Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Dark Knight

NANA-nana-NANA-nana-NANA-nana Batmaaaan! is not the theme tune to The Dark Knight. In fact I can't remember what the theme tune was. I think that long term my memories of The Dark Knight will not be the dialogue or the music but the special effects and the general film noir look of the movie. The film opens with the status quo of Batman hunting down Gotham's criminals from the shadows under threat from three directions. A fan club of Batman look-alike vigilantes trying to get in on the act, a new district attorney who doesn't approve of vigilantes including Batman and most dangerous of all the Joker. The first two threats are quickly dealt with: the fan club evaporates and the new D.A. morphs into a love competitor, but the third threat drives the film.

The central character of The Dark Knight is not Batman but Heath Ledger's Joker. Unlike the other criminals of Gotham, the Joker doesn't commit crime for money or revenge (though he gets plenty of both), he is not insane (though he pretends to be). He is an equal opportunities bad guy. His victims are across the board: ordinary civilians, the authorities, Batman, other criminals -- everybody. His lack of motive plus his meticulous planning make him a formidable opponent for everyone, including Batman. He is the ultimate parody of both the all powerful/scheming solo super-villain and the unfathomable born baddie (the genetically disposed criminal or terrorist). Sending up two stereotypes that are the stock-in-trade of Hollywood (and G. W. Bush's view of the rest of the world). The Joker is not a likeable character. This anti-hero is also neither funny nor scary, or even someone to be feared or pitied. It is just that when he is in a scene he dominates it and when he isn't there, he is the main topic of dialogue.

The Dark Knight is a long (150 minutes) visual feast of a film about the collision between the vigilante super-hero and the all powerful super-villain, with child-like shorthand of beauty and ugly standing in for good and bad, and a veneer of film noire. I enjoyed being there but found this review hard to write, as once you start to think about it you start seeing the holes!

The love triangle between Batman, Harvey Dent and Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal with the sex appeal turned down a bit from Sherrybaby) and how Harvey Dent becomes "Two Face" are almost irrelevant to the main story and the question "is Batman still relevant in the 'modern' world?" is not conclusively answered either.

Ian's rating 3/5

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