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ACTION Flicks > The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 15, 2009 02:38PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments OK, everyone who has read my reviews (I appreciate all the kind words, really. I'm not a professional writer just a guy who studies, reads about, and loves cinema) knows that I write with affection, rarely with unkind words. You see where this is going. I grew up buying Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL comics off the local spinning metal newsrack, the kind that always dog-eared the corners and had grease pencil scrawled across the cover by the fat cigar-chomping guy so he knew when to pull it (sans cover) for credit. I still own every freakin' Miller book including his original DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. He redefined a fading genre, catapulted the aging superhero in pajamas into the dark terrain of the 20th century: he made Batman an anti-hero with the best of intentions. His insightful writing and dramatic artwork, while not always perfect, truly captures the spirit (or SPIRIT, ala Will Eisner) of ordered chaos, of anarchy, of the deconstruction of modern morality, a danse macabre with our alter egos. Brilliant. I urge everyone who reads this review to pick up a copy of DAREDEVIL #191 (can be had for a few bucks) and discover the apotheosis of the super-hero genre. Skip this dreck.

THE DARK KNIGHT (Christopher Nolan, 2008, USA) THE DARK KNIGHT is exciting, a rare Black Pearl which upon closer examination is a fraud, pretty but valueless, inset into an empty suit of armor. The narrative attempts to be a modern myth, a prescient legend that remakes King Arthur as an emotionally tortured and brooding sociopath, a millionaire who plucks not the sword from the stone, but Hollywood gold from our pocket. This is a superficially contrived hyped-up morality play that is crushed under its own self-important weight. Once upon a time Director Christopher Nolan made two great films: FOLLOWING & MEMENTO. The script is inundated with awkward dialogue whose internal logic is skewed with unbelievable character motivations: Harvey Dent’s transformation (physical and mental) is a jejune plot device to create frisson, both pretentious and improbable. The direction is lazy with spiraling nausea-inducing camera movements and sloppy editing; the actors perform as wooden clacking marionettes fulfilling allotted roles without individuality, their strings manipulated, lacking basic human DNA. The writer pushes square dialogue through their round holes, blathering insipidly about morality and justice without regard to a thinking audience who can figure it out on their own (thank you very much): this condescending attitude is unacceptable. Heath Ledger as The Joker seems to be the embodiments of anarchy, his goal the destruction of social order to create a lawless society, to see the citizens of Gotham revert back to the Dark Ages. But his plans are meticulous and artificial; the polar opposite of a chaotic maddened mind that seeks to burn down the world. The plans are so mechanical that we can see the writer’s hand at work, busy punching plastic lettered squares that create a vapid electronic text which masquerades as drama…but is an illusion that hides, not a half-scarred script, but a faceless and phony melodrama. Heath Ledger’s inspired performance is the bright spot in this dismal failure. To awaken your numbed brain, please refer to Frank Miller’s original four-issue series that gave birth to this catastrophic mediocrity. (D)

message 2: by Phillip (last edited Jan 15, 2009 08:11PM) (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments you go alex!
take no prisoners...

message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments At last, some sense about THE DARK KNIGHT. Alex, here's my review of the film from my blog:


“Do I look like a man with a plan?”

This film very definitely has a plan. A big plan. It wants to be taken Very Very Seriously Indeed. THE DARK KNIGHT is a follow up to BATMAN BEGINS, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise that had previously been destroyed by Joel Shumacher’s appalling BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN AND ROBIN, the films that became notorious for adding nipples to the batsuit. Nolan’s chief contribution to the series is a labored High Moral Importance, as Batman/Bruce Wayne struggles, oh so mightily, to live up to his father’s memory and banish crime from Gotham City. BATMAN BEGINS had a lot of nonsense about an assassin squad known as the League Of Shadows and some nattering about history and the decline of the west, but mostly the film was an excuse for bludgeoning an audience senseless, delivering brutal violence while shaking a finger in your face for enjoying it. It set a bold standard for sheer self-righteousness, even muscling in a reference to one of Bruce Wayne’s ancestors having been involved in the Underground Railroad. It didn’t even deliver an interesting villain, just Liam Neeson spouting mutilated Lucasisms about how you must become fear to overcome fear. All in all, there’s more fun in Auschwitz footage.

THE DARK KNIGHT doesn’t exactly lighten the tone, the occasional daylight scene notwithstanding. The story is terribly busy, too busy. Batman has been cleaning up the organized crime in Gotham City, and the Mob is getting unhappy. The Joker offers to lend the mob a hand. Okay, but there’s a lot of other stuff involving District Attorney Harvey Dent, some Mafia High Finance and a wicked accountant who knows where the money is buried and the story just clunks and thuds along, never more pointlessly than during a completely expendable sidetrip to Hong Kong. There’s a girl in there too, Maggie Gyllenaal taking over for whatsername from the last one, but basically, you just sit there waiting for more of the Joker.

I loved Heath Ledger’s Joker. He’s very funny and very shocking, going for an unbridled sadism that is unique in this kind of film, where villains are all too often too coy to scare, much less perform lethal sleight of hand with pencils. This Joker is the real thing straight out of nightmareland. It’s an oversize performance, one that manages somehow to match the oversize pretensions of the rest of the film. He's the driving life force of the movie, the pulse and energy of the film much more so than all the stunts and CGI. All the explosions and gimmicks never once impress as much as the sight of the Joker standing in the middle of a Gotham City street daring Batman to run him down, knowing he won't. He's even got a wonderful moment leaning out of a car window in the early light, enjoying the wind in his green greasy hair, a la Fredric March's Mr. Hyde ecstatically drinking falling raindrops. Ledger is also, by the way, the only actor who manages to put over the overt speechifying that mars so much of the rest of the film. When the Joker monologues on his ideas of chaos, he speaks with a demented conviction that poor Michael Caine’s ceaseless pathetic prattling about What Batman Means can’t come near. Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart manage to make something of their roles, which is more than can be said for Morgan Freeman and Caine, neither of whom have broken a sweat in years: their performances are strictly by the numbers and for the paycheck.

Someone should alert the authorities about the block of wood passing itself off as Christian Bale, getting roles and collecting paychecks. Yeah, I know, Batman/Bruce is almost inevitably played as a stiff. Sometimes for laughs, as Adam West’s hilariously pompous goodytwoshoes, or as Psychologically Damaged Goods by Michael Keaton. But no one approaches Christian Bale’s performance for sheer inertness. He just sits there and broods, or stands there and broods, or broods there and broods. Boy does he brood. Brood brood brood. Brood Bruce, brood. I found it impossible to do anything other than root for the Joker, who at least shows some signs of life. This lack of energy on Bale's part, and the nailing home of each and every Serious Point, are the least welcome holdovers from the first film.

THE DARK KNIGHT does go to some lengths to try to show us that there is after all something in Gotham worth saving. BATMAN BEGINS’ Gotham was a charnel house, a vision of urban hell akin to those in BLADE RUNNER and SEVEN, and it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to save it from the Joker’s chaotic demolition performance pieces much less actually live there. This at least partially explains the glimmers of hope that are shoe-horned into the plot, some bits of faith in simple human decency that were completely missing from DARK KNIGHT’s Bleak Chic prequel.

I can’t say I liked the film very much, except as a vehicle for Ledger’s Joker. I think I’ve finally outgrown this Batman stuff, except for Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS, to me still the only Batman film worth seeing, to watch Michelle Pfeiffer deliver probably the greatest performance by an actress in 90s Hollywood Cinema. It never gets stale, unlike the strained seriousness of Nolan’s movies, which fade from the memory almost immediately. They can do the inevitable follow up to THE DARK KNIGHT without me. Unless of course, they find something really interesting to do with Catwoman. Ha. Yeah, right. Not with this joyless batch of filmmakers.

message 4: by SLIM SHADY (last edited Mar 25, 2009 05:32PM) (new)

SLIM SHADY Gontier (heroesfreak) | 254 comments to me I think that they did an AMAZING JOB with filming the Dark Knight... For those of you who dont know but the Dark knight was filmed with IMAX equippement. So beautifully filmed. Now my comments to the actors. I feel they selected the right choices except for the woman who played Rachael Daws.I did not like how she was snappy, I like Katie Holmes(or should I say Kaite Curise) because she was alot cuter and she was nice and serious. Heath Ledger did a fanominal job as the Joker. I'd have to say: No affence to Jack Nichalson... but Heath Ledger's form of the Joker was very well performed... He was dark (like he was supposed to be) he was funny at parts, and he had very memorable quotes such as "What happened? I mean a year ago the cops and Lawyers didnt even dare cross any of you... What happened did your balls fall off?" and the most famous that I hear my friends say..."Why so serious, and Let's put a smile on that face... and Here we Go!" Now Im not trying to compare here... but To me, I'd have to say Michael Keaton was a good batman and Christian Bale was a good Bruce Wayne.(Even though I ADORE CHRISTIAN BALE!!) The one thing I did not like about Christian Bale was he always talked in the low type of voice that he used against crooks. I think they did an AWESOME job for Two face. I like the actor Arron Ekhart, and I think his performance as Harvey Dent was Fanominal... Now Im not trying to compare its just I didn't really like Tommy Lee Jones as the Two Face/Harvey Dent. I also like Michale Cane as Alfred he did a great job. I liked how I think after the bank scene, when you meet the scarecrow once more, I enjoyed that because Scarecrow and Two Face are my favorite villans, and the ending to me was just to quick like when Batman pushes Two Face off the side. It was Kind of like Spider Man 3 when Venom didnt live for that long either... My second oldest bro was disapointed in that because he likes venom...

message 5: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments yeah boys...well said. i can't add much to your posts. i REALLY wanted to like (both of ) these films. like alex i was a big fan of the original stories/books, so i have always had high expectations for these films. on both ocassions i realised i was sitting there forcing myself to like them. that's usually a bad sign, right?



message 6: by SLIM SHADY (new)

SLIM SHADY Gontier (heroesfreak) | 254 comments yeah some times it can be bad... XD lolz

message 7: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 16, 2009 03:42PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Much of the film is like Mary Shelley's creation, locked alone in a shed who "just happens" to overhear a conversation...thus teaching himself to speak. Or he "just happens" to find a box full of classic literature and cathces up on his Milton...thus learning to value art and becomes more human. This type of lazy writing is laughable...and THE DARK KNIGHT is chock full of "boxes 'o books"!

Thanks Tom, great insight:) I was begining to feel alone, raging against the dying of the Klieg light.

message 8: by SLIM SHADY (new)

SLIM SHADY Gontier (heroesfreak) | 254 comments did you hear that they are gonna theyre gonna make another batman movie? but they are gonna have to find some one else to play the joker which will be kinda hard seeing as Heath Ledger pulled it off so well!!

message 9: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments I wouldn't hold my breath until that sequel comes along. Would any actor in his right mind try to follow Ledger's performance?

message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 123 comments Ariel wrote: "did you hear that they are gonna theyre gonna make another batman movie? but they are gonna have to find some one else to play the joker which will be kinda hard seeing as Heath Ledger pulled it of..."

That's pretty much all rumor at this point. Nolan has said several times now that he's not interested in doing another Batman film at this time. He's got at least a couple of other projects in the works first. And even if he does choose to do another Batman movie (The Dark Knight would be a high note to finish on), he might choose to introduce new villains instead of bringing back the Joker. As far as we know, the Joker could be locked away in Arkham indefinitely.

message 11: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I would like to see Nolan go back to smaller films and focus on great stories...not the flashy stuff he's pumped out in the last few years. INSOMNIA was awful, especially if you compare it to the 1997 Norweigan film. Years before the remake my friend purchased the Criterion DVD and we watched it...three times. The remake had one good element...Martin Donovan.

message 12: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments the original insomnia was great - i didn't catch the american version. i didn't realize nolan was involved in that one.

message 13: by Angie (new)

Angie For those interested, this weekend the movie was re-released in IMAX only. Not sure how long it will be out.

message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc (authorguy) | 325 comments I've noticed a general belief on a lot of these threads that the Joker's plan was to foment chaos, and that it was implausible given the meticulously planned nature of his actions. The joker's plan was not to foment chaos, however. He states quite clearly that he's trying to show that our civilization is a lie, that when push comes to shove we will turn on each other for our own survival. Every one of his schemes, except the bank robbery, pits people, not necessarily civilized, against each other.

message 15: by Tom (last edited Jan 26, 2009 06:20AM) (new)

Tom | 5353 comments I think it also should be remembered that the Joker is a liar. His shifting versions of how he got those scars, his stated love of apparently oxymoronic meticulously planned chaos, and his misdirection concerning the locations of that girl and the DA, for example. Nothing he says can be taken at face value, especially his reasons for doing anything.

I think it adds to his danger, if anything. He's by far the most interesting character in the film. By very very very far. Miles. Kilometers. Light years, even.

message 16: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 26, 2009 06:48AM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Marc, that's my point when I say his goal it too see "citizens of Gotham revert back to the Dark Ages". But the plans are so meticulous and require nanoseconds of coincidence that my disbelief remains unsuspended; just way too contrived. Things happen because the writer wants them to happen. Like Tom says, Ledger's Joker is the only interesting and multi-dimensional character in the film.

message 17: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments As I've said before, I LOVE The Dark Knight. I saw it twice at the cinema and have watched it now four times on dvd. It just gets better with each viewing. It's the best movie I've ever seen, and that's no mean feat... I've seen a whole a lot.

I think Ledger's Joker is awesome, and no-one else could ever replace him in that role. However, I also think Christian Bale is excellent as both Bruce Wayne and Batman... dark, intelligent, fallible. I think Chris Nolan directed a fabulous movie, and I'll be viewing it countless times in the years to come.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

this movie was awesome... there has to be a sequel, cause the Jokers still out there... two-face died too quickly...

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments I can't imagine any actor daring to take on the role of the Joker now. There won't be a sequel anytime soon, although I've heard some rumors of Philip Seymour Hoffman signing on as the Penguin.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

why wouldn't anyone want to be the Joker? is it because the actor killed himself?

message 21: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments Ledger died of an accidental overdose. He did not kill himself.

No one would play the Joker because Ledger made such a huge impression in the role that it is probably his for the foreseeable future. Who could follow him in the role?

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

oooooooohhhh... i didnt know that... i just heard that he killed himself, i didnt know how he really died...

message 23: by Faith (new)

Faith Quick (faithbquick) | 81 comments i agree with you tom.

i can't imagine anyone being able to step into the role of joker after ledger. ledger was AMAZING in the role as joker! absolutely ground breaking...kind of a amazing! i was blown away and even though i don't like to bash the old keaton batmans i have to say he made jack's joker look like a jack in the box! and please know that i love the keaton batmans! i loved nicholsan in the role of joker..."you ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light"....but ledgers joker was so much more pshycologically terrifying and complete! he was raw, electrifying, terrifying, he was brillant, funny, and damaged.....damaged beyond damaged.

now before the movie came out i say i was aghast at who they casted for the joker. i thought stupid...and are they going to ruin the darkness they have created by being to commical...but genius! genuis ruled out and ledger blew me away. i can NOT on any level comprehend who they could ever cast to fill that role. most likely they wont need joker for at least two movies. but if they keep going they will need to re-introduce the joker from the insane asylum. like the ledger joker said they were made to fight each other. both insane in their own way, both super intelligent, but one good and one evil.

message 24: by Ceci (new)

Ceci (cecialbiceleste) | 529 comments That PSH as Penguin is just a rumor... one that surfaced also before the casting was finalized for TDK. Hoffman says he's never been approached by anyone, least of all Nolan with that suggestion. I think that it's in the same category as the casting rumors for Depp and Jolie, and Cher! Not likely to happen. I'm not sure there will be another Batman movie by Chris Nolan, and without Nolan, Bale won't be in it, either... So I won't watch it.

Obviously, no-one could ever replace Ledger as the Joker. So there goes that storyline.

I'd really love to see another Batman movie by Nolan... but who knows?

message 25: by SLIM SHADY (last edited Apr 13, 2009 01:25PM) (new)

SLIM SHADY Gontier (heroesfreak) | 254 comments Tom wrote: "Ledger died of an accidental overdose. He did not kill himself.

No one would play the Joker because Ledger made such a huge impression in the role that it is probably his for the foreseeable futu..."

I know he died not by suicied but too much overdose cause he couldn't get sleep... But I also agree with tom. My dad thinks that Johnny Depp could play a decent Joker... All I could think of him is as Jack Sparrow and how hes always drunk.... hmmm

message 26: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 66 comments The funny thing about The Dark Knight was when I saw it I didn't feel like it was intended to be Joker's movie. Of course, Ledger stole the scenes with his impressive turn as the Joker and people will most likely remember him in this movie, but I felt like it was more a introduction of the Joker character, as if they were preparing for a bigger Joker-Batman face-off in the sequel. I thought Two-Fae was given a chunk of the villain storyline, presumably because the next movie would focus on the Joker. That's just what I felt anyway. But with Ledger dead, I suppose they'll have to introduce another villain if they still plan to do a sequel.

message 27: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments I don't think TDK was intended to be the Joker's movie. It just turned out that way when Christian Bale's Batman/Bruce Wayne wound up being such a colossal bore, and Heath Ledger's Joker turned out to be the only sign of life in the entire bloody film.

Yes, of course, I think the filmmakers were expecting an ongoing series of films with Ledger's Joker also, and found themselves in something of a bind when it turned out that they were left completely villainless with Ledger's passing. They'd killed off the wrong bad guy.

Whatever. I wouldn't mind seeing Batman put to pasture indefinitely. How often can something like Ledger's Joker come along? I'd love to see Johnny Depp take on the Riddler, though, but I'd love to see Johnny Depp read the phone book or boil water.

message 28: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments agreed tom. the first nolan reading on batman was cool. we all had mixed feelings about the second one...i don't know why our culture is so hell bent on remaking and revisiting anything that seems worthwhile...(oh, i forgot: it's called capitalism, and has nothing to do with moviemaking).

message 29: by Tom (new)

Tom | 5353 comments I much preferred THE DARK KNIGHT to BATMAN BEGINS. TDK at least had Heath Ledger's magnificent Joker. BB is just a big ugly bludgeon of a movie.

I don't know. I'm over this whole comic book/superhero thing. I saw the trailer for the new Wolverine X-Men thing, and just couldn't care less. Likewise the TERMINATOR sequel/prequel, where Christian Bale gets to use the Batvoice all over again in another reboot of a faded franchise.

message 30: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments i'm an old batman comic fan (from childhood), so i liked that batman begins tried to bring "the original story" to the screen. sure, the film had its problems, but it still felt like the first sort of mature reading of the original story.

like you, i don't have a great interest in this current rash of comics turned movie. it has formula written all over it, and that's just not my cup of tea.

message 31: by SLIM SHADY (new)

SLIM SHADY Gontier (heroesfreak) | 254 comments ha ha same here used to watch the very first batman cartoons!! Right now Im reading the Watchman series and the other day me and my dad saw the trailer again for it and we understood then why there were two Dr. Manhattans.... we were thunderstruck!!

message 32: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10605 comments for the record, i was talking about the original comics, by bob kane (in print), not the television series or the cartoons.

message 33: by Faith (last edited Apr 16, 2009 11:26AM) (new)

Faith Quick (faithbquick) | 81 comments i love the comic book superhero thing! still not tired of them trying to reinvent the graphic novel heroes! and i can hardly wait for the wolverine movie! i have always loved wolverine and gambit!!!!

i don't know how i feel about the terminator movie. i felt done with those. but i know i will see it but i will most likely wait for video.

i agree with yo u tom. i think johnny depp could do a good riddler! the riddler has always fascinated me!

i liked batman begins better just because i loved seeing how batman became batman. i loved the whole process. not just the reason. but actually see him delve himself in the world of crime and all the techniques he had to learn to be able to fight like he does.

but the dark knight was soooo dark! the joker really turned everything and showed the underbelly of the story. but i agree about christian bale not really carrying the movie like he did in the first one. he pushed the character on the audience too much!

message 34: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I'm with you Phillip! Being an avid comic book collector myself of mostly Golden Age horror titles, my passion is for the original Kane Klassics too! Though Frank Miller's take is really violent poetry. I've mentioned before how his DAREDEVIL stuff really changed the format...which unfortunately had the side effect of creating untalented copy-cats who published trash.

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