Movie Review: The Dark Knight

5 08 2008

Grade: B

From my first ZOINKS! as a kid I’ve always been a huge superhero movie fan. I appreciate the depth of the characters and storylines in the last two Batman movies, but The Dark Knight left me with mixed emotions.

First the good. Let me say that the film was superbly directed, the script was intellectually complex, the acting was Oscar worthy (if Heath Ledger doesn’t win an Oscar, I’ll be surprised), and even the music was brilliant. The intensity of the storyline was so thick, you were literally on the edge of your seat the entire movie. One of the subjective ways I rate a movie is how much you think about it and discuss it after it’s over. This film has dominated conversation in our house this week. So for thought provoking discussion, which is what you hope from a great film, The Dark Knight grabbed me and everyone else that’s seen it.

Now to the bad. This movie was DARK, very dark. It grabbed us. Not in a way that inspired us to be something more, but in a very helpless and disturbing way. The movie took me back to real life video a friend showed me years ago. He had found the online video of terrorists beheading someone. Being the idiot voyeur that I am, I watched it. I was personally disturbed for a month. It still disturbs me 5 years later. This movie was like that. The Joker was a glimpse inside the mind of pure evil. It’s intriguing, maybe even fascinating, but it is also haunting. You don’t see the killing, but you don’t need to. The dialog alone is enough.The question for all of us is “Are we better for seeing it?”

The best scene in the movie is where two ferrys are hijacked and wired with explosives by The Joker (one is full of “innocent” citizens and one is full of “convicted” prisoners). The only way to make sure the passengers live is to press a button and blow up the other boat. Do they survive by killing someone else or do they risk it all and hope the other boat doesn’t push the button? SPOILER ALERT. After much angry discussion and debate to just push the button, a large intimidating prisoner takes the remote button and throws it out the window. This dramatic turn angers the Joker, who always thinks we always will choose to save ourselves, even if it hurts someone else. There is hope for Gotham City. There is hope for humanity.

This scene was powerful, but there were very few scenes like this in the film. The Joker clearly dominated the movie and you felt very little hope that good would prevail over evil. According to my daughter The Joker is the new hero everyone at her High School. Which makes me wonder why? What do we see in him? I’m trying not to be the uptight parent who thinks my villains as a kid like Darth Vader were cool and her villains are just evil. The Joker clearly was the most charismatic person on the screen which makes it easy to understand his popularity. As a society, we value charisma over character. Personality over integrity. We exalt OUTWARD celebrity to hold ours (and the cameras) attention over INTERNAL beliefs to stand up for what it right. This is Batman’s challenge…and this is our challenge as well.

Even though The Dark Knight left you dark and empty, this superhero fan will hold out on my final opinion until the 3rd installment of the storyline and hang on to the prophetic words of Harvey Dent “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”

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3 responses

5 08 2008
theAlley church

Great review. Thanks for sharing.

7 08 2008
Jaime Greene

I still have nightmares from watching it over a week ago. It was the darkest movie I think I have ever seen. Darth Vadar is different from the Joker; the Joker had no feelings whereas Vadar did. Vadar had the desire to find Luke who he knew was his son and not to kill him but have him join him. Vadar was once good; we never really knew the Jokers back story because it always changed.

The Joker was like the Dementors of Harry Potter he was soul/life sucking. The Joker has left me empty. There was no hope especially after Dent turned into Two Face. The second movie in a seriers is always the really dark one. Even The Empire Strikes Back was dark…so let hope there is hope in the others.

I would be concerned as a parent if the Joker was considered a hero…ask them why? I do too hope for a third a fourth and more one. Christian Bale is the best Batman (but I have also had a crush on him since the Newsies in the 80s).

Excellent review!!

7 08 2008
Tim Kade

Jaime,
Great comparison to Darth Vadar. You nailed it. That is the difference between a great movie and a horror movie. Redemption and hope for change.

PS Thanks for letting us in on your Christian Bale crush.

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