The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby David Yun on Mon Jul 21, 2008 5:06 pm

I copied this from my blog - watch out for spoilers if you haven't seen it:



First off, The Dark Knight was a terrific movie, primarily on the strength of Heath Ledger's remarkable performance. With all due credit to Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamill, his is now the definitive rendition of the Joker. He's a mesmerizing combination of creepiness and charm, an agent of anarchy riding the wildest case of antisocial personality disorder.

The Dark Knight owes a great deal to Alan Moore, as themes and plot devices regarding the Joker are lifted intact from The Killing Joke. Longtime Batman fans will recognize numerous additional concepts borrowed from the comics, but as far as I can tell, the idea described in today's comic is unique to this film.

Early in the film, there's a fascinating conversation between Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, and their dates, about whether or not Batman is a true hero. The concept that Batman is merely a thuggish stopgap measure, necessary only until the true hero appears is introduced here. I immediately thought this was an intriguing idea, and it turned out to be thoroughly explored and integrated as a driving force directly into the main plot.

This notion has a more common analog throughout Batman comics: the idea that Batman would retire should his "War on Crime" ever be won. I love this new view that he's not the ideal champion of justice, but rather an emergency field medic to staunch Gotham's bleeding until a true surgeon (i.e. Harvey Dent) can repair the wound.

The combination of The Killing Joke's motif coupled with this idea and Ledger's brilliant performance made for what may be the finest superhero movie to date. My gut says it is; I just want more time and a few more viewings to digest it further before committing. It was so much better than I'd expected; it was as good as I hoped it would be. Unless I'm way off, you're likely to hear tons of gushing fanboy praise for The Dark Knight, so I'd like to spend the rest of this entry quibbling over my minor criticisms of the film.

The Dark Knight's tension swelled and resolved twice. It's an ambitious film, focusing not only on Batman and Jim Gordon's battle against the Joker, but also their relationship with Harvey Dent and his transformation into the tragic villain Two-Face. The result is a film that achieves catharsis a little over the halfway point, and then asks you to gear up again for an even tenser conflict. It almost felt like two films in one, and the result was a tad exhausting. I understand why this was necessary to achieve the intended result, and I'm not criticizing this so much as making an observation.

I did think that the "sonar" gizmo was just bullshit. Every bit of Batman's equipment in these two films were based on plausible technology until this nonsense. The instant Batman released that marker balloon, I went "coooooool" in anticipation of the aircraft that would snag him and secure his escape. It's foreshadowed by a bit of dialogue earlier in the film, and looks like the sort of operation that madly ingenious American military minds would cook up. But a mobile phone that contained a device to shut down an entire building's power and map it in real time with sonar? Bullshit.

That leads into Batman's further application of this technology to wiretap Gotham in an effort to find the Joker, resulting in a debate with Lucius Fox about the abuse of power. This peripheral commentary on federal eavesdropping was an intriguing touch, but it laid the roots for what I call "asshole" Batman.

For several years in the comic books, Batman was portrayed as a cold, calculating, Machiavellian fascist - a colossal brooding prick - with no human concern for his allies nor the citizenry he was protecting. I think this phenomenon more or less coincides with the post-9/11 era, shadowing our own increasing disillusionment and distrust with our real life protectors/government.

At the end of the film, Batman plays martyr and unilaterally decides that the knowledge of Harvey Dent's descent into madness and murder cannot become public, lest the feeble-willed average citizens (you know, people like you and me) despair and lose hope, or faith, or some such rubbish. He handles Gotham, smug in the knowledge that the sheep he guards wouldn't be able to handle the truth, and that he alone knows best. For me, this reinforced that theme of the film: Batman is not the ideal hero for Gotham City, and the sooner the real hero steps up, the better.

It's a small complaint against a good film, but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I like my Batman a shade more noble. You know, a dude who's not above hitting Superman below the belt with Kryptonite if necessary, but nevertheless one that's an extension of the people's thirst for justice, as opposed to a fascist dictating to the people what's good for them.

Oh, and the growly voice Christian Bale effects as Batman is palatable when intimidating bad guys, but pretty silly in casual dialogue. [lol]
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby MadCat on Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:07 pm

Meh. I dunno. I'm a huge Batman fan, but I just haven't been able to get that excited about this movie, largely because I don't like the take on Batman these new movies have presented as much as I've liked other incarnations. I also like the more noble Batman Dee described, and it sounds like they really didn't do it right this time. I may end up seeing it in the theater anyway, but from the sounds of things, I'd rather just wait til it comes out on video. The main drawing point for me on this film now is that it was Heath Ledger's last work, I really liked him as an actor, and I'd like to see how well he filled the role, because I've heard he did superbly.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby Mike on Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:46 pm

The sonar phone thing was pretty BS-ey. I'll agree with that.

As for the Batman the movie portrayed... I liked it, to be honest. If "the" shining hope of a city fell into madness and murder it brings some hopelessness to the masses. So to cover it up he took the bullet and did what he had to do. I think the whole movie was showing that Batman would be whatever he needed to be to help the city. The whole Harvey Dent/Two-Face thing made a lot of sense to me and I think it was a cool character call to have Batman take the heat over it so that Harvey could save face...

It's the whole "hope" thing.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby David Yun on Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:38 pm

I'm with ya Mike. Batman totally plays martyr to do what he thinks is best for the city, and the Two-Face arc was great.

But it's patronizing to think that Gotham is incapable of handling what happened to Dent. Hope isn't that fragile, and is bullshit without the truth in any case. If anything, they demonstrated their indefatigable sense of hope with the two explosive barges. Prudently withholding sensitive info from the public is one thing, but cover ups that alter the truth are never a good idea.

And Batman just fucked up his mission, in any case. He'll be too busy battling cops to do any real good. I mean, Batman fighting paramilitary cops is awesome, but only in a context that makes sense, like Miller's Year One. And even within just the scope of the two films, what happened to his stated goal of using Batman to inspire goodness and hope? He just flushed that down the toilet.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby Mike on Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:37 am

David Yun wrote:And even within just the scope of the two films, what happened to his stated goal of using Batman to inspire goodness and hope? He just flushed that down the toilet.


I hear ya on most of it. I think this last part is just him thinking Dent is a better example. I don't know if I'm reading too far... but people jocking him and getting themselves killed (those hockey pad batmans) wasn't what he wanted. I think he'd rather people have the attitude like Dent than like him.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby David Yun on Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:01 pm

Yeah, I was thinking about those Bat-wannabes. Now, they're gonna be going all Punisher and murdering people, and Batman won't have the moral authority to tell them not to.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby Mike on Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:28 pm

Send in Robin to set him back on the moral high ground!!!
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby Mike on Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:29 pm

"We burned down the forest" was an awesome line btw.

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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby steve on Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:58 pm

I agree, Robin (Dick Grayson) would be a great idea. I'd also like to see how they'd do Catwoman if they consider her for the third movie.
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Re: The Dark... KNNNNNNNIGGGIT

Postby Mike on Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:08 pm

steve wrote:I agree, Robin (Dick Grayson) would be a great idea. I'd also like to see how they'd do Catwoman if they consider her for the third movie.


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