Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dark Knight - My Review

Well, after a week of hearing all the hype, I finally took in a matinee and saw The Dark Knight.

Batman fans struggle with Batman movies. Why is it, DC has such a difficult time translating their super heroes onto the big screen? It doesn't make sense. With the X-men, Spider-man, Ironman, and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel has proven they can seamlessly perform the translation. With DC... Not so much.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my likes and dislikes on various elements of the movie. There will be spoilers.

The Plot: Acceptable. Better than acceptable, actually. Anyone who is an avid fan of the comic book knows Batman was only in cahoots with Commissioner Gordon, not the whole entire police force. The police regarded him just as much of a menace as the fiends he tangoed with. The self-sacrificing transition from the hero of Gotham to the vigilante of Gotham was a welcome sight.

The City: I went with a friend to see this movie, who made the interesting observation that Gotham was actually Chicago. Gotham is supposed to be just that... GOTHam. Dark. Most of the buildings should be stonework, and with a general appearance of dilapidation. But this Gotham looked like... well... Chicago. Also, many of the shots were in the daytime,,, atypical of Batman.

The Joker: Everyone's raving about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. I must say he did fairly well. He behaved just I imagine the Joker should, and was what I always imagined the Joker being, psychotic. The part I did not like about Ledger's performance... His appearance. Anyone who's read the comic knows the Joker was profoundly vain. The disheveled appearance Ledger provided was not accurate. The Joker was supposed to be clean-cut and very primed.

Commissioner Gordon: Gary Oldman's performance was epic. That is all I can say.

Harvey Dent / Two-Face: Eckhart's performance was leaving something to be desired at the beginning of the movie, but by the time the transition was made into Two-Face, the tone of the character changed so dramatically that I was awestruck. Best of all, he looked like Two-Face.

Batman: Ah, Batman. What can we say? You would think that this franchise handling the current stream of Batman movies would learn from the mistakes of the previous franchise. Why is it they always have to make the asinine progression from a decent outfit to an almost rigidly robotic appearing outfit. I loved the Kevlar appearance from Batman Begins and it was my great hope that the suit would remain untouched. I was disappointed. The "upgrade" brought about the same mechanized appearance the previous franchise was apparently working toward. I hate it!!! The smooth lines from Batman Begins has been replaced by a machine looking batsuit. From Kevlar to a super-soldier.
For comparison, here is the two movies, Batman Begins (left) and The Dark Knight (right), side by side...
I honestly wish someone would explain this need to progress toward a mechanical appearing Batman. They are well on their way to producing the same silly looking black and silver Batman from the previous franchise's Batman and Robin, shiny nipples and all.
Anyway, this seems to be the way it is, for now. I think it is funny how the comic can get away with depicting him in tights all these years, but the movies end up with a mecha-Batman.

And then there's Batman's voice. Just like in Batman Begins, Christian Bale uses a low, growling voice to voice Batman. Now granted, he has to disguise his voice, since the voice of Bruce Wayne is too easily distinguished. But why such a primal voice? In my opinion, the best voice of Batman always will be Kevin Conroy in the animated series (where also the very best Joker will immortally exist as well, in my opinion). He made the distinction in voices without making Batman sound so fake.

The Batmobile: It was the same tank-like vehicle as in Batman Begins, howbeit, it gets banged up pretty bad, from whence emerges the new batcycle, using the tires from the Batmobile. Stupid!

There is one other issue I want to address. There is an political allusion to The Patriot Act, and other highly contested issues occurring in the political realm today. Batman does two things in the movie that the current Bush administration implements that is brought under scrutiny. Firstly, torture. In a scene where Batman is put into a room with an unarmed Joker for the purpose of extracting information, The police attempt to intervene when Batman's rage gets the better of him, but they do not succeed. Also, Batman invades everyone privacy by implementing technology that allows him to spy on every citizen of Gotham via their cell phones, much to the dismay of Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman. Mr. Fox is so put off by this invasion of privacy that he immediately resigns from Wayne's company. Much of what I saw in this echoes the real-world mentality of Judge Andrew Napolitano's book A Nation of Sheep, where Judge Napolitano chides with Americans for standing idly by while the government steals away our civil rights based on the idea of improved security. Whatever your stand on the issues, you cannot escape the allusion in this movie.

So, in the long run, is the movie worth going to see? Yes. It is a great movie. Is it the mega-blockbuster the reviewers say it is, worthy of topping IMDB's best 250 list after only one weekend? Absolutely not!

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