Shady Soldier

The Dark Knight [2008]

d- Christopher Nolan

w-Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan

I wrote the following on the IMDB message board. I saw this movie on Saturday morning. Britney Sat 5 rows in front of me, with a bunch of brats. They came in about 4 minutes after the previews started to roll. I never would have known who it was, but everyone in the theatre started whispering “oooh it’s Britney Britney Britney Britney” ad nauseum.


Anyway, here’s the entry:

Yeah, I’m one of those.
Over 40 and into old movies. Black and white, even. I loathe cgi
shit sprees. I take a pass on most of this “summer” garbage that passes for cinema these days.
This one, however, is different. I saw it for the Heath Ledger hype.
So, here are my criticisms, for what they’re worth. To start with, the film is too long, and lacks structure. By that I mean a first, second, third act, climax and out. This film has almost no coherent structure after the first hour. There is simply too much going on in it. Much dialog from secondary characters was drowned out or rushed and was thus incomprehesible. This, however, will probably improve on a second viewing. Much as I liked the always excellent Aaron Eckhart, I feel that the whole Harvey Dent subplot should have been saved for another film. It takes away focus and prolongs the movie. It should have ended about 40 minutes earlier. Moreover, this is a film which demands to be taken seriously on it’s own terms as  realistic. It breaks faith with that too many times.  For example, expecting the audience to believe that a man can survive the devouring of half of his head by whatever method and, after refusing all medication just waltz around town blowing people up, manhandling women and children, all while suffering little or no trauma, is absurd. His naked right eye and facial tissues suffered prolonged exposure to the air without experiencing either infection or at least dry eye.  Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this film begs to be taken seriously. In such a case, it cannot engage in such silliness. Another example is the business about having a device which can turn every cellphone in Gothham City into a massive, co-ordinated(and, of course, instantly comprehensible and controllable) sonar “eye” was a bit far fetched. I got the symbolism in drawing  a parallel between the Bush crime family’s real-life abuse of power and violation of our rights, and Batman’s hesitation of using similar methods. The moral is drawn, but the example was too muddled and far-fetched.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance as Rachel Dawes, the love interest, was very good. She has a magnetic presence, and her performance is thoughtful and believable. She is interesting to watch. I realise that if my advice about Harvey Dent were taken, the whole love triangle would collapse. Good. Let’s find something else for an interesting female lead to do in a comic book flick.

Christian Bale is fine in his role. The character of Batman is made much more interesting and complex, for what it is.

Heath Ledger’s performance is all that it’s hyped as. From the absolutely brilliant opening scenes his is definitely THE performance of the film. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this performance will go down in cinema history as one of the definitive villains of all time. The instantly iconic pencil scene belongs up there with Cagney and the grapefruit, DeNiro and the baseball bat (or mirror, for that matter). If I were to put the Joker in a cell with the Wicked Witch of the West and Darth Vader, I’d bet on the Joker as the only one who comes out.

I know this review is a little schizophrenic, but It’s kind of a schizophrenic film. It’s hard to suss out. To summarize, I enjoyed it. It gave me something to think about. I’ll see it again. I’m grateful, if bitterly so, for Ledger’s performance. Bitter because he’s gone.

In “Jurassic Park”, Jeff Goldblum’s character said something profound that can be applied to many, many things in life, and it seems to me especially to the cgi technology being used in motion pictures today, not to aid in storytelling, but to dictate it. That saying was” Just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean that you SHOULD


5 responses to “Shady Soldier

  1. I want to go and see it purely for the reason that Christian Bale is in it. I am a huge fan of his an always have been. I have heard good reports about it and at the end of the day its only a movie.

  2. I partly agree with a good chuck of the review. It is too long, but I did not feel it was as unstructured as you say. I thought Christian Bale was qood but Heath Ledger was amazing. It was his small touches he does that made him a real person and not an over the top cartoon character. As to Two Face, the wound was meant to look like the original look from the comic, which until CG was impossible. Yeah, most of Two Face’s face is CG over the actor’s, so there is an example of CG helping plot instead of just being for effect.
    But for me the whole point of this VERY dark film is what happens with hostages on the two barges, it shows that people can be at their best when things are at their worst.

  3. I felt that they could get away with some of the unrealistic aspects of the film due to the grounded performances.
    But I’m also impressionable 🙂 I loves my comic book movies.
    I’m hoping that the next one will have a stonger woman character. I find that they’re usually geared towards the accessory.
    I posted my own review right after I saw it Friday morning at 12:01. By the time I’d gotten home and finished the damned thing it was 4:45 am.

  4. For those that don’t like cgi I always suggest Blade Runner. I’m always amazed what they achieved with analog back in the 80’s. This film was about the last one made before the switch to cgi so it’s basically the height of an era. Great movie and great book for all you Phillip K Dick fans

  5. Thank you for another intelligent review.

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