I have a feeling that this post is going to rub some people the wrong way. Mostly because I don’t like The Dark Knight.
Wha wha wha whaaaaat?! Yes, on paper this movie has everything right about it. Beautiful story, wonderful and rich characters played by talented people, and the drama/action/stunts to match. Not to mention the direction of Señor Nolan. But I stand by my statement 3 1/2 years ago, Batman Begins is better.
I love the mystery behind Batman. “Where are you?!” *upside down in the shadows and whispering* “Here.” I love the fear he strikes in peoples hearts. Much like the movie states over and OVER AGAIN, Batman is a symbol. But throwing slow punches and piss poor hand to hand combat scenes get old. Now, I get it. Bale is wearing a huge costume but I’ve seen many many more movies with better choreography. I’m not even complaining about the super steady still camera following the high action and never cutting, I’m complaining that the fighting looks slow and choppy. And Nolan did such a great job in Batman Begins hiding just enough violence for the audience to assume terrible things. There’s fun in that! Let the imagination run! Don’t spell out every damn word!
I’m really not that angry at The Dark Knight. Nolan is in a league of his own when it comes to thought provoking movies. And that is so important to making a great film. But what I am missing are the emotional provoking moments. That’s why indie’s are so popular. Show, don’t tell. So much can be said by an actor’s face reacting to something on camera. Sadly, Bruce Wayne in private is stoic. He’s like a Jedi. And not in a good way. Emotion is the fabric that keeps us together. Blah blah blah, preachy preachy preachy stuff about letting the camera sit on someone’s face and the audience connecting. You know what I would have liked to see? When Bruce Wayne broke down holding his mask in his hands talking to Alfred, maybe an actual break down. (Boo hoo Brucey can’t hack it. Maybe he needs to go back to The League of Shadows Daycare.) Maybe we could have even seen his face? Is that too much to ask?
I also get that it’s a long movie and you have 5 main characters to show an arc for. Heath Ledger was by far the best part of the movie. Everyone agrees to that. But it’s a pro con list, by giving the Joker, Gordon, Harvey, Rachel, and Bruce face time with a little of Fox and Alfred sprinkled in you lose something. Especially if they’re all the main character. Notice I didn’t say characters I said character. Each are given equal screen time and focus. The stoic Bruce Wayne is seldom seen and when he is you only seen his eyes and mouth behind some black rubber. (Wow, that quickly became an oddly sexual image.)
Now, everything I’m critiquing can be chalked up to artistic direction. I get that. And in art there are no wrong answers, just smarter ones. But I want the sweeping music. I want the emotional struggle. I want my head and heart to jump during The Dark Knight. When the screen flashes “The Dark Knight” I want my heart to ache because it was so good, instead I feel like I just finished a game of Sudoku. Albiet on expert. But I want to feel connected.
Again, please nobody get me wrong, I love Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It did wonders for superhero movies and will continue to do so until either the world ends or until March 25, 2016 when Batman VS Superman is released. (Which some believe the world WILL end when that film is released!) But Batman Begins was a comic book movie. Dark Knight was an action movie. And don’t get me started on Dark Knight Rises. I’d rather talk about something else, like flossing. Or a penguin. Or flossing again.
Let’s briefly talk upsides so I don’t end this post wanting to punch a baby. Maggie Gyllenhaal was a nice change from thou who shall not be named. (Yes, she secretly is Voldemort.) Michael Caine is perfect. I can’t explain how supporting his supporting actor role was. It’s like Alfred is Atlas holding the world on his shoulder. And Aaron Eckhart has been a favorite (maybe even a man crush?) of mine since Thank You For Smoking. And Nolan, if I could kiss you on the lips…I would then get checked for herpes. But still…if I could. I would highly suggest The Dark Knight to any friend. Any stranger. Any living creature who is smart enough to recognize their own reflection. Dolphins, pigs, my dog…well most of the time my dog.