Editors Note: There are some spoilers ahead, so reader beware!
I generally enjoy playing the Devil’s advocate, but more so against the cynical fanboys. The new Indiana Jones is an example. People have been pissing and moaning about that movie for so long now, it’s just getting irritating. Me? Well I will go fanboy taboo and say I liked it. NO, scratch that, I loved it! In fact…I’ll go one further and say that the monkey scene didn’t bother me at all. And I’ll take THAT a step further and say I even liked the fridge scene! Blasphemy, I know, but it’s true.
So in being anti-fanboy, it would stand to reason that I would favor more negatively towards the new Batman adventure, The Dark Knight. Well, surprise, surprise…just like the masses, I loved it. The Dark Knight struck new chords within the way people view Batman. No longer is he just a comic book hero, but now he’s actually pretty much a real guy. The stunts, action and things he does to battle crime all seem relatively believable. That was a big selling point to me. The Joker was the same way. He seemed like a real guy, who was just insane, and it worked for the most part.
We might as well get the issues I had with the movie out of the way first, as they are few. My qualms with the movie were actually pretty much non-existent as I felt excited for the most part of the 2 hour 20 minute time length. It’s a major feat to make a film so long yet exciting that even my wife wasn’t bored, but it was accomplished here. I felt that the storyline and dialog were a little too thick for only a single viewing. Sometimes I was left feeling like “what are they talking about?” only because I was still trying to process what they had just said in the scene before, but it didn’t really hinder or confuse the rhythm of the movie for the most part. I was never left feeling empty. I think my biggest problem was Maggie Gyllenhaal. As an actress, I don’t like her. As a sex symbol, I don’t like her. Asthe character Rachael Dawes, I don’t like her. So all in all, I just didn’t like her. I didn’t feel that there was any time where she was important to me and when she was killed off, I actually only felt bad for Harvey Dent. I didn’t sense any real connection between her and the others. It seemed that Bruce was almost apathetic to her, even when he was trying to save her and she seemed pretty flighty with boththe boys who were supposedly in love with her. Only Harvey Dent could really pull off kinda liking her, but it felt more like a 6th grade romance, awkward and one sided for the most part. I was left sort of happy that she was killed, because now I won’t have to deal with her in part 3.
My next problem wasn’t really a problem, but more of a case of higher expectations. This one belongs to Heath Ledger/The Joker. I wanted more. Now, I’m not one of those people who saw this movie and is now comparing Ledger’s performance to that of DeNiro in Raging Bull. Not at all. Not the best performance of the century, decade or when 2008 is over, the year even. It was just plain and simple, a great performance in general. Ledger was a fine actor and it is very tragic that he died on the cusp of absolute super stardom, but in no way was the the NEXT Marlon Brando or a James Dean. He was the FIRST Heath Ledger; a good actor who died before he became great. I can remember seeing The Patriot when it came out in 2000, and I thought Heath was great in that. I remember when he and Mel Gibson were sharing an apple together in that movie and they both smile and I thought to myself, “Is that apple like a torch? Could this kid be the next Mel Gibson?” And like I just said before, no…he wasn’t the next Mel
Gibson, he was the first and only Heath Ledger, and that is what he will remain forever. As for the Joker, he was great. He was scary, funny, cool, suave in a psychotic way…I liked it….but didn’t love it. There wasn’t enough screen time for him…and when he was on (save for a few great scenes), he just seemed scattered. Not to say he wasn’t enjoyable, he sure was…but I wanted more…and I suppose in a way, that is a major complement. Ledger did transform into the character, which made it exciting and fun, almost like watching an unknown play him. Definitely the brightest star in the Dark Knight galaxy.
I think overall my biggest problem was one that the filmmakers could not have foreseen, and that is the ending. I don’t blame anyone, obviously, for the death of Heath Ledger, but it just sucks in a selfish way that his death really screws up Batman 3. I cannot think of a single way to save it. Recast? Lame. Write the Joker out of
the story? Lame. Kill him off in the beginning somehow? Lame. There really is no good way to do it. I think that part 3, if there will be a part 3, has major obstacles ahead and honestly, will not be able to surpass what fans expect because of this movie.
Ok, so the good: Well…I have to say that my favorite part of this movie was totally unexpected. Aaron Eckhart was amazing as Harvey Dent. I am not the biggest fan of Aaron Eckhart, but in this movie he nailed it. He commanded the screen every time he was on it, and I thought his transformation into Two Face was totally awesome. I
understood completely his anger and insanity which made him become Two Face. I loved that character.
The story was overall exciting and believable. I loved the Joker working for and against the mob. I loved Batman’s story arc with his love/hate relationship with Dent. I loved the Joker’s dialog about how he and Batman will be bitter enemies till the end because they need each other (another unfortunate turn of events that really hinders the Batman 3 storyline.)
The action was intense and I loved the last battle between Batman and the Joker, when Joker was tossed over the side of the building and cackling all the way down. The capture and escape of the Joker was also intense and white knuckled. It had just really well shot action sequences overall.
The writing really made this movie. The dialog could have so easily been goofy, like most comic book movies, but this one was really written within the boundaries of reality and it never took me out of the story. Even when Harvey became Two Face, I believed it. Just great old fashioned good guy vs. bad guy stuff.
So in finishing this strange review, I have to say that the good very much outweighs the bad in this movie. I saw on IMDB that it is now voted the number 1 movie of all time in the Top 100. That is just stupid. It’s a great movie…but in no way does it compare to Raging Bull, The Godfather, etc. It’s just a great and fun popcorn movie that didn’t change my life…but gave me a Joker sized grin as I exited the theater…mostly because for the first time in a long time, it was money well spent.
Check Out an alternative viewpoint: Sam’s Review of ‘The Dark Knight’