Review: The Dark Knight

This weekend, like 60% of the rest of America, the LOML and I went to see The Dark Knight at our local mega-superplex. Now, keep in mind that we are comic book/graphic novel fans. We have The Absolute Dark Knight on our shelves, sitting nicely and chatting with The Absolute Watchman, and three published-so-far Absolute Sandmans (and that's not all, folks). So we know this story in the way Comicon fans know these stories, and can be critical of them on more than one level.

In any case, to get to the point: I liked the movie very much, but I didn't LOVE it. I like the direction this new franchise is going in - darker, more interested in exploring the psychology behind someone who feels the need to dress up in a bat costume in order to do good things. There are some great themes at work here, and the movie explored them well, like the fact that there's really only a fine line that exists between the Joker and Batman, and how Harvey Dent/Two-Face embodies that line. I loved the visual, visceral feel of the movie, the sets, the costumes. I even liked the little FISA moment. And of course, I'll get to the BIG THING. Let me talk about the cons first, however.

It was just too much. Too many twists and turns, too many crimes and stunts. There were story lines that weren't fully wrapped up. The Joker, while claiming never to plan and waxing about his role as a simple anarchist, somehow managed to plot out amazingly intricate Evil Deeds, orchestrating the downfall of Gotham like a mad conductor in Hell. It was a lot to take in, sometimes, literally, more than I could keep up with. I think the film would have worked beautifully if it had been kept just a tad simpler, spending more time on the characters than on the too many chase & escape scenes.

Now, of course, the BIG THING. Heath Ledger, the performance and tragedy that has almost overshadowed the movie itself. Before I went, I was a fan. I loved him in Brokeback Mountain. Hell, I even remember a Knight's Tale. I have to admit, however, that I was skeptical here. I mean, of course everyone's going to praise him, the poor guy died tragically just a few months ago. No one's going to say HE SUCKED. But after having seen his performance, I can say with all honesty - Heath Ledger MAKES this film. He brought this campy, silly villain alive in a way that sent shivers down my spine every time he had a monologue. He was sick, twisted, believeable, and in a word, brilliant. As a fan I grieved a second time after leaving this movie. We've lost an incredible talent. Only now do I really appreciate that.

21 July 2008


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