first published Feb 10 2009
I figured that having gone on about it so much in my review of 'Punisher: War Zone' I should probably write my review of The Dark Knight, just to let everyone know exactly what I thought of it. Not much. He're my review:
The Dark Knight was the film I was most looking forward to seeing in 2008. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the Batman series, and I thought Batman Begins was incredibly well done, so I figured that The Dark Knight would probably turn out to be my favourite movie of 2008. HOW WRONG I WAS!
Let’s start with the plot, shall we? It starts out well, with the introduction of the Joker as the new villain in town. The Joker robs a bank, and in the process of doing so, kills every one of his own henchmen, and Bill Fichtner, so we know he’s got to be crazy! So far, so good. We then see Batman interrupt some kind of deal for drugs/biological weapon and get attacked by a bunch of Rottweiler’s. Batman beats the dogs into submission, then goes and hog-ties the bad guys. Mission accomplished! Still, so far, so good.
After his incident with the Rottweiler’s, Bruce (Batman), decides that he needs to make his armour less bulletproof, and more dog-proof. For some reason. Seriously, dude: How many times have you been shot at? Hundreds of times? How many times have you had dogs set on you? Once? That’s what I thought. Still, I’m not really complaining. If Batman wants a new suit, he wants a new suit. No big deal. We know from American Psycho that Christian Bale has a bit of a suit fetish, so this pointless plot element didn’t really bother me that much either.
Then comes the introduction of Harvey Dent, District Attorney. Dent’s introduction is nothing short of awesome, with him managing to keep his cool as a mob witness in court tries to shoot him with some shitty Chinese pistol. After the assailant is subdued, Dent even manages to break out the line “you should have bought American” in reference to the gun, a line which no doubt won him a standing ovation in every movie theatre in Alabama (and possibly Texas) when the movie was shown. I would just like to point out, however, that European guns are far superior to American ones, and the line would have been far more appropriate had Dent said “next time, buy Austria, German, Swiss or Italian. Preferably Austrian. Glocks never jam! Haven’t you seen US Marshals? You really should, it’s far better than this film”. At this point, I would also have liked them to change the reel in the cinema and actually put on US Marshals. But they didn’t, so I’ll continue with The Dark Knight.
From here on out, my memory gets a tad hazy. I remember the mob was annoyed at the Joker for stealing their money, so let some Chinese guy take it all instead, and fly to china with it. Batman (with his new suit) decides to follow him there, and does something possibly related to finding out where the money is? I really don’t know, I couldn’t bear to watch this film again... Anyway, Batman goes to China, and the mob employ the Joker to kill Batman when he gets back, or something. Bruce holds a fund raiser for Harvey Dent, and while he is there, the Joker storms in and starts brandishing a knife at various people, paying special attention to Rachael whatever-she’s-called, who for some reason is not Katie Holmes... Anyway, the Joker throws her out the window, while Dent hides somewhere, and Batman is forced to save her. At the same time, some other important dudes are killed by poisoning or a car bomb or something. The Joker vanishes.
We then cut to some kind of parade being held for the mayor or something, and Batman is on the lookout for the Joker, whom he suspects will try and assassinate the mayor at this high-profile appearance. This he does, but accidentally shoots commissioner (at this point in the film, Lieutenant) Gordon instead of the mayor, who apparently dies. The Joker, annoyed at his failed attempt to kill the mayor, then demands Batman turn himself in. Bruce decides he must turn himself in to stop the killing, but as he goes to do so, Dent steps in, claiming he is Batman. Bruce is annoyed that his glory is all being stolen, but decides to let it slide, because he’d rather let Harvey Dent die instead of him. My kind of Hero! Still, so far, so good.
Dent is then handcuffed and transported away to go prison, or meet the Joker, or something. I really can’t remember. Anyway, along the way, the Joker and some goons appear and shoot some missiles and shit at the armoured car which Dent is in, but before they can destroy it, Batman appears in his Batmobile and gets between them. The Joker destroys the Batmobile, but Dent gets away. Bruce then pushes a button, which makes a motorcycle detach from the main body of the Batmobile, which explodes (as in the body of the Batmobile explodes, not the motorcycle). Bruce then goes after The Joker on his bike. At this point, The Joker isn’t too happy, and gets out a big assault rifle to kill Batman. Before he can do so, however, commissioner Gordon appears from nowhere are arrests him, even though he was supposed to be dead. This was the point at which I started to realize the film might not be quite as good as I had hoped, because it was becoming one of those generic “oh, the good guy wasn’t really dead, he was just pretending to be so he could surprise the bad guy” films, instead of the dark, gritty action movie the trailers and critics had promised me.
The film seemed to recover soon after, however, with the capture of Dent and Rachael by The Joker’s goons, and Batman having to interrogate the Joker to find out where they are. The Joker tells him, and Batman goes to save Rachael. The Joker tricks him, however, and Batman finds himself in Dent’s building, which is filled with explosives (so is Rachael’s’, in fact. Should have mentioned that...). Batman saves Dent, and the two buildings blow up, killing Rachael, and setting half of Dent’s face on fire. “Awesome!” I think to myself “Two Face’s origins! This must lead into Batman forever. How ingenious!”.
Unfortunately, The Joker then escapes from his cell by calling a phone connected to a bomb hidden in a fellow inmate’s stomach, and we realize that everything that just happened was all part of The Joker’s plan. Wait... WHAT?!? How could he have planned all that? All the things that had to happen for it to work clearly renders it too stupid to have been planned out, and yet – that’s what happened! Here’s an extract from the website Cracked.com, describing how the Joker must have pitched this plan to his associates:
"First, we find two empty buildings. Without the cops noticing, we'll secretly sneak in hundreds of drums of explosive liquids, and wire all of them to explode. Next, we'll orchestrate an attack on the convoy transporting Harvey Dent. This will involve blocking busy streets, blowing police helicopters out of the air and launching missiles at the armoured car. All of this will be done, not to kill Dent (though that could happen at any moment) but to cause Batman to intervene so that he will throw me in jail. Then, while the whole town is on alert, we go ahead and have our henchmen kidnap both Dent and Rachel Dawes and strap them in with the bombs in the two abandoned buildings. Then I'll send Batman after one of them, knowing that this will result in Rachel being killed and Dent being a certain distance from the explosion as to become grotesquely injured and disillusioned. Then I'll blow up the jail without accidentally killing myself. Gentlemen, it couldn't be simpler." (Danny Gallagher; The Six Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Plots)
All I can say is: I’m glad that of the 8 Oscars this was nominated for, they don’t include one for “best screenplay”, because it appears to have been written by a retarded 5 year-old with no concept of probability whatsoever. Seriously, guys: Halloween Part VI had a more sensible plot than this. What the fuck????
As if that wasn’t bad enough, we then have the first scene with Dent in after his accident, when we see him lying in a hospital bed, bitching about life. At first, this scene didn’t seem so bad. I was still looking forward to seeing him go crazy and turn into Two Face, and was hoping this was going to be the moment he snapped. My hopes were ruined, however, when Dent turned, and we saw the burnt part of his face in all its shitty CGI glory. After seeing this, I decided that the less we saw of two face from this point on, the better the film would be. The CGI on his face was cringe-inducingly terrible, and was about on a par with the effects in Shark Attack 3. Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? Did they get a college student who had only just started his media studies course to animate it or something? Nothing ruins a movie like absolutely shit CGI, and this was some of the worst I have ever seen – and this movie has been NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR OR BEST VISUAL EFFECTS for fuck’s sake! What the fuck is the Academy thinking?
From that point on, I found it near impossible to watch any scene with Dent in, because the poor CGI was too distracting. Why they didn’t just use make-up, I don’t know. You may be thinking “make-up never looks realistic, I think the CGI works much better than make-up ever could”, in which case I would direct you to watch Punisher: War Zone. If you can honestly say that you thought Two Face’s CGI face looked more convincing than Jigsaw’s made-up face; congratulations, you’re retarded. That could be an unfair comparison to make, however, given Jigsaw’s face was shredded, not burned. But if you want to see how realistic burn make-up can look, go and watch We Were Soldiers! If you think Two Face’s CGI face looked even close to being as convincing as the Post-napalm burn effects in that, please go and drown yourself now – you don’t deserve to pollute the human gene pool any further. Sure, the rating would have been higher, probably a 15 rather than a 12 if they used more realistic effects, but come on! It would totally be worth it! And if the producers wanted it to look fake so that a younger audience wouldn’t get too scared, why not do the make-up to look like Tommy Lee Jones’ in Batman Forever? A far superior Batman film in my opinion... I just don’t understand...
Not only is the make-up on Two Face absolutely shit, but his storyline is terrible as well, and the character is boring and 2 dimensional. I never read the Batman comics, but I’ve been informed that Two Face in the comics was very similar to Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in Batman Forever, going from 0 to Psycho in less time than Joe Pesci in this scene (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtIGwNEpZdE&feature=PlayList&p=803955B6E23624F8&playnext=1&index=42) at the flip of a coin. Yet in The Dark Knight, he remains completely calm when he flips a tails, and never really changes his expression or tone of voice. Come on! We’re watching a fucking comic book movie! We want to see psychotic super villains, not tragic heroes turned evil through a horrific event. On top of this, they decide to kill Two Face off at the end of the film, to ensure that if a sequel is ever made, they can’t correct the terrible mistakes they made in this one. But it gets ever better! I’ve now been informed that Two Face did not in fact die, and he is still alive and coming back for a sequel. See my previous comments relating to Commissioner Gordon’s “death” for my feelings on this.
The Joker’s storyline after this point is disappointing as well. Sure, the whole money burning thing was pretty cool, but the bit with the boats could have been so much better. When I saw this movie, I was thinking “ha! He hasn’t put the remote to the bomb in the other ship in each of them! Their remote controls their own bomb! What a dastardly plan!”. After the Black dude threw the remote out of the prison ship, I was expecting the people on the passenger ferry to blow themselves up. But no such luck. I was disappointed to say the least.
The scene leading up to that, with Batman disabling all the police officers before they could harm the civilians dressed as clowns was also very poorly executed, in my opinion. It was badly shot and very confusing, and was more of a drag than a cool action sequence. I just couldn’t wait for a boat to blow up!
But my main complaint about the story has to be the ending, in which Batman tells Commissioner Gordon to inform everyone that Batman is evil and killed the heroic Harvey Dent, and must be stopped at all costs. This ending blows. It’s the sort of thing a Media student would come up with, trying to make his movie all deep and profound, but actually just makes him look like a tool. Fuck you, makers of The Dark Knight! This movie could have been saved with a half-decent ending, and instead I get this schlock? The ending makes or breaks the movie, everyone knows that. This is why Return of the King was shit, and The Empire Strikes Back was fucking awesome. THE ENDINGS! And you fucked it up! Why?!?! A generic ending would have been so much better than this poor attempt at a “twist”. Why not end it in a similar way to Batman Begins? Bad Guys are still on the loose, we need the Batman to protect us, blah, blah, blah. Boring, generic, but SO much better!
But that’s not all – because I still need to comment on the acting. As I said, I felt Aaron Eckhart was boring and a bit monotonous, but that was more the script’s fault than his. However, my main complaint is Christian Bale. I’ve always thought Bale was a fantastic actor – especially in ‘The Machinist’, which contains quite possibly the best acting I have ever seen! But in this, he was awful! There was no emotion to him, and that “I’m batman, I smoke 40 packs a day and gargle with nails” voice is just plain annoying. Give him a tracheotomy or something before that throat cancer kills him! In fact, the only actor who was really up to scratch was Heath Ledger, who completely and utterly stole the show. However, I think his being dead helped his performance, and although I have no doubt everyone would think it was incredible even if he hadn’t died, I doubt they would be ranting about it quite as much as they are. Yes, I felt it was the best performance of his career, and I think he probably deserves the Oscar. But to be honest, Loony Bin Jim in Punisher War Zone made a far better psycho, and he doesn’t get any credit for it. You know why? Cos he’s fucking ALIVE!
Overall, I would have to say that this movie was a massive disappointment. I was expecting something dark and gritty, with a kick-ass plotline, incredible acting, and some fantastic action sequences. I didn’t really get any of those things. If you want to watch a 2008 comic book movie – go see War Zone. If you want something a bit more family-friendly: Iron Man is fucking awesome! Watch that instead – it’s even got Robert Downey, jr in. How can you go wrong with that? Even if you really want to see a Batman film, I urge you to go with either Batman Begins or Batman Forever, as both are far superior to this movie. In fact? You know what’s a thousand times better than this film? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBsxqQIu_5s&feature=channel_page.
Still, the soundtrack wa pretty cool, so I'll give it extra points for that.
Heath drags this up to being an average movie, but without him, it would have been AWFUL! My recommendation would be to skip this movie unless you’re a die-hard batman fan, and watch this film instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsaFO3B_GhM