Matinee: The Dark Knight

August 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am sure I’ll probably ruffle a few feathers with this next review, but I guess that’s the reason I chose to write it. The Dark Knight currently stands at 9 in IMDB’s top 250 movies of all time, it is currently the 10th highest grossing film of all time, it was voted the best film of 2008 in 8 top 10 lists from newspapers and magazines including the New York Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, Premiere magazine and Empire Magazine. Empire magazine also ranked it 15th in its 500 Greatest Movies of All Time list published in 2008. The Dark Knight was indeed a critical and box office success, so why does The Dark Knight lose favour with me every time I chose to watch it, with each repeated viewing the film continues to get worse. Maybe  the reason I chose to scrutinise this film so heavily is because it received so much acclaim when it was released.  Maybe….but I feel I have some genuine ground to why this film irritates me so much.

There is no doubt that Christopher Nolan will continue to blow everyone’s mind with his original and creative style of directing and I’ll be the first person to say he is one of the greatest auteur directors of the past 10 years. Yet, some of his trademarks that he continues to use  in his films are beginning to wane (no pun intended). The way he ceremoniously zooms slowly to draw our focus to something of his importance, at first I agree these shots are indeed stunning, but his continued use of them begin to show his predictability as a director. His ceremonial style of directing matched with Hans Zimmer’s booming score does indeed put you on tenterhooks, but at times the score makes you jump more than the action, Michael Caine has a line in the film when he says “I’m not sure you made it loud enough, sir” I think Michael Caine sums up what I’m trying to say perfectly. Nonetheless, Nolan is a hugely talented director, but I think his ability as a writer is equally as impressive if not better. The script for The Dark Knight is slick, interesting, clever, funny and the story is a fantastic example of an old-fashioned detective caper. Good against bad, a race against time full of twist and turns that continue to shock and intrigue you. However, because of the sheer complexity of the story, the film suffers by being about 30 or 40 minutes too long and at times some of the secondary storylines mainly the one’s that focus on Harvey Dent seem unnecessary. It’s like the Nolan brothers got over excited whilst writing the script and just decided to cram as much in as possible which evidently slows the movie down to a snail’s pace because they’re trying to tell too much at once.

Maggie Gyllenhaal…..when she first caught our eyes at the start of the millennium she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. She seemed to be a fresh face that could brighten up the waters that had become the severe lack of young female leading actors. However, in The Dark Knight she looks as rough as a pair of old boots. Her performance is indeed somewhat leathery and lacking in emotion and conviction and she does literally look like a pair of old boots. Age has not been kind to Ms. Gyllenhaal. However, she did impress in one particular scene. When she was blown up. It would’ve been nice if Aaron Eckhart could’ve been blown up to, as he is equally as bad and his character’s involvement after Maggie Gyllenhaal’s death just seems to be a waste of time and to be honest I couldn’t care less what happened to him, but hey, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad.

Of course I couldn’t go away without mentioning a certain Heath Ledger. It was indeed refreshing to see a modern-day actor involve himself so much in a character that he seemed to take over, it is shame that Ledger was playing a psychopath when this happened, you could argue the fact that his struggle with his character is what killed him. What hindered his portrayal of the joker for me, was the overwhelming hype surrounding his performance, you went into the cinema with these pre-conceived notions of being blown away by the greatest performance by an actor ever. And are you? At times, Ledger is indeed fantastic and his own personal attention to detail and dedication to his craft is what makes the performance a joy to watch, but at times he is just playing a routine maniac. It’s as if he read Acting Like A Psychopath For Dummies and just followed the instructions. But, I guess being a purist, I prefer Jack Nicholson. Yes, I know they’re two completely different portrayals of the same character, but you have to compare the two, and I’d rather watch Jack Nicholson.

Nolan’s vision was to remove the comic book farcical image that had become a part of the Batman story and he definitely succeeded, not with The Dark Knight, but with Batman Begins. Nolan got it spot on first time around and its a bit of  shame that he couldn’t carry it on with The Dark Knight and I think it’s wise that his next chapter of the Dark Knight saga will be his last.

Oh and riddle me this, why cast an actor with the most distinctive mouth in movie history as the Batman, a character where all we know of his true identity is what his mouth looks like. Are the people of Gotham that blind. Oh well..


Image Courtesy of  uimages.org

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