I also really loved “Batman Begins,” when I didn’t expect to. But I thought the way in which they explored the roots and genesis of Batman was a great story, well told. Although I was mildly annoyed by the choice of Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, I like Christian Bale in the role of Bruce Wayne, and anytime Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are in a movie together, I will be there.
So I was excited to see “The Dark Knight,” so much so that I was willing to sit in a theatre while great with child for almost three hours. Here are some thoughts:
Warning: SPOILERS ABOUND. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. But apparently, if you listen to the press, there are only twelve people left in America who haven’t seen this movie, and the fact that they are reading my blog is highly unlikely.
First, it is very hard to concentrate on a movie when you’re having contractions every 15 minutes on the quarter hour. I felt every moment of the two and a half hours, because I was checking my watch so much. I couldn’t really get “swept up” the way people kept talking about it.
Second, the babysitter should probably think twice about calling in the middle of the movie to tell you that the kids had too many brownies. This is not an emergency situation. But that’s neither here nor there.
Third, my experience with the hype machine has been similar to Jon‘s:
I haven’t seen the new Batman movie yet, but unless I weep during the entire time at its brilliance, am served a bottomless bag of cotton candy and get to take home my own live bat, I am not sure it can live up to my expectations. I know I will like it, there’s just been so much hype that I think it will be difficult for it to be as good as I think it should.
Fourth, I liked the movie, and I think I’d like to see it again on the small screen sometime in the future. I just want to get that out there, because most of what follows is not super positive.
Heath Ledger’s performance…great, as everyone says. Many people in our showing were laughing here and there at his Joker, but I found him completely disturbing and not funny at all (with one exception…when he was sanitizing his hands in the hospital, his mannerisms were funny). In that way, it was a great performance. But in general I have a hard time rooting for someone to get an Oscar for a performance that freaked me out. I know it’s about excellence in your craft, and Ledger was great in this role, but I can’t stand up and cheer for it. Just a hangup I have. Maybe I should get over it.
Rachel Dawes…I was frankly quite ANNOYED that she died. I LOVE Maggie Gyllenhal, and I thought she brought so much more to the table for this role than did her predecessor. I couldn’t believe they killed her off…in fact, I spent the rest of the movie looking for a possible loophole where she’d come back unharmed and say, “Look boys, I figured out a way to get out!”. It was slightly distracting.
Race relations…I whispered to David early on in the movie that it was interesting to see an African-American in the role of mob boss. He was an interesting and powerful minor villain to me. Usually those roles are left to Latin Americans or Italians. But he was the first to die by the Joker’s hand, and we were left with the Italian and Mexican guys, so bye-bye originality in casting. I know it seems strange to wish for a “better villain” role for a black man, but the role that the mob bosses play in the plot is important, and they wind up helping the good guys in the end. The heroic role on the ferry was played by an African-American man, but he was a convict. Good but bad. Could have been much better.
I was whining about this after the movie was over, and David reminded me that Morgan Freeman is black. Oh yeah. Duh. He’s definitely a hero in this one, even though he compromises his principles to help Batman “just this once.” He also gets the funniest scene in the movie (with the accountant set on blackmailing Bruce Wayne).
Plot features…I like that the Joker uses cheap gunpowder, gasoline, and blades. It’s fitting for him. Batman’s tools are much cleaner, and oh yeah, he doesn’t kill people. I loved the climax with the ferry boats…really creative to explore the good and bad instincts in everyone. The tractor-trailer upending was breathtaking, even though my engineering-physics genius husband says that it could never have happened that way (*sigh*). I thought Two-Face would evolve into a full-fledged villain, instead of only appearing for about a half-hour before his death, but this was more confusing than upsetting to me. I guess I thought he would be the bad guy in the next film.
Conclusion: I liked it, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. But that could be entirely my own fault.