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Friday, August 29, 2008

Chris Wildrick on 'Dark Knight'

I think most of the movie, I was happily carried along by the action and bravado, and more especially, the acting by the side characters, the Joker, obviously, but also Maggie Gyllenhaal and in particular Gary Oldman, who hasn't been all that good recently otherwise. Maggie and Gary were just awesome, they seemed utterly natural. In the scene where Gordon meets Dent for the first time, he looks around for a chair for a minute before he sits down, and it was just a great touch. And the Joker made some great philosophical arguments that, I think, were never refuted, which is the real problem with Batman's character. He was in a muddle, because what kind of response could he give? Actually, I think the real response wasn't to turn himself into a bad guy in the public's eye, but to become all the more of a hero in the public's eye. He needed to show that while chaos can overturn arbitrary order, it can't overturn order that is driven by a vision of heroism and sacrifice. They sort of make this point by making Dent the hero, but don't really sell it enough.

And this is my main problem. I had annoyances through the movie--the action, you're right, was just too dark and you couldn't tell what was going on. Part of the whole point of Batman is watching him kick ass, and that didn't really get satisfied. And the whole "I should turn myself in so the Joker doesn't kill anyone" thing was silly. People turned on Batman way too early, and without the movie really backing that kind of emotion up. Plus, Batman never really did any actual detective work, which, after watching him kick ass, is the second best thing about Batman. He should have been looking for the Joker instead of moping around. There was too much time spent on Bruce Wayne, who is just not a really interesting character in any comic. He's more boring than Clark Kent. Sure, in the Cult, maybe, or Dark Knight, he's got something, but not enough to hold a movie screen. But anyway, the end of the movie was the problem. Between the characters and their philosophies, I had enough hope that everything was eventually get resolved in such a way that it would all wrap up nicely. But the end was stupid. There was no point in Dent going after Gordon's family. And when Batman took on, pointlessly, the rap for Dent's murders (they could have blamed anyone), Gordon starts saying something like "he's not a hero [actually I think it was a different word, but something like that], he's a protector, a guardian, a dark knight." I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was basically a bunch of synonyms that added absolutely no new information, and made no change in his status in relation to the city.

So, yeah, over time, I have a lot of nice memories of vignettes within the movie, but not the movie as a whole.

1 comment:

Dan M. said...

From filmjunk.com:

Just when you thought that public opinion on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was all but unanimously positive, here comes the wacky Japanese market to put their own spin on things. After its second week in theatres, the movie is struggling at the box office in Japan, earning just $8.7 million thus far — almost $6 million less than what it earned in the smaller Korean market. To be fair, some of the movie’s thunder may have been stolen by the latest Hayao Miyazaki animated blockbuster Ponyo on the Cliff, which has tallied a staggering $93.2 million in its first four weeks. However, the numbers are even lower than Batman Begins, which made $14 million in its opening weekend in Japan.

Historically, many Hollywood blockbusters and comic book movies in particular haven’t fared well in Japan (with the exception of Spider-Man). Critic Chika Minagawa offers some possible explanations for why The Dark Knight hasn’t caught on in Japan:

“The story is very pessimistic. It has a dark and gloomy texture that Japanese movie fans do not find appealing in a ‘comic hero’ film… Japanese movie fans expect such films to be fun and action packed, for the hero to be attractive, for the villain to be loud and outrageous, and for the movie itself to be easy to understand and light.”