Friday, August 8, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight[PG-13]

I may incur some nasty comments for this, but I'm going to say it anyway: I don't particularly care for the old Batman movies. There is one major reason for this, the villains. None of them seemed very frightening to me, I was confident that Batman would save the day without much trouble. The movies were entertaining for sure, but there was no surprise at the end. Batman always came out victorious, no one expected, or wanted, anything different. Now I'm all for good triumphing over evil, but it all seemed too easy, no real tension. Maybe that's why I enjoyed[yes, I said enjoyed] The Dark Knight so much. I went in not expecting it to be much different from the old Batman movies. Even in The Dark Knight's predecessor, Batman Begins, there is no question about it, we know Batman will win.
Let me begin my analysis of this movie by making a disclaimer, this movie is not for the faint of heart. The movie begins and ends with violence and death, this is not your parent's Batman. The story begins with a bank robbery[with a half dozen deaths]spear-headed by the Joker. The Joker is wreaking havoc on the city in broad daylight, but not much goes on in the criminal world at night. The reason? Batman flies at night. "The Mob" is afraid of Batman and tries to avoid running into him. They are trying to figure out what to do next when the Joker pops into their meeting and proposes a seemingly simple solution: Kill Batman. While the mob laughs at this suggestion, the Joker stabs one of the members with a pencil to make his point. The only problem? No one knows Batman's true identity. Enter Harvey Dent, the new DA of Gotham. He has been almost single-handedly sending mob members to jail and ,in effect, cleaning up the city. The mob suspects this do-gooder to be the Batman, but they are, of course, wrong. We know the secret, billionaire Bruce Wayne is Batman. Trouble is, Harvey Dent is doing so much good for Gotham that Batman is seriously considering quitting in support of Harvey Dent. The Joker is not about to allow Harvey Dent to clean up Gotham. He succeeds in tearing him down by *SPOILER WARNING* blowing off half of his face and killing his girlfriend. Harvey Dent then becomes Two-Face, bent on getting revenge for Rachel's death. Throughout all of this, the Joker is happily shooting people, leaving the death toll for this movie very high. Once Harvey becomes corrupted, Batman wonders if there really is any good in Gotham, or if even he is good. Is it like Harvey Dent said early on :"You either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."? It was true of Mr. Dent, but what about Bruce Wayne?
This movie's star is not Batman, though Christian Bale does a fantastic job playing him. This movie's star is the Joker. From the very first scene his twisted sense of humor is put on display. The Joker enjoys killing anyone and everyone for no apparent reason. That is one of the most puzzling things about this movie, the Joker has no motivation for his evil deeds, he just does it for laughs. WORLD magazine explains Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker very well:The film's early reviews have been gently quizzical about the late, lamented Heath Ledger's magnetic performance as the Joker. It's obvious that he's doing a superb job, but nobody seems to know what he's doing. Let me clear things up: He's playing Satan. Ledger flicks his tongue like a snake, tempts people to kill one another, and is gleefully sloppy with bullets, bombs, and knives. Everyone else plays gangland archetypes; Ledger's Joker has escaped to the movies from Milton, or C.S. Lewis' Perelandra. That hits the nail on the head, the Joker is Satan. That being said, this movie is a lot to take in. Yes, it is two and a half hours long, but I wanted more explained, I needed more time. This is NOT a kids movie. It's very disturbing and extremely violent. Don't take your kids to see this movie, they will be scared[and probably bored in parts] out of their minds. However, I do encourage mature teens and adults to see it, if you can handle the Joker.


Anonymous said...

So you liked it too. I've got many other friends who liked it too. I still haven't seen it, but I might now.

Anonymous said...

This is a super review, very interestingly written, comparative, and informative. I, for one, do not care for any batman movie, old or new, but the way you describe this, makes me curious, particularly in regards to our friend the Joker. I would not say that he IS Satan (After all Jack Nicholson, himself a pretty good Joker, flicks his tongue in The Shining), but as I read how you described Ledger's performance, that is exactly what I thought of. Not so much Old pointy-tail himself, but a caricature of him. This joker fellow seems to be another in a long line of nihilistic villains, modeled on Satan; Cormac McCarthy's the Judge, Iago from Shakespeare's Othello, the Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales, and yes, Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost.
It is interesting that you said you needed more explained. This tells me that the film is thought provoking, which is always deserving of merit. How do the other characters fare in relation to the Joker? What does the movie teach us about ourselves?
Loved the review Chelsea!