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mrchom

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

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mike, seagull
So as everybody, no doubt, knows I'm a huge fan of Batman Media....not necessarilly the comics (I do have some that I like, but I'm not the biggest fan) but all the movies and series that are made.  Batman: The Animated Series remains one of my favourite cartoons of all time, I love the richly stylised 1920s-1950s vibe it has....anyway, getting off topic here.  It was with this that I set out to watch the Dark Knight yesterday, and after hearing so much good I was anticipating a real corker.  After watching it I watched Batman Begins again just to compare how things worked.

Now bear in mind this is PROBABLY going to be a big bundle of spoilers so please don't complain at me later.

So, I'll begin by saying....it's no Batman Begins.  Controversial, yes?  But true.  It simply isn't up to the standard Christopher Nolan created with his first film.  Now the performances in the film are quite good....with the exception of Christian Bale who comes off as flat, and whose batsuit is increasingly making him look chubby round the face.  I don't know what it is, he just came off as 1-dimensional and without nuance, and the voice filtering for his Batman voice was edging on incomprehensible at times.  Aaron Eckhart was absolutely spectacular as Two-Face, just really amazing; he did a great job of turning fanatacism for justice into plain old fanatacism, absolutely the best part of the movie for me, no exceptions.  My no exceptions policy extends to Heath Ledger, yes, he was an interesting Joker, and he played it very well, right down to a broken rag-doll kind of walk when he leaves the hospital.  Do I think it was oscar-worthy?  No.  Do I think he's the best Joker?  No.  He's good, I'll give him that, but he's bringing a lot of acting skill to a part that's not necessarilly as well written as it could be.

Moving on to the writing...it's one of the three downfalls of the film along with cinematography, and editing.  The plot at some points required HUGE leaps of faith, and there's a section that actually remains completely incomprehensible to me.  Here's a spoiler by the way, so you took a brick from a wall, shot some bullets into other bricks, compared them, scanned the brick to get a fingerprint that lead to a police apartment with a timer on a blind intended so you'd get shot instead of Gordon who, presumably, planned to fake his own death at that point.  What kind of FUCKED UP writing is that?  It's barely coherent or believable.  For cinematography, some of the action scenes are damaged by shaky cameras giving almost no clear shot of what's going on and where.  The "Lower Fifth" chase, for example...I have no idea what's going on there, there's no "spatial" sense of where things are for you to get a handle on.  As for editing...the film is too long.  It's 20 minutes longer than Batman Begins, and has multiple climaxes.  Here's the thing.....It either needed to be two movies, or a heavilly cut down one.  Either give Gordon's squad time to grow and get to know them, or dump the traitor angle entirely, either make the scene with the boats a major pinnacle of the film, or slice it, and either have one villain and the introduction of another or just one villain.  It's the same problem Spider-Man 3 had.  There's so much STUFF in there that film feels like a real bum-numbing 3 hours instead of feeling like a zippy 2 hours and 10.  Let's not forget the poor treatment Rachel Dawes gets.  Having just seen Jim Gordon shot, have an emotional wrap-up, and then be unceremoniously resurrected we see Rachel die inside the next 10 minutes and you can't have any kind of emotion for her because you don't know if the film-makers are fucking with you again.

Oh, and yes, what had happened to Gotham?  Begins had it as a fantastic dark version of a huge Chicago, complete with a Hong-Kong style slum-island to top it off.  That vision of the city was just fantastic....but where did it go?  Why all the bright sunlight?  Why is it just a mish-mash of chicago and NY now?  Where did that wonderful, unique look GO?  Why no rebuilt Wayne Manor?  Why no dark, forbidding bat-cave?  Has the transit system been demolished since Begins (Seriously, didn't anyone else notice that aside from the sequence where the Lambo gets trashed it was missing)?  I admit, some of the locations were re-used, yes, but it just felt... un-Gotham-y.

Having said all this, having all these complaints it's STILL an enjoyable film, it is still worth £5 to go and see it, and I STILL want to see it again.  All my concerns do is turn an excellent film into one that's merely "quite good", a 3/5 movie rather than the 4/5 Begins managed to rack up.  Yes, I still want a sequel, and yes, I am happy.......I just know it could have been better.
  • Yeah, I preferred Begins too. Good films both, though.
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