Thursday, October 28, 2010

Capsule Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

dark_knight_jokerI was quite pessimistic going into Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his 2005 superhero reboot Batman Begins. I felt the first film was plodding and was missing much of the darkness and excitement I associated with the character, and the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker didn’t bode well when compared to other – seemingly definitive – takes on the character. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement, as Nolan abandons the yellow-hued origin of Batman Begins for a blue and gray tinged superhero story that makes all other live-action attempts at the material seem like child’s play in comparison. While much negative has been made of Christian Bale’s growly performance, it’s a small flaw in a film that takes constant risks and somehow manages to consistently pull them off. Marrying a widescreen visual style with an unstoppable supporting cast, The Dark Knight set box office records while getting Heath Ledger a deserved posthumous Oscar.

5 comments:

Christopher Bussmann said...

Can't say I agree with your criticisms of Batman Begins but that's a discussion for when you actually review that film.

I actually think The Dark Knight is the weaker of the two films. Ledger's Joker is amazing and when the plot focuses on him, the film can do no wrong. But Two-Face is a huge distraction and Nolan still can't film action for shit. The opening heist sequence is incredible though -- one of my favorite heist scenes ever.

Doug Tilley said...

I think I had some problems with the visual style of Batman Begins as a whole. It's odd - I could definitely see it as a big improvement on all of the previous live-action films (both Schumacher AND Burton), but I still walked away wanting it to be something different. I don't fully agree about Nolan's action chops - he's too frenetic, but he hits the right beats. And I have a lot of respect just for his commitment to big screen entertainment, and his balls for trying things like that heist scene.
But, I also dug the Two Face bits for the most part, while I didn't care at all for Ra's Al Ghul parts of Batman Begins - though I love that character and I thought Liam Neeson did a good job.
But you're right - it sounds like I need to re-watch and put some solid thought behind writing up thoughts on BB. The recent revisit of The Dark Knight was a bit of a surprise, as I was expecting to be bugged by all of the things I glossed over watching in theater but I actually enjoyed it immensely.

Ash said...

The problem with BATMAN BEGINS is the fact that the evil plot of Ra's al Ghul only makes sense as a parallel to 9/11. Minus that connection, it's just nonsensical.

THE DARK KNIGHT succeeds despite it's most obvious flaw, which is a script whose final act is just fucking awful. I don't mean that it's just unnecessary; it's actively bad. The overall awesomeness of the acting, the costuming, etc., tends to hide this, though.

Michael Keaton remains the best Batman, since he's the only one I could actually buy thinking that it's a good idea to dress up as a giant fucking bat and fight crime.

Doug Tilley said...

I can't disagree with the failure of the final act of The Dark Knight. It feels like a slow deflation after The Joker is taken care of, though I do think it does a good job of setting up the central conceit of the next film - I like the montage at the very end with them destroying the bat signal.
What I love most about Michael Keaton's Batman is that his Bruce Wayne seemed as nutty as his Batman. LET'S GET NUTS!

Ash said...

Exactly. Patrick Bateman at least acts like he really is Batman, and that Bruce Wayne is the disguise; Val Kilmer and George Clooney pretended to be wealthy dudes who thought fighting crime in a costume was a good idea, and it just didn't work.

Supposedly, Tim Burton chose Michael Keaton specifically because he had crazy eyes. It was a good call.