Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight, right-wing propaganda, and mack truck plot holes.

Went to see The Dark Knight on Friday. I'll admit, I was excited to see it, even tho I hated Batman Begins (boring, poorly done action, and the CARDINAL SIN of incorrectly portraying a character I cared about). I love the Joker. Unfortunately, I walked out of the theater at the end of the movie not only disappointed but angry.

OK, the good stuff first. Some of the dialogue was great. Heath Ledger was indeed wonderful as the Joker, tho I would have made him a little more likable as well as psychotic - that's always been one of my favorite parts of the Joker, that you love him at the same time he's doing monstrous, horrible things. Still, the lack of lovable dialogue was not that big a deal - they did include some classic Joker bits such as him having a "multiple choice" past. Jim Gordon was also played beautifully by Gary Oldman; unassuming, caring about his family, being the dedicated uber-cop. Aaron Eckhart plays the first Two Face that is anything at all like the character - and his makeup is grotesque, awesome, amazing, stunning, and wonderful. There was one shot in the movie that really was beautiful - the Joker leaning out of a squad car window, with no sound effects, just the sense that he was at peace with destruction. It was a virtuoso visual moment in a movie that was visually... well, we'll get to the bad stuff.

I honestly didn't mind the movie for the first hour or so. I thought the pacing was slow, and the action scenes flaccid and boring, and I was a bit bothered by Batman leaving Gotham for an "extreme rendition," but I didn't dislike it at all. That changed when a major character was suddenly "killed." It was done with so little fanfare, and so much disregard, that I was able to immediately lean over to my husband and whisper "fake out." At that point the spell was broken and I was left with nothing but sluggish editing and propaganda leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Another title of this film could indeed have been "George W. Bush, The Dark Knight." Don't believe me? Try googling "right wing dark knight" or "conservative dark knight" to find out how conservatives are excited about the comic-style apologetic for their man. Perhaps the speech given by Batman to Lucias Fox is the best example of the agenda of this film, that "its necessary sometimes to do things that are wrong when you're fighting terrorists." Of course, its supposed to be ok because Lucias Fox has control of the apparatus and can destroy it when he's done. Oh, and then there's Batman's speech about how people don't need to know the truth, that other things are more important. *AHEM.*

Enough political commentary. Visually, the film was dull, with the exceptions noted earlier. I've said it before and I'll say it again, digital grading kills me. The editing left me scratching my head way too many times... the Joker lit a giant pile of money on fire, with a man sitting at the top, but it was never shown in wide angle, and you never really know if the guy (who at that point in the movie you actually are interested in what happens to as Batman went to fairly extreme lengths to get him) dies of immolation or manages to roll off the other side of the pile while we weren't watching. Another example would be the chase through Lower Wacker (I have no idea what it was supposed to be in the film). A chase that should have been interesting an exciting (see: Blues Brothers) ended up being repetitive and dull.

Worst of all, they got some of the most important characters wrong - Alfred and BATMAN. Alfred is best when he's an proper English gentleman, not a leering cockney Michael Caine (I love him in other movies, but holy crap, stop mugging!!!) Batman was a travesty. In the first movie Batman shows no compunction about killing Ra's Al Gul (sorry, he didn't kill him, he just didn't SAVE him. Ahem.) In this movie he repeatedly doesn't kill the Joker... REPEATEDLY. A huge point is made of NOT killing the Joker. But then, at the climax, Batman seemingly kills Two Face in a completely offhand manner, but then takes a long time to discuss with Gordon how they need to lie about Two Face's deeds. Not Batman on either count, sorry. When he decided to self-destruct the Batmobile, he did it in such a way that innocent bystanders would have been blown to little bits (and don't tell me "its just a movie" - Christopher Nolan's big thing is supposedly how this Batman is so "real world".) Oh, and then there was Christian Bale trying to affect a gruff Batman voice - every time he opened his mouth I couldn't help but start laughing. Seriously, that was so awful it transcended into the unbelievably funny category.

Of course, there was also the moral of the movie, which was apparently that anyone can be driven insane when pushed too far. Sort of the opposite of "The Killing Joke," where Commissoner Gordon sees he daughter shot and apparently repeatedly raped by the Joker, over and over for hours.. and manages to stay sane and demand the Joker's arrest "BY THE BOOK!" Way to miss the point there, guys.

I know all of America except me is in love with this film, I just can't figure out why. Anyway, I'd say avoid it, but you probably won't listen. *sigh* I think I'm going to go see Iron Man again. There's a movie about a rich industrialist turned vigilante that still manages to maintain moral culpability - and a sense of entertainment. Or I'll go watch my copy of Batman - Mask of the Phantasm, the best version of Batman ever put on screen. Or good ol' Tim Burton's gothic 1989 Batman - Jack is still the best, and Michael Keaton IS Batman. Or maybe I'll even watch Batman - the Movie.

Dark Knight was still better than Batman and Robin tho.


Anonymous said...

you're right but you can go farther than that. Portrayl of women. All the villains are either "crazy" or minorities/immigrants. Action scenes moved too fast to follow and too fast to question: like, how is the man all over the city at the same time? how can he predict everything that will happen so far in advance? how are you so fearful (audience) of something so impossible? And then they give so much crappy exposition, like a medieval morality play... just awful. Plus the fact that they advertise future weapons the whole time. Bush '08.

ahlawi said...


Tait said...

Thank you for once again proving that we are twins seperated at birth. I am sorry but I am a Keaton/Nicholson fan for life and no one seems to understand why!!

Teja said...

I am in total agreement and I'm so glad someone else saw the right-wing propaganda and hated it! <3 I get a lot of crap for not liking this movie.