The Dark Knight - Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Agent Richard07, Jul 8, 2008.


Grade the movie...

  1. Excellent

  2. Above Average

  3. Average

  4. Below Average

  5. Poor

  1. Sela301

    Sela301 Admiral Premium Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    Hopefully cliffnotes comes with the review.
  2. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2001
    Well, since you asked... ;)

    Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins finds the director teaming with his brother Jonathan to continue the story of a hero who wishes to inspire a corrupt city to good. Batman has two allies this time around, good cop James Gordon and newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent. Together, the trio take out most of Gotham's crime elements, leaving a vacuum that can only be filled by something far deadlier: The Joker. Among exciting action, heart-wrenching drama, and unbearable tension, Heath Ledger's Joker forces Batman to confront his own morality as he pushes Batman to his knees.

    Believe it or not, Tim Burton's Batman is my earliest childhood movie memory. It was just so fantastic, watching the Caped Crusader tackle Jack Nicholson's Joker, a clown of the highest and most sadistic sort, just like those comics I read day in and day out. Highly stylized, Burton allows Batman and Joker to play in Gotham, the two characters doing circles around one another using cool tricks, awesome vehicles, and neat action sequences. Matched with an unforgettable score by Danny Elfman, Batman brought credit back to superhero movies following the Superman's franchise's demise.

    I went in The Dark Knight expecting this to be a hard one. I was right, but not for the expected reason. No joke, these two movies are such different creatures that it's almost hard to believe. Let's start with the Batman. Burton's Batman, like Nolan's in The Dark Knight, is an already established vigilante whose war against crime opens a vacuum for a crazed psychotic killer to rise to power. In Batman, Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne is hardly a character, just a mask, and his Batman is a kinetic deus ex machina aimed against the criminal hijinks of Jack Nicholson's outrageous and comedic Joker. Nolan's Bruce Wayne operates as more than a simple mask; he's a man faced with the cost of his ambitions, realizing that his war against crime may be producing more harm than good.

    Instead of inspiring, he may be instigating. His Batman is an even more haunted figure, consumed by his desire to eradicate Gotham's corruption. A breathtaking scene in Hong Kong demonstrates how far Batman will go to fullfill a mission born of his parent's murder. As Gotham falls to the terrorism of the Joker, Bruce Wayne must decide between the safety of Gotham or the symbol of Batman.

    Now let's get to the Jokers. It's easy. Jack Nicholson's Joker was a mass murderer. He decapitates Gotham's crime families, gases an entire restaurant, and unleashes more lethal gas on an entire city while offering them cash in a cruel joke.

    However, Nicholsan's Joker is not Heath Ledger's Joker. Ledger's Joker is a terrorist, plain and simple. Although Ledger may not rack up the body count of Nicholsan's Joker, who he kills and how he kills them is more sadistic than anything Nicholsan attempts. It's quality not quantity here. Gassing a restaurant is one thing, but placing a bomb inside a thugs stomach so you can blow up Gotham's Police Department is on another level. Dangling the love interest off a church tower is expected, strapping two lovers in separate rooms wired to explode with a phone so they can talk to each other as the bombs tick is just torturous. Funny and entertaining describes Nicholsan's Joker; sadistic and fearless describes Ledger's. Mix sadism with fearlessness and the result is a terrifying villian who will stop at nothing to get what he wants -- but what does Nolan's Joker want? Nothing and everything. This static character is an unnstoppable force that Batman simply cannot handle, and the perfect villain to test the virtue of Batman's deeds in Gotham.

    You cannot however talk about the quality difference between Batman and The Dark Knight, it's heroes and villains, without talking about the writing. Most of the time, I allow the writing of the film to be implied by my review. However, The Dark Knight arrives from such a well-crafted script that it demands singular attention. Sam Hamm's draft for Burton's Batman is linear, single-layered, and fun. Jonathan Nolan's script for The Dark Knight is exhausting, but in that way that all great drama is. The character arches are so intertwined, the dramatic narrative so tight, that it rewards attentive viewers with a complexity rarely seen in superhero films, nevermind regular films. There's an ambition in Jonathan Nolan's script, to create something new and to pull Batman into our world, using a character as far-fetched and over-the-top as the Joker.

    Take for example a key turning point in the film. Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS follow: Joker kidnaps Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent, placing them in separate rooms wired to explode along with a phone so they can hear one another die. Joker then provides Batman with both addresses, allowing him to pick which one to save. Batman chooses Rachel, sending Gordon after Dent. However, when Batman arrives, he realizes he's been duped as Joker's switched the addresses. Rachel, having rightly believed Batman would come for her, hears Dent being rescued and is crestfallen thinking Dent was chosen over her. Dent is saved, although left horribly scarred mentally and physically. Rachel is not. Afterward, Bruce mourns Rachel, believing that she was leaving Harvey to be with him. However, Alfred holds a letter from Rachel stating that she was in fact going to marry Harvey, who has now become a disfigured freak hell-bent on breaking whatever laws necessary to avenge Rachel's death. This is just a sample of the beautiful and determined writing in The Dark Knight, these reversals and plays on expectations that keep an entire audience hushed with their eyes on the screen. I've never seen so much popcorn go uneaten.

    The Dark Knight is also a more rounded film, respecting its material with a manic seriousness. Nolan's Batman operates in a scarily real world. The addition of Harvey Dent is a welcomed, and essential, character that creates must of the dark tragedy that The Dark Knight will most certainly be remembered for. Dent's transformation from the White Knight of Gotham to the lost, angry Harvey Two-Face is the Joker's final trump card against Batman, who realizes a series of terrible truths by the film's end and is forced to make one final decision that forever changes his mission.

    Stakes are key to any dramatic narrative. The Dark Knight simply has more. All it's major characters are in danger of losing something, and not just any old thing. A classic drama axiom is to put your main character in a tree and start throwing stones. The Dark Knight throws boulders, all directly linked to the Jokers chaotic dog-eat-dog philosophy. Batman: his identity, his mission, his values, his friends, his love, and his city. Gordon: his family, career, and friends. Rachel: her lover, her ex-lover. Alfred: his surrogate son. Harvey Dent: his reputation, his life, his love. Sure, Burton's Batman has the stereotypical "city-in-danger" and "love interest" dangers. But it's nowhere near as potent as The Dark Knight's execution, where these dangers challenge the very existence of Batman. This dichotomy is totally absent in Batman.

    Both Burton and Nolan's Batman strive to be about Gotham's dark and noble hero. Burton's Batman beats you over the head with this, the last image being a dramatic shot of Batman perched heroically atop a high-rise, staring at the bat-signal. Contrast this to Nolan's ending where a wounded Batman hobbles through warehouse stacks, hounded by both the police and their dogs, as Gordon takes an ax to the bat-signal while declaring a citywide man-hunt on Batman. When the hero faces more than just comic hijinks and celebrity acting, and must pick himself up in the face of devastating tragedies, there is a desperation and humanity that can only be described heroic. This is Nolan's Dark Knight.
  3. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Dec 20, 2004
    Bruce tells Alfred that he hired South Korean smugglers who conduct flights into Pyongyang (North Korea) - that was the plane that picked them up and got them out of China. Fox arranged the fancy skyhook lift off. I'm sure, as with other orders for Batman, they hired them through a front.

    Near as I can tell, he was testing to discover shatter patterns for the bullet so that when they reconstruct the actual bullet they can recover the maximum amount of information, which they would need to recover the fingerprint.

    The mystery is - what did they do with the fingerprint once it was recovered?

    I don't know about anyone else, but I am hoping and praying there's an extended cut. Early rumors were that the original cut was closer to 3 hours long.

    The Joker as shown in this movie is a complete freaking genius, as well as being pretty intuitive. He sets up his own capture, his escape via the cell phone embedded in his henchman, and then engineers the ferry gig, while also having kidnapped a bu load of hospital personnel, who he disguises as clowns.

    I gotta go with the cape thing too. It's not obvious in the visuals, but you do get the glider cape sound effect a few times during the fall. If the cape acted as a drag chute, then when they land it would be like falling from one or two stories, instead of from 40.

    Um, in case you didn't notice, the Joker lies a lot. ;)

    His goal is to rip down people's civilized veneer, and drive them mad. Personally, I don't think this Joker was at all crazy, just a sociopath with a "taste for the theatrical". He does tell Gambol early on that he is not crazy.

    Eh, I think if you've figured Fox/ Wayne Enterprises, and you've got Bruce Wayne, a muscular mysterious guy whose parents were murdered in front of him, you've figured out who Batman is. If not Bruce Wayne - how would Batman be able to divert Wayne Enterprises resources to his work?

    I'm sure all those people got transferred to divisions of Wayne Enterprises overseas. ;)

    I noticed that in BBegins. In every other Batman movie, if you ever saw Bruce Wayne and then saw Batman, you could recognize him. I don't know if it's something about Bale's face or what, but the mask really does work.
  4. Thespeckledkiwi

    Thespeckledkiwi Vice Admiral

    Felt very...unfocused to me. There were a lot of parts I didn't like. And parts I did like.
  5. archeryguy1701

    archeryguy1701 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 1, 2007
    Cheyenne, WY
    I think Batman used the finger print to lead him to that abandoned apartment on where the honor gaurd were tied up. If I recall, they got five possible criminal matches to the print, and only one lived on the parade route (the "sniper roost").
  6. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 3, 2002
    If I remember right, the fingerprint on the bullet was found to belong to a thug, and his address was the false sniper's nest for the Mayor's speech where Bruce found the kidnapped cops and was almost killed by the ersatz cops.
  7. Evil Headhunter

    Evil Headhunter The Doctor Premium Member

    Jul 20, 2000
    Thanks. That was a fantastic review! Wonderful play-by-play comparison to Tim Burton's Batman (which I've never been a fan of despite being a big Burton fan).

    Likewise, although I can live without having an extended cut, whereas with Norton's The Incredible Hulk, I would be quite disappointed if we don't get the proper cut even though I thoroughly enjoyed the theatrical cut.

    Interestingly, that's exactly what Ra's Al Ghul tried to do, but The Joker's method was more natural and more successful (if nothing else, he won over Harvey Dent).

    Which just shows yet another facet of The Joker's masterful planning. He set up the whole thing so The Batman would arrive there during the Mayor's speech.
  8. Trippy

    Trippy NaNoWriMo Victim Admiral

    Jan 4, 2005
    See, now I loved the Burton films (well, at least the ones with Keaton, who was surprisingly a fantastic Wayne/Batman...Kilmer was passable and don't even get me started on Clooney) and was hesitent about the re-do...and though I enjoyed Begins, I'm totally a fan now with TDK.

    I've been wondering about another you think they'll re-introduce Robin? Who could it be? (*yacks a little at the memory of O'Donnell*)
  9. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2001
    Director Christopher Nolan has gone on record saying Robin is in some crib somewhere in his films. Translation: Don't expect to see Robin anytime soon.
  10. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

    Jun 20, 2001
    A few things...

    - Thanks everyone for some clarification on a few of the points I made.

    - As of this posting we have 193 votes. Looks like this movie isn't as popular around here as Indiana Jones (273 votes) or Iron Man (267 votes). Anyone think that The Dark Knight will catch up?

    - I saw something in the movie that I forgot to bring up yesterday. When they were filming, was Heath Ledger actually at the site where the Hospital was being blown up, or was he put in later during post production? The latter would make sense since having him actually be there would have been dangerous, plus if he messed up, they wouldn't have been able to do another take. If it is the latter, then that's the best blue screen work I've ever seen.
  11. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2001
    Heath Ledger was there. According to Nolan, they rehearsed that scene for hours and hours. Ledger only had one take to do it right. And he nailed it in exactly one take.
  12. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

    Jun 20, 2001
    A few years back, someone here pointed out that Robin enters the picture fairly early in Batman's career, so he should be older than a baby.
  13. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

    Jun 20, 2001
    They took quite a risk with that. Thanks.
  14. S. Gomez

    S. Gomez Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 9, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
  15. Caligula

    Caligula Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 26, 2001
    Knoxville, TN USA
    As far as I'm concerned, it isn't about the number of votes overall, but rather the percentage of those which are positive. "Excellent" right now is getting approximately 80% of the vote. Not too shabby.
  16. JacksonArcher

    JacksonArcher Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2001
    I think Nolan was probably just poking a little fun, but he has definitely gone on record saying he doesn't think Robin will be in any of his films. Christian Bale has even said that he hopes never to share the screen with such a "ridiculous" character as Robin.
  17. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

    Jun 26, 2001
    2001 - 2016
    ^ Coincidentally Bale was in the running for Robin but was turned down. Could be bitterness...
  18. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

    Jun 20, 2001
    Like most people he probably has every popular version of Robin stuck in his head and thinks that that's what the character will be like in Nolan's movies. If that's the case, I think that's too bad.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2008
  19. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

    Jun 20, 2001
    Yeah, but in the end, he got "Batman".
  20. TheBrew

    TheBrew Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 19, 2001
    Fox Lady
    I think Ra's wasn't trying to show animalistic nature of society or the corruption of man. He already believed it was corrupt and wanted to spread a cleansing fire so that it could start anew and pure.