Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Action Direct weighs in on The Dark Knight

Now that everyone has had their say about the Dark Knight, it's time that the Action Direct duo steps in to set the record straight. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then be warned that we speak freely about all aspects of the movie and you might want to consider waiting. But really, if you haven't seen it yet, then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.

Chris: What can I say about the Dark Knight that hasn't already been said? It is hands down the best damned Batman movie out there and it seems that few would argue differently. From it's opening Bank Robbery sequence through the high tech Hong Kong kidnapping to the amazing execution of the Two Face origin story, this movie delivered on all fronts. Don't you just love it when all of your friends and the media and Jesus build up a movie like crazy and then it still surprises you with how awesome it was? That was my Dark Knight experience. Alright, here are a few of the specific highlights in my book:

I suspected Heath Ledger was going to be an excellent Joker, but worried that he would pale in comparison to Jack Nicholson's portrayal in the original Tim Burton version of Batman (1989). However all of these fears were quickly put to bed upon The Joker's magic disappearing pencil trick. From then on, I knew we were all in for an extraordinary performance. Convincing would be the word I would use to describe his performance. Utterly convincing. There were times that I had to stop and remind myself that this was indeed an actor (RIP) and not an actual psychotic agent of chaos on the screen before me.

And what about Eckart as Harvey Dent/Two Face? I found myself rooting for Dent in spite of the knowledge that he would shortly be transformed into Batman's double sided enemy. Seriously, I liked him as Dent. I wanted him to make it. Any thoughts Casey?

Casey: Let me first start off by saying that I was also pleased as punch with the most recent Batman installment. I had the fortunate experience of watching it at the Seattle Center IMAX, an experience that will likely not be rivaled until my first born enters the world, and possibly never. It was great. Really just great.

Okay, best things about the movie: the Joker was, as Chris puts it, utterly convincing and, as it turns out, well researched. My girlfriend  was telling me that the thing that the Joker did with his tongue (f the old Barty Crouch, Jr flick) is actually a common permanent side effect of anti-psychotic drugs which are used in the treatment of schizophrenics and psychotics. Holy shit! Was the Joker admitted for schizophrenia at some point in his life? Are the other mentally ill lackeys that he hires former inmates of his psychiatric treatment center? The possibilities are endless. This tiny detail offers just the littlest bit of insight into the origins of a character that is clearly one of the best villains in a comic book movie to ever grace the silver screen (sorry Jack). Amazing.

As far as Harvey Dent/Two Face is concerned, I know exactly what you mean Chris. I've read a couple of different reviews claiming that Eckart was the soul of the movie. While I don't totally agree with this, I have to admit that he was fucking good. Even knowing the whole history of Two Face, I really did want to believe in Dent. And the truth is, he had me so thoroughly convinced that I didn't really believe it when he started to kill people. I was like, "Harvey, no!" And what a twist to have Gordon and Batman make a martyr of him, rather than soil the name of Gotham's White Knight.

One more thing. How awesome were the throw-backs to the original movie? Like the North Korean cargo plane with the all too familiar Batwing scissors on the nose cone? And how about the Batman/Joker last fight in an abandoned building lit only by the floodlights of hovering police helicopters? I was just so happy with how true this film stayed to the original, and yet  went as far as it did in the exact right direction.

Was there anything that you didn't like about this movie Chris?

Chris: I was upset at first that they killed off Two Face at the end, but after a bit of thought, I realize that they could easily manipulate that into a false death situation. I say this because 1. They never actually said outright he was dead, they just said that Gotham couldn't find out about his 'condition', and 2. Faking his death and locking him up in Arkham Asylum would be a great solution to the publicity problem Harvey's psychosis would present (possible sequel material? Anyone?). 

I suppose that was the only thing that didn't really sit right with me, but the more I focus on the subject, the more I realize it was just an all out badass film. I am incredibly upset that we will not see Ledger reprise his role as the Joker in later films, but that is a given. I will also say that I was happy to see Rachel Dawes bite the bullet. If there is one thing I hate, it's a lead female character who is constantly trying to convince the protagonist to hang up his guns with a promise of a calm, regular life. We saw it happen to Christopher Reeves in Superman 2, and we saw it happen to Tobey Maguire in Spiderman 3. The only difference is that Mary Jane and Lois Lane didn't get turned into burnt toast half way through the movie.

Casey: Yeah, that's my main complaint as well. I feel robbed of a Two Face centered Batman epic. If they don't bring him back, I'll be pissed. I mean, what kind of a chump villain dies after falling 25 feet onto soft dirt? That's bullshit! But, you're right. It isn't definitive. They just better make the right choice in the next cash cow.

I think that I also could have done without Alfred's jewel thief story. Don't get me wrong, I liked the story. But I didn't necessarily like hearing it from Alfred. It seemed a little forced, and given what little we know about Alfred, it just doesn't make that much sense.

I've read that people's main complaint with the movie was its length. But to me, the length was a pro. It's like when you're watching The Return of the King extended edition, and the whole time you're thinking to yourself, "Why the hell did they cut this out?" Well, Chris Nolan had the guts to leave it all in there, which really did give it the graphic novel feel that it deserves. Episodic with multiple plots that ultimately wrap up, leaving a few loose ends for the next volume.

And yes, I'll agree that Rachel Dawes' death was both essential and satisfying (although I must say that Gyllenhaal was a vast improvement over Holmes). 

Overall: A very enthusiastic two thumbs up from Action Direct! What's your opinion?


Matt said...

Hey, guys. That was a pretty thorough, yet concise, analysis of the Dark Knight. I agree with almost all points you guys collectively made. I think you two may just be the John Madden and Al Michaels of movie analysis. Keep up the good work gentlemen.

Brandon said...

best movie ever.

however i never was rooting for harvey. i always felt he was this arrogant and fake prick. until the end when they make a martyr of him and then i think okay maybe the guy was not so bad after all. really though saving dent may have been the easiest way for batman to end the relationship with dawes. who, i agree with chris, was up to no good trying to convert batman.

trish said...

you guys. what do you think if the next villains were Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin and Johnny Depp as the Riddler?

check it out:

Casey said...

I read about the Depp/Hoffman possibility. A couple of things:

1) I think that PSH would be an amazing Penguin. There is no doubt in my mind.

2) I have my doubts about Depp as the Riddler. THe problem is that we've basically seen him in that role before, i.e. Willy Wonka. So Im just not so sure that it Depp as the Riddler would be at all surprising. The thing that what was amazing about both Ledger and Eckart was the fact that we had never seen them in roles like the Joker or Two Face, and as a result, we were all blown away.

I'm not saying that Depp wouldnt be good. I just think I would rather see someone a little less typecast there. Like say, Ewan McGregor or maybe Tim Roth?

But when it comes down to it, if they announced that lineup, Id be pretty damned excited.

Sean Ferrell said...

well done, fellas.
i, for one, am glad that two-face is dead, and would be elated if it wasn't a "false death." ive never dug the character - i mean, i'll watch or read stories he's in, but i always hope that the joker'll make a cameo (or two face will die in a way that he cannot be brought back from).

i, also, disagree with your anonymous source that claims eckart is the soul of the film. however good a job he did (and it was Good), you can't beat Ledger's performance. and thanks for the detail about the licking thing. great stuff.