On The Dark Knight

Well, I couldn’t miss it, so (even though it took me a while) I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight.

Let me first say that I really didn’t like Batman Begins. As I’ve already mentioned to some people, I think Christian Bale was only OK as Batman/Bruce Wayne, the story wasn’t all that fun, and the only image that I really appreciated was the picture of Gotham glittering in daylight. Plus the Batmobile was an atrocious-looking monstrosity of a vehicle that didn’t even have the brutish beauty of terrifying power.

So (spoiler alert!) I’m glad they finally blew it up. That little motorcycle-type thing wasn’t much better, though.

In any case, The Dark Knight is a far superior movie. Yes, I enjoyed it. While the story was really good, I don’t think that Heath Ledger’s performance was really worth all the hoopla that the critics have been making. The opening sequence was great, and the Joker’s legendary madness was well-written, more or less. And Christian Bale has grown into the Batman role a little more.

Overall, the movie was a helluva ride, which is generally what I’m looking for in a movie that comes from comic books. Of course, you get a better ride from something like Ultraviolet, and I’m looking forward to the Watchmen movie next year, but that’s not important right now…

While I enjoyed the movie, there is a major philosophical beef I still have with its existence. This issue dates back to Batman Begins, and is essentially going to be a fundamental problem with every installment of the new Batman movie franchise. The problem is a lack of respect for canonicity.

Now, I’m not one who insists that a comic-based movie adhere rigidly to the established stories of the comic. Marvel’s movies have convinced me that movies are a different medium and their stories must therefore be constructed differently. That’s totally fair.

What bothers me – has bothered me since Batman Begins – is that the established canon of the four previous Batman movies was simply erased. Some of us appreciate a consistent story universe, and this has now been completely destroyed. I feel it as a personal affront, that the creators of the two latest Batman movies simply have no respect for their forerunners – and no respect for those of us who have some degree of fondness for those earlier films.

A new Batman movie could have gone with new villains and executed a graceful transition from the more campy movies into this darker vibe. That would’ve been artful. Instead, we just get conceptual amputation. Reboot. A total do-over, as if all that came before was a waste of time that deserves to be forgotten. It’s rude.

And Christian Bale’s Batmobile was just ugly.

Song of the Moment: "Low Place Like Home," Sneaker Pimps

5 Responses to “On The Dark Knight”

  1. B.J. Love Says:

    Though I can sympathize with your beef, Joel Schumaker destroyed the universe built by Tim Burton. It’s like what Blink-182 did “punk” music, they both took something valid and interesting and twisted it into something hardly worth the effort. Now, I too, pretty much, hated Batman Begins. It was boring, and I have no interest in genesis tales, but it was necessary to in order to, “repaint” the franchise. I don’t think these new movies erase the prior narrative, but instead are reactions to them.

    Anyway, I just watched it too…at the River East in downtown Chicago. Talk about a movie sticking with you after you walk of the theatre. It was spooky.

  2. You don’t know shit aboput acting.
    Heath was great.

  3. Wow, your incisive criticism cuts me to the quick.

    Thanks for your opinion, and for respecting mine.

  4. Better late than never? I just saw Dark Knight last night (thinking I was one of the last, but the theatre was full [ it was cheap night though]).

    Anyway.. Let’s start with the hoopla around Heath. I am halfway between Bola’s assessment and the general public. He *was* extremely creepy (but so was Jack Nicholson). He *was* extremely crazy and sociopathic (again, so was Jack). His makeup was much more unattractive to look at but Jack’s scaring was more obvious and at least, fully explained. I think it was a completely admirable performance and completely out of the character of what we have come to expect from Heath. Certainly, kudos to him. He did the part justice, re-defined it a bit for himself and the new franchise, and overall did a fantastic job. The small cynical part of myself says that he probably would be getting accolades but not quite this much in accolades if he hadn’t died.

    Bola and I disagreed heartily on Batman Begins but he won me over (as usual) with his superior arguing skills and body of evidence. I too, now, have some trouble erasing all those previous incarnations and I think what got me was the character of Two-Face. First of all — WTF his makeup – though EXCELLENT and GROTESQUE – seemed way over the top to me. (and if half your jaw is gouged away, how is it that you STILL have perfect teeth?). I was surprised they killed that character off cause I thought they’d keep him around for the next movie, though his motivation for being a bad guy was pretty thin if you ask me. The movie was loaded with good tension, but the key scene for Dent and Rachel was really empty.

    We all hated Katie Holmes in the first movie and while I adore Maggie Gyllenhal – what a waste of talent for a NOTHING role… there was NO chemistry between her and Bruce or her and Dent.. at least they didn’t have her screaming and being rescued TOO much.

    But back to the universe and the canon. Reintroducing characters is a good idea (remember Gordon saying, “I wonder how he got his scars”) but I would think most of us were thinking.. “hey, remember he fell into a vat of acid?”. If you’re going to wipe the slate clean, then do it completely and tell us WHY Joker is such a psychopath, how he grew into the mastermind criminal etc.. The mob storyline, I thought, was too convoluted with too many characters that contributed nothing to the story. The movie had parts where it dragged on and on and coulda/shoulda ended.

    By far the best scene in the entire movie was the scene on the ferry when the gigantic black convict guy said, “give it ( the dentonator) to me and I’ll do what you should have done 10 min ago. ” And then.. threw it out the window.. WOW what a beautiful moment, what a blatent statement on prejudice and who we think is “good” and “virtuous” vs. who really is… That was a great moment and should have been exploited more in the final fight between BM and J.

    Oh and BM should have just let him fall to the ground.. although, yes, I get that that would have defeated the premise of the ENTIRE movie.. but really.. kill the psycho already.

  5. PS – not only was the batmobile UGLY..
    THe motorcycle thingy is JUST RIDICULOUS.

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