The Dark Knight

I loved Dark Knight, which is without a doubt the best Batman movie ever. It might be the best super-hero movie ever, though I need to sit on that decision for a while, because I give my personal arbitrary rankings a lot of weight.

No Spoilers until after the jump…

Its hard to talk about the new Batman movie without talking about the hype. This movie is being raved about by everyone, from that guy next to you in the office to the tv critic on the taxi cab TVs, and everything, even my toaster told me to go see the movie.

Now the previous movie, Batman Begins got a lot of good buzz, and seemed well liked by everyone, but I was bored by it. I found the training sequence too long. I found the villains plot too ridiculous and contrived. I found Katie Holmes too young and innocent looking to pull off the part of a lawyer shooting up through the ranks of Gotham’s corrupt government. It wasn’t a bad movie, but I just wasn’t that taken by it and so I had no interest in every seeing it again.

The Dark Knight had even more hype behind it then Batman Begins. From Heath’s death to the Joker’s redesign to great early reviews it sounded like a sure-fire hit. I remained cautiously pessimistic. I figured it would be better. But I was expecting to like less the most people.

Even as I rode on the train out to New Have to see it the premiere with my brothers (a family tradition with a better track record then recent Thanksgivings and Christmas mornings) I remember hoping that my lack of excitement wouldn’t hurt the fun of my brothers.

I needn’t have worried.

Major Spoilers from here on…

I don’t think this is the perfect interpretation of Batman. That bar was set by the Animated Series that ran in the late 90s. It’s Joker was sillier (though still deadly). It’s Batman a little less obsessive and it’s Gordon a lot more on top of his game. But it was set up to be a continuing series. The movie can do things that the series and the comics can’t do.

This movie is intense. The Joker is brutal, in such a way that I can’t think I would have blamed Batman for killing him outright (though its obviously crucial to the movie and the character that he doesn’t do that). Heath Ledger is amazing in this movie. Obviously the Joker is a meaty, fun part, but he went to town with it.

This movie seemed to do everything right. It was very smart.

I loved that Batman dismisses the Joker initially as not that important. He had bigger fish to fry! And of course in his mind he did. It wasn’t until the Joker got ‘hired’ by the mob that Batman’s hand was forced.

Batman leaping out the window to save Rachel was not only noticed by the Joker, but it led to the Joker being convinced by Harvey Dent’s admission that he was Batman.

I loved the Joker turning the city against itself. Both the ferry sequence, and the city hunting the Wayne employee to save their hospitals could have both been entire movies. Instead they were just fractions of the plot of this film.

I loved the Scarecrow cameo early on in the film. It creates the feeling that Batman has been fighting villains since the last movie, and has a growing rogue’s gallery.

I loved Gordon… well I just love Gordon. I am so glad that the movies have finally made Gordon more then background for these films. But Gordon putting off Harvey Dent’s attempt to meet Batman was the James Gordon I’ve always wanted to see in a film.

The Joker’s willingness to die for his plan was also beautiful. He didn’t care if Batman killed him, because then he won. He didn’t care if Harvey killed him because then he won.

Batman dropping the mob boss off the building was fantastic.

Alfred burning Rachel’s note. Joker’s changing scar stories. Batman’s response to being offered a scar story. The Joker wanting to make his phone call. Gordon seeing his wife after his death. So good.

I know I am just listing great moments in a movie. I don’t really feel this blog post is to convince anyone to go see the movie but just to share with people what I liked about it.

The main thing I liked about it though. Above everything else I just talked about? Two Face!

Two Face is Batman’s second best villain. And he has never been captured in live action. They couldn’t do him in the old campy tv show. Either due to the makeup requirements or due to the darkness that is attached to him. They missed the point of him in Batman Forever, turning him into another giggling joke of a villain. So when I saw the trailer with Aaron Eckhart’s face in what looked like acid, I got excited.

I figured we were going to see the birth of Two Face. I didn’t realize were going to get Two Face in action.

He looked like I would imagine he would have to. Gruesome. Someone you wouldn’t want to look at.

His origin was tweaked by the movie and I think that helped sell how he could so completely lose it. Listening to the love of his life die, after being betrayed by the police, and realizing he had failed to stop the Joker. And having Batman seemingly save him instead of Rachel helped him even hate Batman.

Getting to see Two Face ride around town flipping that coin and murdering mob bosses and cops alike was something I’ve been wanting to see in a Batman film for ages. I’m just sad I only got it for 30 minutes (or so). But what a 30 minutes.

The ending of the movie worked too. Batman struggled through the movie, being reminded that crooks were more scared of the Joker (who would kill them) then Batman (who would just hurt them). Becoming the bad guy (instead of Dent) allowed him to regain some of that fear. A very nice note to end on. Batman can’t be the hero, at least not in the eyes of Gotham, or he can’t be a hero.

I loved it!

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  • Random Quote

    “These pandas are getting pretty full of themselves.”