Wednesday, July 23, 2008

At the movies: The Dark Knight

Got to do one semi-extra-curricular thing before I got to go home: I went to the local multiplex last night to take in "The Dark Knight," which I loved. I don't know that I have a lot to add to the discussion, plus I'm a little too fried to write coherently, but after the jump I'll throw in a few spoiler-y thoughts on Bats, Joker and company.

It was the damndest thing watching this movie. Here's a big-budget summer thrill ride filled with amazing stunts and visuals, playing before a packed house, and after the first 30 minutes or so, you could have heard a pin drop in the theater. No big laughs for any of Heath Ledger's dialogue, no whoops and cheers during the big chase scene with the Bat-Cycle, nothing. Just silence and, when the movie ended, polite applause.

And yet, I never felt like the audience was unhappy with the product. It just wasn't what they were expecting. "Dark Knight" offers up all the expected elements of a blockbuster superhero flick, yet it does so in the most unsettling way possible. It's hard to get into gung-ho, hells-yeah! mode when you're watching a movie about the random ease with which people can do evil things. When the Joker's plans were foiled, or at least delayed, I never felt thrilled -- just relieved. (The Prisoner's Dilemma scene on the boat was particularly stomach-churning.)

But I'm not complaining. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, more than any other "Batman" movie-writing team, and more than almost any actual writer of the Batman comic book, were able to capture the insanity and dread that would come from a world that featured both Batman and the Joker. The Joker's not harmless, not charming, not a wacky goof in clown makeup; he's a mass murderer who kills people for the fun of it, often at complete random.

(This has become something of a problem in the comics, where Joker has racked up such a body count over the last couple of decades, always escaping from Arkham about five seconds after Batman puts him there, that there is simply no reasonable justification, even with Batman's moral code, for Bats or someone else to not have put Joker down like a mad dog.)

And every bit of hype about Heath Ledger's final completed performance is deserved. I have nothing to add to all the previous praise, save that I can't imagine any actor stepping into the role for a long, long time, so magnificent and indelible is Ledger's work here. (That, of course, raises the problem of who'll be the bad guy in the inevitable third Nolan/Christian Bale film. Joker and Two-Face, the two most compelling Bat-villains, are out of the picture for one reason or another, and many of the rest would need a major reinvention to fit into the world Nolan has created. And Catwoman only works if there's a much worse villain working alongside her.)

So, to sum up, it didn't get my fists pumping, but "Dark Knight" may very well live up to Fienberg's claim that it's the best superhero movie ever. Much as I love "Superman," "Superman II," "Spider-Man 2" and "X-Men 2," I'm not sure they're even in the ballpark in terms of pure balls-out, riveting filmmaking that still managed to work within the conventions of the genre.

What did everybody else think?

44 comments:

R.A. Porter said...

I did one of the crazy 3am showings on Friday morning and the experience was similar but not quite so quiet. There was a loud, nervous laugh at the disappearing pencil trick, for example. And I actually said aloud that I was going to cry when Bruce crashed the Lamborghini. But by and large it was a quiet crowd in awe of the spectacle before it.

At least I know that I, and the people I'd gone with, were quiet because the movie demands it. It's the most adult summer fare I've seen since...since summers were ceded to blockbusters. That battle between cynicism and hope was almost biblical.

I actually read a one-sentence review of the movie that said just about all that needed saying. Here it is.

jim treacher said...

My two-word review: Jack who?

I'm pretty sure the Joker got killed at the end of his first appearance in the comics. It didn't take, of course.

I liked TDK, but the more I think about it, I wish they'd ended it with the Joker being captured. Save Two-Face for the next movie. One ending too many. Eckhart was really good, and by the end he was really scary in a different way than Ledger, and he deserved better than an afterthought.

Steven Timberman said...

Interesting that the theater was so quiet. When I saw it on Saturday, the crowd was completely into it. But instead of the near constant crowd pleasing "that was awesome!", "wow", and "whooo" moments that came with Iron Man, the crowd did very little cheering.

The pencil trick earned about a billion gasps from everyone but it was more of an unsettling "yowch, this film has cojones" rather than a fist pumper.

When Rachel met her fate, nearly everyone let out a large gasp that immediately translated as "damn".

Janslike said...

Ledger's brilliant performance brought us bleakness and humour to even the smallest things like exiting a room but he is also absolutely terrifying. The videotape featuring the fake Batman may stick with me forever and I know his second "look at me" knocked the audience flat on their ass. The whole movie was full of moments like that, where the fun stopped and you sit there gasping for air as Nolan sits on your throat.

That one-sentence review may seem like a farce, but God is it so true. Seems an allegory for the whole film..sacrificing your hated self to become something more. And, of course, it worked vice-versa in the most terrible of ways. If you've read Killing Joke, the impact of Dent's transformation is just that much more terrible.

And damn is Eckhart more than perfect as Harvey Dent. It's as if the lord placed him on this Earth for that one role.

It is interesting how people react to this movie though...I've seen it a few times with a few different audiences now. The first screening available to me, midnight on the 17th, everybody had been sucked in completely 10 minutes in. I didn't hear one peep out of anyone, and the looks on the exiting faces were ones of confliction and maybe a little sadness. The second time, opening day at 12PM, was surprisingly empty. A lot of laughs at the pencil scene, but after the aforementioned "Batfake" scene I don't think they found him very funny anymore. Third time, on Sunday, there were a lot of children. I heard one crying when Two-Face was revealed and she was quickly ushered out. She'll have nightmares. Fourth time, yesterday afternoon, was jovial. They really got into the funny side of Joker and even the little things like "never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy" and Bats subsequent slam on his hand elicited laughter.
Yes I've seen this film four times and damn it, I plan to see it again if only for the breathtaking chase scene [Slaughter is the best medicine], or Joker waddling out of the exploding hospital. Can I mention also the choices made with the sound [or lack thereof]? An example: when the truck flips over and everything goes all quiet, you hear every "holy shit, oh my god, wow" and every other utterance. I loved that. Reminded me of No Country in how less is more [refer to the awakening of Two-Face for a perfect example of this]

Also of note is the Watchmen trailer. I can't bloody wait.

SJ said...

I can't remember the last time so many people have been thrilled by such a movie.

I rarely see movies twice, let alone watch a movie in the theaters twice, but I've already seen it twice in theaters, something I've never done before.

pgillan said...

I liked TDK, but the more I think about it, I wish they'd ended it with the Joker being captured. Save Two-Face for the next movie.

I agree. I thought the movie was a little too long, and would have been perfectly happy if they had finished the film with Dent mutilated in the hospital. His descent into madness, from a DA trying to cope with horrible disfigurement and guilt to a super-villain might have made an excellent third movie all on its own- especially once you consider how responsible Batman really is for his condition. That's some Grade-A angst right there.

Anonymous said...

TDK reminded me, in an odd way, of The Wire, in that it created a sense of life in Gotham City that I've never gotten from another superhero movie (or, really, superhero comic -- this made Opal City in Starman feel like a collection of quirks and tics, not a place real people really lived). If Mayor Batmanuel had fretted over how Batman would affect his run for Governor, or the politics of replacing Commissioner Loeb, it would not have really felt out of place.

The Joker, walking away from the hospital, is an image that will rightly haunt any future attempts to play that role.

David J. Loehr said...

I very much agree. Saw it late Friday night in what started as a lively crowd that slowly got sucked in and quieter and quieter until the end, when they exploded with applause. I've never seen a crowd do that around here.

I particularly liked the scope of the thing, that sense of what would really happen in a city or a world in this kind of situation. This might be the first time I've really seen or believed that in a superhero film.

And as good as all of the performances were, I--like Fienberg--want to point out the crystal clear perfection of Gary Oldman's performance once again. Amazing work.

There are comic book movies, and many of them are good. This was a graphic novel movie.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

For some reason, my 7:18 post was posted anonymously. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin.

Eric said...

All I can say about a villain for the next movie is that we didn't see Dent's body, did we?

dez said...

Also of note is the Watchmen trailer. I can't bloody wait.

I alternate between excitement and dread re: "Watchmen"--excitement because the trailer is awesome and dread because I'm afraid the guy who did "300" is going to completely f*ck this one up.

Dent looked pretty dead to me. I think Nolan did a good job showing his transition from do-gooder to bad guy (especially since he seems to have been infected by the Joker's own madness).

I've only seen this once so far, at a midnight showing filled with teens who'd been lined up all day to see it. They went from rowdy kids laughing at the Joker because they thought he was funny to a silent crowd laughing only because it brought relief from the Joker's morbid insanity. Scattered bits of "Damn!" and "Oh my God!" too(admittedly, some of that came from me!). Applause seemed confined to the Batcycle's 180 and then at the end. It's like everyone was absorbed in the film, which is cool. I can't hardly wait to see it again.

Andrew said...

It took me until the credits to place the actor playing the mayor. Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert on Lost).

I may be getting old, or it may just be the theater, but I was surprised at just how LOUD of a film this is. Yes, it is a bit too long, but never felt slow.

a said...

We didn't see Dent's body cremated and the ashes thrown to the four winds, so he ain't dead. Not if they need him. Not if the buzz from Eckhart's performance convinces them that B3 could ride that wave.

Nestor Carbonell as the mayor is one of the great in-jokes of the summer. "Batmanuel is not alone! Batmanuel is lone. Alone is an unfortunate predicament. Lone is an aesthetic choice!"

AndyW said...

I almost did a spit-take at the Mayor Batmanuel reference. And it's a joke I can share with no one in my office, sadly.

Does anyone else feel like Nolan was thumbing his nose at the traditional audience expectations for superhero movies? First, he deconstructed the noir, now the superhero film. Maybe he'll tackle animated kiddie flicks next.

Having said that, I think Oldham's ridiculous coda at the end and the rosy outcome of the ferry boat Prisoner's Dilemma undercut the rest of the film's moral underpinnings.

Still a pretty powerful movie, though.

Michael Peterson said...

I'm sorry, Alan, but with all due respect I'm going to have to vehemently disagree with you. The movie didn't work, despite strong performances.

My initial review is too long to copy in here...

http://patchworkearth.net/?p=98

...But honestly,

"Much of the rest of Nolan’s conception of the Joker (with co-screenwriter David Goyer), then, is something else. What is he? A sadistic killer, yes, physically scarred, a thug, acting out of compulsion. A simple serial killer, then. Or rather, not so simple. “I don’t make plans,” The Joker tells Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent, but in fact every move the Joker makes is long thought-out, well-prepared, and usually unnecessarily complicated. [...] It’s not the Joker, it’s Jigsaw, from the “Saw” film series. In Nolan’s films, the agent of chaos - consistently and deliberately evoked as such - acts with carefully ordered precision. But Jigsaw is something that we’ve seen before, and not something we take seriously. The “Saw” films are sadistic, they evoke evil, but to no end. The Joker’s actions, for Nolan’s thesis to work, need to be shocking and random. In the end, everything is instead a clockwork machine with no particular desired outcome - a joke with no punchline. The Joker, in this movie, doesn’t tell many jokes - one of his only ones, a sort of brutal and revisionist homage to Nicholson’s memorable “joy buzzer” scene, is the bit with the pencil - an act of sudden violence that’s quickly forgotten."

I know Keith Uhlich at THND had complaints as well - though in his case, a bad review led to hundreds of personal attacks. Honestly, I'm not sure what movie everyone else is seeing. I wish I did, since I wanted to like the movie, particularly with such a talented cast.

dez said...

Nestor Carbonell as the mayor is one of the great in-jokes of the summer.

I giggled the first time he showed up onscreen.

Honestly, I'm not sure what movie everyone else is seeing.

First you mention the personal attacks Uhlich got and then turn around and insult everyone who disagrees with your interpretation, albeit subtley. Unless you're joking? Nah, I doubt it.

Michael Peterson said...

...Well, I sincerely do apologize if I honestly came off that way. It wasn't my intention. I certainly didn't think that my comment could be taken in the same spirit at the comments over at THND or at Rottentomatoes, which included death threats as well as general remarks regarding Keith's intelligence, his sanity, his virility, and various other unrelated topics to the situation at hand.

Alan's site has always been a great place for intelligent discussion - I've enjoyed his comments on "The Wire" in particular, even when I disagreed with him (I've disagreed with most people regarding season five, which I thought was of a level with the others). I didn't point out my disagreement to prove that I'm somehow smarter than Alan, only to provoke discussion on what worked and what didn't.

That comment specifically was something of an honest plea. At my place of employment, folks stopped me out of nowhere to question why I couldn't enjoy such a "perfect" film, and eventually I do start to wonder if maybe I'm just not getting it.

If the discussion isn't welcome, consider it dropped - I had no intention of provoking aggression or flame-baiting tactics - but I'm honestly perplexed, and when people I consider intelligent and thoughtful see a film or a book or a show so differently than I do, I value the differing opinion even if I'm not going to change my own - discussion of that sort can clarify your own thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I think your take on Joker's speech to Dent is off base in that the Joker was intentionally lying to him to convince him that he (Joker) was not responsible for the situation Dent was in - but that Batman and Gordon were responsible. The audience recognizes that as a lie exactly because of what you described - we know the Joker is a meticulous planner. So, why would the Joker lie? As an agent of chaos, what better outcome could he want than to have the previously "shining armor" Harvey Dent out there showing people that there really is no hope - that everyone inherently will embrace evil if pushed hard enough. So, to me it all fits if you look at it through that lens.

Brian

Michael Peterson said...

Brian - No, I agree, his lie is obvious - for me, the problem is that Harvey knows too much from where the movie's taken him for him to believe what Joker tells him at that point. He's addled, grief-stricken, broken - but he's not stupid, a fact made tacit when he hunts down the pair of crooked (or at least compromised) cops. Not only do I not buy Dent believing Joker at that moment, I think that's the moment when he'd believe Joker the least.

What would have made more sense, to me, would be for Joker to have shown, instead, just how compromised Harvey already was, and shown how Harvey himself was complicit in what had occurred - establishing that however much Dent was like Batman before, he was much more like the Joker after the accident. It would have still fit the themes Nolan was working towards but would have gone some way towards actually supporting his arguments.

dez said...

...Well, I sincerely do apologize if I honestly came off that way

And I apologize for being so sarcastic. Probably spillover from reading TWOP for so long (where the "I don't get the [opinion different from mine}" comments usually get smacked down hard) :-)

And I bought that scene you mentioned for the same reasons as Brian. We already know Harvey's flawed (remember how long it took Batman to dissuade him from killing the Joker's minion), so I had no problem believing he'd fall for the Joker's ideas. And probably because I know the history of the character and was probably filling in gaps based on that knowledge (sort of can't help that with comic book movies, sometimes).

Michael Peterson said...

Dez - No harm done. Let's all be sociable.

As to your last comment, that's part of my complaint - we can't rely on our understanding of the source material to fill in gaps, especially when we're diverting from it - and diverting from it is fine, except when we're forced to rely upon it to accept what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Harvey flipped the coin on Joker, same as he did for anyone else after that. The Joker just gave Harvey the final push he was looking for into complete madness. Dent was already threatening Gordan before his conversation with the Joker.

Andrew said...

Am I the only person who, during the chase sequence, thought "this is definitely Lower Wacker Drive" (ala Elwood Blues)?

BGF said...

(I keep trying to post this but the page just refreshes without posting. I apologize if it double-posts.)

I did think this was the most thrilling movie I've seen since Bourne, probably my favorite superhero movie ever, and I want to see it again right away. On the other hand, just to give some support to peterson, I agree with nearly all the negative reviews I've read. (Well, I don't agree with peterson's take, and Uhlich's review was a series of adjectives without substance). But Zacharek and Edelstein provide a nice corrective to the hosannas that TDK has received. It is an ambitious movie with fantastic performances, beautiful design, some very exciting sequences. It truly is an achievement that I could watch over and over.

But it has flaws. One is that it is so hard to tell what is going on in a lot of the action sequences. The other, in my view, is the thematic elements don't quite feel organic. I think of Nolan as a kind of a puzzlemaker on his movies. Once he figures out the plot puzzle he realizes he has to add some stakes, some deeper themes. So it just gets added as dialogue. I didn't enjoy Batman Begins because I realized in the middle that there were no stakes, I just didn't care, and everyone was acting like it was genocidally serious but I couldn't sign on to that cast of mind. This movie has a similar problem with stakes. What are they? What are we hoping to be the case by the end of the film? You can sort of see how this is a problem with the conception of the Joker-- I disagree with Peterson that he is not an agent of chaos-- he is. He has no backstory that could have been prevented. He's just a tornado that comes into town. So...what does it have to do with Gotham? Given that he is just Chaos, how does he relate to the general sinking of the Gotham spirit? How can we prevent any Joker? We can't, which is why the theme of Gotham needing to believe in itself fits uncomfortably side by side with him.

So I would agree with the reviewers that call the movie a bit incoherent. This is true of the directing and editing of the action sequences, the thoroughline of the plot (why did the Joker want to know Batman's identity AND kill the one person about to reveal it?), and the general stakes. But still, enormous fun to watch all the same.

Anonymous said...

Michael - I agree with your thought process and I think The Joker's speech accomplished that. He said to Harvey, "It's a schemer who put you where you are. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you.... Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It's fair." So, you could argue that this is what made Harvey willing to go and hunt down the people that he believed did this to him. Remember - he knows who drove him and gave him up to Joker's people and he knows who drove Rachel. And those people to him represent the institution and the system that he pledged himself to work within. And that system betrayed him, killed the woman he loved and left him horribly damaged. So at that point, it seems reasonable to believe that Harvey would accept the reality that he cannot change the system from within; he needs to break the rules he was holding himself to in order to obtain justice for Rachel.

I think I have the sense that you accept that Harvey has sufficient motivation to kill the two cops who drove he and Rachel. I'll agree that it's harder to make the connection that he should have gone after Gordon. But you could argue that after all the assurances Gordon gave him that he had clean cops in his unit, for this to happen, for corrupt cops to be in the MCU, Gordon has to be held accountable. I also think Harvey feels that Gordon and Batman wrongly chose to send Batman to save him and the cops to save Rachel. He doesn't know that the Joker switched the addresses he gave Batman and Joker. Harvey feels they thought he was more valuable as the DA than Rachel was as an assistant DA, so they chose to send Batman to him. If it had been reversed, Rachel would have lived. This echoes what Joker said in his speech about (I'm paraphrasing from memory)"if gangbangers get killed, no one cares, but threaten to kill one little mayor and everyone freaks out." If Rachel dies, it's much less politically damaging than if Dent dies. So he hates Gordon and Batman for acting politically rather than fairly, even though we know he's wrong to think that way. (Quick aside: the parallels with The Wire and the power of institutions and intra-institution politics is pretty prevalent.)So now Harvey is all about fairness, and the only fairness in the world is the flip of his coin.

All of that said, I'm familiar enough with the Batman history to know that Two Face was a long standing villian, but not familiar enough to know all that much about what happened to him through the years. I think what Nolan chose to do was right because, I think that given how Harvey became Two Face, after even a little bit of time had passed, that Two Face would have regained his sanity and become Harvey again. Which makes the short time period that all of his actions happen seem more believable to me and his feasibility as a long-term villian less so.

Sorry for the long brain dump.

Brian

dez said...

But it has flaws. One is that it is so hard to tell what is going on in a lot of the action sequences.

Which sequences do you mean? I've seen this complaint elsewhere, but no specifics. I didn't have a problem following any of the action sequences, so am very curious about this particular complaint.

@Michael P. - To clarify, I was talking about me specifically and my habit of filling in gaps (whether there or not). My friends who have seen the movie don't have the same knowledge of Two Face as I do, yet had no problems with Dent's change or his scene with the Joker. The gap thing is just the way my brain works.

All of that said, I'm familiar enough with the Batman history to know that Two Face was a long standing villian, but not familiar enough to know all that much about what happened to him through the years

I think they have character histories on DC's website, plus there are related and fansites with the info (just make sure you're reading about comics history vs. animated show history, etc., since there's more than one version of the character out there). Dent seems to have gone in and out of sanity, depending on the needs of the story being told at the time. I also think Nolan did the right thing with the character (though having him in the next film and getting a redemption arc would have been okay with me, too).

R.A. Porter said...

@dez - then again, if Miller's TDK is considered in canon, Harvey really doesn't get a redemption arc. That's one of the more heartbreaking comics stories I've ever read.

Mrglass said...

It is probably the best super-hero movie ever. But even after dozens of such movies, it isn't saying much.

It is a good 30 minutes too long (I agree that Dent's transformation should have happened in the sequel), and oddly constructed. Some characters appear and disappear randomly, and some death scenes don't have nearly the emotional impact they should have, since the plot seems to forget about them quickly.

Still a very good summer flick, but it doesn't bring the super-hero genre anywhere close to producing a real film masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

Which sequences do you mean? I've seen this complaint elsewhere, but no specifics. I didn't have a problem following any of the action sequences, so am very curious about this particular complaint.

I think it would be hard to convince one of this. The beginning sequence with the dogs, alternate batmen and Cillian Murphy was particularly confusing. The sequence with the SWAT teams was also hard to track where he and the swat teams were. It is definitely subjective as to your tolerance for knowing where people and things are in relation to one another, but most fight sequences are much more clearly edited to give you that sense. The marquee sequence with the vehicles was thrilling but also not as clearly edited to give a sense of where the objects were in relation to one another, but easier to track just because roads, semis, and armored trucks are easier to keep track of. I doubt you will find this response satisfactory, though.

--bgf

Undercover Black Man said...

Put me with those who say "The Dark Knight" is way overrated.

Heath Ledger's Joker was fantastic in every way. But the movie started losing me with that big chase scene with the trucks. For a big action set piece, that just wasn't very thrilling to me.

And the ferry bit really didn't work, because the jeopardy is so far removed from the characters we actually care about. Not far removed in distance but far removed in impact. It was abstract.

Remove Ledger from this movie, and what would you have? Sort of a mess, I think.

dez said...

@bgf, thanks for the response. As to your first example, I think the scene with the Scarecrow and the Batfakes was deliberately confusing to give the audience the sense of what life in Gotham is now like. For your other examples, yes, I guess it is subjective to a person's tolerance because I didn't have a problem knowing who was where, etc. When I see it again, I'll try to pay more attention (can't guarantee that I won't be all caught up in the excitement again, heh).

@r.a. porter--I think it depends on which stories Nolan draws from as to whether a character can have redemption or not. At this point, I think Harvey should stay dead, though.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The scene on the two ferries got to me, it won me over, even though I kinda knew what was coming. When Lister says "And I'll do what you shoulda done ten minutes ago..." I cheered to myself because I knew it would fuck with the joker, even though I wanted badly to see what would happen when he was proven right...I thoroughly enjoyed that scene.

SJ said...

The ferry scene was cheesy at the end. I mean it was an interesting dilemma and all, but the big black guy (ooh scary!) doing the "right" thing was cheesy.

Michael Peterson said...

Trying to get back into the discussion after being pulled away.

It did seem like a number of the people who objected to my concerns with the film did so with the quote I posted only, without the context of my entire review. I didn't want to post the link without any other content, because it felt more like spam, but the quote doesn't sum up the entirety of my feelings about the film positive and negative.

Andrew - Yes, one of the problems that I voiced was that unlike in the previous film, Gotham was just Chicago with the name changed. People in the audience here IN Chicago kept tittering about how obviously the landmarks kept appearing.

BGF - good point about Joker and the accountant, a conflicted mission there that I didn't pick up on right away.

Anonymous / Brian - I didn't have a problem with Dent wanting revenge upon Gordon (the comic fan in me rankled a bit at Gordon being a THIRD target after a nicely paired set of cops, but that aspect wasn't played up as highly in the film, which is fine). In fact, I agree that Dent needed to hold Gordon responsible, because otherwise Gordon gets off relatively scott free in a movie that's about how everyone is supposed to be culpable in some way.

pgillan said...

I finally remembered the other, minor little thing that bothered me about this movie. There were three or four scenes in which Batman was standing in a well-lit room full of people. The one that seemed the most jarring to me was the scene in the bank vault when he's talking to Gordon. Stop to consider how far he would have had to walk into the building to get there and how many people were milling around. Another one was the scene at the party when he confronts the Joker. It's hard to imagine how he maintains his "creature of the night" mystique when he presents that many great photo opportunities.

Susan said...

I fall in the middle camp - I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. And part of the reason I couldn't love it was because I found a lot of it to be very confusing. For example:

- until I read reviews (and this thread), I had no idea that the Scarecrow was even in this movie

- In the scene where Batman has to save either Rachel or Harvey, I was sure he went after Rachel, but then was confused when he saved Dent. Again, it wasn't until I read this thread that I learned (at least according to one poster) that the Joker had switched the addresses.

- I still have no idea how the whole "Batman gets the Chinese CEO back into the plane" thing worked. It was too quick and too dark for me.

- Same with the truck/Batmobile/van chase. Too quick, too dark, I couldn't figure out who was where doing what.

But I still enjoyed the story (although I agree, Dent's transformation could have been completed in a sequel), and loved the performances of Eckhart and Heath Ledger. I do wish Harvey and Rachel had had one more scene to establish their relationship - we went from Rachel not being sure if she wanted to marry him to her saying she didn't want to be on this earth without him and him avenging the death of his "family." I would have felt that more if I'd thought of them as a couple truly in love, but I didn't see it.

Robin said...

Michael P -- I disagree with you about the Chicago scenes. After the first few minutes, where I sat there thinking "been there, been there, WORK there," I totally forgot it was Chicago (except for the scenes on Lower Wacker -- that's just too obvious, but it was the same with Batman Begins).

I loved the movie, but I agree with many of the criticisms. I thought it went on a bit too long, and I thought Dent needed more time with his transformation into evil. I'm not a comic book fan so I don't know the backstory, and it seemed that you only got a real appreciation if you could fill in the blanks (my boyfriend helpfully did that beforehand). I did however believe that he could be persuaded by the Joker, not because the Joker was so convincing, but because Dent needed so very little to push him over the already teetering edge.

I found the scenes with the hostages where Batman was using the sonar insert-technobabble-thingie to track the Joker particularly confusing and rather nausea-inducing. I had to shut my eyes at points to avoid motion sickness.

One scene I haven't seen mentioned here -- when the hanging Batman bumps into the Mayor's window, EVERYONE in the theater jumped about a foot out of their chairs.

All in all, it was certainly the best comic book/superhero movie I've seen. And Ledger was amazing.

Anonymous said...

Two face will be the main bad guy in the 3rd movie. That is what they set up. It's a comic book movie. Who stays "dead"?

pgillan said...

Two face will be the main bad guy in the 3rd movie. That is what they set up. It's a comic book movie. Who stays "dead"?

Is there a source for this? While, sure, it's a comic book movie, I thought it had a stronger scent of realism than that. They showed the body, and they confirmed the death. I can only hope, for the movie's sake, that they resist that urge.

And the answer to your question used to be "Bucky Barnes" and "Jason Todd", but I thought I heard somewhere that they resurrected Bucky.

R.A. Porter said...

@pgillan, Jason Todd's alive now, too.

pgillan said...

Jason Todd's alive now, too.

Are you s*%@ing me? Of all the... Well, ok, according to Wikipedia, Gwen Stacy is still dead, so, yeah. Grumble grumble, stupid kids, with their bringing people back from the dead, grumble grumble...

dez said...

- until I read reviews (and this thread), I had no idea that the Scarecrow was even in this movie

He was in the beginning with his Scarecrow mask. Cillian Murphy's name is also in the credits. Seeing it again tonight and I'm still cracking up that one year later, the Scarecrow's out of Arkham and causing trouble--just like in the comics!

- In the scene where Batman has to save either Rachel or Harvey, I was sure he went after Rachel, but then was confused when he saved Dent. Again, it wasn't until I read this thread that I learned (at least according to one poster) that the Joker had switched the addresses.

It was very obvious in the movie and the characters even talk about it. I don't think you can blame the film for confusing you on that one :-)

- I still have no idea how the whole "Batman gets the Chinese CEO back into the plane" thing worked. It was too quick and too dark for me.

Batman had the signal balloon on and the plane with the "skyhook" latched onto it and pulled Lau & him up into the plane.

JT said...

Agree with Undercover Black Man and the poster who brought up the issue of "what's at stike." Really like this movie in spite of this, though.

Still, the thing is unbelievably dense--two and a half hours, and every line of dialogue seems to be purely plot-driving (e.g. 10 second explanation of the RICO laws) or setting up the obvious themes. I can't imagine how people of a certain age even begin to follow all this, let alone the action sequences.