The Dark Knight

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Trekker4747, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. Pemmer Harge

    Pemmer Harge Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's a really good film and in terms of spectacle, you can't ask for much better. That said, I did enjoy Batman Begins a bit more. No doubt Dark Knight went in for the heavier themes, but I found the structure of the first film a bit tighter, which made it the more enjoyable experience for me.

    Overall, I'm a Tim Burton man, but I'm very happy for Nolan to be handling the franchise for now.
     
  2. Jack Bauer

    Jack Bauer Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's not just a great comic book movie...it's a great movie. I like it more and more each time I've seen it.
     
  3. Shazam!

    Shazam! Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This movie is hugely overrated; from the raping of Two Face, Gordon's 100% unnecessary 'death', the riduculous Bond-like excursion to China (!) and Ledger's Joker inspiring a thousand uninspired Halloween costumes. It's probably a good film, but a terrible Batman movie.

    Begins is the superior of the two Nolan movies in that it actually feels like a Batman movie and not some crime movie with a gadget man running round.
     
  4. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How was the excursion to China ridiculous? I agree that it was definitely Bond influenced but there have been elements of Bond to Batman in the comics. Batman needed to bring Lau back to Gotham. I found it very reasonably depicted and executed except for the automatic plane. I realize this was meant to imply a pre-Batwing existence but still, aside from that I thought it was a great sequence.

    It was inevitable that Ledger's Joker was going to be popular...I'm not sure how inspiring 'a thousand Halloween costumes' makes this a bad Batman film. It's not like Jack Nicolson's Joker didn't inspire it's own myriad of costumes after that version came out. I also don't get how it can be called a terrible Batman movie.
     
  5. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's probably the most apt criticism of the Bat voice I've heard. You can hear the effort Bale has in giving every syllable in each word - it's distracting.

    This, entirely. I'm more then willing to give the film a pass for the Joker staging implausible or even downright impossible plots - this is pretty much the norm not just for comic books, but action summer blockbusters in general. Nolan's Batman movies are realistic in the sense the Die Hard films are realistic (although judging by Live Free, they probably aim for greater plausibility).

    But the thing one expects as given from a comic book movie is motivation. Your villain has his reasons for doing what he does, even if it is, as with Heath Ledger's Joker, just to watch the world burn. Harvey Dent delivers an about-face (ha ha I make funny) that is far too abrupt given what we've seen of the character to date.

    People buy it not because it makes sense in the movie, but because it's Two-Face - they'll all expecting him to go nuts and start coin tossing the moment he gets the symbolic charring of half of his face. It fits the checklist but not the narrative.

    History of Violence wasn't bad either. And I got a soft spot for Persepolis.

    But yeah, the Dark Knight is really a stellar bit of blockbuster moviemaking and storytelling. Wouldn't be surprised if it remains the gold standard for some time, and the biggest fear Batman 3 is going to have is living up to that ungoldly hype... but then, Dark Knight had a bucketload of hype paving its routes as well.
     
  6. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I had a nearly overwhelming urge to laugh at the movie by the end. But then, I wasn't so blown away by poor old Heath Ledger's performance I wasn't painfully aware of how preposterous the Joker's plots were. How sad that an actor who had already done so much will be remembered for this.

    Joker as terrorist was pretentious nonsense. As explained very clearly above, Two-Face as a character was nonsense, sold only by Aaron Eckhart's truly amazing performance, a far more impressive (and essential to the movie) achievement than Ledger's. Whole segments of the movie are pointless or bungled.

    And the action scenes sucked. They were incomprehensible, except when you realize that many of the cuts were so you wouldn't see Batman lumbering around in his costume. In retrospect, the movie can only appeal to people who enjoy seeing a Bat vehicle pointlessly but repeatedly slam through walls, without wondering how none of the explosives are detonate or the aiming/firing mechanisms damaged.

    I think the particular kind of badness in Dark Knight is shown most clearly in the ferry scene. No one on the ferries has any good reason to believe the Joker is a man of his word. But everyone is written as believing perfect nonsense so the movie can pose a fake dramatic choice, supposedly with existential implications, no less!
     
  7. PsychoPere

    PsychoPere Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Haha, nope. It was while Batman was in Hong Kong. The film was shut off just as he was getting ready to leave the building with Lau.
     
  8. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure I agree with this. I had a similar reaction the first time I saw TDK, but every time I've re-watched the movie, I've noticed little things that have made Dent's transformation more believable.

    The important thing to realize about Dent is that he's really not the White Knight that he's built up to be. Dent is a flawed character from the start. Among other things, he's a control freak. He is more than willing to cheat and deceive other people to get what he wants and to get his way. And at the same time, he truly believes in his own ability to control and manipulate events and determine outcomes. He sees himself as a winner, when in reality, he's just a cheater.

    All of these tendencies are symbolized and embodied by the two-headed coin, and his boast that he makes his own luck--both obvious examples of bad faith. He bullshits others into thinking that he is winning fairly. Then he bullshits himself into thinking that he's winning fairly, by congratulating himself on his own skill at deception.

    The Joker sees though Dent: this is why he places Dent in a situation that he truly can't control, and forces him to play a game that can't be rigged. And Dent loses this game--badly. He not only doesn't get to be the hero--he loses the woman he loves, and winds up hideously burned.

    Compared to the Joker, Dent is an amateur. The Joker outsmarts him completely, without even trying. In fact, the Joker isn't even all that concerned about Dent: his true target is Batman.

    And it's the fact that the Joker has defeated Dent, without even stretching himself, that provides the key to Dent's transformation. The Joker has taken the mask off of reality, and Dent cannot bear to look on the face underneath. He cannot face the fact that he is not in control of events--that he is merely a pawn in the Joker's game with Batman--merely object, instead of subject. Similarly, he cannot face the fact that he is not a winner, and has never been a winner. He could only win by cheating--and the Joker has cheated him fair and square.

    Once his self-image has been shattered, Dent can do one of two things: he can act in good faith, and acknowledge his own nature--or he can continue to act in bad faith. Unfortunately, it's his nature to deceive himself--and he does so by essentially reversing his previous worldview. Like so many losers, he refuses to acknowledge that he lost because his opponents were too strong and skillful for him. He refuses to acknowledge that there was any justice in his defeat. It was all just luck--chance. If he can't be in complete control of events, then he refuses to exercise any control at all: he'll just leave everything up to a coin flip.

    In this case, of course, much like Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Dent is continuing to act in bad faith. He's not really leaving anything up to chance--just using the coin flip to deceive himself about his own agency. As Carla Jean says at the end of No Country for Old Men: "The coin don't have no say. It's just you."

    And in Dent's case, we see him getting around an inconvenient coin flip--giving himself a do-over--by flipping again, and then shooting Maroni's driver, when the coin won't allow him to shoot Maroni. He doesn't shoot the Joker, by contrast, because to do so despite an adverse coin flip would require more authenticity than he possesses. In the end, he really is Two-Face--to himself as much as he is to others.

    You know--I never really thought about the parallels between Two-Face and Chigurh until I started writing this post. I'm sure someone else has discussed the possible connection between these two characters, and their movies.
     
  9. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The italics are added. The Joker's superiority is a script cheat, of course. Apparently there are people who get off on the Joker's sheer coolness, physically impossible or not, and live in a fantasy world where people are losers because they, themselves, are losers. This is why the absurdity of the Joker's escapades is bad faith writing. It can't really be passed off as simple entertainment. In truth, many people lose a rigged game. The Joker rigged the game with Maggie Gyllenhaal and rigged the game with the ferries. Dent replacing his rigged coin with a real coin means there's no way to hold the interpretation above.

    Everybody who heard Gordon's admission that all the cops called him Two-Face the whole time knows that there is in fact no change in Dent at all. Which means (if something like Dark Knight could actually be said to have meaning at all,) that there was no point to the Joker/Dent confrontation. It merely seemed to about something. Which is pretty much the summary of the whole damn movie.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2010
  10. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    One of my first reactions to "No Country for Old Men" was "aw, this guy is just a Two-Face rip-off". :D I'm sure the thought occurred to me during the gas station scene. I still liked the movie, though.

    One thing that I always notice about Nolan's movies (particularly after watching "Inception" a second time) is how good he is at making everything that happens feel important. He has an excellent command of scope and knows how to do 'epic', which hides narrative weakness very well. I think it's his choices as director with the way he shoots and the cinematography and music that all contribute to this.

    I feel that way about "The Dark Knight" as much as "Inception". When I think about it and talk about it, I can analyze and criticize the hell out of the writing with the way too convoluted plot and sometimes unconvincing character beats (I agree that Harvey's transformation comes across as too rushed), but when I watch the movie, the look and sound of it is so captivating, it's easy to overlook or forget whatever storytelling flaws it may have.

    The only thing that has consistently bugged me from the beginning visually and intellectually is that sonar stuff at the end, which I found just tedious, ridiculous, unnecessary and way too dragged out. I hate Bale's Batman voice too. Doesn't everyone? :p Despite the missteps with the Two-Face character, I think his last scene is masterful. His conversation with Gordon and Batman is some intense stuff. I remember the first time I watched the movie it got my heart pounding more than anything else that happened, and I still find it a rivetingly heart-wrenching scene to watch.
     
  11. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is all true, and if Harvey Dent had become an out of control vigilante after being horrible scarred... I would have bought that. We get a hint of that earlier in the film - he's willing to go too far in the name of what he wants.

    But after the love of his life has been killed by this sick bastard the Joker, he's going to embrace existential uncertainy and kill in the name of that... thus leaving the Joker unharmed but Comissioner Gordon not so.

    See this is not something I buy. There's hints that Dent could go off into the dark end and become a guy pretty much out to get what he wants, but there isn't a logical sequence where this random chance is what he wants - I can't see any plausible scene between him and the Joker that doesn't end up with him trying to kill the Joker.

    He may even realise as much as you postulate... but that would still require him to kill the Joker in rage and revenge and shame.

    Sort of don't see a way this Dent can avoid this, coin toss or no. We needed more development here - a better look at his instability - then the film's running time or plotting could realistically allow.
     
  12. startrekwatcher

    startrekwatcher Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it is overrated. It was too long, way too much action, Two-Face was wasted, Gyllenhal sucked and as a result I could have cared less about her death and its effect on Harvey & Bruce. Also rather than being a well constructed narrative it was just one long patchwork of several different setpieces that didn't add up to a whole lot.

    Pretty average fare in my opinion.
     
  13. Shazam!

    Shazam! Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If the Batwing had shown up that would have been awesome.
    Yeah, but Nicholson's Joker costume is miles better.
    Batman seriously considers giving up the cowl. It's like they got it the wrong way round. If anything, he should be considering giving up Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is the disguise, not Batman.
     
  14. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I think, in these movies at least, they're both the disguise. We know the Bruce Wayne the public gets to see, the wise-ass, babe toting, speeding, ignorant to world events playboy, is a "disguise" and not the "real Bruce Wayne. Batman is a disguise because as Batman Bruce Wayne has to act and behave in a manner he doesn't agree with and even go to extremes (the listening/"SONAR" device, to accomplish his goals.

    But then we've the "real" Bruce Wayne. The Bruce Wayne he shows Lucious, Alfred and Rachel. In these movies Bruce is never really "himself" except when he's with these people and even then only when his guard is down.

    I think Harvey Dent's "change" makes some sens but, really, needed some more pushing. We see how "unstable" he is in the scene where he has a captured Arkham patient in an alley and is questioning him about The Joker. His use of the coin also shows how much Dent likes to manipulate people. But he was overly sold as nothing more than a slick, smooth-talking, D.A. who was good at his job with a hint or two of an "edge" (again, the alley scene) but yeah his turnabout into Two-Face seems pretty quick. But it's possible the death of Rachel, the betrayal of the police (most notably Gordon not taking Dent's word that the men in MCU were crooked), the betrayal of Batman (with the apparent saving of him rather than Rachel) and his horrible disfigurement was enough to just push him over the edge. From his POV he had pretty much lost everything he wanted and had worked for and, not only that, he was horribly disfigured. So it was time to get his revenge on those who hurt him.

    Though I agree it would've been nice if the last we see of Dent is when he reveals himself in the hospital and then as the movie goes on we just presume him dead in the explosion, he gets revealed in a final scene and then we use him in the second movie. Because, Eckhart did a really good job with the part and, really, needed a whole movie to flesh things out better.

    The Hong Kong scene was a bit gratuitous, but fun. Although it has "International Incident" written all over it.
     
  15. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Thus the qualifier in the parenthetical. Otherwise we'd have to start talking about AMERICAN SPLENDOR, which I think is terrific, amongst a number of other comic book movies outside the superhero genre.
     
  16. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I do agree that it was too rushed. As I suggested, my analysis was based on hints and clues picked up over repeated viewings. But you shouldn't have to watch a movie a few times to make sense of a major character's development.

    The biggest criticism I would level at The Dark Knight is that it was a quart squeezed into a pint-pot. Nolan tried to do too much in too little time. The pacing was positively breathless at times.
     
  17. Showdown

    Showdown Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I love this movie.

    Its about a trinity. Three heroes working to bring Gotham out of the darkness. Gordon, Dent, and Wayne are flawed heroes. They work tirelessly and nearly acheive victory several times. Its also about a monster. An insane genius, Joker is just as determined to plunge Gotham into madness.

    My favorite scene is the press confrence, where Wayne was surrounded by his "adoring fans" as they turned on Dent and demanded Batman's head on a pike. It showed that Joker turn people against their heroes. It was realistic.

    However, the heroes stuck together, and even though they work outside of each others knowledge, they trust each other to do the right thing. It paid off and the Joker was caught. Victory was fleeting as Joker is a mastermind.

    In the end, the trinity is broken. Two of them cannot work together and the other one, the best of them, is dead. Joker wins.
     
  18. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    I was thinking about the movie today and Batman working openly and directly with the police force to the point where he's right there in the police station doing an interrogation didn't quite ring true. I also wondered if something like that would have been ridiculed if it was in a non-Nolan movie.
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Scenes like that are often dumb, and in the context of the "Nolan 'Verse" it doesn't hold very true. But they're easy to give a pass to when your movie-maker buys some forgiveness and forget with a good story, characterization, directing and production design.

    So it's easier to "forgive" Nolan for the OTT interrogation scene because the movie up to that point, and beyond that point, is really good. He gets a pass. Not because of WHO he is but because what he has done.

    If a similar scene was done in, say, "Batman and Robin" a movie that was already filled with shit then, no, people wouldn't forgive the filmmaker because no forgiveness was earned.
     
  20. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Batman never really was working directly and openly with the police. He was working openly with GORDON and most of the rest of the force only tolerated the Dark Knight's presence. The scene during the montage at the end where Gordon smashes the signal (easily one of my favorite in the film for the emotional overtones it provokes) you can see the cops behind him bobbing up and down in anticipation of the hunt against Batman. Particularly the cop who was in the Joker's cell and about to beat him up for killing his friends. That guy is ready to pounce on Batman.
     

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