All right. I know, I know. Go ahead. Give me a lot of crap about it. I mean, I DO have a life, you know! Well, not really. My original plan was to do a quick, non-spoilerfied review right after the movie to give my immediate impressions of it, and then later do a full on proper one. Well, the good news is we’re fast forwarding to full-on proper. A warning though…
SPOILERS DOTH ABOUND!!! Be warned all ye who venture forth. Seriously, I’m not holding back. You can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a spoiler in this review. If you haven’t seen it yet by now you’re a weenie anyway (I’m looking at you JoshC!). Dang Canucks. Nothing but excuses…
Right, now that the finger pointing is over…I present my incredibly shamefully late review of…THE DARK KNIGHT!
First off…OH MY GOD!!!
THAT is what i’m talkin’ about!!! Ok, where do I start? I had the same thing happen half way into this one that happened during Batman Begins. I wanted to turn to the person next to me and say, “I can leave right now and be happy”, and then I realized I had over an hour left.
While I do have a few minor complaints (I’ll get to those in a minute), this thing was such a pleasant surprise. There were so many moments there that made the movie much better than it had to be. For example–Jim Gordan’s “death.” Despite seeing all the trailers a million times, I totally forgot that he would have to appear later in the film. So many times in the trailers we saw scenes of him right after they had arrested the Joker–scenes that had not yet happened in the movie at the time of his death, so I should have known that there was no way he could be dead, but I had totally forgotten about that because I was so involved in the story. I’m glad I did forget it to because his reappearance later was as much of a shock to me as it would have been to anyone who went in not knowing a thing about the movie. Speaking of Gordon, Gary Oldman can just do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. He’ll go down as the best Jim Gordon ever. I don’t think you can top that really.
Which brings me to another point. I wish now that I had not seen SO much about this movie before going in. I’m traditionally very paranoid about spoilers and don’t really want to know anything. I even refuse to read the jackets of the books of my favorite authors when they come out. But I was balls-to-the-wall spoiling myself left and right on this one, just devouring everything I could find about it before it came out cause I was so excited about it. I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if I didn’t know so much ahead of time, but it was still amazing. I saw the first 6 minutes of it weeks ago when it go leaked online and had gone back and watched it several times before going into the theatre. I also saw a leaked picture of Two-Face which turned out to be accurate, but even that didn’t take away from how shocking the reveal was the first time you see him. My god, that make-up was perfect. That was the perfect blending of practical effects and CGI. It could not have possibly looked better than that. And I hate CGI. I’m a practical makeup and animatronics man all the way.
How about that Bat-Pod! I’m still not totally sold on the Tumbler cause I’d rather see a traditional, sleeker looking Batmobile, but I guess the wide tires make sense now. Seeing the Bat-Pod appear for the first time, and the way it was pulled off, was definitely one of the most unexpected, pleasant highlights of the movie. I just about lost my shit when he basically drove it up the wall to turn around. And how about the tires that spin sideways! Awesome! Oh, and I gotta say, I’ve never seen a helicopter clotheslined in a movie before. “This ain’t good!”
Alright, now on to the good stuff–Heath Ledger’s performance. Absolutely genius. The “making the pencil disappear” scene got applause in the theatre when I saw it and I think it was one of the best scenes in the movie. Also, just all his little nuances. How about waddling down the street in the nurse’s uniform, fiddling with the detonator button! Hilarious. Possibly the funniest scene in the movie.
As a side note, I think one thing that isn’t getting mentioned much in reviews is how amazing the big special effects are. I think they’re kind of getting put on the backburner as far as credit goes because they’re getting overshadowed by the performances of the actors, but the scene where he finally gets the button to work and the hospital blows up…I mean, my god what an explosion! That thing just kept going and going. Not to mention the whole thing with the helicopter and the semi and the Bat-Pod. You can really tell where the budget went.
Back to Ledger. Everything about his performance was just spot on. From his nervous ticks to his apparent rage. He was both really genuinely funny and terrifying. How about the switcharoo when Batman thought he was racing off to save Racheal? Awesome. I’m usually good at calling those kinds of things but I totally didn’t see it coming. I was really hoping we’d get a definitive story on how he got the scars and a bit more of his origin, but all we got were the two he told, neither of which I belived. I think he just liked to bullshit people just before he killed them. I’m also glad that we got a few really great speeches from him where he basically summed up his whole philosophy and why Batman can’t ever kill him and why they kind of need each other. The argument about Batman finally just killing The Joker has been brought up over and over in the comics, but this was the first time I’ve seen it summed up in a way that just made sense.
Oh, speaking of unexpected stuff, I was really jazzed to see Scarecrow show up. He’s always been one of my favorite Batman villains and was one of the best parts of Batman Begins. I hate to see that he’s been downgraded to just petty crook at this point but it was a pleasant surprise to see him show up again. That was one thing I’m glad I didn’t have spoiled for myself.
A couple more positives:
–Morgan Freeman. Another one of my favorite actors that can do no wrong. His character has become more and more prominant in the comics for yerars and is a welcome addition to the movies and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him in another one.
–Michael Caine as Alfred. Michael Gough will always be my favorite Alfred no matter what, but Michael Caine is Michael Caine. He always gives a solid performance. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything of his that I didn’t like. So yeah, good choice. He never lets me down. The funny thing is, aside from the cartoons, I’ve yet to see a single Alfred in the TV show or movies that looks remotely anything like he actually looks in the comics. Not even close. The cartoons are the only ones getting it right.
Now, the negatives:
1) This I can forgive, but in a perfect world, I would still change it. When I first saw the first photo of Ledger as the Joker and found out it would just be some guy in smeared makeup I was really pissed off. I ranted and raved about how this would ruin the franchise and toally hated it. There is no excuse why in this day and age with the makeup and technology that’s available (Two-Face? Hello???) that you can’t have a fully actualized Joker. Head to toe, white skin, with giant grin stretching from ear to ear. I mean, look at what they were able to do with Nicholson almost 20 years ago, and it was amazing and still holds up today. Having read the Batman comics since I was a kid, I’ve always liked the Joker origin. I actually really like the idea of him falling into the vat of chemicals and getting transformed and going insane. I really wanted to see The Red Hood. I still stand by that, and had I been in charge, that’s what we would have seen. But, luckily the script, direction, and Ledger’s performance were so amazing, that I’m willing to loverlook it. I don’t agree with it, but I’ll go with it. He totally won me over.
2) Christian Bale as Batman. Michael Keaton will always be Batman to me. Hands down, no argument, you’ll never change my mind on this one, so don’t even try. I like that we got a genuinely good actor in the roll these days. They could have done a lot worse than Christian Bale. But I have to say, as Batman, the delivery of his lines was just laughable at times. I had this same issue with Batman Begins, and it was the one thing that bugged me all through that one. He just completely over does it with his lines. It’s over the top and kind of distracting. Something about his big mouth and slight lisp really bothers me. Keaton was always so understated. There was always a clear difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman in his performance, but it more lied in just being stoic and cold. I think that worked much better. He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. Don’t even get me started on Bale! God, that growl. Come on. It was so distracting and at times was laughable in scenes when it really shouldn’t have been. In Batman Begins it was just annoying, in this one, I really stilfled laughter at how corny it was. If he just reigned it in a little and toned down I’d like him a lot more. Let’s face it, when shot correctly, just about anybody looks good in that suit, but it’s the subtle things that make a good performance, and I’ve got my issues with Bale’s. But, he did a good enough job at everything else, that I’m willing to look past it. I don’t like it, and I don’t agree with it, but I’m willing to let it slide.
3) Which brings us to the suit. This thing’s just way too busy. Have you seen this new one? It’s got all these little pieces all glued on to it and everything. I know it’s supposed to all be functional but there’s just too much going on there. Weapons wise, I love it. I love the new gauntlet weapons and the fact that his gloves basically give him enhanced strength. I love the gliding ability and all the bells and whistles. I love all that crap. I want to see more of it. Batman’s always been about the gadgets, and I can’t get enough of that stuff. The thing I have the biggest complaint about though, is that it should just be sleeker and more uniform. I hate to harp on it, but I still think Keaton’s suit in the first movie is my favorite. I’ve always liked the yellow oval (though I see the purpose of it not being there), and I love what they did in that one with making his cowl into a bat-shape and integrate into the oval. I’d actually like to see that in the comics. The problems I have with the new suit weren’t actually that apparent in the movie because you rarely see a fully lit shot of it so you don’t even notice, but it does look kind of silly. I still say an updated version of the ’89 suit is ideal. Keep all the new gadges, but just stay with basic black and loose all the grey pieces.
4) What, no Batcave? I understand the reasoning. This takes place very shortly after the events of the first movie and you can’t expect the manor to be rebuilt just yet. But, I want to see a full on Batcave, dammit! Yes, giant penny, dinosaur, and everything!
5) Officer “Renee Montoya” Ramirez. I was so jazzed when I first saw her cause I thought we’d finally get to see Renee Montoya. I’ve always been a big fan of her character in the books. I can’t put my finger on it, but over the years the writers have always done a really great job of crafting her into an interesting character. I actually hate that she’s the new Question now because the Montoya that we know is gone forever. So, when I saw her in the movie I was really excited. But, it’s not till much later you actually hear her name, and it’s just some chick named Ramirez!. What a jip!. I guess the rationale is that Montoya wouldn’t actually end up feeding info to Joker’s men, but why not just eliminate that from her character altogether. Invent some other cop character to be your fall-guy. I just didn’t really appreciate the Montoya “tease”.
Alright, that’s all the griping I’ve got. Otherwise, absolutely it’s the best movie to come out this year and possibly the movie that has me more excited than any other movie this decade. As for the next one, there’s a lot of controversy over whether or not the Joker should show up again. I was actually disappointed that there wasn’t one final scene where the Batman goes to visit him in Arkham. I really wanted to see him in a cell, and possibly get a glimpse of a few of the other lesser known villains in there. I don’t have a problem with someone else playing him. That kind of thing usually bothers me, but in this case we don’t have much of a choice and the Joker’s been reimagined so many times now it’s kind of fun to look forward to a new take on him. As for Two-Face, I don’t believe he’s dead, and it’s already been pretty much established that he’ll be the main villain in the next one. I heard a rumor the other day that David Tennant might possibly be The Riddler. Honestly, nothing would make me happier. I’ve become a huge fan of his on Doctor Who and I can’t think of anyone better to play him. I think that’s perfect. It’s funny, cause I was so pissed when I found out Christopher Eccleson was leaving the show cause I didn’t want to see anyone else playing the Doctor. Man, was I wrong. I’m such a huge David Tennant fan now. I think Nolan’s gritty, more realistic version of The Penguin would work too. I think someone online mentioned Paul Giammati for that. I could see it. I’m not sure what my first choice for him would be, but I could see that.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got. It’s after 5:00 in the morning now and I think I’ve gone on enough about it. I’ve still got some Bat-themed posts coming up. I’ll get round to them as soon as I can, and when they’re done I’ll move on to some other stuff. Looking forward to reading all your reviews and see what you guys thought of it. Hopefully I’ll get round to it tomorrow night. Not making anymore blogging promises though. I apparently have a hard time living up to them.