Monday, 4 August 2008


Okay, Rich posted his glowing review of The Dark Knight over at our mothership blog on this post here, and now I’ve finally had chance to see the film I can offer my own take. I’m probably going to be burned at the stake for this, but I honestly thought the film was a huge disappointment. Whoa, put those pitchforks and flaming torches down a second, let me explain.

I went into the cinema with my girlfriend (a writer and journalist) and a bunch of friends (who are also big fans of Batman) and eagerly awaited the follow-up to the excellent Batman Begins, a film that saved the franchise from the awful memories of Joel Schumacher and Batman’s nipples. In that company, I was genuinely embarrassed by the film.

The film that followed the inane trailers was a lengthy, repetitive bore. I hate to have to write a review like this, but I’m here to tell you the truth and bring you genuine opinion. The Dark Knight, to these eyes, was a tedious film full of tedious scenes linking tedious set pieces. Much has been made of the cast, but they are almost all criminally underused, apart from the ever glorious Gary Oldman and the late Heath Ledger. The Joker does steal the show, but unfortunately this is due to there not being much of a show to steal.

Something that stunned all of us is the rating the film has been given. 12A for this? A film crammed with knives, violence, death, scarred faces and someone with half their head burnt into a mess of meat and sinew? How did the BBFC come to the decision that this was appropriate for viewing by small children? Many parents will be going under the assumption that this is a kiddie friendly superhero movie (trust me, some people WILL think that), and instead will have their kids watching the Joker stab a pencil into someone's head, shoot people at point blank range, kill people and slice a man's face open.

With the running time so bloated and arse-numbingly long, I couldn’t help but notice a good hour or so that could have been cut. Where I had expected a fascinating crime drama with added costumed action, I got the same 30 minutes of story repeated six times. The film kept on building towards something and the payoff never came. No satisfying resolution was offered, no scene really gripped me and the closing speech from Commissioner Gordon had us all cringing. I wish I could be less critical, but this is a Batman movie and thus needs more scrutiny.

Heath Ledger’s deranged performance as the Joker was a high point, and didn’t echo Jack Nicholson’s pantomime performance from the Tim Burton era, but it isn’t the earth shattering feast that the reviews have been deeming it as. It was indeed a tragic loss when he died, but his performance has to be seen on its own merits. He was an unusual choice for the clown prince of crime, and as an epitaph this seems sadly hollow.

Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent (and indeed Two Face) was my favourite aspect of the film, and his descent into madness was gripping, if a little rushed. That’s one strength the film has- Two Face wasn’t just tagged on, like, say, Venom in Spider-Man 3. The effects for his mangled face were well handled, and he carries the part off well. Unfortunately he’s in the middle of a cast who, aside from Ledger, seem to be on autopilot. Actually, Nolan seemed to be a bit on autopilot too.

With a surprisingly weak script, uninspired cinematography (what happened? Batman begins was beautifully shot!) and overly minimalist production design, the film was sadly lacking and this fan left the screen feeling short-changed, tired and rather let down. Hopefully the third in this series will prove to be better, and not get bogged down in hyperbole.

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