Saturday, July 19, 2008

Why "The Dark Knight" Beat the Hype.

It feels real. In a time where most movies are so chock-full of special effects that it's hard to pick out a single character that seems like they exist in our world, it's refreshing to see a film that's this organic.


After the movie, I actually had to think about where CG might have been involved. Obvious answers are the sonar images from the cell phones. Other than that, though, nothing popped out at me. Everything else felt real. After thinking about it (and discussing with a friend today) I realized that Two Face's "bad" size must have been CG, but at the time I thought it was just amazingly good makeup. The scenes where Batman flies through the air seem unbelievably realistic, but they were probably CG.

The music was breathtaking. The "Joker Theme" (not sure what it's called) with the gradually building tension of the string instruments is somewhat terrifying, especially combined with Ledger's much-acclaimed performance. Which mind you, actually deserves every bit of hype it's received as well. Ledger redefined the character. It's like Brando in The Godfather. It's definitive, and can never be recreated better than this. I thought Jack Nicholson was a great Joker until I saw this performance. Now I think of Nicholson's performance as good and somewhat whimsical, but miles away from capturing the depth of the Joker's madness.

The script was ruthless. Refusing to take the easy way out, the brothers Nolan (who wrote the screenplay) torment Batman and the viewers by presenting us with decisions that return no good outcome. Harvey Dent, through mild provocation from the Joker, turns from Gotham's white knight to a black-hearted maniac driven by nothing but hatred for the loss of his love, who at first we believe will be okay but then is brutally taken away from us. In the end, Batman and others have made decisions that hurt themselves and those they love, but there is no consolation prize; we end in ruin, Batman having shed most of his soul to save Gotham for which he cares so deeply, only to be shunned by society and figuratively cut down for his efforts.

In the end, we are left with a film that takes no easy way out. It shows us hard choices and makes us squirm thinking about how we'd react ourselves. It gives us a villain that is sick, twisted, and not necessarily driven by any reason other than to "watch the world burn." It begins in flames and ends in ruin, and it's the best comic-book movie ever created, period.


Blogger Chad said...

Amen, brother.

Every last word of it.

9:07 PM  

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