This was a really good, maybe even a great movie-I certainly liked it when I was watching it. As with many films it is only after you leave the theater that you think, hmm, what really happened there, and there, and there. Of course, none of the logic gaps matter, this was pure emotion all the way to the bank-$155.3 million from Friday through Sunday. Batman The Dark Knight is setting all kinds of box office records-imagine that, a good movie making money.
The movie opens without credits and only a vague hint of the Batman logo flies by as we zoom into the mean streets of Gotham and never look back. We have brief cameo appearance by Scarecrow, one of Batman’s many insane foes before we get down to the serious business of The Joker killing everyone he meets and Christian Bale chewing up the scenery just a well as Jack Nicholson ever did. There is a lot death in The Dark Knight, a lot of shootings, car crashes, falling from heights, and general nasty business. The camera cuts away from the gory bits and there is not much empathy for those that die left and right like so many ducks in an arcade.
But The Dark Knight is given a serious treatment, these are dark stories of The Batman and The Joker and need to be told in a serious manner. That’s what killed the old movies-George Clooney was great, it was all the stupid crap that was the problem. There are no sets here that look they belong in the ice capades and no villains that look like they are dressed for Mardi Gras. The Dark Knight has the look and feel of a gritty Police Show like CSI or NYPD Blue, not a saturday morning cartoon. There is a lot of drama here and the most poignant scenes near the end don’t even have The Batman or The Joker in them.
Having said that, there are a couple of odd bits in the film. One of them is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes. I can understand that Katie Holmes is busy making little Tom Cruises, but could have found a less attractive woman to take her role? Maybe it was just thinking about Katie everytime she was on screen-but the harsh lighting and strong shadows across her broad flat face was not at all flatering. She certainly didn’t look like a woman Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne would have given a second glace-as he was shown a number of times with amazingly beautiful women on his arms.
Then there was the bit about The Batman never killing anyone. This was played up as a defining part of our hero’s persona, so ingrained into The Batman that he can’t kill The Joker, even though The Joker has been killing people since he walked onto the screen. Oddly, The Batman is shown killing at least two people by crushing them to death with the roofs of their cars. But maybe he didn’t really mean to kill them so it’s ok.
Heath Ledger’s Joker is a amazing and might well win the Best Actor Academy Award. Even if Heath Ledger had not dead so unexpectedly his performace would gotten noticed. The Joker talked and moved and acted perfectly odd, perfectly crazy. It was like Heath Ledger was channeling James Dean at his Method Acting best. The Batman, by contrast, spoke like he’d been smoking since he was three and had never had a glass of water in his life. The deep gravely voice was a distraction each time The Batman opened his mouth and you expect a human to speak.
Steven Speilberg’s War of The Worlds was pretty damned good film to watch in a theater-it made no sense and the ending was as lame as it could be-but still. In War of the Worlds there was a noise that the alien walkers made throughout the film, it was deafening, painful, shocking tuba blast that jarred the nerves and made you jump-every time. There are a handful of spots in The Dark Knight were the soundtrack is turned off and there is just this buzzing tone that builds and builds until something happens. It was perfectly effective and added the feeling that The Dark Knight is serious film and not just for fun bit of silliness like The Silver Surfer or Van Helsing.
The effects were brilliant, even the transfromation of goody two shoes Harvey Dent into madmanTwo-Face looked amazingly like the comic book character without looking amazingly fake at the same time. There were a lot of things blowing up and a lot of glass breaking and car crashes. They all looked really good. The fact of the matter is that the story was so good, you didn’t even notice the effects. The Dark Knight was a great film.