The Dark Knight

What can I say about the Dark Knight that a thousand others before me haven’t? Of all modern films, this seems to be the one pored over most closely and often, heralded as the saviour of the summer blockbuster, superhero movie and crime thriller, all rolled up in the tightest of scripts. So, to take a fresh perspective, I sought out some people who didn’t like the film (thank the lord for the Internet, it makes people who don’t like something so easy to find) and found myself furious after reading just one and a half 1/10 reviews on IMDb. The sheer level of nitpicking and miniscule plot-hole unravelling proves just how far people are willing to go to disagree with the masses and stand out from the crowd, even when the crowd is so undeniably correct.
Not that this is a perfect film. There are flaws, including the Joker’s plan being at times a tad too pre-emptive, some ominous camera angles and music cues hinting unsubtly a character’s true motives earlier than should have been done, and the bit with the cellphones, which is a bit silly, but is that really enough to warrant a 1-star rating? The fact that these reviewers (I won’t give them the satisfaction of names or links, only seek them out to feel the rage bubble inside you) fail to note even one positive point in a movie overflowing with brilliance negates any opinion they deem worthy of sharing. I personally find it impossible to find nothing good in a movie – The Adventures of Pluto Nash is an abomination unto film, yet Randy Quaid is a delight as Nash’s robotic assistant; Big Trouble in Little China is easily one of the worst films I’ve reviewed from the list so far, but it has imaginative (if insane) monsters and mythology, some dialogue that surpasses cheesy to being inspired, and features Kim Cattrall back when she was attractive. Therefore, with such damning reviews as these ‘people’ have offered, they are in fact unwittingly proving how good a film it is.
Leaping from the tantalising springboard ending of BatmanBegins – Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon showing Batman a playing card left as the mark of a new criminal, calling himself The Joker, we dive headlong into a wonderfully executed bank heist, as six masked goons effortlessly separate mob money from the vaults it was stored in. Director Chris Nolan has made no secret that Heat, Michael Mann’s superb DeNiro/Pacino cat and mouse crime epic, was a huge influence on the Dark Knight, and it shows, from a William Fichtner cameo to a central meeting of the hero and villain, even mentioning a cup of coffee.
Nolan wisely improved upon some mild mis-steps made in Batman Begins here, replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhall as love interest Rachel Dawes, giving Batman’s mask a cowl so he can turn his head, and giving Batman himself (Christian Bale, good but no Adam West) a little less screen time, allowing alter ego Bruce Wayne and his various accomplices and nemeses some breathing room. Aaron Eckhart is spot-on as Harvey Dent, Gotham’s shining hope against the mob, and Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine remain on hand to add a touch of old school class and grandeur as Wayne’s dependable CEO nad curmudgeonly butler/moral compass, but justifiably most of the praise has been directed at the late Heath Ledger’s Joker. A creation for the ages, his layered performance of a truly maniacal genius reveals more with each viewing, and it is unfortunate that the role showcased the true acting abilities of a man previously thought of merely as a rom-com heartthrob only after he had passed. Plus, it gave us all another Hallowe’en costume to use.
Unusually for Nolan, the film is actually quite funny. It’s not exactly laugh-a-minute (there’s certainly less than 152 jokes here), the script is still a lot more humorous than you might remember. There’s also absolutely no filler, with every strand being integral to the plot; a true achievement when you consider just how engaging the story is, even when new elements are being added right up until the last few scenes.
As always with Nolan’s films, there’s a couple of cinematography moments that I’d have tried differently (see Inception), most notably the scene where the Joker leaves a hospital, which could have looked truly tremendous had it been one unbroken shot, without needlessly cutting away to some pedestrians nearby, but this is a small matter that is more of a personal niggle than a criticism.
Anyway, for those wondering if they should watch the film again before the upcoming trilogy closer The Dark Knight Risesthis summer, the answer is a resounding yes. Even if you don’t intend to see part 3 (I assume you’re planning on gouging out your own eyeballs, just in case it isn’t any good, there’s no other reason not to see it) you should watch The Dark Knight again, just because it’s probably the best film to have been released in the last 5 years, if not more.
Choose film 9/10

9 thoughts on “The Dark Knight

  1. "…even when the crowd is so undeniably correct."There's no correct or incorrect when it comes to movies; there is just majority and minority opinions.I have never written a review on IMDB, so nothing you read there was from me. In addition, I agree with you that I can find something in almost any film to like and that 1 star out of 10 ratings make little sense to me.Having said all that, I was very underwhelmed by The Dark Knight. Did I think it was bad? No. I just didn't think it was that good, either. (Note – I started to write out my three main reasons for my opinion, but then it was taking on a life of its own, running very long, and I just decided to erase them. In summary: Ledger great; plot really bad.)

  2. I think I phrased myself poorly, or was in a bit of a flow when i said that opinions could be correct, apologies there, you're quite right, it's a personal viewpoint that anyone is entitled to, it just annoys me when people seem to be grasping at starws just to disagree with the majority.

  3. IMDB probably isn't the best place for finding opinions on movies as huge as The Dark Knight. There was an online battle for quite a while from fans who were trying to vote it up to number 1 on the Top 250 list, so there was a corresponding backlash of fans of The Godfather and/or The Shawshank Redemption to vote 1s for it to lower it. The result of those is some of what you encountered. I've spent a lot of years on IMDB. My suggestion for finding more level headed objections there is to look at the middle ground, not the extremes. Skip the 1s and 10s and instead look at the people who voted 4s, 5s or 6s. A lot of them still might have nothing more to say than "it sux!", but there's a better chance of running across something more eloquent and informative.

  4. Great review and it is so sad about Ledger. I'm really looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises though.Welcome to The LAMB, by the way. I hope you're finding everything ok and that everyone is playing nice with you over there!

  5. Thanks! I haven't really fully explored the LAMB yet, I keep getting behind with my reviews, been a bit busy recently. Is there anything in particular you recommend me checking out? I've been listening to the Podcasts, which are great and I'd quite like to participate in eventually (though I've never done a pod and might be terrible), but other than that I'm not too sure.

  6. I wasn't really looking for an objective review, I just needed a way in to this one. I find starting the reviews to be the hardest part (Although sometimes ending them can be too, I can go on for a while sometimes) and needed a kicking off point. You're right though, there are plenty of frankly ridiculous reviews out there.

  7. If you haven't checked out the forums I recommend doing that. There is a place to get reviews of new films posted, as well as a lot of good tips in the various sections.And if you haven't done so yet, it is not too late to throw your hat into the ring for the Lammy Awards. I encourage every new lamb to try that, if only because it gives you some additional exposure as people look around. And who knows you could even end up with a nomination or a win!

  8. Thanks for the advice. I keep meaning to make a FYC banner for the LAMMYs, but I figured I should write a post now and then as well, just can't seem to find the time!

  9. Pingback: Top 10… Active Directors | Life Vs Film

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