July 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm #1016
WARNING! DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE BAD-ASSNESS THAT IS THE DARK KNIGHT! WE WILL BE DISCUSSING THINGS THAT ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO THE ENJOYMENT OF THE MOVIE. IN FACT, TRY NOT TO READ ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE MOVIE, INCLUDING OTHER REVIEWS, FOR HALF THE REVIEWS SEEM TO GIVE AWAY SOME PRETTY BIG STUFF. THE LESS YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS, THE BETTER.July 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm #12468
I’M SERIOUS, NOW! NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT!July 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm #12469
Okay, now that that’s out of the way. I have to say, there aren’t many other movies that I am so adamant that the secrets be preserved for those who haven’t seen it. I pretty much knew most of the story points, as in WHAT, YOU’RE STILL HERE? GO SEE THE MOVIE FIRST!!
Okay, enough warnings. I knew Rachel was going to get it. I knew Two-Face was imminent. But wow, it’s almost like a dark poem to Batman. Just a fantastic, well-written, beautifully directed masterpiece.
And, to all you doubters, I have to say “I told you so” about Heath Ledger. I’ve been saying it from the beginning, that he had some amazing potential, and boy, was I right. He plays it on the tightrope just perfectly, insane, crazy smart, hilarious but spooky as hell. What a great great performance. Watching it made it even more tragic, knowing that he’s gone.
Now, granted, there were things that I probably could have done without. Like, two things. I found the sonar thing toward the end to be a little too Daredevil-y. Cool, sure, and it definitely didn’t take away from anything. And, when Batman jumped out the window to save Rachel, the Joker is left up at the party, but absolutely no explanation as to why he just left them all alone at that point (or maybe, he was so convinced that Batman was Harvey at that point, that he just decided to leave). There’s probably more, but who cares. Damn this was a great movie, definitely beating out Wall-E as my movie of the year, and yes, it’s the best superhero movie ever.July 18, 2008 at 4:53 pm #12459
Yeah, it sucks that we couldn’t visit about the movie afterward with the late hour.
None of the points of the movie surprised me, and I haven’t been reading anything on it. Two-Face was a total given if you’ve just seen the early artwork. Happy to see how it was done for sure. No real issues with how that came about, execution… any of it.
Ledger: Sure you can say “I told you so” but you really can’t claim it here with me. The only reason is, I already believed you that the perfectly insane and crazy smart would be evident, and that I got why that was the joker you were looking for. What I wasn’t convinced of was the remaining funny. The crazy guy that not only has a psychotic view on the world, but a funny way of showing it, not just an evil one. But it’s there. It’s so fucking there. This is something you can’t tell from the trailers or any scene you have gotten a peek at. The most you will get from those is him saying “here’s my card” and it looks like it could be smart ass from a crazy dude just as much as it could be the best fucking Joker ever. Best Ever. Best. The Best Joker. Not just because you want to spit in the eye of the Tim Burton movies, I’m talking about all of the animated-s, the comics… this is how the villain should be.
I saw an interview excerpt with Gary Oldman, and he said that Heath’s Joker may be a better villain even than the Hanibal Lector we’ve all come to know and love. I heard this and thought, he’s only saying this because of the fact that Ledger died. After seeing it, I dunno man… the Lector could be considered the perfect villian portrayal. -But, this Joker could be as well… AND Heath Ledger had to fill the shoes of a very well-known villian character, and that makes playing it much harder. I think I’d have to agree with Oldman. I’m happy to eat my words with regard to my concern about how this Joker would come out.
Okay, enough gushing there. Let me just ramble aimlessly about TDK now. I will agree with Rob… that it’s the best superhero movie ever -however I think that it needed a bit of tightening up on the pacing, and I’m still not sold on Bale. I may never be. In both of these movies he steps to the forefront to fill the shows of the second most popular American Super-Hero franchise, then seems to take one noticeable step back to let the movie drive his performance rather than he drive the movie. I still have a problem with that. And his “Batman” voice sucks even more in this movie than it did the last time.
I still think that Ironman is a better played by the actor, thought The Dark Knight is directed as a much deeper, thought-provoking and dramatic movie; and I’m going to have a hard time saying I’d rather watch The Dark Knight again over Ironman again when I have them both on DVD. But, I know that The Dark Knight is a better film. It’s a great movie. It’s been a very long time since I left the theater feeling 100% satisfied with waiting, with staying up late, with the drive home… with paying the price of seeing it before most others.
I’d go farther than Rob and say the sonar thing was just goofy, but I was still fine with it too. Visually I liked most of the gadgetry and stuff this time, but had a few minor issues with some of it. I kinda liked the way Batman stopped his motorcycle because it was a quick surprise and looked kinda cool. It also looked kinda stupid and felt a bit forced into the sequence. Stuff like that.
Aside of the fact that we have a pitch-perfect Joker performance, I like this movie because it takes a good in-depth look at the hero, a good look at the motivation of the villain (all of them) and a good cross-section of humanity -who they are, who they will be when they have to vs. who they want to be. This is a writing and directorial triumph in my opinion, because it accomplishes so much on those fronts without being too heavily character driven… without becoming a morality tale… without failing to be a superhero movie.
I’m and worried about a sequel, because if they don’t cut the Joker out completely, it will be distracting to see anyone fall short of this ultra-high bar that’s been set? Oscar? It’s a long year ahead yet, but a lack of nomination for this performance will need to be the result of the best holiday movie season ever.
Freeman: Good – no room for more
Caine: Very Good
Roberts: Better than good, but no room for Great
Gyllenhaal: Why? Couldn’t anyone have done better than this? She has a “droopy” face. It’s distracting. She was good, but I found her distracting somehow the whole time. Her performance was adequate, but with so much going on it’s hard to judge her on her own.
This concludes my unorganized gush-session on The Dark Knight. 🙂July 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm #12470
Yeah, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks like a sad cartoon turtle, as my friends at WWTDD.com have said.
When I said that “I told you so,” I was more talking to the “Brokeback Dick’s gonna be the Joker?” kind of people, of which there were many. All I was saying is that I felt vindicated after the movie for defending his acting ability. When he’s leaving the hospital — that was fucking priceless. God, what potential, and now we’ll never know.
I actually liked that they spent more time focusing on everyone else than Batman/Bruce Wayne. I felt like Begins was his story, and Dark Knight was really Harvey’s.
I could frickin’ talk about this movie for hours. I love it so much, as Batman’s always been my favorite character. And I agree with you about Iron Man vs. Dark Knight — they’re both really good, but Iron Man’s definitely easier to stomach over and over. Dark Knight could just make you an emo after too many viewings. I just can’t get over how great it is!July 21, 2008 at 7:25 pm #12480OctaviousParticipant
Great movie and I think Rob and the Captain hit all of the points. Agree on the jumping out to save Rachael scene, not really needed. Loved the Two-Face make-up better than Tommy Lee Jones’ 2-Face.
And what can you say about Heath. Bravo!
Did you guys catch the last movie trailer before Batman; Terminator Salvation, Christian Bale as John Connor?July 21, 2008 at 9:55 pm #12471
It’s about time someone else chimed in! I’ve been thinking and talking about this movie almost non-stop since that night. I guess you saw that it broke all kinds of records this weekend.
Yeah, the Terminator movie — I’d already seen the trailer, as it was released earlier that day, and I knew about the casting of Bale in that role. There’s something very weird about seeing his story from that time, I think. If you look at the Terminator series like you do with Star Wars, then the idea of that war “sometime in the future” was such a deep part of the mystery and mythology of the overall story, and I just hope that by finally seeing it, we won’t be treated to the same sort of missteps that you could say we’ve had with the Star Wars prequels. In other words, sometimes leaving that stuff to the imagination is just a better way to go.July 21, 2008 at 10:52 pm #12460
I think it will probably be a disaster, but I’m looking forward to see more about it.
Rob, I was reading WWTDD and I see the cartoon turtle stuff popping up all over. I hadn’t been to the site in a few weeks, and I needed to laugh this AM. So I caught up. Funny writing there.July 21, 2008 at 11:17 pm #12472
Isn’t it? Whoever does that site just kicks ass. So funny.July 22, 2008 at 11:41 pm #12477digitaltopiaParticipant
I just saw Batman. I’m not surprised Ledger did a good job as the Joker. After all, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Joker fondles a few of his men behind the scenes too. But I digress.
I liked just about everything about the movie. It’s more complex, deeper, and darker than the first one. The only thing I really didn’t like about it is what everyone has already been saying… Katie Holmes’s replacement. Of course Katie Holmes couldn’t be in it because she’s off in a spaceship somewhere. In the movie they kept talking about how beautiful Rachael is, but I thought she was very unattractive, and she looked really old too. Like an old woman wearing too much makeup trying to look young. I just don’t think the actress fit the part at all, and that was distracting.
Now I’m definitely looking forward to Watchmen.July 22, 2008 at 11:58 pm #12461
I’m too lazy to read above, but my other issue is that Bale’s “Batman” voice is stupid. It was in the previous movie too.July 23, 2008 at 5:06 am #12482FrankParticipant
And here’s where everyone in the room is going to say, “Frank, what the fuck?!?”
The movie was good, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was great. What do I mean? Well, I guess I need to go into some details here.
Yes, we can all complain about Maggie Turtleface and I’m sure they could have found someone better. But at least Ledger got to work with both Gyllenhaals before he died. Let’s push that aside and talk about the real issues.
-In a 2 1/2 hour movie, they crammed so much stuff into it that I felt a lot of things were left out. I didn’t feel the real attraction Harvey had with Rachel until after she died and he became Two Face. The Bruce/Rachel thing wasn’t really played up, either. Hell, if it wasn’t for Harvey going off the deep end, I think you probably could have made this movie without her. There was no backstory for Harvey, other than he just showed up one day and decided to fight crime.
-Batman has to go to China to bring back “dirty accountant,” if you will. Why would all the mob bosses in the city trust this guy to handle all of their money? On top of that, he didn’t even wait for the bosses to say okay, he just went ahead and took all the money. Granted, the police were coming after it, but still. Is this a character that was really needed in the first place? Could we have cut him out and still had a decent movie? I think so.
-I don’t think Christian Bale fully understands, or has fully immersed himself into the role of, Batman/Bruce Wayne. Until he fully commits, I just don’t think he’s going to really bring out the best of Batman. That could be why it seemed like the movie revolved around everyone but Batman.
-“Do you know how I got these scars?” The Joker goes into great lengths to detail at least twice how he got the scars, both of them contradictory. Of course, it’s still better than Batman dropping him into a vat of chemicals, but I digress. If we cut these lines, would it have taken away from the movie? I don’t think it would have.
-Now for the one that everyone is going to blast me for: I enjoyed Ledger’s performance as The Joker. Did he hit it on the head, I believe he did. Was it the best version of the Joker, I would go 65 percent Ledger and 35 percent Jack Nicholson. But all the talks about an Oscar nod, I think that might be a bit too much. I mean, if you’re going to talk Oscar nods about this movie, how about Eckart? After his transformation, I thought he played an amazing Two Face. And his acting beforehand as Harvey wasn’t too shabby, either. Oldman could be considered for best supporting actor because I think he’s played a great Jim Gordon in both movies. I would have liked to have seen more of Ledger. There were parts of the movie that really were shining moments for him, like when he came out of the hospital and the detonator wasn’t working right and he kept smacking it until it worked, all the while wearing a nurse’s outfit. Or the interrogation between Batman and Joker. Those were solid Ledger moments. I would have liked to have seen more of those.
-When a movie is talked about this much and when it makes as much money as it did, I sometimes like to sit back and ask myself, “What was this movie about?” Was it about good vs. evil? Was it about standing up in the face of injustice? Was it about finding inner peace in a world that hates you? I’m not exactly sure I can put my finger on it.
Anyway, my thoughts, for what they’re worth. I’ve got to go and see it again in a regular theater so I can actually see the whole fucking movie. If you didn’t read my previous post, don’t waste your money going to the IMAX to see this movie. If you need an explanation as to why, check out my post about it.July 23, 2008 at 5:26 am #12462
Yeah, I think everyone is going to grade your review on a bit of a curve, after reading your IMAX experience. Let’s face, it mood alters perception.
I didn’t mention it above, probably because I was tired but I was definitely iffy on the China stuff, and I thought the pacing was off in a few bits of the movie. It felt long a few times. A little more trimming to tighten up a few scenes wouldn’t have been bad.
I’ve gotta point out that the scars thing was to make it apparent that he’s making it up, just to fuck with people. That’s his thing. He tells these stories, and each time the story is designed to get a particular reaction from the person he is telling it to. This is supposed to go together with the lack of Joker backstory to make him a bigger mystery. I actually liked that.
So, let’s get down to it… Ledger: good, great or Oscar? Let me tell you why I think it’s Oscar worthy, even if half a year from now, I’m not rooting for the win: 1) the Joker is not a character you really need to see range from. To make him who he is you need less than 1/5 of an actual personality for a 2.5 hour view of life in their world. That goes for just about anyone unless their character arc requires a transformation (Two Face). So in that narrow space, Ledger managed to give this guy acres of presence, loads of personality all while still seeming fucked up enough to be a scary guy. And he did it without the usual Hollywood villain props; scary voice, special fighting skills or abilities, or mindless guys that are already afraid of him. The thing that makes this Joker great is that he actually builds his position as the “new class of criminal” right here on screen in front of you -believably in 2.5 hours. Good writing or not, to be convincing; to become that person 100% without the viewer thinking about the actor is what makes it great acting. Oldman does it, Eckart does it and Ledger damn sure does it in my opinion. To me, THAT’S what makes this fantastic.July 23, 2008 at 10:13 pm #12473
Yeah, Frank, see it in a theater so you can really watch the movie instead of being distracted and annoyed. It is fantastic, not perfect, but really damn close.
And you don’t know how much it pleases me to see Bryan go off on how great Heath was. It’s just cool to see, coming from someone who was not convinced in the first place. I watched some clips from the movie again today, just the ones that are available on the net, and damn, the guy’s just awesome. The movie may not be perfect, but Ledger as the Joker is.July 27, 2008 at 10:33 am #12466BuchoParticipant
It came out in NZ on Thursday and so I only just saw it today and I feel like it all lived up to the hype, the first movie for a long, long time to stand up for itself like this. I mean, in general I was avoiding reading reviews but the two I saw were both 5 stars and saying that Ledger’s performance was literally extraordinary, views that were echoed by a couple of radio reviewers I like.
I can’t compare it to every other superhero flick because I haven’t seen them all but I do know it blows the undercooked Batman Begins away by at least the length of the home straight. Universally better performances, characters, story and action than Nolan’s first shot.
I like Bale’s Batman the best, he’s far more suited to the action/fighter side of the character and although his Bruce Wayne is still second to Michael Keaton in suaveness and charisma, Bale’s still fine and completrely believable as the fearless billionaire. Ledger was everything he needed to be, a natural, raw talent handed a role for the ages. Under Nolan’s direction he, like Bale, takes a cartoon character and makes him human, brings him into our world and makes him potent, makes him matter. Aaron Eckhart plays more or less to type, not stretching anywhere near as much as Ledger or even Bale, but is rock solid in every moment of his screen time.
I don’t have a problem with Gyllenhaal, I don’t care that she’s not pretty enough to get the roles that Kate Bosworth or Jessica Alba get because she has more than that type of actress offers a serious film like this. Wayne and Dent are men of substance and men of substance are attracted to women of substance. There are plenty of reasons Bruce Wayne would walk into a party with 3 bombshells on his arm but if he’s going to be impressed by a woman it’ll be a sharp scientist or businesswoman or attorney. Same with a DA like Harvey Dent, he’s too strong a man to give a shit about having a model trophy wife. Gyllenhaal was one of the main reason The Dark Knight kicks Batman Begin’s ass, Holmes is cute but empty, impotent. Gyllenhaal’s Rachel is more ordinary looking but so much smarter and more courageous.
The other great character improvement, albeit a minor support role, was Eric Roberts mafia don compared to Tom Wilkinson’s. In Batman Begins the mob boss is a flacid muppet, almost a joke, the kind of man Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone eats up for breakfast and shits out before lunch (not Wilkinson’s fault, he’s a fine actor, the character was lame). I wasn’t the least bit convinced I should fear or respect him. Roberts’ Salvatore was no work of genius but as a character and performance it served the story so much better, not a bit out of place.
Oldman, I’ve been a fan of for a very long time, I guess since Leon: The Proffesional, and I loved every second of his Jim Gordon. He’s one of the few actors you can say he’s never bad. Never. Even in balls like the Lost In Space remake he’s so watchable. Caine and Freeman I like a lot too but they always play themselves, they lack Oldman’s chameleonic skill. That’s no dis on them in The Dark Knight though, they’re great, all they need to be.
There’s stuff I could have done without in The Dark Knight, the sonar being the chief pebble under the mattress, the bike’s handling and maneuverability another. How is it The Joker’s getaway schoolbus just manages to drive out of the hole it’s made in the bank and slot into the line of other schoolbuses without anyone being able to trace it? The driver behind at least would have had to have been thinking, “Holy shit, that bus that just pulled in front of me just drove out of the hole it made in the bank.” Driving out of a hole in a bank, during rush hour no less, is not the way to get away unnoticed. And I’m supposed to believe a busfull of cold, hardened crims suddenly grow enough heart not to mutiny when they’re threatened with imminent death.
Whatever, the movie still is a comic book movie so they should be forgiven one or two comicbook touches and overall I wouldn’t knock it back below 9/10 just for those things. The only improvement I would’ve asked for in the story was to have Bruce Wayne show a little more vulnerability, a little more of the smack to the heart that losing his oldest friend meant to him. It’s not that he’s not humanised, it’s that as much as I love Batman’s story I don’t relate to the trials of a billionaire as much as I do to someone like Wolverine or Peter Parker. But if you show the billionaire has a heart and feels pain you see more that underneath he’s like you.
Ledger had it in spades, that thing that sets the teen heartthrobs apart from the great actors. He was a work in progress, sure, still finding his way to chosing the roles that would allow his weapons full range. But he’d shown it in Monster’s Ball and Brokeback Mountain, and to a lesser extent in Two Hands, that if he has a script and director who could steer his fire in the right direction he could be immense, a screen presence to stand among the elite. Now he’s shown us again, finally and heartbreakingly, that he was something genuinely special, a force of nature and study and brilliance in the art of film acting.
(Frank, one of the first things I talked about when I left the theatre was that I loved when The Joker started telling Rachel a different version of his scars’ origins. His first story, about an abusive father, was harrowing enough but also seemed too small to explain the hugeness of the villain. When he started telling Rachel a different story it was like a black mark against the film was erased because, like Bryan says, part of The Joker’s power and menace is his mystery, better we don’t have that ruined yet by knowing his origin story. The Asian subplot, I like it because it made the film feel bigger, like Gotham isn’t just some closed comicbook universe. It was one more thing to bring the story into our world.)
(More than one wordy fucker on the mighty SOS boards now. I don’t apologise.)
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