26 July, 2008

Word of Mouth: "The Dark Knight"

No spoilers.

With The Dark Knight, the Nolans have ditched the fractured and slightly dull story-telling of Batman Begins to give us a linear fast-paced character-driven action-adventure that makes even the brilliant Iron Man look decidedly rusty.

Wall-E wasn't quite the masterpiece I was expecting but The Dark Knight is the masterpiece I never expected. It's intelligent and complex without being pretentious and over-complicated. It satisfied my blood-lust and also made me think.

The battle between Batman and the Joker isn't just a physical one but one of ideas, that reverberate beyond Gotham City limits. The relationship and parallels between them are very effective but it isn't just about them - there are other characters whose destinies are affected by this epic battle. Just how do you react to terrorism?

Before I saw the film I thought calls for Heath Ledger to get an Oscar was sentimental toss, I understand what they mean now. It's a powerfully affecting performance which is all the more remarkable due to the ambiguity of the character's background and motivations.

From the Guardian to Variety, columnists feel the need to piss on the parade by claiming The Dark Knight isn't worth giving a damn about purely by basis of its genre and originating material, which is a little dumb. Jeph Loeb's The Long Halloween comic book, which inspired the screenplay, is also worth checking out.

Believe the hype, The Dark Knight is highly recommended.


Andy Conway said...

I hereby name it The Dark Shite. Long, tedious, dull, with nothing much happening to characters I didn't care about. Actually found myself nodding off in a cinema for the first time ever and I only nod off to films on the telly at 2am after a skinful.

An hour before the end my mind was screaming PLEASE! RND THIS MADNESS! NOW! But no, it lumbered on into another half-baked 'set-piece', none of which I can now remember they were so dull.

Ledger is pretty good, though.

Robin Kelly said...

I'm going to assume you mean that and that it isn't just a wind-up:

Oh, come on! You could not be more wrong if your name was Andy Wrong and you came from the city of Wrong in the county of Wrongshire.

The genius of The Dark Knight is that you do get the spectacular set-pieces typical of the Hollywood blockbuster but they are tied together, atypically, by story and character - with a theme that comes straight out of the response to 9/11.

Fair enough you didn't care about the characters enough but to suggest nothing was happening to them is perhaps a slight exaggeration. The three main characters all had big massive dilemmas which had no easy solutions. Plus add into the mix the love triangle.

How can you not care about the wider issues of freedom, revenge and community? It goes to the very heart of our humanity and how we choose to live our lives.

So there.

Anonymous said...

I'm on Robin's side here. Except it's becoming incresingly grating all these 9/11 and terrorism references in drama today. It was done brilliantly in Battlestar Galactica but enough's enough.

As for the Dark Knight, one of those rare films that actually exceeds the hype.

Andy Conway said...

Iron Man was better. By a million miles. ;-)

Robin Kelly said...

Ano, I know what you mean but we have to write about what we're passionate about and even though it's the same issue we will all write about it in different ways.

Andy, I admit I did exaggerate the quality difference between the two films just for the rusty gag but I'll pay for you to keep seeing The Dark Knight until you have the correct opinion about it. I'll even throw in popcorn money ;-)