If you’re like me and, basically, anyone you know, you went out and saw The Dark Knight this weekend. Likewise, you probably walked out of the theater thinking that was a damned good movie. But I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t two things: handsome and critical. So instead of posting a bunch of pictures of myself, I’m going to give you 10 things I liked about this Batman flick and 5, yes, 5, things that I didn’t.
** Warning: Spoilers **
10 Things I Liked
10. The Musical Cues. While the score itself was good, though not something I’d listen to on a daily basis, the musical cues in the film, I thought, were awesome. Especially whenever the Joker was around, about to do something wicked, the music really amped it up.
9. Lies. I love that Gotham isn’t a perfect place. In this movie more than the last, and any other hero film, there are lies. Alfred deceives by not handing over the letter, Gordon lies, Batman lies, Bruce Wayne lies. Just like in the real world, everyone lies.
8. Heath Ledger. I’m getting this one out of the way – yes, Ledger was, by far, the best Joker we’ve ever seen. While I’m not totally convinced he’s a lock for an Oscar or anything, he did do at least as well and appeared on screen far longer than Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Ledger gave a terrific performance.
7. Gordon Returns. I was overcome with joy to see the mask come off and have Gordon underneath it, arresting the Joker. I love Gordon and I love Gary Oldman. I was totally convinced the mysterious driver was a bad guy right until the end of the chase.
6. The Chase. That was pretty wicked. RPGs, automatic weapons, and a batcycle. When Batman flipped that semi-trailer over, it was a thing of beauty that made me smile ear to ear.
5. Two Face’s Face. This film didn’t let up when it came to violence or darkness and a prime example was the horrendous and awesome visage of Two-Face Harvey Dent. A bit Jonah Hex inspired if you asked me, but totally awesome.
4. The Cast. Christian Bale, as always, was brilliant. Gary Oldman and Eric Roberts were great. The cast here was as strong as ever and the group they have assembled is nearly perfect.
3. The Joker. Ledger aside, the writing behind the Joker was great. Finally he was a brutal mass killer with a twisted sense of humor rather than just some pissed off clown with a bag of tricks.
2. The Dark. Batman has been a dark character and often thats when he’s at his best. This film may have veered just a touch too dark for some, but I’d rather err on the side of violence, sadism, and menace than on camp.
1. Themes. Notably of escalation. I really liked the Batman imitators springing up and the (comic inspired) idea that the Joker only exists because of Batman, who in a way, makes things worse by taking the fight to the next level.
Honorable Mention: The Excitement. I was really giddy about sitting down in the theater to watch this movie. More excited than I’ve been in years.
5 Things I Didn’t Like
5. Gordon “Dies.” I should have known something was up when we didn’t see much of the actual ‘death’ but I was legitimately pissed at the movie at that point. If not for his resurrection, I would have thrown a hissy fit at the end of the movie.
4. 2 hours, 32 minutes. Now, the film didn’t feel that long while watching it and it didn’t really drag at all, but the length did affect some of the “wow” feeling. Hollywood should try to scale back the length of these blockbusters before we end up with 3+ hour flicks every summer.
3. Batlash. AKA, the Hype. Most people agree this movie lives up to the hype, but I think that, for me personally, being constantly barraged with how great it was and how Heath needs an Oscar and how its ‘perfect’ and all this really affected me. My hopes were elevated too high even for The Dark Knight to [reel] me in. That said, the movie was still great, but not the instant pants exploding orgasm I had been lead to believe. This actually made me thing that a lot of us, critics, movie-goers, are starting to lose the ability to think for ourselves. We’ve been told and told and told this movie was great and, nearly in lock-step, everyone agrees. Hell, those who don’t are immediately threatened by those who haven’t even seen the film yet.
2. Two-Face Dies. Now this is a comic movie and it’s possible he’s alive and will be back, but I’m not sure if I like the habit of killing off the villains at the end of the Bat movies. Batman isn’t supposed to be a killer and yet in the past two films he’s definitely helped along their deaths, whether by tackling them over a ledge or just refusing to rescue them. Where is the rogues gallery going to be? The morgue instead of Arkham?
1. Rachel Dawes. I’m supremely satisfied she exploded. To me, there was virtually nothing different between Maggie G. and Katie H. The Rachel Dawes character held absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever and I’m glad shes gone. I just couldn’t get into her on any level.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Michael Jai White. This guy is a supremely talented martial artist, but his acting isn’t up to par for this movie. All he did was furrow his brow, bear his teeth, and speak angrily. Didn’t like him.
So there we have it. My dislikes aren’t anything major, though I’m sure I’m about to be roasted anyways, either for criticizing the hype, not fawning over Heath Ledger enough, or for saying it was too long. Let me be clear – I enjoyed this movie. I think with repeat viewings and more time to really mull over its complexities, I will appreciate it more and more. Maybe the film left me a little less fulfilled because I was expecting more of a popcorn type flick and was really delivered something unexpected – deep characters and an exceptionally strong and deep storyline, full of complexities. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it came damned close.