Monday, December 29, 2008

DJG / The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight * * *
Directed by: Christopher Nolan / 2008

Even with a Best Picture Oscar in its hands, which I’m still trying to figure out, I never thought I'd see a movie more overrated than 1998's "Shakespeare in Love." But, congratulations are in store for you, Christopher Nolan, you're latest Batman takes my spoiled cake and I secretly hope that you only gobble up a Best Supporting Actor at the big dance.

With my track record on Nolan films and eternal dislike for "Batman Begins", I have been prepping for "Dark Knight" disappointment for about six months to a year now. But, don't get me wrong...I DID try to like this movie. The past couple of weeks I'd finally worked myself up to seeing "The Dark Knight". I knew that it was going to be a cold calculated and hard boiled machine of a movie, and with a so-called legendary performance from Heath Ledger. Though, just when I was starting to warm up to “The Dark Knight”, it failed me. Most importantly, I've come to realize that one shouldn't speak of their lack of love for the new Batman movies in public as everyone and their grandmother are in love with Nolan’s vision and my childhood love is beaten and lost in the heartless debris chunks of a mediocre movie that is close to sinking the box office ice berg that “Titanic” set back in the late ‘90s.

Heath Ledger's lip-licking, make-up smeared, insanely creepy-cool Joker acting genius is the only reason to even give a hoot for "The Dark Knight". Well, I take that back, because I did find great enjoyment in the opening bank robbery and the well-orchestrated truck and motorcycle chase half-way. Maybe because both scenes have solid action and thrills stolen straight out of a Michael Mann heist movie page? Credit is also due to the dark and cold scenic cityscape of Chicago in providing a wonderful asset for swooping shot backdrops. I understand their cooperation for actual special effects and pyrotechnics to be very applauding. Chicago, you've got Gotham in you!

However, all of the things I actually enjoyed and found to be absolutely worth the hype about "The Dark Knight" only accumulate for about 30 minutes of a bloated blah of a Batman that lost my interest less than halfway through. The rest of "The Dark Knight" is a giant melting pot filler of celluloid. Maybe I'm being too critical and harsh? Maybe it's because I think that Christopher Nolan is just as overrated as his movies and I find his films to lack character and plot development. Movies are filler in their own right, but I love them and how in the world am I missing the boat on Nolan and his Batman franchise? I’ve tried so hard to like them, I even did my homework. And Christian Bale’s hot-shot play boy Bruce Wayne is decent at best, but when he puts the cape and cowl on I just can't take Batman seriously. By the end of the film I didn't care if my boyhood hero lived or died, same with the thousands of Gotham citizens and police officers whose lives were on the line. I could have cared less. Am I the heartless one? So, it’s cemented, I don't like this new Batman stuff. I get that Nolan's Batman is all down to cold cutting, brass knuckled business, but give me Tim Burton’s fun operatic and comic book backdrop “Batman” any day.

Now back to the late Heath Ledger. Academy Awards don't define the movies. They don’t define actors. It's all nice, but ultimately nothing but hardware and looks great on paper for future film fans and the cinema archives. However, as Ledger's family accepts a posthumous Oscar in a couple of months, it will be a cemented reminder of one of our finest young actors passing away at the height of his what-might-have-beens and his Joker is the ONLY element that can't be over-hyped enough when talking about "The Dark Knight”.


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