Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Well, I don't think so... But it might not be the End-All Be-All of superhero movies as most people think.

I posted an item yesterday about The Guardian calling "The Dark Knight" one of the most ridiculous plots of the year. I wanted to take another stab at the flick after writing the post and came to the (probably blasphemous) conclusion that there are indeed more-than-a-few flaws with the lauded superhero flick. Here's what I think:

* It's WAY too long. There I said it. It goes on for at least a half hour longer than it should have. Imagine how effective it would have been in those final scenes of Bats zipping along on his Batpod vigilante-style had it clocked in at a lean and mean 120 minutes.

* It was way too dense. Kudos to the Brothers Nolan and scribe David S. Goyer on their multi-layered approach to make Gotham as realistic, relevant and current as possible, but geez, if there was ever a flick to watch with the captions on, it's "The Dark Knight." Every bit of dialogue, character nuance and glance means scores to the plot. My copy didn't have subtitles and I'm afraid that I may have missed a few things (even after a couple times in).

* It simply wasn't fun. I'm very well aware that Batman is the brooding James Dean superhero in the DC Universe, but man, talk about your downers. Even without the stunning and Gothic art direction of the Tim Burton Batman films, "The Dark Knight" is one bleak piece of moviemaking. And yes, before everyone goes all nuts on me, I'm well aware that this is "The Empire Strikes Back" of comic book films. The Godfather Part II" if you will... 'Empire' ended on a downer and I'm all for a downtrodden ending but there was zero, zilch, zip fun in the entire film.

While the action scenes were deft, precise and explosive, there wasn't that element of razzle-dazzle fun. The only iota of fun came when the Caped Crusader is chasing the Joker on his Batpod and literally scales a wall and turns around at 90 mph in a second or two. THAT was fun. We needed more of that. And for those who tell me the film was an allegory for what's happening in the world today, please... Get over yourselves. I don't want a comic book movie to do that. Entertain me. I have the news for all else.

* Is Clint Eastwood in this film? For the love of all that's holy, why in the world did Christian Bale sneer, whisper and growl his way through his Batman scenes? Honestly, most of the time I couldn't understand what he was saying. My call? Hands down, I'd say that Michael Keaton put on the best Bat voice in terms of menace. Bale was doing God knows what. Let's all pray he drops it or at least takes it down a few notches. Totally dopey.

* Never thought I'd be saying this but take a cue from Marvel. The once film-fledgling Marvel is going to great lengths to instill a sense of continuity in their films. Example? It builds excitement when Sam Jackson shows up as Nick Fury in "Iron Man" or when Robert Downey, Jr. shows up as Tony Stark in "Hulk." It's geeky yet cool. Would it kill WB and DC to do a little more of that? It's awesome that Christopher Nolan is going to great lengths to incorporate a massive sense of realism but take it one step further and mention Metropolis... Throw in a Lois Lane appearance... I dunno ... Something. Build their universe and the continuity. It'll work wonders.

* Again, as with most Batman films, there are simply too many characters, namely villains. Between Heath Ledger's awesome Joker, the duality of Aaron Eckhart's Two-face, Eric Roberts' stereotypical gangster, the Asian corporate invader/thief, and all the hoodlums and henchman and you've got a jambalaya of dare I say stock criminals (with the exception of the first two). Why does this always happen? The Bat cannon is full of great villains. Let's not use them all at once. Which leads me to...

* Nolan wrote himself into a pickle. What I mean by that is that his Nolanverse is so authentically realistic, writing in such A-List Bat villains as Catwoman, The Riddler and The Penguin (especially) will be near impossible. Take his Joker, there was no origin ala the Tim Burton film or from the famous comic book lore. I mean, it sorta worked in this instance -- a wacko shows up in clown paint and is a lunatic. But I don't think that ambiguity will work so much for the others. Hmmm, is that why he's yet to sign on for a third film? Has his Nolanverse run its course?

1 comment:

  1. Right, right, right, on all counts. I noticed all these "flaws" by my fourth time sitting through the film, and still love it. The top complaint I have from first viewing was Bale's hoarse grumbling when he donned the cowl. I thought he was talking through the material. And it was long. I endure some things because it's Nolan, and I'll never stop watching his Memento, and I was blown away by the depth of Ledger's absorption into his character. Still, you're right, and you did a terrific review. Got my fingers crossed Inception is going to make Nolan 100% again.


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