Monday, March 2, 2009

The 'Dull' Knight

Movie Review: The Dark Knight (and, in that sense, Iron Man)

Okay, so let me state right up front that the days of me and my husband seeing movies the night they open are far behind us. We're not that old, we just act like it.

Sure, there are some movies we see first thing (anything with Jet Li or Jackie Chan leaps to mind, because the husband loves them), but since our daughter got old enough to date and therefore go with someone else to the Disney releases, usually we miss even the 'event' movies. But that's what DVDs are for, right?

For instance, we missed "Iron Man" when it came out, though we caught that at the dollar theater. And we missed "The Dark Knight" until DVD time. In fact, until right before the Oscars. And now, I have to ask -- really, everyone thinks this movie is the be-all, end-all for superhero movies? And that Heath Ledger's performance was amazing? Really?

Now, before all the Heath adorers get on me, I think the guy was both handsome and talented, and yes, it's a loss to all, but more to his daughter than anyone else. But all that aside, when I watched his performance, I didn't see 'transcendent'. I saw Heath doing Jack Nicholson doing the Joker from Tim Burton's "Batman". Was it good? Sure. Was it fun? Sure. Was it worth the Academy Award? Um...not so much, no. I frankly found Aaron Eckhart's character and characterization to be far more vital to the film.

But, we all know that it was the last chance to honor Heath, so, okay, sorry all the other nominees, but it's Posthumous Year and that's all there is to it.

However, the movie itself was lauded so much, and people were downright upset that it wasn't up for Best Picture, surely it was great? Um, no, not so much.

First off, I don't know what Christopher Nolan said to Christian Bale, but that 'Batman Growl' has GOT to go. My husband laughed every time Batman talked in the movie.

Next, let's deal with length. As in, this movie is too long. Why do I say that? Well, because unless there's a Hobbit in it and Peter Jackson directing it, no action movie should be so long that I, in the comfort of my own home, wonder when this thing is going to end. Which I did. Frequently, once we were past the 70 minute mark. Not because I was timing it, but because I was...bored.

Yes. I was bored during a superhero movie, and anyone who knows me knows that this is difficult to achieve. I loved "Daredevil" and I loved "The Phantom" and I was rather kind to "The Shadow" and I worship "The X-Men" and can debate the merits of all 3 "Spiderman" films, and so on, and I can also guarantee that none of these bored me at any point in time.

I also didn't like Maggie Gyllenhaal over Katie Holmes and feel the Tom Cruise backlash can stop any time now. I could see everyone fighting over Katie. Over Maggie, again, not so much.

Finally, we have the issue of scripting, which goes along with length. I feel the movie should have ended at the hospital with the Joker and Two-Face, and the 3rd movie pick up where that left off. But even if not, they killed off Two-Face. Really? This is a major villain in the Batman franchise, and Eckhart did an amazing job with him, and he's dead? And if not, if he's alive and the good guys are just pretending, then the audience should have a hint of that before the film ends. And where was Arkham Asylum? Not mentioned, but since that's where the Joker's headed and all the major villains hang out in between torturing Gotham and Batman, why not? Surely there was a minute in this long film to devote to this.

I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't love it. For love, we turn to "Iron Man". Seriously, out of the superhero movies of last year, the nomination should have been to Robert Downey, Jr. and it should have been for best actor for "Iron Man". He was transcendent. Iron Man is a rather dull character on the comics pages -- not awful, but not as fun as others. But in Downey's hands, he's the best there is. "Iron Man" ended too early for me, I wanted more and can't wait for the sequel. By comparison, "The Dark Knight" ended far too late and I was far too bored and now I don't care nearly so much when the next movie in that franchise arrives.

But I can't wait to see Downey as Tony Stark/Iron Man again, even if it's just a cameo. Even if it's just 30 seconds. And that is the definition of a great movie and an Oscar-worthy performance.

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Anonymous James Seidler said...

I love comics, and I agree with you on the Dark Knight--the whole plot was a sour deus ex machina. The Joker embodied an unpredictable wild card who unfolded meticulously scripted plans. Huh? And why don't the police ever shoot at him?

(I put a longer response up on my blog: "The Dark Knight is Strongman Claptrap"

I thought Iron Man was more fun and more mature, a great translation of a character who isn't always exciting on the page.

One question, though...Daredevil? Really?

March 4, 2009 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger . said...

I'll have to check out your review, James!

And, really, I love Daredevil. Daredevil's the only movie where owning the theatrical release and the Director's Cut makes sense. (And, um, yeah, I own them both.) In theaters, they played up the romance. In the director's cut, it's downplayed and the legal aspects are played up. They run like 2 different movies.

And, yeah, I love Ben Affleck. I don't find him wooden and with the right directors he's great. I thought Daredevil did what it was supposed to do, and it's not that movie's fault that Spiderman released the same year with a MUCH larger budget.

Of course, I'm not nearly so kind on Elektra...


March 4, 2009 at 10:30 AM  

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