Mark Terry

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight

July 24, 2008
I took my oldest son to see "The Dark Knight" last night when my youngest got invited over to a friend's house. My wife and I had decided TDK was probably too dark and violent for a 10-year-old and as of right now, we made the right decision.

Did I like this movie?


I recognize that it was probably great. The script was good, the dialogue was terrific, the action scenes wonderful, the acting fantastic. From all those points-of-view, it was a brilliant movie.

That doesn't, however, mean I liked it.

Oh, let me count the ways.

1. Long. The movie runs 2-1/2 hours and felt like 3 (at least). I kept pulling out my cell phone to check the time. This movie never seems to end. And I don't mean that just because it's long. People have accused "The Return of the King" of having multiple endings, jeez, go see "The Dark Knight." Ian suggested it should have ended back when Harvey Dent gets turned into Two-Face. I'm inclined to agree. (Ooooh, is that a spoiler? Then you don't know much about Batman.)

2. Imagine for a moment that you went to see a gritty urban drama about a crusading public defender and cop who were trying to fight corruption in their city and shut down the mob. Take all the violence and noir qualities of say, a Scorsese film (without the swearing), then throw in Batman. Yep, you got TDK. Now, briefly, imagine taking your 14-year-old to see "The Departed" and imagine your ambivalence.

3. The beginning of "Iron Man" is pretty intense. (Hang with me here, there's a point to be made). Robert Downey, Jr.'s character, Tony Stark, gets ambushed in Afghanistan and is kidnapped by terrorists and with another man, forced to rebuild a missile system from scratch. Instead, he builds the prototype for the Iron Man and escapes, though his faithful assistant gets killed in the process. It's pretty real, pretty grim and yet... "Iron Man" was fun. (I saw it twice. It rocks.) I saw "Hulk" this summer, and although I don't think it's a great movie, it was still kind of fun. Spider-Man movies, of various stages of quality, still fun. The last Superman... okay, that movie just sucked. But my point is, call me old-fashioned, but when I'm watching a movie about a comic book superhero, I sort of expect it to be fun, even if it is dark and "serious." There was precious little fun to be found in "The Dark Knight." I think there's a fairly distinct line to be drawn in making these types of movies that allows it to be "serious" and artistic and yet be entertaining and fun. For me, TDK crossed it and the result was a brilliant, dark, grim and largely depressing film.

4. Who the hell is the audience for "The Dark Knight?" I had to wonder. It had a PG-13 rating, but frankly, I think the directors must have been sleeping with members of the ratings board to keep it from getting an R. Did I mention the part where the Joker places a pencil upright on a table then slams a guy's head onto it? Did we mention dozens of deaths and murders? How about the various scenes of torture? Beatings? How about the guy who's got a bomb sewn into his stomach? How about Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckland, going up in flames, then us seeing half of his charred face? So I'm guessing, that despite bringing my 14-year-old to it, the real audience for this movie were college-age males (although there was little or no sex or nudity, so who knows who the demographic was?)

Oh well. Anybody here see it? What did you think?

Mark Terry


Blogger Allie said...

I really liked it (and I'm a 31 year old woman). It was the first movie I've seen in a long time where the dialogue never pulled me out of the movie -- bad dialogue always gets me going -- it was clever, some of the action scenes were almost beautiful, and the acting was amazing. But I wasn't sitting next to a 14 year old trying to squelch the desire to cover his eyes. I was pretty appalled when I realized it wasn't rated R. And it was hard to watch. A friend of mine said he couldn't wait to go back to see it again. I'm a little worried about him. I'm glad I saw it. It makes me happy that Hollywood is still capable of putting together a movie that tight. I was pretty blown away by it, but I probably won't watch it again. It was a lot to take in.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I can't debate its quality. Just like a lot of reviewers have said, it's probably brilliant. It's just... wow, you know, this movie should be more controversial that it seems to be.

6:51 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

My major issue with it was the timing. The first ending left me wondering if that was the end, and also left me feeling it fell a little flat. It took me about ten minutes to adjust to the fact that we weren't wrapping things up: we were gearing towards another ending. And then, I could never get my footing after that. Were there two more endings? It made the climax totally anti-climactic, because it just... wasn't clear.

I do love that it doesn't have fun. Batman Begins blew me away. Even DH liked it. I was expecting as much from The Dark Night, and it would've, but it didn't, because of the whole timing thing. It really would have been a fabulous movie, otherwise. Maybe it would improve upon a second viewing, since I now know where the climax is.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Melanie Avila said...

I loved it and agree it needed to conclude a couple endings before it did. I blogged about it on Sunday because I saw it in Spanish. I think I got most of what happened - a online discussion helped fill in a few gaps - but I want to see it in English to get the full Ledger effect.

I agree it wasn't appropriate for kids. There were many children under 10 years old in the theater, but most of them just slept.

8:25 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Oh, and I forgot: what did you think about that whole cell phone eavesdropping point? I really felt like someone was being overly obvious in saying: this is wrong. And at the same time, they failed to completely make that point because he does go forward and use that power, despite the fact they know it's wrong. I didn't feel like it was trying to make the point: this is sometimes okay. So that whole bit threw me out of the story.

Or am I just overly sensitive because of recent politics?

10:20 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

--actually, my problem with the whole cell phone surveillance issue wasn't ethical, it was technical. WHEN exactly did all this happen? WHO did it? Bruce? Is Bruce some sort of technical savant suddenly or is there some technical staff of Keebler Elves working in the basement of the Wayne Enterprises building working on this stuff?

But then again... it's Batman.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dropped by from Erika's blog and here's my two cents ... I think TDK was a very "of the moment" movie in the sense that its darkness and even violence reflect what's going on in our country at large. I don't want to get all political, but there's some truth to the old adage that art reflects life. Right now, in our country, we have leaders refusing to disavow torture, graphic photos of the sexual humiliation of prisoners in US control being shown on the nightly news, discussion of whether waterboarding is technically torture, and people being "secretly rendered" to overseas prisons where they are overtly tortured. This isn't even to mention the hundreds of people being held for years in Guantanamo, with no legal rights and most of them having given coerced statements. Just last week, a judge threw out statements from one defendant because we obtained them through torture. And, of course, this is all in response to a gang of terrorists flying jet-liners into skyscrapers in broad daylight and killing 3,000 people. These are horrible times.

So ...

I have a 13-year-old son. He's no fool. He's aware of what's going on in the news. And he loved TDK. I don't think these things are as foreign to our kids as we wish.


10:36 AM  
Blogger R.J. Keller said...

I loved it (37 year old woman here) and so did my 13 year old son. I knew from just the previews that it would be too much for my 12 year old daughter, just because her make up is different.

Personally the length didn't bother me. Maybe it's because I saw the movie at midnight in a theater filled with comic book geeks and the atmosphere was simply electric. Total group buzz. It doesn't happen very often and I was really digging it.

If I remember correctly (and I've only seen it once, so I'll pay more attention next time I see it) the electronic eavesdropping thing was eluded to near the beginning when Lucius Fox (I think?) mentioned a 'breach of security' in some system or other. Bruce gave him a reluctant, anvil-dropping 'yeah, I know' kind of answer. There may have been a time frame mentioned too, although I'm not positive about that.

I agree with Spy about that part taking me out of the movie, though, and back into the real world. It took me a minute to get back into fantasyland.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Walt said...

I made a "quick review" after watching it, and mirrored your thoughts, saying that TDK is the best movie I ever wish I could un-see.

I thought about making a much longer review, but I'd probably start with all of your points and expand them.

In short, TDK is the essence of Grim and Gritty. It's the side of comic books that is dead serious, and therefore, the most dramatic.

Problem was? I didn't want to see it.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, shorter would have been better. The first half hour, in particular, dragged. Heath Ledger was BRILLIANT as The Joker. In my mind, he made the movie. I thought Christian Bale was a very dull Batman, though. (Michael Keaton was my favorite B-man.) And stop with the two-headed coin-tossing, already. I get it.

There was some great action and great effects, but overall, I was disappointed. But this movie got so much hype, my expectations were really high.

Ironman, on the other hand, far exceeded my expectations.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got back from seeing the movie and I LOVED it. I'm glad that there was a dark gloomier side.
I have one question. Earlier in the movie when Bruce Wayne was talking to Alfred was there a mention of "Stark Enterprises" in the dialogue?

9:01 PM  

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