that wants to see Up or Wall-E or anything that doesn’t have people in it, really. Again, it’s just a gut thing. I don’t look down on it as kids stuff. I just don’t give a shit. I know I’m probably missing out, but I’m not going to force myself to watch stuff I’m not interested in when there are hundreds of other movies I want to see.

    And don’t get me started on anime. I have the same experience every time: “Wow, this is great. The animation is just stunning. I hope it ends soon.”

  47. If I had to reccomend a Kool-Aide to make “TDK” magic happen, I think it would have to be grape Kool-Aide. Just seems fitting. Anyway, couldn’t hurt to try. Um, unless diabetes, etc.

  48. While I liked the Hong Kong sequence just fine, calling it the best scene in the movie is a huge jump. At no point in that scene is there a psychotic in clown makeup with a purple suit, so no, logic dictates it can’t be the best.

  49. You are correct, sir. I clearly meant to say that it was Batman’s best scene in the movie.

  50. Ah, yes, re-reading the post that’s obvious now. Thanks bud.

  51. “This is a movie I think most people would like – except maybe not kids. It’s kind of a miracle that they even got to make this movie. Not so much because it’s disturbing and scary but because it just never seems like it even occurred to them to make a movie that a kid might watch.” My 11 year old brother loves this movie. Not sure what that says, but there you go.

  52. I know you’re all thinking that I’m going to use Brendan’s post as an excuse to open up this old can of worms, but I’ve moved on to a new universally popular thing that I happen to despise: Mad Men. Who’s with me?

  53. Never watched Mad Men. But I really hate 30 Rock! :)

  54. It’s weird how all these American websites always forget to mention that it started on a brand new, not very much advertised, digital cable channel. Maybe less than 1/3 of all Germans are able to watch it, maybe less than 1/4 of these viewers even know that that channel exists and 99% of them who are interested in 30 Rock, already saw it on another digital cable channel, where it’s running since more than 6 months.

  55. You mean the Onion lied?!

  56. Oh, and Season 1 is already available on DVD for a while.

  57. The Onion always lies. It’s an onion! Would you trust a vegetable? They would say anything to not get eaten.

  58. Brendan – I probly already wrote this somewhere, but I realized that kids did like it the day I was leaving an Imax screening of it and saw a little kid scaling a wall, leaping off and running away. In his head I believe he had just served the Scarecrow or somebody an ass whooping. Or possibly extradited a corrupt Hong Kong businessman back to the U.S.

  59. Yeah the first time he watched it, he told me after that he didn’t really understand all the talk about laws and taxes and stuff, but he loved all the stuff with the Joker and was scared of Two-Face. Shortly after, HBO started playing the movie 24-7 and he started watching it over and over again. He’s a pretty tough little kid though, I mean he grew up watching the LOTR movies religously and over the summer I showed him stuff like War of the Worlds and I Am Legend and he loved them. He was a little freaked out, but after he begged to watch them again. I’m trying to decide if next summer I should break out some of the ‘lighter’ R-Rated movies like Aliens or Road Warrior, where they’re violent but in a fun, cartoony way, not in an American History X way. We’ll see.

  60. caruso_stalker217

    November 13th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Brendan:

    Have you considered PREDATOR as well? Though I guess that one’s got more blood and such than an ALIENS or ROAD WARRIOR. But I was raised on the holy trinity of ALIENS/PREDATOR/ROBOCOP, so I guess I’m not the guy to consult on this. Eleven year-olds. What grade is that? Second? Third? They grow so fast, these things.

  61. I don’t know that I’d necessarily say the violence in “The Road Warrior” is fun. Sure, you could call it cartoony, but every major death in the film – even Wez’s golden-haired boyfriend – is invested with some degree of pathos.

    On “The Dark Knight” – I did review it, twice. Once for kicks, and once for the number ten spot on “The Best of the Decade Project” going on between myself and MatchCuts undefeatable Glenn Heath. And, I have to say – I can’t understand some of the complaints foisted at the film by Majestyk, earlier in this here thread. That Nolan is approaching the film as a crime drama with an element of the fantastical in it – isn’t that what the comics have been doing in some form or another since the eighties? Frank Miller’s “Year One,” Brubaker’s “Gotham Central,” or any of those.

    On a nerd-level, I did have one minor problem with the film, and that was the suit – not because it didn’t look intimidating, but because I don’t get Nolan’s preference for bulky armor over the more weighty impression that something like a tough leather would give.

    I still haven’t started on my Number Five essay for the Project. Oh god oh god, I’m so behind.

  62. Yeah it has emotional weight, but its bloodless, and blood and guts is what I think I should avoid. Predator is for the most part is a maybe, but I think the stuff with the skinning and ripping off of limbs is a bit much. Same with Robocop, the tone is a little to dour, the violence is a little to wet. With Aliens, the only thing that I think would be an issue is a couple of the chestbursters. The rest of the violence is more on the Jurassic Park side, where something jumps out of the background, the character screams and it cuts away.

  63. My parents were really inconsistent with the movies my brothers and I were able to watch as kids. We saw RoboCop and The Rambos and Yellowbeard (which may be the most offensive movie ever) but we weren’t allowed to watch The Punisher or the Nightmare on Elm Streets.

    I can, however state three facts:

    1. I didn’t grow up to be a serial killer or even a guy who cheats on his taxes.

    2. The movies we weren’t allowed to watch became a conquest for me and my brothers.

    3. Yellowbeard is the grout that holds my family together…and love too, but mostly Yellowbeard.

    As far as movies that scared the crap out of me… Those became my favorite movies ever. I was afraid of gremlins and skeksis for years and to this day The Dark Crystal and the Gremlins saga remain my favorite movies of all time.

    All in all, I think kids can handle a lot more than people think. It was a different time when I grew up but kids today are the same as I was. I think that some movies may be pretty harsh, scary, and whatnot but I also think that it isn’t going to damage them in a negative way.

    I have a friend named Tony that watches all sorts of movies with his son that he loved at his age so it’s kind of a bonding thing between the two of them. The other way you could go is to make the movies “off limits” for them yet make it available somehow so they can get that rush that they’re breaking a taboo that is impossible to get watching movies as an adult. (Speaking of Rush, Vern – You should review that movie.) Love or hate the Saw movies but I suspect that there is a generation of kids that seek them out simply because they know they aren’t supposed to. If you hate the Saw movies, I would suggest you make Predator the taboo instead.

    I guess what it boils down to is that you can either use taboo movies as a way to get closer to your kid or keep it off limits and ultimately let him/her discover it for themselves and in turn making it “their” discovery. The cool thing is that whichever one you choose will be a great experience for you kid and how often do you get a win/win situation?

  64. Filmist, in theory I’m totally cool with The Dark Knight being a crime thriller with a dash of the fantastic mixed in. That’s clearly the way to go. But I think they got the recipe wrong and I don’t like the way the results taste. Or something. I can admire what it was trying to do without actually enjoying what it did. If you’re interested in a much longer autopsy of my thoughts on the film, click on that link I posted above. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t, though.

  65. Well this is long past the due date but I figured I’d phone in my take on the Hong Kong extradition scene.

    I think this is a very important scene, thematically, and it is also very well executed from both an action scene perspective (fun to watch) and also from a “Batman sticks it to the criminals” perspective. But more importantly, the entire Asian criminal who almost gets away with stealing billions subplot shows us the enormous difference between all the other riff raff criminals in the movie – mobsters, Asians, bank robbers – and the Joker. The Joker gets his hands on the billions and what does he do with it??? He BURNS IT IN A BIG PILE WITH THE ASIAN GUY ON TOP!!! Why? Because the Joker doesn’t care about money, the things he needs in life are cheap — Gasoline. Dynamite. This is one of the best lines in the movie. It shows us perhaps for the first time who the Joker really is and what motivates him, and it is truly scary.

    This scene is one of the things that makes me love DARK KNIGHT, and obviously the entire Hong Kong extradition sets it all up in an exciting way.

    Also, the scene where Batman does a snowspeeder vs AT AT Walker on Joker’s semi is the best action scene in the movie, far better than anything in BATMAN RETURNS.

  66. In regards to the Two-Face stuff in the Abyss talkback, I can’t agree that cutting his stuff would have been a good idea. Maybe for the franchise it would work, but as a film, letting go of everything that came before (comics, movies, TV shows or whatever) it works for the movie. As the movie’s merits are debated in the years to come (and a movie doesn’t make a billion dollars and then disappear from pop culture, so get used to the thing) I think that the comic book fans are going to be gradually phased out of the conversation. Taken as a movie, just a movie, Two-Face works. That is the arc that Harvey Dent is on, and it fits the film.

  67. RRA, out of respect for our host, I have chosen to reply to you over here.

    The thing is, for me, The Dark Knight doesn’t basically work. It’s got a lot of good elements, but they’re not working in sync. All I hear are the gears grinding. It’s not a nitpicky thing. I find it unsatisfying at an elemental level. There’s just something wrong with it that prevents me from enjoying it for more than fits and starts.

    As for the Two Face stuff, I really think cutting it would improve The Dark Knight. I’m not just saying that because I wanted the sequel to be about Two Face. I don’t even really want a sequel. I’d like to see a different approach to the series every five years or so, like the Bond films. I think you can do this character a lot of different ways. I just don’t like the way this team does him.

  68. Or maybe there’s something wrong with me, not the movie. Who knows? I’ve only ever watched it as myself.

  69. Majestyk there’s nothing wrong with you pal, you wanted something out of the film that wasn’t there and you are unhappy about that. It must suck to be on the opposite side of the zeitgeist like that, but it happens to everyone. I have a buddy who tells me the Godfather is overrated and to long. This same buddy gets told to shut the fuck up a lot. That’s a bad example, but you get the idea.

  70. I have been quoted as saying “The Godfather is pretty good but it’s no The Godfather.” I don’t exactly know what I mean by it but it usually gets a chuckle.

  71. Late to this conversation but if anyone comes back I have some thoughts:

    You guys really know how to pick nits. This movie isn’t a serious crime drama no matter how much both the lovers and haters try to compare it to one. Christopher Nolan definitely took stylistic queues from such movies (Heat especially) but it’s a super hero movie through and through. Hopefully some of you guys have actually watched the movie more than once by now and maybe worked through some of your (false) initial impressions, but if not, some notes from someone who cares.

    -First, the big “subplot that goes nowhere”, the Hong Kong sequence. How the fuck could nobody notice that the entire movie revolves around that scene?! Again, what fucking movie were you watching?! Batman captures Lau who is immune to extradition and forcefully deports him back to Gotham where he agrees to testify against the mobsters he was laundering money for in exchange for his freedom. As a result of this promise, Dent and Gordon are able to arrest all of Gotham’s major Crimelords, which forces said crime bosses to hire the Joker to take care of their problem. Joker gets himself locked in the same jail as Lau, breaks out of confinement and kidnaps Lau before he can testify, and then accepts payment from the mob; a gigantic pile of cash that he sets on fire with Lau sitting on top of it (earlier in the scene he throws a wad of cash at his head) before murdering the mobster that delivered it to him. None of this is crucial to the plot for you guys?!!

    -CJ mentioned Heath Ledger’s “annoying over-acting”. This seems like an unbelievable slap in the face to one of the great villain performances of all time (seriously) but one that only comes from trying to view the movie as a “serious crime drama”, which it’s not and doesn’t purport to be. CJ, the Joker’s not a real guy, even in this movie. He’s not a criminal, he doesn’t have human motivation or a true goal. He’s not a person, he’s the personification of chaos. He can’t be viewed as a worldly character, the way you would view the villain in a “serious crime drama”.

    Two times, the Joker offers a false backstory for his mutilated face. The reason for this is simply that he doesn’t have a backstory. Imagine whatever origin you will but as far as the movie’s concerned, he just formed out of the ether as a means to tear apart the order that Batman brought to a city that can’t exist in harmony. He’s a demon or an evil demigod and his performance reflects this. Viewing this as a Batman story (which it’s meant to be viewed as, no matter what pretensions you or even any of the movie’s supporters attribute to it) how can you overact this?

    During the hospital scene with Harvey Dent, the Joker tells Dent that he’s “not a schemer” which is both completely false but patently true. It’s false because the Joker’s obviously a master chess-player; no matter what move Batman or any other authority (the police or the mob) makes, he’s always thinking two steps ahead. After he kidnaps Lau and breaks out of jail, Commissioner Gordan says in defeat, “He wanted to be caught,” but that’s not necessarily true. More accurately, the Joker didn’t give a fuck whether he was caught or not. He was prepared either way. He legitimately wanted to kill Harvey Dent during his transport to county but if not, he had a goon with a bomb sewn into his intestines on his way to the lockup just in case. That’s quite a scheme.

    However, the Joker’s not a schemer because he has no agenda, in fact he’s the opposite of agenda. He doesn’t enter a lottery to hit the jackpot, he just likes to watch the balls bounce around. As I said before, his grand scheme that allowed him to bust Lau out of jail netted him nothing. He burned the money along with the prisoner and then slaughtered the man who paid him (cut him into pieces and fed him to his pooches). What did he accomplish by any of this? Only chaos. Twice in the movie, he dares someone to kill him (Batman after the truck crash and Harvey Dent in the hospital). He didn’t do this because he wants to die, he simply didn’t care. In a society that craves order and sensibility, the Joker is not Neil McCauley in Heat. He’s not Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction or Frank Costello in The Departed. He’s Hurricane Katrina. He’s 9-11. He has more in common with the bomb strapped to a suicidal bomber than the bomber himself. He’s an unstoppable force of nature that exists only to create anarchy. I’m sorry if the performance was too over the top for you.

    -About Batman being blamed for the death of Harvey Dent (and all the others Dent murdered in cold blood). CJ, not to pick on you but again it doesn’t seem like you were even paying attention. Early in the movie, Bruce Wayne realizes that Harvey Dent, and not Batman, can be the one true savior of Gotham City. Batman’s crusade might make people sleep a little better at night but in the end inspires only more vigilanteism (hence, the multiple gun-toting batmen). Harvey Dent is a real person who inspires the city to believe in justice, not just vengeance, and is the white knight to Batman’s dark knight. As an agent of chaos, the Joker must prevent this by bringing Dent “down to our level” and turning Dent into a vengeance hungry, murderous psychopath, at which he succeeds. If Gotham were to find out of his actions, the city’s last true hope would be squandered and the city would fall apart, so Batman, in his role as The Dark Knight takes on the responsibility of Dent’s crimes in order to preserve Dent’s image and preserve Gotham. It’s not as simple as saying the Joker did it, because Dent truly did commit those crimes and if Gotham found out, all hope would be lost. To paraphrase a foreshadowing line from the movie’s truly great script (which some people can’t help but bash for inane reasons) Harvy Dent died a hero, Batman lived long enough to see himself become the villain.

    I could get more into it but there’s no reason. If you haven’t figured this stuff out already, obviously the movie didn’t engage you and that’s fine. For whatever reason some movies, even great ones, rub people the wrong way. I’m no different. There’s a good explanation for most of the things you guys are focusing on here, but they really don’t matter. Sometimes people don’t see the forest for the trees, but sometimes people focus too hard on the trees to see the gigantic fucking beautiful forest. Los siento.

  72. Writing a good review is not about reciting the plot of the movie and bashing on everything you can find. IMHO i think you should quit while your behind and just go back to the drugs and alcohol. Your writing sucks and reviews are not even reviews, there called movie spoilers. What are you like 14 or something? It sounds like it by your vocabulary.

  73. The caustic nature of the drug reference upsets me, even if this guy is some bizarre joke.

    Is it worth my time to dig up my awesome comparison between Vern & Ben Franklin?

  74. Oh thats from his own words. If your talking to me mouth, wasn’t sure. I agree with some of your posts, but read the about me page and you’ll get a good laugh at his ill-conceived attempt to sound like a bad-ass or something. I’d love to find out how old this kid REALLY is. He tries to act like hes alot older then he really is. AND that he has done “HARD TIME” and is a “guy you don’t wanna mess with.” Yet has juvenile opinions such as a person muscle size determines how tough he is in the “over the top review”

  75. Wasn’t most of that “about me” shit written in, like, 1999? And the original post date is surely more than 5 years ago. You know, Mozart’s best compositions weren’t performed until the last few years of his life.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>