30 December 2008
  the dark knight

honestly, i waited just about as long as i could to see this movie, which is sort of surprising, because i really enjoyed batman begins. granted, i'm no super hero movie afficionado (i think i've seen a grand total of three or four-- all batman) but i thought batman begins was a really good action movie, well acted and interestingly written. and i fully intended to go and watch the sequel in the theater. of course, then the hype began. and, as everyone who knows me knows, i am not one for joining crowds. i sort of run screaming away from them. so there was no way i was going to wait in line for a movie everyone was telling me to go see. still, i pretty much had to see it eventually, even though there was pretty much no way that it could live up its gargantuan buildup.

and of course it didn't. . . sort of. reading the entertainment weekly blog, i came across this slapdash, but on point review by mike bruno. basically he says that there was nothing wrong with this movie, but when he finally watched it, his expectations had been raised to such a dizzying degree that there was no way it could have been good enough to please him. quite honestly, the last time i can think of that a movie had this much public build-up was when titanic came out in 1997. the difference, however, is that titanic lived up to and probably exceeded the hype. the dark knight is, in contrast, a fine but dramatically dramatically dramatically overexposed and overrated film.

. . . that is, with one exception. heath ledger, i think, actually did live up to the hype for me. his performance really was exquisite. the weird thing is that i have seen him in several films, and he has never pulled off a performance like this before. i mean, where did this come from? how did he get so talented all of a sudden? and this wasn't one of those philip seymour hoffman as truman capote perfect person for the role kind of moments. i mean, he should have been the WRONG person for the role, but for some reason it worked. i absolutely think he deserves to be mentioned as one of the best performances of the year, and not just out of any need to memorialize him. he's just plain good.

on the other hand, there were quite a few things about this film that really could have been better. first of all, and most importantly, it is entirely too long. there are long, really boring sequences especially in the second half that really begged to be curtailed by a better director and editor. this should have been a punchier and more energized film. instead it verged on being too cerebral at points, and without a doubt too self-important. second, whereas i really liked christian bale in batman begins, here his performance is really overdramatic and frankly weird (especially when he is playing batman). once again, i think a better director would have reeled him in. and finally, as in batman begins where katie holmes is poorly used window dressing, once again, here, maggie gyllenhal, probably one of the best young working actresses is completely underutilized. i think in some ways the script actually makes her look bad. is there some reason these comic book guys can't write a decent part for a woman? and if they are going to continue writing these women as shallow and one dimensional, cast someone who can pull that kind of performance off.

in any case, i sort of liked the dark knight. i especially enjoyed the parts with heath ledger as the joker, and i would definitely consider him for a best supporting actor nomination. but if this film gets any more nominations, either for best pic, screenplay or director, it is without a doubt the result of a campaign of unparalleled strength.
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