Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Dark Knight: Review

As I mentioned in my last entry, I would probably be reviewing The Dark Knight next, a promise which, as the title suggests, will be fulfilling. I must just explain why I have only just seen it; as I mentioned before I live miles away from any form of entertainment like a cinema so I tend not to see many films. Anyway I made a special effort to watch it because everyone I have spoken to has said it was really good, so I was fully expecting it to suck royally! So without further ado let us begin. I must warn you that this review contains spoilers, if you have not seen the film then why the hell not? go watch it now and read this afterwards!

Right then, The Dark Knight. I am not usually a fan of superhero movies, or indeed superheros. I find that a writer who has to give their characters superpowers in order that they can overcome the wild and wonderful problems he poses them is not a good writer. Superpowers seem to be a good excuse not to have well rounded and appropriately human hero. Don't get me wrong, I think every good story need a hero or two, but just not one who has been bitten by a radioactive spider or whatever other piece of bullshit plot device the tired and socially inept writer dreams up in that totally fucked up brain of his.

As you can imagine Batman get instant points in that he was not bitten by a spider/radioactivated on etc etc. As such he does not have a 'superpower' unless you could a hell of a lot of money and some very clever boffins who can bend the laws of science to create awesome gadgets for your utility belt. Ok so it's not ideal, but it's better than Superman, who is easily the worst offender in the 'ridiculously over powered hero' school of bad characterisation.

Right then, the film. Unfortunately we start off on a very bad note with the very first scene being a camera flying subtly towards a skyscraper in Genericville, otherwise known as Gotham. The political messaging did not get much more subtle or tasteful as the film went on, in fact it might have been a better idea just to have the words 'terrorists are bad' written on well placed walls in Genericville. The constant references to The Joker as a terrorist seemed a little bit unfair; were I a terrorist I would be rather offended at being compared to him! 'Some people just want to watch the world burn' proclaims Alfred, the stereotypical English non-posh person (i.e a cockney). Yes, they're called pyromaniacs...

So I've thrown enough bile the crude terrorists references, for now, no wait, I still have some more! Batman. Throughout the film he seems to be wracked by this totally inexplicable guilt. Apparently the good citizens of Genericville seem to think that Batman is the reason behind all the bad stuff that happens during the film. They do not seem to realise that the nutter with the facepaint and smiley scars is the one setting off the bomb and causing all-purpose havoc in their beautifully generic city. Now we all know that most people can't see what is put directly in front on them so we shouldn't be too hard of the unquestionable thickies that populate Genericville. We can however be as hard as we want on Batman because he should bloody well know better. He is of course guilty of nothing other than refusing to kill The Joker at the first possible opportunity, and speaking like he has just swallowed a bucketful of gravel.

Ok, I think I'm done with the bile, let's move on to the good bits. Everyone I have spoken to says that Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as The Joker and for once I actually agree with the majority. You would think that playing a psycho-manic would be easy, however enough people have done it badly to prove that it is not as easy at it seems. However I think, as usual, Heath Ledger's role has been grossly exaggerated. Yes he was good, but the same can be said for Aaron Eckhart who played Harvey Dent, although really, does burning cause that sort of damage? More liberties with reality taken by socially repressed writers methinks! I think that more could have been made of Harvey 'two faced' Dent however. He would have made a great villain for the next film, but no they had to kill the poor fellow off before he could make a real impact on the already royally fucked up city of Genericville. Unless of course the writers pull the old trick of having him not actually die, at which point bile will spew forth from my every orifice.

So what else was good? Every action film has to have a chase scene, it's like the law or something. The one in The Dark Knight was very good. Unfortunately, while most chase scenes, while rather unoriginal, tend to be pretty decent, they are almost always accompanied by the comic relief character who, at intermittent points in the scene, makes 'witty' comments about what is going on. The attempts to lighten up the film in this way were just as laboured and just as unnecessary as they always are, even more so when you have The Joker providing more than enough comic, although slightly disturbing, relief. If you ignore the moron and his 'wit', the chase scene, as with pretty much all the actions scenes were very well done. It is easy to over do them (as anyone who has seen Die Hard 4 will know first hand), although admittedly when you have Gadget-ninja Man as the protagonist and a crazy maniac hell bend on destruction as the antagonist on your side it is much harder to do.

Right so I have begrudged admitted that the acting and the action scenes were good, what else can I concede was quite good before more bile arrives? Ah yes, although I have repeatedly bashed the writes for crude attempts at political messages, a have to concede that the actual story was very well written. It did have the odd scattering of clich├ęs, but overall the dialogue was succinct and punchy. It was well paced, unlike many films, which seem rushed, probably a reaction to the general public's total lack of patience. I have nothing against short films per se; I just don’t like it when films rush through content in order to be less than two hours, because apparently the general public can't sit through a film much longer than that.

So, I suppose I must draw this exercise in critical evaluation to an end. It may appear to the casual reader that I did not much like the Dark Knight. I can positively say however that it leaps straight into my top 5 films. So if you thought I was a little harsh on it then wait until i review a film that did not like! Then bile will spew forth like the stomach content of you average drunk in Genericville on a Saturday night.

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