Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight Always Triumphs

The Dark Knight currently holds two pretty impressive #1 spots. (Well, actually it holds quite a few, but I'm only going to talk about two of them.) While I thought the darker tone of the film would prevent it from reaching anything higher than #3 for all-time biggest opening weekend box office, it reached #1 with approximately $155 million dollars. Judging from my own screening and several comments I've read online, young children weren't present for the most part, which makes the feat even more impressive.

It is also, according to votes to date, the #1 rated film on IMDb, the ultimate source of movie knowledge. In other words, going by the votes there, it's the best movie of all time.

Does the film deserve either of these recognitions? While I'm not here to be a hater, I would like to shed some light on the issue.

I'm sure there are many people who saw the movie who would have no qualms declaring it the "best movie of all time." Though I admire their enthusiasm, I have to question their logic. True, the idea of saying that ANY movie is the best of all time is a fruitless, pointless effort, but if the majority of the world could come to a consensus, it surely wouldn't be The Dark Knight that got chosen.

Other new releases have hit similar peaks on the site, and I have no doubt that this one will eventually move down in the rankings, if for no other reason than haters voting it down simply because they can. (The Joker would love IMDb because it shows humanity at its worst.)

The film definitely raises some moral issues/questions and has some fantastic performances. I think Ledger's goes without saying at this point, but that won't stop me from writing a whole post about it later.

But I had two major issues with the film, and they sort of tie into each other.

1. It was WAY too heavy-handed. While this played into specific scenes, it was especially evident in the ending voice-over by Commissioner Gordon. He said lines VERBATIM that Lucius, Alfred, and Dent had said earlier in the film. I got the point of Batman having to be a martyr, and I liked it. But I didn't need it pounded into my skull.

2. In such a gritty realistic film with such great acting, bad acting or unnecessary comical moments really hurt it. The kids shooting and then the cars blowing up was straight out of the Michael Bay rejected script spoof. The passenger of the van carrying Dent had the worst reactions ever.

And the way things played out on the ferries was not believable to me. I liked the set up, and I actually liked what happened with the convicts. But the "innocent" people did not feel natural. No one mentioned the fact that not EVERYONE on the other ferry was a convict. There were guards and officials and crew. And there were just not enough people talking in general. And no one tried to get off only to be stopped by other people.

Putting it to a vote was pointless. Obviously "YES" is going to win. And there's no possibly way they counted over 500 votes that quickly. No one wanted to turn the key at first because they didn't discuss never revealing who actually did it or all lying and saying that the Joker blew it up.

Finally, I didn't believe for a second that that guy WOULDN'T have blown up the other ferry. He seemed like the type of guy that would totally justify it. Maybe I couldn't believe his change because I didn't think he was a very good actor.

While I didn't have a problem with the length, I can see how others did. It seemed to wrap itself up numerous times only to keep going. The stuff featuring the Joker was the most riveting, so it might not have been a bad idea to focus solely on that.

And I totally agree with a friend who said the first time we met the Joker should have been the "pencil scene." (I cringe just thinking about that.) The bank stuff was there to establish that he was stealing from the mob and that he had a total disregard for the people working for him.

We got the latter message plenty of times in the film, and the former could have been setup another way, even within the mob meeting before the Joker shows up. That's the first moment that everyone remembers, so it should have started his character with that and saved us some time.

Despite these criticisms, I highly enjoyed the film. And I am more than happy that it took the number one weekend box office spot away from Spiderman 3. While I haven't seen it, I've heard about the "emo Spiderman" stuff, and that's enough to knock it significantly down from the status of The Dark Knight. Any scene with the Joker gives you more to dwell on afterwards than the whole of the Spiderman movie.

Who knows how long it will hold onto the top spot, what with insane marketing and ticket prices ever increasing. But as long as it's there, I'm satisfied.


Anonymous said...

I kind of think that on an entire boat full of convicts, one of them has to have dealt with bombs before and knows how to inactivate the bomb so that it won't go off. That was my first thought on the boats.

Jonathan K said...

That's a good point. They should have at least addressed that.

Steve Jones said...

All right, you knew I was going to have some thoughts on the movie I'd awaited for three years. Agree with your points about the plot semi-hole (no way could they have tallied up the votes that quickly) and the behavior on the ferries being a bit contrived. That might've made more sense from a dramatic standpoint if you'd read "The Killing Joke," by Alan Moore (creator of Watchmen), which features the same core concept that the Joker thinks everyone is just like him at their core, while Batman proves otherwise. It worked a little awkwardly on screen, though, even if the audience I was with applauded when both ferries made the "correct" moral decision.

There were a few too many wink-wink moments, with the one you highlighted (the two kids "shooting" at cars) being the best example. I wonder, though, if the general tone would've beaten the audience down without those occasional moments of levity. It's a pretty bleak film, and some of the silliness probably acted as relief for audience members who weren't expecting to do so much heavy mental lifting during a comic book movie.

I'm a little surprised that the acting isn't getting more attention. Most of the reviews have justifiably focused on Ledger, but it was also one of Eckhart's best performances (and he's given quite a few).

Robert A Vollrath said...

I like this movie but I could have done without the Batmobile saying goodbye before it blew up.

This movie isn't my favorite movie but it is my favorite super hero movie. With that said a thing I hated about both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight was killing the realism with cheesy CGI. In The Dark Knight we get cell phone sonar that gives Batman a poor man's Daredevil vision.

If I know it's CGI then it shouldn't be in a Batman movie.
CGI works best when it's blended so well with in camera shots that it's hard to tell what is a stunt and what isn't.

Jonathan K said...

Steve: I guess my thought is that the graphic novels don't have such pandering moments attempting to get laughs. They make the world dark and take you through it.

That's not to say there weren't well-earned laughs, mostly with the Joker.

On a similar note, No Country For Old Men was very dark but also hilarious with very few moments that didn't feel natural to the story.

Robert: I can definitely agree with it being my favorite superhero movie. It left me with more to think about (both replaying scenes and pondering moral ideas) than any other film of its kind has.

I didn't mind that CGI, but Two-Face's face really bothered me. It was a little too much and would have been much more effective if it hadn't been done with computers.

Robert A Vollrath said...

I think Two Face could have been played different than it was.

We were teased for a moment or two before the burnt face was revealed but we then see the burnt face in daylight. I think Two Face would have played better if we had seen the deformed half of his face only at night.

I agree with you that CGI wasn't needed here either and I think directors are still learning when and how to use CGI for best effect.

My favorite movies are always the ones that push the limits and for all this movies flaws I have to say
it went beyond the hype for me.

The Imax footage was great and I look forward to seeing it on a Imax screen.