Last night I went to see “The Dark Knight” at the cinema with Anne-Marie, Matthew and Ellie. (Hence the ‘Stormy’ – I got a good soaking on the way back home!). I saw the first ‘nu-Batman’ film “Batman Begins” at the cinema a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it – I was expecting good things from this film as well! The reviews have been a bit mixed (aren’t they always?) but most of the people I know who’ve seen the film have said they really enjoyed it.
Note: this review may contain
a few major spoilers!
One of the things I really liked about the film was the question of morality. Is what Batman does moral? What about the joker — how are they different? The joker was a very interesting character – excellently played by Heath Ledger – who seems to be quite concerned with how morality looks from different perspectives, what “good” people are capable of. In fact the whole thing had somewhat Christian overtones with Batman taking the blame at the end so that Harvey Dent could live on as a hero in the public imagination. (Well, OK, not really Christian, but there were a few parallels).
The story was also much darker than “Batman Begins”. I think it’s possibly to do with seeing people who should be incorruptible become corrupted. Not exactly light material! – the film did take itself very seriously throughout its two and a half hour running time.
And this is one of my main complaints about the film: “Batman Begins” stretched the bounds of plausibility a lot. However, it was kind of fun, a little bit tongue-in-cheek, while still being good drama. I was able to accept a few plot holes much more easily: when you know something is a little-bit light hearted, it’s as if you’re laughing along with the director: “Yes, it’s a little bit light hearted – but isn’t it FUN!”
“The Dark Knight” suffered from what I shall dub Torchwood Syndrome. That is, by taking itself too seriously, the plot holes it did have were magnified. You might say that whereas “Batman Begins” stretched the bounds of plausibility, “The Dark Knight” takes plausibility, stabs it in the back with a knife, throws it on the floor and stomps around on it with size 16 doc martens while the Joker laughs manically.
The main thing was – The Joker. He consistently annoyed me. Not because of the performance (which as I have already mentioned was excellent), but the script: how the hell could the Joker do all of the things he was supposed to do, without someone noticing / stopping him? For example, the last thing he does is plant bombs on a couple of ships. They only discover them once they’re well underway. Now, I just don’t understand: (a) how did no-one discover these things before they left the port? They weren’t exactly concealed! (b) why did no-one try to disarm the bomb? There were a few soldiers on board, they should have at least tried.
These are just a couple of isolated incidents, there are plenty more – i.e. the Joker managing to blow up a hospital without anyone happening to notice him planting bombs (or being able to stop him).
While I was watching the film it just really grated on me, so much so that it detracted from the overall effect. When a film takes itself that seriously it had better have a rock solid plot, otherwise it’s going to get in my bad books!
The other thing which grated on me was Harvey Dent turning to the dark side. And yes, I use that phrase intentionally: it was quite similar to the scene in “Revenge of the Sith”, where Anakin is convinced to turn to the dark side by Palpatine. In other words, I just couldn’t see it happening: “my fiance has just been murdered by the Joker, therefore the best thing for me to do is kill Batman.” Or something like that. I’m sure I missed something in that scene, but it didn’t work for me that time!
All in all, the film was a good one, but it’s not one I’ll be buying on DVD. Christian Bale and Heath Ledger were both great, as was Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent), but for me it didn’t live up to the heights of the first movie.