August 1st, 2008


The Dark Knight (No spoilers here, but they'll probably show up in comments)

Remember when Tim Burton's Batman came out in 1989 and everyone hailed it as a "darker" imagining of the story? It ain't got nothing on The Dark Knight! The movie is relentlessly grim. Dark isn't even the word for it. Heavy might be better. This is quite possibly the most serious and dramatic (at times overly so, as with the ferry scenes toward the end) superhero movie I've ever seen. Sure, it has moments of humor -- it is a summer blockbuster, after all -- but generally it stays grim, heavy and depressing throughout.

Heath Ledger's Joker is amazing. You can believe the hype. But it's the script that helps lift his performance. Here, the Joker is not the "clown prince of crime," he's a freaking maniac. And a violent one, at that. A lot of people die in this movie. A lot of people.

I quite liked it overall, though I have some issues:

+ Christian Bale's deep, breathy Batman voice is ridiculous. Also, it sounds like it's hard to maintain without straining, so he frequently comes off as winded, turning Batman into the equivalent of a lung cancer victim whose vocal chords have frozen. My friend and I had trouble keeping from cracking up every time Batman spoke. Afterward, we tried to imagine Batman speaking like that in mundane situations like "You wanna go out some time? Do you like Chinese food?" and "Can I see your wine list?" and cracked up some more.

+ I couldn't help confusing Bale's Bruce Wayne with Patrick Bateman. The "millionaire playboy" scenes in The Dark Knight were played exactly the same way, Batman by way of American Psycho. "Rachel, Harvey, you look fabulous. Have you met Natasha? Here's my business card." (It may have helped that Bale's hair style is the same in both movies.)

+ Maggie Gyllenhaal isn't normally such a bad actress. The material really lets her down. Rachel Dawes is a non-character through most of the movie.

+ I wish they'd done more with Harvey Dent, considering he's an iconic Batman character.

+ I didn't understand the cell phone sonar (with goggles!) thing AT ALL. Plus, it wound up being completely unnecessary to the story. They could have traced the Joker from his ferry ship announcements, and Batman could have simply told Gordon about the old switcheroo trick instead of essentially doing it the hard way.

+ For someone who calls himself an "agent of chaos" who doesn't plan ahead, the Joker sure has to do a lot of planning ahead! Unless he has the mutant ability to rig any building he wants with explosives just by thinking about it! I wish I had that kind of power.

Still, it's an amazingly well made film. One thing I'm really digging about the Nolan Batman movies is that, despite the fact that they're essentially action-adventures with a touch of science fiction, they're shot like horror movies. And it works. In fact, it works better than most horror movies do!

Today's Public Service Announcement: Just-For-Nerds Edition

If you've programmed your DVR for tonight's season finale of Doctor Who you'll be fine, but for those of you planning to watch live or set your VCR to record it, be aware that SciFi will be airing the finale from 8:30-10 PM, rather than the usual 9-10 PM.

This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by the letters Theta and Sigma, and the fine folks at Davrox Industries.

Davrox Industries - when you want people to think you're just a head in a jar when in reality you're sitting in a flying wheelchair just behind the curtains, Davrox Industries is there for you. We make the world a little safer for glowing blue lights on your forehead.