“Dark” Certainly Describes It
The problem with not seeing certain movies on the opening day is that you hear other people talking about it, unsuspectingly getting your expectations up. The Dark Knight is one of these movies. Acquaintances of mine have raved about it, even going so far as to watch it more than once. I, however, have yet to watch any film in which I could justify a multi-theater experience. At any rate, I was thinking, if what people say about The Dark Knight is even ten percent true, it’s going to be a decent action flick.
Another reason why I was feeling a bit leery at the prospect of seeing this movie was that this would be the first movie I’ve seen in a theater since Casino Royale. I’m not even going to try to convince anyone that I was too busy to go to a theater since the Christmas of 2006. It’s just that I’m beginning to believe that going to a theater is pointless unless it’s playing a movie with lots of fighting and explosions. It’s the whole sonic experience. The DVD is not the same.
While I enjoyed Christian Bale’s performance in Batman Begins and would say that it was a really good film, I never really compared it to the previous Batman films because it was all about Bruce Wayne/Batman rather than the villains. The Dark Knight on the other hand is all about the villain–Batman, despite the title, is actually more like a strong secondary character. When people say that the antagonist is the foil to the protagonist, I’d say the protagonist is the foil to the antagonist. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker steals every scene. While Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the original 1989 movie was like an obnoxious and petulant teenager hopped up on too many happy pills, the Joker in The Dark Knight is devoid of all self-preservation, psychotic and compelling all rolled into one. He creeps you out even while he makes you laugh.
The more philosophical bent of the film was interesting. Some might argue that this elevates this beyond the superhero genre. Partly it’s about the concept of morality as being not so black and white. It’s also about rules and the lack thereof. While law-abiding citizens follow rules, the usual criminals and the mob do things for money, and even Batman follows a code of his own while sinking deeper into moral ambiguity–the Joker follows no rules which makes him far more dangerous than all the other crooks in Gotham combined.
I’d have to say that The Dark Knight was probably better than all of the previous Batman films. Or at least I liked it better than the others. Sure, there was plenty of action, cool gadgets, and angsty characters. But I think my favorite scene probably made me understand why some people might want to throw more money at the local theater: the Joker in a nurse’s uniform blowing up the General Hospital before escaping on a school bus. Evil and insanity wrapped up in something white and wholesome–the physical embodiment of practically every other characters’ (or everyone’s, perhaps?) psychological state.