The Dark Knight

Posted by Marc Hodak on July 21, 2008 under Movie reviews | Be the First to Comment


Christopher Nolan has convinced me that Batman is the only comic that has grown up into a mature movie, albeit by tapping into its original, dark roots. It has an arguably fuller story than Hulk or Spiderman, a mix of story characters with that perfect mixture of predictability and depth driving the action, gripping scenery that evokes a self-contained otherworld, and–the necessary element of every great film–a score that meshes perfectly with the rich imagery.

Spoilers from here:

Heath Ledger screws the other Gyllenhaal

I also liked that the Joker was an experimental economist. In the initial heist, he convinced each accomplice to kill the next in a well-timed string of murders that would leave him alone with the loot. Survivor is for wusses.

One of his next tests was telling three thugs that he was hiring only one of them, cracking a pool cue in half to create a spear, and tossing it into the middle of the three–a kind of gladiatorial job interview. Cold, man. Very effective sorting mechanism. Worth keeping in mind when I need to get rid of a surplus analyst.

Later, when the Joker forced the caped crusader to pick Dent or Dawes, he meant it. No Hollycrap saving of both. The willingness to sacrifice a key character is the sign of a great story.

Then, at the end of the film, those two groups, each with the power to blow up the other, and the promise that both would be blown up if neither acted by a certain time–what an awesome example of applied game theory.

A stickler might ask how the Joker could afford his obviously elaborate set-ups if he burned all his money just for yucks, or why he was madly touting chaos while executing diabolically intricate schemes that clearly required more planning than could fit in an architect’s portfolio. But mad people do that, sometimes, don’t they?

Everyone is gaga over Heath Ledger’s acting. The hype reflect reality, for a change. It drove home how we will all be missing a lifetime of great performances. Some people were less enthusiastic about Christian Bale’s Batman. I found him a bit wooden, but still captivating. I didn’t think a non-smoker could rasp his voice like that, but I guess it’s an effective part of his disguise. No one can blame him of being transparent, like Clark Kent, of whom my then-eight year old son once mentioned, “Uh, he’s just wearing glasses.” For my money, the only weak spot in the acting was Maggie Gyllenhaal. It might be me, but I just didn’t find her compelling as Rachel Dawes. Or maybe it was Dawes that was not compelling? Anyway, they needed a girl that I would be a little sorrier to see blown up. Sorry Maggie.

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