Dark Knight discontents

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It has come to my attention, via yesterday’s comments, that there are folks out there who not only dislike The Dark Knight, but who find it an abomination — or, as berkeley314567 puts it, "a steaming pile of clusterf*ck." I will not be able to begin proper analysis until Tuesday at the earliest, but until then I’d very much like to hear from folks what they don’t like about the movie. To you folks, I’d like to know what you had heard, what you were expecting, where the movie failed you, how it fell short. Well-stated opinions will be respected and specifics will be greatly appreciated.

I will say this: the folks who compare The Dark Knight to The Godfather or Crime and Punishment I think miss the point (R. Sikoryak notwithstanding).  I think a comic-book movie to compare to the tragic grace and penetrating social analysis of The Godfather is just over the horizon, but The Dark Knight is better described as a foursquare, meat-and-potatoes pop-culture action thriller that delivers the goods with spectacular visuals, excellent acting, superb shooting and, for the purposes of this journal, an uncommonly intelligent script.  It does not tell us anything profound about the corruption of the human soul, and it does not intend to.  I would compare The Dark Knight, instead, to The Fugitive, Alien, Star Wars (that is, episode IV) or The Silence of the Lambs — all movies with pulp roots and grandiose spectacle that transcend their genres and achieve substantial dramatic weight through skillful plotting and firmly grounded, well-performed characters.


73 Responses to “Dark Knight discontents”
  1. laminator_x says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed TDK, but I did feel that it tried to do too much. The Two Face events near the end felt… “tacked-on” is too strong, because they did interlace with the overall plot… perhaps “squeezed-in.” There were several other events that were merely touched on that coul’d have warranted a whole scene or two. This could easily have been two movies.

    There are some contrivances WRT the Joker’s plots and ability to lay traps and so on, but nothing that I can’t accept as part of the genre. They only seem out of place at all since the film overall stays very light on such things in general.

  2. seamusd says:

    I thought it was an entertaining film, but not the great film many critics were saying it was. I thought that with the exception of Batman, none of the characters were particularly well-rounded, and that was the main problem.

  3. Personally I don’t think Two-Face’s appearance felt tacked-on at all. The movie makes Harvey Dent a huge part of the plot, and I’m willing to take a leap here and say the movie is more about him than the Joker. You have a complete “rise and fall” arc throughout the film, and I think it works quite well.

    Compare this to, say, Spider-Man 3 where Venom felt incredibly tacked-on at the end. That movie was pretty much the definition of “ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag”

    • swan_tower says:

      I would have to view TDK again to be sure, but I walked away with the impression that the movie’s central spine was built of theme rather than plot. Viewed from that angle, the story wasn’t over until Two-Face played his part, whatever had happened with the Joker.

    • laminator_x says:

      Perhaps a better way too describe it is “short-changed.” I felt like I was just seeing an overview or outline of the latter part of Harvey’s arc.

  4. woodandiron says:

    To be fair, The Godfather comes from similarly pulpy roots as The Dark Knight. The difference is the The Godfather is based on a really pulpy novel while The Dark Knight is based on comics.

    • Todd says:

      The Godfather‘s roots are certainly pulpy, but the screenplay elevates the source material to the level of, I’m not kidding, Shakespearean tragedy. The Dark Knight, as accomplished as it is, is still a bigger-than-life melodrama.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I really liked this movei, although i did have some minor issues with it. The scene with the hostages on the boat, felt so out of touch with the ‘realism’ of the rest of the movie. It bored me a bit.
    The movie did feel a little too long, although the two-face story arc (i think) is the real heart of the film, since he represents hope. I think i’d love it even more if Harvey Dent/Two-face got a little more screen time, and the joker was a little more on the background.

    • autodidactic says:

      I was sort of hoping that the boat full of civvies would decide to throw the switch and it would have been to explode their own boat, which the Joker would have considered a hilarious prank.

      • I actually wanted that same result. The actual result worked fine, but wasn’t nearly as great as the “moral, upright” citizens blowing themselves up on accident would have been.

      • I actually expected this, but then I came to realize that if the Joker’s threats weren’t trustworthy, then the very idea of him as a threat would be untrustworthy and he could have no more future “experiments” like this.

        • autodidactic says:

          It would have thrown a nice variable into the mix, though. The population of citizens would have been reduced by a sum, and the population of criminals would stay the same. Even locked up, that’s significant. Additionally, there’d be the few seconds of confusion and disinformation before the cops could get on the horn and say, “We didn’t throw the switch!”

          But nobody’d believe them, and by night, the city would be in chaos. And that Joker thrives on that sort of chaos, you’d think.

      • Very much was expecting and hoping for that myself.

  6. jdurall says:

    I loved the film, but thought there were some weak points:

    – the whole sequence where Bruce investigates the bullet casings and somehow ties them to the apartment of the Joker’s henchman wasn’t explained very well and defies any conventional understanding of ballistics.

    – the whole emphasis about Harvey’s role in the whole thing, particularly Batman’s speech at the end, felt extremely forced.

    – the editing during action sequences bordered on incoherent. The opening sequence (with multiple Batmans) was sort of hard to follow… the sequence at the end was nearly incomprehensible, made more so by the overuse of the sonar gimmick.

    – I’m not sure that armor capable of withstanding high-velocity firearms would be so easy for a dog to tear through.

    – I’m still trying to figure out why Batman didn’t just clothesline the Joker during the showdown in the center of the city street. Instead, he was so overcome by his desire to kill him that he paralyzes and wrecks his bike? Huh?

    • jdurall says:

      Now if you want to hear me rant about a critically- and fan-beloved superhero film that was a reeking pile of crap, ask me about Unbreakable.

      • therrin says:

        Argh Unbreakable. Don’t invoke that name!

        I’m shocked to hear that described as “fan beloved,” as I hang out with a lot of people I’d call geeks and I only know one who adores that movie. But I don’t hang out with many really hard core comic book geeks (we all just couldn’t take it anymore and gave up at some point) so maybe that’s why?

        I seriously can’t stand that film. There were so many ways to make it better. Just increasing the pacing would have helped a hell of a lot.

      • I know what you mean with the Unbreakable thing. I didn’t see anything about that movie that was all that impressive. But, I have met people who liked that better than any of Shyamalan’s other movies.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can understand how you could have problems with Unbreakable — it’s innately unsatisfying, in that the whole movie is essentially the first act of a larger story.

          But I still love it, more for the skill of its set pieces than the overall arc of the whole film. The sequence with the gun in the kitchen, the home invasion at the end, even the weightlifting scene are all fantastic bits of pure cinema to me.

          And I love that Shyamalan, for a film about comics, uses so many comic book storytelling techniques. Like comics, which rely on your brain to fill in the gaps, Shyamalan leaves a lot of visual information offscreen, using sound and dialogue to force your imagination to fill in the gaps. It’s a clever technique I’ve rarely seen used so effectively (Paul Thomas Anderson did a great job of something similar in “Hard Eight”) and it elevates my opinion of the movie considerably.

          — N.A.

    • swan_tower says:

      – I’m not sure that armor capable of withstanding high-velocity firearms would be so easy for a dog to tear through.

      I can’t answer definitively, but resistance to impact and resistance to cutting/tearing are not the same thing. I believe Kevlar is no good against knives. (But whatever the suit was made of in the first film seemed to do both, so there goes my explanation.)

      I’m still trying to figure out why Batman didn’t just clothesline the Joker during the showdown in the center of the city street. Instead, he was so overcome by his desire to kill him that he paralyzes and wrecks his bike? Huh?

      I remember it as, his sudden decision not to kill the Joker pulled him off course, with a subsequent loss of control. Then again, as said above, I’ve only seen the movie once, right after it came out.

    • rxgreene says:

      I’m still trying to figure out why Batman didn’t just clothesline the Joker during the showdown in the center of the city street. Instead, he was so overcome by his desire to kill him that he paralyzes and wrecks his bike? Huh?

      Physics+Anatomy says that would be a very bad idea. Somewhere between separating your shoulder, breaking your arm, severe tendon damage if not actually tearing muscles. Let’s ignore that you would jerk the bike and crash it assuming you made contact.

      • jdurall says:

        Well then, he could have used any one of his arsenal of weapons, including just slamming into him from the side.

        In all likelihood it would have broken the Joker up a bit, but it would not have been fatal.

        • I always thought (when seeing the trailer) that he misses the joker on purpose, but not with him falling of his batpod, as a result. I always thought he’d circle around him, turn the pod 180 degrees to face the joker. And after that he’d just would step of his pod and they’d have a delicous fist fight. Well..that’s how it played in my head anyway!

  7. icthyopook says:

    I was actually rather impressed with The Dark Knight, and I didn’t expect to be seeing as I didn’t like the first film very much. However, I still feel it slipped up in a few places.

    My main complaint about The Dark Knight pertains to Harvey Dent’s character.

    Harvey Dent was PLAYED very well. I thought the acting was great. And the sequence of events that caused his transformation all works and makes good sense… but I don’t feel there was a good enough set up for him to completely turn from sane, awesome lawyer to insane ‘freak’ master-of-mayhem in the short amount of time that he did. I think his transformation would have been more believable to me had we seen some earlier signs of an unstable personality. True, we SORT OF did… that incident with Harvey pointing a gun at Evil Asian Guy in a threatening manner before Batman shows up to talk about the Reasons Harvey Can’t Be Evil… but the circumstances surrounding that incident made the audience so sympathetic that I think most people felt they certainly would have done the same in Harvey’s situation, and could not blame him for his actions. If we were shown small bits of a very bad temper, I dunno, something more than simply an over-eager determination to stop Gotham’s crime spree…

    Why, I found myself asking after the film ended, why would such a nice ‘moral’ guy like Harvey let himself turn against everything he fought for just because the Joker came and told him Rachel died because of corruption within the force. It would make sense if Harvey was more unstable before the accident, as I said… but he just seemed above that. I guess that was what the writers were shooting for- the ‘White Knight’, in the end, was just as corruptible… I guess I just feel it wasn’t done quite right. I also have to say, I didn’t realize that Harvey jumped his chair over into the oil in an attempt to die before Rachel- until my friend told me that was the reason. I guess what I have to say is that Harvey’s whole transformation was just a jarbled up mess that made sense in theory but not quite in execution.

    All of that said, the Joker was amazing and the movie was so otherwise entertaining that my complaints about Harvey do not mean I thought his role in the film was a hindrance- just that it could have been done much, much better.

    • Anonymous says:

      i agree to this. A little bit more ‘The Long Halloween’ in the Dark Knight could have helped. The character of Harvey Dent, and his transformation into Two-Face in that novel is amazingly done, and makes more sense. He isn’t quite that likeable in The Long Halloween though.

    • Anonymous says:


      “Evil Asian Guy”? Don’t you mean, Evil Schizophrenic Guy?

  8. curt_holman says:

    David Edelstein incurred the wrath of bat-fans (even before they’d seen the film) with his early take-down. I don’t agree with many of his points, but I see where he’s coming from:

  9. stormwyvern says:

    As I said in response to your previous post, my husband is the one who says he outright didn’t like The Dark Knight and he’s not home right now, so I can’t ask him why he feels that way. I liked the film quite a bit, but I do have a few gripes, some of which have already been mentioned:

    Batman – Pretty much covered this in my other response to your last post. Bale strikes me as a fantastic Bruce Wayne but a very awkward Batman who totally has the scene stolen from him by almost any character he shares a shot with. Maybe it’s just tough to have a live action Batman who looks really at home in the batsuit or maybe it’s tough to find an actor who can capture both faces of Bruce Wayne really well. It would be really interesting if someone tried a take on the Batman story where Batman really does feel like a somewhat naive Bruce Wayne’s conception of what a tough crimefighter should act like, a caricature that would be laughable if he wasn’t so serious and so capable of punching. It could be an especially fitting take for a story that takes place early in Batman’s crimefighting career, before Bruce has really figured out how to be effectively frightening. But with this film, there’s just too much else going on for Batman himself to have much of a story.

    Fight scenes – I know I’m not the first person to mention this either, but the firs fight scene especially is less visceral than incomprehensible. Even if it weren’t further complicated by the multiple Batmen, I don’t know that I would have been able to follow it. I kind of wonder it part of the reason my husband didn’t like the film was that this scene turned him off right at the start of the movie. Even though I do like it, it felt more like something I had to get past to reach the good stuff.

    Ending speech – At was point does Commissioner Gordon cease to be a father talking to his son and become an actor delivering the last lines of a movie to the audience? For a film that generally avoided the feeling that people were standing around giving speeches (and I wouldn’t count the Joker because he’s an inherently theatrical character) and a Gary Oldman performance that otherwise never once hits a wrong note, it’s a rather unfortunate way to go out.

    I may have had some other minor issues, but these are the ones that stand out to me now and even that didn’t keep me from liking the film.

    • inkboy says:

      You’ve summed up most of the problems I had with the movie, right here. I did enjoy it overall but in all the live-action Batman flicks, I have *not* liked the Batman character very much. In these last two, Bale makes Batman talk like a pro wrestler.

  10. autodidactic says:

    I just saw it last night for the first time (yay Netflix), and I don’t know what everyone’s beef is. The literal deus ex machina (the sonar cell phone wall of monitors thingie) was sort of ridiculous, but certainly less so than Adam West.

    It makes me wonder what Catwoman would have been like with Christopher Nolan doing it, rather than that abortion that really happened.

  11. lupa says:

    While I felt this movie was a terrific cop-suspense thriller, it really and truly failed as a Batman movie. If the main character had been anyone *other* than Batman, I probably would have been deeply satisfied. Instead, I felt that the brothers Nolan were so involved in creating something with the same layers as “The Prestige” that they forgot important aspects of the character they were writing about – even though they’d written him so well before.

    I’ll pick the four issues that bother me the most:

    Issue #1 – the dog vulnerability. They wrote Batman Begins with Bruce Wayne going all around the world learning the criminal mindset. The idea that he didn’t encounter guard dogs during those scenarios is ludicrous. Also, in the comics Batman has defenses against dogs which don’t involve hurting them. Batman and Lucius are both smart enough to come up with preventive technology here; the fact that he’s presented with this flaw in his armor and doesn’t, though he and Lucius can synthesize an antidote to Scarecrow’s venom in a hurry, is antithetical to Batman as a character.

    Issue #2 – Batman doesn’t kill. He simply doesn’t. So therefore, the idea that his throttling of the desire to kill the Joker would so disarm him that he crashes his bike and knocks himself out? Completely moronic in ANY superhero movie, but particularly moronic from the POV of a guy who, in Batman Begins, can jump out of an exploding building, then seconds later soar down an ice-covered incline and almost instinctively grab his mentor almost out of thin air.

    Issue #3 – Rachel’s death. It’s not so much that she dies – in the comics, the Joker sometimes wins – but that the Joker manages to SO manipulate Batman that Batman takes him at his word the moment he speaks the addresses and dashes out of the room.

    Issue #4 – While it’s a lovely and poetic ending, Batman wouldn’t lie about Harvey Dent’s death. He wouldn’t suggest anyone else lie about it, either. He believed in truth and justice. That *is* the American way.

    There are other flaws I could pick on, especially in Harvey Dent’s conversion to Two-Face, but that pales behind their mis-representation of Batman’s character. I feel strongly that their writing of Batman is part of the reason why Christian Bale has such a hard time holding his own this time, when he did so well in the first movie – the brothers Nolan force him to turn into a reactive character through most of the movie, not an active one.

    • therrin says:

      It occurs to me that your complaint seems to stem mostly from the fact that the movie’s conception of Batman didn’t match your conception of Batman?

      Regarding Issue 4. There have been a lot of interpretations of Batman, but which interpretations are you pointing to when you say that Batman cares more about the truth than the greater good? Batman has always struck me as a self-sacrificing character who would gladly allow a little blackness on his name to protect the good name of the deserving (dead or otherwise). He is a character who uses misdirection to his benefit almost daily. The relentless conformity to Truth and Justice that you’re describing seems more akin to Rorschach from Watchmen than Batman.

      • lupa says:

        Actually, it’s not that the movie’s conception didn’t match mine, but didn’t match their previous writing of him. Burton’s rewriting of Batman was fine; their revision of a character they already wrote and wrote well was a mistake.

        As far as 4 – Batman would gladly allow his reputation to be smirched, but to outright lie to make it occur? Or have Gordon lie? If you have a Batman story in his entire history in which this occurs I’ll gladly step back from that one. Batman’s obsession with Justice is well-documented across the board in his stories; the addition of truth as a specific came about mid-JLA years.

        (BTW, I wouldn’t think Rorschach cared about Justice as much as he did Truth, but that’s an interpretation I’m less comfortable debating since there’s only one Rorschach story, and there are decades upon decades of Batman stories.)

        • therrin says:

          BTW, I wouldn’t think Rorschach cared about Justice as much as he did Truth, but that’s an interpretation I’m less comfortable debating since there’s only one Rorschach story, and there are decades upon decades of Batman stories.

          ::laugh:: Are you sure the reason you don’t want to argue Rorschach is because he’s only in one incredibly thick/dense book,* and not because he’s one giant Rorschach test with his actions intentionally open to determination? As my personal interpretation, I’ve always thought that when it came down to it, Rorschach didn’t care about Truth at all, he only cared about microcosmic justice. When he snapped, he accepted that he couldn’t deal with the big picture and he would only deal with the concept of crime. People who committed crimes deserved to die. In any war, one side’s criminal is another side’s hero. Rorschach got himself involved in a war and his moral system couldn’t handle it.

          Of course at the end it’s all a question of why Rorschach did what he did, and that is definitely up to the reader.

          *In that regard, you’re playing into my point here. Batman has decades of stories, but he also has decades of stories under different authors. Each individual’s Batman is slightly different, and different authors (and different time periods) put different spins on him to better match their needs.

          • lupa says:

            ::laugh:: Are you sure the reason you don’t want to argue Rorschach is because he’s only in one incredibly thick/dense book,* and not because he’s one giant Rorschach test with his actions intentionally open to determination?

            Yes. In my mind, if you only have one story by one writer, actions are frequently open to interpretation. The beauty of having a single character written by several different authors, as it often is in comics and also in TV serials, is that the character starts to live beyond the original author’s mind.

            As my personal interpretation, I’ve always thought that when it came down to it, Rorschach didn’t care about Truth at all, he only cared about microcosmic justice.

            Interesting interpretation – it might be a difference in what we view as justice. For me, since a) Rorschach doesn’t care whether or not a crime is justice for another crime and b) Rorschach’s fate is tied in to the fact that he refuses to keep certain truths hidden? I go for truth. 😉

            *In that regard, you’re playing into my point here. Batman has decades of stories, but he also has decades of stories under different authors. Each individual’s Batman is slightly different, and different authors (and different time periods) put different spins on him to better match their needs.

            While I agree that different authors have different spins, I’d vehemently disagree that that in any way undermines my point. Past the point that in the initial stories Batman does kill, there are several components of his character that are remarkably consistent. The truly iconic heroes are just that – iconic. Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman… they all have certain characteristics that have remained regardless of author.

    • travisezell says:

      Regarding #2, maybe we interpreted the scenes differently, but I was under the impression he’d faked being knocked out to get his hands on the Joker, using himself as bait so that Gordon could return from the grave and arrest the bad guy. Did he not get up at the end of that scene when Gordon pulls a gun on him? He’s certainly alive and well inside the interrogation room next, and incahoots with Gordon (who nobody else seemed to know was alive), so I just assumed…

      …though it does bring up one nitpicky point. I had a hard time on second viewing when I knew that “anonymous driver of the armored car” was Gordon during this ridiculous/exciting bazooka-and-batcycle-involving car chase scene. It struck me as odd, but didn’t really ruin the scene for me.

      • lupa says:

        I was willing to go for that interpretation too, until my roommate pointed out that if he was faking, then Gordon didn’t “save his life” and so his subsequent line to that effect means nothing.

        I have too much respect for Nolan’s screenwriting to believe he’d do that 😉

    • Todd says:

      “Batman doesn’t kill. He simply doesn’t.”

      Except, of course, in the very first Batman story, where he shoots a criminal dead. With a gun.

      • lupa says:

        You’re right, and that’s fair – Chemical Syndicate and the rest of 1939’s stories were modeled after pulp detective novels. That said, I still don’t think a desire to kill the Joker would make him lose that control, and the “one rule” Batman and the Joker both refer to in this movie (and in others) is exactly that – he won’t kill.

        • woodandiron says:

          I agree with you that Batman doesn’t kill. However, that doesn’t mean that he lacks the desire to kill. The real struggle that Batman has in The Dark Knight is the battle within himself where he wants to kill the Joker but won’t let himself. I believe the Joker even mentions this when he’s hanging upside down.

          Since you seem to require evidence, I will cite Alan Moore’s Killing Joke. Batman goes to Arkham to talk to Joker because he knows that the only way the two will ever truly settle their hash is by one killing the other. He doesn’t want that to happen because killing the Joker would violate his code of “I won’t kill” so he makes one (ha!) last ditch attempt to level with the Joker and say “Hey man, if you don’t stop acting a fool, one of us is going to get popped.” (More or less)

          • lupa says:

            Yes, I love that scene, but for me the thing is that even in Killing Joke, with Barbara Gordon severely injured, he doesn’t lose control over himself and put himself or his city in danger. Even when Jason Todd is killed he doesn’t throw himself away like that.

            • woodandiron says:

              The only other thing I can say that might sway your opinion is that Nolan is definitely trying hard to portray the origin of Batman. So, for me, a man just starting out (I’d say it’s about a year or two after Begins, right?) with crime-fighting would have a tougher time controlling his baser desires. The Batman of Killing Joke and A Death in the Family is a man who’s been behind the cowl for at the very least a decade. The experience would grant him better control over his desire to kill every last thug in Gotham.

              • lupa says:

                Honestly, you don’t have to sway my opinion. I love the Nolan brothers like nothing you can believe, and the fact that they’ve not hit the mark here doesn’t mean I can’t separate myself from the Batman mythos they established and love the movie as a cop thriller. I’m fairly good at compartmentalizing these sorts of things when it comes to movies.

                That said, while I can see your point, it still doesn’t sit well with me. If that scene had happened after Rachel’s death? I would have far less of a problem understanding it. Sadly, it doesn’t.

                • woodandiron says:

                  I didn’t mean sway your opinion as in make you like the movie more. It was a poor choice of words on my part.

                  I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree, then.

  12. I loved it (and, if forced to compare it with a lauded-but-uneven, non-superhero movie, I’d go with The Departed). But yes, like any film and/or comic geek I “had a few problems with it.” Aside from Batman’s somewhat out-of-character, and quite unnecessary destruction of property, the ending left me a bit “huh?”


    Harvey Dent flipped his lid, became Two-Face and killed a handful of people. Batman and Commissioner Gordon don’t want to crush Gotham’s spirits by letting everyone know that their “white knight” fell from grace. Despite the fact that The Joker has just gone on a city-wide, terrorist, cop-killing rampage, Batman decides that he should take the heat for Harvey’s crimes. Batman. The guy who cleaned up the mobs. The guy who instilled a new sense of hope in Gothamites. The guy who helped and inspired Harvey’s anti-crime crusade. The guy who, in the wake of Harvey’s death, is now the only source of hope and inspiration in Gotham. HE’S the one who should publicly fall from grace and take the rap for the murders? Not the Joker? Not the dead guy who the Joker could be blamed for driving crazy in the first place? Really?

    Other than that, everything else was just swell. And yeah, I just watched it again on Blu-Ray, too.

    • Todd says:

      I think the comparison with The Departed is entirely apt.

    • stormwyvern says:

      I think what’s missing here (or maybe it’s just subtle and I’ve forgotten it because I’ve only seen the movie once) is something to inform the audience that these Batman wannabes are part of a tiny minority of Gotham citizens who think that Batman is a hero and that most people regard him as an out-of-control vigilante at best or more of a threat than the criminals he fights at worst. That way, it would make more sense for Batman to make himself the scapegoat for Harvey Dent’s crimes, because it really wouldn’t be as hard a pill to swallow for the majority of Gothamites.

      Also, I love “Venture Brothers” and I think the cover to Season 3 is great and I will buy it a soon as its out and thank you for the wonderful cartoon.

      (Sorry. Sometimes I just can’t suppress the fangirl side. Won’t happen again.)

    • woodandiron says:

      I think a reason he’d want to shift blame from Harvey to himself is that he wants the public to believe in a regular man who tries within the law to obtain justice. Having the city idolize Batman only inspires more vigilantism and if there’s one thing Bruce Wayne hates, it’s vigilantism…unless he is the vigilante.

      So I think it makes sense that he’d rather the public to hate himself for going outside the law to do what must be done in order for them to still aspire to have decent civil servants doing their part for justice within the confines of the law.

      It’s kind of a more democratic approach to Batman’s ethos whereas in the comics every once and a while it’s hinted that Bruce Wayne kinda has a thing for fascism (The Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, etc.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Batman doesn’t take the blame for Harvey’s murders just to save Harvey’s reputation. He also realizes that the public shouldn’t view Batman as a role model(he is a violent international criminal, after all). And he wants to regain his menace in the eyes of criminals (Maroni:”We’re wise to your act. You got rules.”).

      -Doctor Handsome

    • Anonymous says:

      I recently watched a good portion of both Iron Man and Narnia II and felt that Blu-Ray, for all of its high-def goodness, really took me out of the movie experience. It felt like I was watching a “making of” rather than a movie. Have you experienced this as well?

      • Todd says:

        I have in the store, but not at home. I was in Circuit City here in Santa Monica and both Iron Man and Crystal Skull were playing on monitors, and it scared me because it didn’t look like it was the same movie — it looked, as you say, like a “making” of video.

        I’m told that certain monitors are made to make the picture “pop” more, the result being that the image looks more like videotape than film. My projector at home does an excellent job of delivering an image much closer to my memories of the film image, and in some cases better.

  13. i was still cringing a bit whenever there was a little gag/joke in a scene..i don’t know..it’s not working (for me). Batman Begins had WAY too much of these, and while there aren’t that many in the Dark Knight they were still a tad distracting when occuring.

  14. travisezell says:

    I’m a pretty huge fan myself, but I always have to concede a couple of points. For one, I think the “intelligent” script comes loose a few times, particularly any scene with Bruce and Alfred expositing — I remember specifically thinking that every single scene in the reverse-batcave could be cut completely, even though that makeshift location looks really cool. Every time we went there it felt like we were stepping into the classroom to make sure the dimwitted audience was keeping up on the themes. I’m just not a fan of having characters tell you what the movie’s trying to do.

    Additionally, I felt a little rankled by the climax (er, one of them; as you’ve pointed out the film has many, though I think like you that doesn’t bother me) — the one where the ferryloads of people don’t blow each other up because they are inherently good people, even the criminals. I think that idea works really well with the tone and (for lack of a better phrase) message of the film, and the performances by Tiny Lister and all those civilians was nice, but I didn’t feel the scenes were earned. It always rang out as false to me, arbitrary rather than the next organic step in the story. And in a script that was so good at making these perfectly outlandish exciting set pieces and scenarios (the kind of thing Batman stories thrive on) feel so natural, that really deflated my enjoyment; that for me the big redemption moment didn’t feel natural brought the end of the film (or of the Batman-Joker arc) to a bit of an anticlimax. You brought me this far step by step and I was loving it, but then the last couple of steps felt like short-hand. Almost deus ex machina.

    Thirdly and hopefully finally, I think the story doesn’t do any service to the character of Rachel. She wasn’t my favorite in the first one, but she seemed more crucial to the story than a plot device and a trophy for Bruce and Harvey to quietly tug-of-war over. The scenes about her were nice — motivating Two-Face with her demise was great; Bruce telling Alfred “she was going to wait” and Alfred snatching back the letter was nice — but the only good scene she has in the whole story, where she’s more than a space holder called Love Interest, was the sixty seconds after she realized she was going to blow up and when she did blow up. The script is so dense I realize it’s asking a lot (it’s unreasonable) to have every character as fully realized as every other, but as the only girl in the film it kind of stood out to me. Or maybe that’s not it at all: maybe I had a hard time empathizing with everybody loving a character that flitted between Supportive Girlfriend and Damsel In Distress without displaying her own agency or wily nature?

    Anyway off the top of my head it was those three things, in descending order, that kept Dark Knight in the “great movie” category instead of the “best movie in some time/of the year/etc” category for me.

  15. quitwriting says:

    Careful, Todd… you’re venturing into Power Geek territory. Thems dangerous waters.

  16. Its was the best super hero movie out there… of course if Watchmen lives up to half of its actual potential, Dark Knight will be dethroned. There is no interesting message in Dark Knight, and the inclusion and then death of two face within half an hour was the biggest let down of the movie. I would have preferred after the hospital blew up we didnt see two face until the next movie.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The film goes to great lengths to establish a living, breathing sociopolitoeconomic milieu and characters of startling texture and credibility – and then jettisons it all with absurdities like the whole “cellphone-sonar” thing. What a shame.

  18. musicpsych says:

    I really liked the movie, but it was too long for me. I would have found a way to cut the Hong Kong scenes, and saved the Two Face arc conclusion for the next movie. I wanted to see Two Face actually be a villain, rather than just a victim who went on a killing spree.

    Despite any complaints I have, it was much better than Batman Begins, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Can a script be too tight?

    I’m not a big comics fan, so I do not speak from great experience, but the rules for these characters, from the “I don’t kill” Batman to the “a guy like me” (lonely) Joker to the laid-back-to-the-point-of-lazy Maroni gave the whole movie a mechanistic, deterministic quality that I don’t like. That the characters seem aware of how Fate has brought them all together is just a little too much.

    I also don’t like the torture apologistics, nor the “public must be deceived” stuff. Bushman?

    In that light, the Joker is also a problem as conceived. Terrorists are not purposeless; bin Laden, an evil loon if there ever was one, attacked the World Trade Center–it amazes me how many people do not get the obvious message in that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: Can a script be too tight?

      joker has a clear purpose he states in the movie explicitely… and anyhow, it was one of the strong points of the movie, the fact that you have a crazy guy who isn’t from a distant land doing these things, among other reasons, because he can. in reality, what really stops people from doing everything that joker does? nothing.

      TDK actually managed to say something about terrorism much better then most of the movies dealing with it directly.

      it’d also be interesting to see an overview of how the american public perceived it in comparison to the rest of the world.

      p.s. incidentally, the verification words for the post are “an- Busch” =)

  20. inkboy says:

    I liked the movie for the most part but for me the wheels really came off near the end. Add me to the list of those who think they should’ve saved Two Face for the sequel. Also, The Joker didn’t have to blow up the hospital – his threat to do so was enough to accomplish the goal of distracting people from the attempted ferry bombings and letting him get to Dent (it would have also made it more believable that he could have time to set up all those other bombs).

    If a movie is tight enough, I can suspend my disbelief and not worry about the inconsistencies until later but when I am thinking “waitaminnit” while I still watching the flick then something’s wrong.

  21. r_sikoryak says:

    I very much enjoyed The Dark Knight, but like the Joker, I ask, “why so serious?”

    It’ll be interesting to see a Batman movie made during the Obama administration.

    I’m amused by how The Spirit tagline was “My City Screams” before the election, and now it’s “He’s Something the World Needs.”

    • Todd says:

      “It’ll be interesting to see a Batman movie made during the Obama administration.”

      If Obama is Roosevelt, maybe Batman will finally get to go fight the Japs.

      On the other hand, if Obama is Kennedy, Batman will team up with Robin to fight the Riddler in a scheme that involves a giant typewriter.

  22. shocka says:

    Oh, wank wank wank, Alcott. The “tragic grace and penetrating social analysis of The Godfather“? A film that deals in the most simplistic and aggressive stereotypes? I think you’re discriminating solely on the basis of genre, despite your belief that you think a “real” film that’s in the comic book genre is just around the corner. Bullshit, I say. Consider that for the first time in an American film, we’re dealing with a villain whose driving force is not greed (ala the “villains” of The Godfather, if we can describe them as so) but rather nihilism. Corruption occurs not because of desire for more, and desire for power, but belief in nothing – accepting chaos instead of striving against it. That’s a more interesting and more intelligent subtextual discussion than anything presented in The Godfather.

  23. Most of my issues with the film have already been mentioned by other comments, but here’s a quick run down:

    1. It seems like there was this idea of “Hey, let’s do a big morality play” and characters and events were slotted into the film to service that concept, rather than the concept coming naturally.
    2. Lots of subplots felt forced and sort of, well, tacked on. Like the accountant thread, which is basically introduced for the sole purpose of giving Joker a way to a) create another morality conflict and b) blow up a hospital. Speaking of said hospital, wouldn’t Harvey Dent be the first one evacuated considering how ‘high value’ he is?
    3. The whole jailhouse scene with the Joker is just blatantly wrong. He gets left alone with one cop in the interrogation room? A henchman gets sent in with a cell phone implanted in him that he’s not aware of, including the fresh and massive scar on his gut? The cell phone must have been made from space age materials because no one gets put in a cell without getting searched and/or going through a metal detector. Oh, except the freshly operated on guy with a bomb in his chest.
    4. The ferry boat scenes are forced, WAY overlong, and just poorly done. Oh, what a surprise, you show ‘criminals’ having more humanity and faith in others than their jailers. That’s never been done.
    5. The whole Harvey Dent thing is irritating for several reasons, as other people have mentioned. Part of me is irritated that such a continuing figure in the Batman universe is introduced and killed in one movie, and really, Two-Face was only around for a few minutes of screen time anyway. The rest of me got tired of the relentless mentions of what a hero and how good and right and just Harvey Dent was, although he didn’t really appear to do much to earn those distinctions in the film. We just kept getting told the same stuff over and over again and expected to believe it. Oh, and Jackson Publick (Go Team Venture!) hit on, Batman has to get blamed for Dent’s death instead of the Joker why? Gotta lay the ground work for the next movie I guess. Still doesn’t make sense.
    6. I dare someone to prove that the movie wouldn’t have been better served by cutting 30 minutes out.

    There are, of course, tons of little issues like Bale’s horrible ‘Batman Voice,’ the banker getting burned up on top of a pile of money never getting mentioned after the fact, Joker’s ability to set up demolition level charges in the hospital in such short order, the suit not being dog-proof, etc., but I’m willing to let those go, because really, there has to be some suspicion of disbelief to enjoy any film, and there were much bigger issues to worry about.

    Batman Begins – which I really enjoyed – fell apart in the third act, but had established enough goodwill to get through it. This one lost me way early on. The way I described it to people who hadn’t seen it at the time was that it felt like I had just watched the Batman version of “Matrix Reloaded” and was praying that the next one didn’t follow the same downward spiral of “Matrix Revolutions.”

  24. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t hate it, but I certainly was left disappointed.
    My reasons (SPOILERS, obviously):
    1) Batman was a completely passive character- I try not to have too many expectations going into a movie, but I do expect a great Batman movie to contain Batman beating up crooks and investigating crimes. The former I’ll cover in the second point, the latter never really happen. Besides that bullet foresnic thing, Batman learns Joker’s plans and plots from the news, THE NEWS!

    2) The acton choregraphy was dreadful- I’m an action snob, I grew up on Jackie Chan and John Woo movies base entirely on great action choregraphy. Nolan apparently went to the Jason Bourne school of action viewing. I still can’t tell you what happen in the building at the end when Batman was fighting the SWAT Team, even though I saw the movie 3 times (twice on someone else’s dime)Dennis Lim said it better than I can though, slide 7 http://www.slate.com/id/2196075/

    3) The dialogue wasn’t very good besides Ledger’s and Caine’s- The worst victim was poor Aaron Eckhart, his speech to the press was the worst sort of nonsense.

    4) The ending was pretty bad- Batman taking the blame doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. It shouldn’t matter a bit to Gordon who he blames for Dent’s crimes, if he’s going to lie, he might as well pin on… I don’t know… the Joker, maybe? It’s one thing to pick up the cross, it’s another to pick up the cross because of something stupid.

    5) The message was muddled- It was an apology for Bush’s actions. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me. It felt like Nolan was saying if Bush had Morgan Freeman as a friend, everything would be alright. Not only do I disagree with that (which doesn’t really matter), it was presented poorly and films can’t surive that. I feel all of this stem from (besides point 2)…

    6) Heath Ledger was the main focus on the film to the point it hurt the film- You can’t really make a film based around the Joker, while an actor can make pure gold out of him (like Ledger did) there’s no there there. But yet Nolan just couldn’t let go, maybe for good reason. Bale’s performance was poor (a lot people have mocked his “Batman voice” for good reason). Harvey Dent didn’t have a lot to do in this film and thus was completely wasted, his speeches were silly and a bit illogical. In fact, his presence was needed only to give Ledger another awesome monologue. The Joker’s plots went ridiculously well until the boat incident. Everything works out PERFECTLY, which came off as lazy writing. This film was about Batman making a serious decision to stay as Batman- that didn’t come off in the film.

    When I come out of a great “serious” film, I want to be left thinking about something, “Citizen Kane” made me think about the complexity of life and other things. Great Entertainment awakens my imagination- I come out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and I WANT to be Indiana Jones. Coming out of The Dark Knight I didn’t really felt the need to think more on the War on Terror and I didn’t want to be Batman, heck if anything, I wanted to be the Joker: at least he appeared to be thinking.

    I don’t know if this will be helpful. I’m still not sure I’ve pin-pointed what bothered me so much about this movie.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why does Batman take the blame for Two-face’s crimes? Because he WANTS to get out.

      The whole point of this installment is that Wayne decides that vigilantism can’t work in the long run. He doesn’t want the unceasing burden of keeping Gotham from tearing itself apart. Dent is the guy who can restore normalcy, not Batman.

      If Batman is still around, unsullied, the public will demand that he act the first time Dent loses a case. Wayne has to discredit Batman to give Dent a chance to succeed.

      On Wayne’s “Batman voice” – isn’t it digitally altered to intimidate criminals? I didn’t think that was supposed to be his real voice.

  25. mimitabu says:

    sorry, i liked it

    loved the dark knight. it did everything that batman begins did wrong, right. nest all the philosophy in characters doing things instead of waxing philosophical, pump up the action sequences, supply a compelling antagonist (with a knock-out performance), and all of batman begins‘ problems are solved.

    the tensions between justice, compromise, chaos, cynicism, etc aren’t becoming irrelevant anytime soon. batman begins deals with these topics like a 1st year philosophy student talking at a party. the dark knight provides a few characters as loci for these different themes, then throws them together, blows a bunch of shit up, and let’s the actions that come out be the meditation on Big Themes.

    the movie does everything right on pretty much all fronts. like i wrote in reply to one of your earlier entries on this movie, if you didn’t like the dark knight, you need to seriously question why you saw it in the first place.

  26. I’m pretty amazed at some of the nitpicking. Some of the little things people talk about just make me want to point out every movie ever made will probably have some little thing that a few people do not like. I believe it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in years and the best comic book movie ever made. Period.

  27. Anonymous says:

    without plodding on the certain things which are many, noone really mentioned the fact that batman fights an idea (much like the bush administration, if you will), which is damn hard if not impossible- and he fails at both, pretty much.

    that’s the whole fascist subtext people have hinted over the years- he tries to fight a concept by beating people up. which somehow doesn’t work, at least permanently, and one would easily end up frustrated and shooting people.

    (also a point that noone ever mentions is that the batman isn’t really a good guy. but that’s a complicated subject i guess.)

    anyhow, it’ll be very interesting to see how they continue. there were some terrible lessons in this movie, consequences should be heavy.

  28. jbacardi says:

    Liked, didn’t love it; if you have time, here’s what I wrote after seeing it in August.