Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight (2008)

So today was the day I went to see "The Dark Knight", and though I would love to say that I loved it I can't. I'm not saying that I dis-liked it too. So what Karl, which is it? Either you like something or you don't. No in-between. That's not what reviews do. So maybe I won't call this a review. An observation, and leave it at that.

First off Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is really good, and I love the dynamic between Batman & the Joker. Both are two sides of the coin, and one can never be without the other. Christian Bale as Batman works for me. Bale gives Batman depth, and underneath Batman's exterior lies rage. I think when Bale dons the costume he is sort of channeling Dirty Harry. I think it's a bit over played. The snarling and the teeth seem a bit over the top. Ledger gives just the right amount of insanity that the Joker is and should be.

Okay, okay so what's not to like about the movie? Well it seems a bit over-produced to me. What do I mean? Well Christopher Nolan the director loves to work the camera, and he does so a bit too much. Nolan loves to circle the camera and give us a 360 view of the scene, and he does this a bit too often for my taste. Again there is the over the top performance of Bale which distracted me. For me Batman is a vigilante who enjoys what he does. His hate, and disgust for his enemies drive him more then the duty he says he owes Gotham city. That's what makes Batman such an interesting superhero. The movie touches on this a bit, and in the end leaves us as Batman becomes a so-called out-law, but it isn't done as effective as I'd like.

Also the technology that Batman has seems a bit far fetched. Batman or Bruce Wayne is the man who creates all of Batman's toys. Here it is Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, the scientist who designs those wonderful toys. I love Freeman, and enjoy seeing him, but again it doesn't seem right. Maybe I'm nit-picking, but when a movie makes me think for a moment about the reality of the scene then the movie fails to entirely captivate me.

The movie does seem a bit long to me, and though I have no problem with long movies it just seems to put everything in it. Maybe what I'm most upset about is that Batman is rated at a PG-13, which in reality should be closer to an R. There are dark themes and dark elements in this movie. Batman has become the "Dark Knight", and is no longer the Batman of the 60's and early 70's. I like what they've done to the character. It's more in line with what Bob Kane wanted for his character. I just think that marketing to kids younger then 13 is wrong, and that's what Warner Brothers seems to be aiming at. I guess I'm pissed because I can't take my 6 year old who loves superheros. I've been a fan of Batman for as long as I remember, but every time I go into a Kmart, or Target store I'm looking at toys aimed at my little one. It sucks that I can't take him, but I do hope when he is older we can sit down and see it together, and maybe I'll feel different. It's just that I hate the duality of corporate greed. Sell the movie yes, but not to a young audiences that aren't ready for such images, but that's what they are exactly doing. .

Yes, yes I know the MPAA rating is just a guide for us parents, and I thank them for it, but really people do we have to sell the violence also. I know they have out cartoon versions of the dark Knight series, and I think I'll be looking at them with my son, but for now the "Dark Knight" is off limits to the boys for now.

Merchandising. It's all in the merchandising of the film, and that's where I feel studios have failed us, and created less then stellar products. Oh! what I wouldn't give for such filmmakers as Selznick, Griffith or Chaplin. It's all corporate now, and the bean counters have taken over the studios, but that's another problem all to itself, so maybe another blog entry for that

So there you have it. Did I enjoy myself at the movie. You bet. I always do, but when I finish digesting it I wasn't too thrilled. Is "The Dark Knight" a good popcorn flick? I have to say yes indeed. Is it great cinema? It has it's moments but I'd have to say no. Is it good summer escapism? Absolutely.

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