Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

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There’s not really much left to say about ‘The Dark Knight.’ It was a fantastic film. But everybody knows that. One visit to TDK Rottentomatoes page will reveal critic after critic falling all over themselves to praise this film almost to no end, calling it a classic, comparing it to Scorsese’s ‘The Departed, and De Palma’s ‘The Untouchables,’ and giving it Oscar buzz like the year was already over and we already knew what the holiday season will bring.

I enjoyed the film, a lot. I’ll probably go see it again. Heath Ledger was haunting and brilliant in his performance, the action was endlessly entertaining (the more elaborate scenes were filmed in IMAX). But I left the theater feeling slightly underwhelmed. This isn’t Christopher Nolan’s fault, who deserves such high praise for reminding us that high-budgeted, big studio movies can be more than just mindless drivel. It wasn’t the actors’ fault (the cast was stellar; let’s thanks the folks with Scientology who mind-controlled Tom Cruise into forbidding Katie Holmes from reprising her roll as Rachel, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a better actor than Holmes will ever be.). But I daresay it was the fault of the studio who previewed this film so much to critics, so far in advance, that I’ve been expecting a damn near perfect film since mid-June.

The studio really couldn’t care about this side effects of building such rapport. They already have their great reviews, they already have (according to early estimations) the highest grossing opening weekend of all time. So no one was really hurt I suppose.

I’ve had a few such experiences, when a movie is built up so much that I feel a little let down (I know someone who is definitely not me who was underwhelmed upon his first viewing of ‘The Godfather’ due to this very reason).

Of course, all this media fanfare about the movie doesn’t make the movie itself any less well made. The two and a half hours literally flies by as you’re mesmerized by Aaron Eckhart as Two Face, Michael Caine as Alfred, the twisted love triangle between Harvey Dent, Bruce and Rachel, and all the other goodies that Nolan used to weave this masterful web. My one other qualm with TDK is this: Where’s Christian Bale? It’s granted that this was Heath Ledger’s moment to shine (even more so with this being his last performance) but Bale is wicked talented, and definitely needed more screen time. He’s the reason ‘Batman Begins’ was so revitalizing for the franchise, he should have been given more opportunity to show his acting chops.


Magicman said...

All is fair-play I guess. My only critique of your review is that your rebuke is based on you allowing your hopes to be built up by all of the hype. Let's face it: TDK was meant to be a blockbuster, not an indie underdog that would come and smack us in the back of the head with a baseball bat and a coy "surprise! Look what we made in Gotham!" This was to be a crowd pleaser, and lucky for us, there was character development, memorable performances on almost all major roles, as well as interesting symbolism (pointed out to me by Katelin by the way. It really was a "dark night" for Mr. Wayne, Dent, and the people of Gotham).
I know you have your own website, but until you're a featured critic in the Daily Universe, I don't know if you have the clout to pull off a cigarella and a sneer for TDK.

blakecgriffin said...

I don't know if you actually read what I wrote...but I neither rebuked nor sneered at 'The Dark Knight.' Maybe adjectives like brilliant, masterful, fantastic, and my praise for the acting, direction and script writing confused you...

D said...

Great review. I felt the same way about Christian Bale. There was actually a moment about 3/4 of the way through the movie where I remembered he was the main character of the movie. No real complaints though. The hype was big, but the movie was great. If only it had Kate Beckinsale.

Jen said...

I hadn't really wanted to see this movie but now that I read your review I'm more intriqued by it. Thanks for being honest in your review (I really don't think magicman read it all the way through--I don't think you were putting it down at all). I hate when movies are overhyped (No Country For Old Men comes to mind immediately).

Jessica said...

Yeah, over-hyped. Good, but over-hyped. I felt like there were a lot of extraneous and unnecessary sub-plots (Asian guy, ferry boats, etc.). The best movie I've seen this year, except maybe Wall-E. Okay, TDK is probably better than Wall-E. Probably.

Magicman said...

You did praise the film this is true. I never said you didn't. But sometimes it seems like critics need SOMETHING to criticize, so they get a little nit picky and so instead of giving it two thumbs up, you gave it two thumbs up with a sigh and the remark that you were a teeny tiny bit disappointed, underwhelmed in your words, when in reality the fact that it was the second movie in the new Batman series means it was always meant to be a hyped, commercially packaged blockbuster film. Of course Hollywood is going to hype this film. Of course you're going to have wondered about it since January 2008 and have high expectations. That is what marketing movies is all about. So the fact that you had to really dig to find something wrong with your experience kind of makes you a movie snob. You didn't criticize the film, you criticized an expectation you felt the studio produced that the movie didn't live up to. That's the point I was trying to make and granted I didn't use the right word (rebuke). Whether it was about the cinematography, the acting, the directing, or the studio, it's all part of the experience, isn't it? And you're criticizing it, however slight or unrelated you think it is to the movie. Which you're entitled to do. But in my opinion, critics who find things that are wrong just for the sake of finding something wrong with a movie, or their experience watching the movie, makes them a snob.
I guess from now on instead of giving real comments to your blogs, I'll resort to shallow one line insults, just like the ones you leave on my blog! Jokes.
In case it didn't make it through all of the bantering, I did think your review was good.