Friday, July 18, 2008

"The Dark Knight"

For the past three weeks or so, not a day's gone by without a new review being broken lavishing "The Dark Knight" with ejaculatory praise, each review seemingly topping the last in superlatives. Seriously, I've been awaiting with bated breath the review that swears this movie cures cancer just by watching it. So, with all this garish enthusiasm and bar-raising of anticipation, it's no small feat that "The Dark Knight" even met my expectations, if not quite exceeding them. In all honesty, enough has been written about the film that further critique almost seems redundant (I wore out my interest in reading yet another identical rave review days ago). Anything that needs to be known about the film is already known by anyone who gives a shit, so I'll just give my take on what's already been said. Is it the best superhero movie ever made? Yeah, probably, though that's almost beside the point. I'm not sure yet if for good or for ill, but this movie's going to alter the reception/expectation of future superhero movies.

Is it too dark? Abso-fucking-lutely not. Christopher Nolan's made a movie that takes this superhero framework we're used to and not only plays it straight, but mines it for all the emotional and moral complexity it's worth. I found it compelling as hell, and if there wasn't a man in a cape running around, this would hardly be considered summer fare. As for reviews that said the removal of levity saps out the fun along with it, they're right, to a point; this movie isn't "fun" -- it's too disconcerting -- but it's insanely entertaining. Sure, you'll be nervous and/or upset here or there, but you're never less than gripped, and always feel like you're getting a hearty amount of thrills and enjoyment for your buck. The PG-13? Fucking ridiculous. This movie is disturbing, unrelentingly (and realistically) violent, and the Two-Face makeup alone should've earned this an R. The running time? The movie feels long, sure, but it's the sort of long feel that actually worked for the movie since there's so much going on; it adds a soak-it-all-in, epic-ness to it all that I really dug, and doesn't resemble bloat.

Heath Ledger, as advertised, is truly phenomenal here. He's alternately funny and terrifying -- and I'm not using that adjective lightly -- adding a surprising amount of complexity, and making everyone simultaneously giddy and nervous whenever he's on screen. It's a performance that completely lives up to what you've heard. The Oscar talk is dead-on; while the Academy would never even consider rewarding this sort of performance/film if Ledger was alive, whatever the reason is, I'll be thoroughly pleased when he gets the nomination. Aaron Eckhart is going to be the unsung hero of this movie, but he's terrific in an incredibly tricky part that's destined to be overshadowed by The Joker. There's been a lot of talk about Nolan's inability to competently shoot action sequences, but I didn't find that to be the case.... or maybe I just didn't notice. If anything, that's the triumph of what Nolan's done to this series/genre: he's wrapped us up in the ideas at work, that the action is incidental.


Anonymous Ben Nuckols said...

With the exception of the opening bank robbery, you are correct that Nolan cannot competently shoot action sequences.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

The action sequences are better-edited this time around than Batman Begins. There's a coherence to everything that was not present in Batman Begins' action sequences, which were jittery to begin with.

And I agree wholeheartedly with everything you've written about the movie. The rating for the film is ridiculous and the screening I went to had a mother dragging four of her children to the movie, the oldest probably no more than six or seven years old. How do those kids go away from the film not having some kind of nightmare from the violence of the film? It should have gotten an R, but money reasons put it at PG-13.

12:53 AM  

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