Doodad Kind of Town


Quick Take: "The Dark Knight"
July 24, 2008, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is probably the dead last review of “The Dark Knight” to hit the blogosphere. And, as such, it will undoubtedly contain a few spoilers. But since everyone and their dog – and the all the fleas on their dog – have seen “The Dark Knight” by now, does that matter, really?

Is it good? Yes, it is. Is it great? Naah!

Do I have anything to say that hasn’t been said – at least 20 times and often very eloquently – on every other film blog in cyberspace? Probably not.

But here are some of my random thoughts and impressions:

— Heath Ledger’s last performance lives up to every last word of the hype. His Joker is the heartbeat of the film. Whenever he’s on screen, there’s a palpable sense of danger, but you also can’t wait to see what he’ll do next. He’s riveting. His performance is more than an actorly showcase of mannerisms and tics (although it has those in abundance); he inhabits the character’s unhinged psychopathology with dazzling conviction.

— Ledger’s not the only one acting his heart out, although he may have the showiest role. Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal give smart, nuanced performances, and Michael Caine brings effortless grace and gravitas to the role of Alfred.(And he has the film’s best line about senseless evil: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”)

— Christian Bale, on the other hand, does nothing for me as Batman. For me, Michael Keaton remains the Batman with the greatest depth and complexity.(And where is he these days, BTW?)

— Christopher Nolan is a man of considerable talent, but an action director he ain’t. Every action sequence in TDK felt like the initial few shots were missing; there’s no establishment of space or character’s relationship to one another before a fight begins.

— I’m going to quote Salon’s critic, Stephanie Zacharek here, because she said it best: “There’s no dramatic arc in “The Dark Knight” — only a series of speed bumps.” It just seems like one damn thing after another, and all pitched at the same urgent, life-or-death pace. It just felt like the material could have been better shaped in places.

— The fact that it was filmed in Chicago proved a bit of a distraction to me. There are no iconic Chicago landmarks on display, but the West Loop streets where a lot of the action was shot are familiar to me, and I kept forgetting it was supposed to be Gotham City. Instead, I kept thinking things like “Hey,they filmed that on Wells Street!”

— It’s too damn long! The denouement goes on and on, and piles one drama on top of another. With a few judicious cuts, the ‘good vs.evil’ and ‘dual nature of man’ themes would have been sharper and more compelling – and wouldn’t have felt like they were being hammered into our skulls with sledgehammers.

— I actually could barely watch the last 30 minutes anyway, because looking at Eckhart’s half-melted face made me queasy. All that exposed muscle and bone – yecch!
Yes, I’m a squeamish,oversensitive wuss.

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9 Comments so far
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Nope, I’m gonna beat you. I saw this opening day, but am waiting until after I see it again (tomorrow, a week later) to review it. I wanna be last! ;)I do think it’s great, but I agree that it’s too long. No superhero movie, no matter how good, should be 2 1/2 hours.I miss Michael Keaton, too. I enjoyed his slight comeback with Jackie Brown and Out of Sight, but we haven’t seen much outside of White Noise (which I haven’t seen) in the last 8 years or so. I think, in the end, I’d choose his as the best Batman, too, but I enjoy Bale’s very much so, and don’t even have a problem with the BatGrowl that so many others do.

Comment by Fletch

Fletch – I’ll look forward to reading your review. I actually didn’t see TDK till Tuesday night myself, so I figured I was way behind.

Comment by Pat

Still, what an awesome review it is. TDK sure is allowing for us film writers to write the most thoughtful, entertaining reviews, and for that, but not that alone, it rocks.

Comment by nick plowman

Thanks, Nick! I agree – I am enjoying all the lively blogosphere discussion on The Dark Knight. It’s kinda great when everyone is chiming on the same film, and I wish that happened more often (and especially with some less-hyped but equally-or-more-deserving films.)

Comment by Pat

Pat,I think Michael Keaton is the best Batman, as well. I’ll never forget the first time we see him in the first flick … his line-reading of “I’m … Batman” had that wonderful little touch of madness. Bale is incapable, I think, of that sort of thing.

Comment by Rick Olson

Rick – I completely agree. Bale is a good actor, but in this role,he doesn’t touch Keaton.

Comment by Pat

I have not seen this movie, but I am enjoying all the reviews too.I agree that Keaton was the best Batman. I loved when he would have the whole “bat mask” on and the only thing of his face you could see were his pillowy lovely lips. Ahhhhh.

Comment by Parisjasmal

and i hate this movie too, a self indulgent confused mess of racism and mysogny pretending to be 'dark' and 'deep'.chinese villains, idiot black gangstas, has't the neighbourhood just gone to hell in a handcart?wait here come gravel augmented Batman with his faithful black servant and came girlfriend (soon to die horribly, natch) to save the day!gimme a break.Ledger, of course, was brilliant.

Comment by wytchcroft

and i hate this movie too, a self indulgent confused mess of racism and mysogny pretending to be 'dark' and 'deep'.chinese villains, idiot black gangstas, hasn't the neighbourhood just gone to hell in a handcart?wait here comes gravel augmented Batman with his faithful black servant and tame girlfriend (soon to die horribly, natch) to save the day!gimme a break.Ledger, of course, was brilliant.- apologies for typos –

Comment by wytchcroft




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