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Aug 20, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: The Dark Knight

Let's see...it's the number two film of all time at the box office, every film critic and/or movie blogger in the world has written not just one but probably multiple things about it, I've seen it twice (opening night and again a week later)...and yet here it is a month later and I've yet to write a word about The Dark Knight.

Unfortunately, I don't see myself coming up with anything brilliant and/or new to say about the film in the coming days, and I'm sick of seeing this post in draft mode, so what you see is what you get.

Here is one reactionary comment, though: immediately upon the film's release, a number of people wondered aloud about its PG-13 rating, wanting to know how a film so violent could not be rated R (if not worse). I'm not sure if I saw the same movie as them. Outside of a gory (non-violent) half-face and a bunch of action that falls in line with other films with the same rating, the only scenes that really stood out for people were a) when the Joker hands a few thugs a broken pool cue and tells them more or less to fight to the death (an outcome of which we don't see a lick of) and b) the infamous pencil-to-the-brain move, a brilliantly shot and edited piece of violence that happens so fast, the audience barely has time to register what has occurred before putting their hand to their mouth and squealing "Oohhhh!!"

Was this a shocking move? Sure, and it's kind of unpleasant to think about as well - even more so had we been shown more. But, first of all, we weren't, and second, if you sit back for a minute and think about it, is there really any difference between a pencil to the brain and a bullet to the brain, which is something that any casual viewer of action/crime films has most likely seen a number of times? If anything, this is a testimonial to how benign violence with a gun has become to us in film. But surely we aren't so hypocritical to think that one method of killing a person is groovy while another is a moral outrage, are we?

Shockingly, I agree with just about everyone that the film is great. My only big gripes were with the length (broken record time: I don't care how good a movie is, an action flick should never be 150 minutes long. Ever.), as the plot was tailor made to be split in two (though Ledger's death would have shot that plan to hell, anyhow) and with the lack of screen time for the great William Fichtner, given but a minute of screen time in the memorable opening. Lesser gripes are to be found, as are lavish praise, but you've heard all that before.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You're the best...around!"

11 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Dark Knight"

WaywardJam said...

I half expected Fichtner to have a canister of Joker gas in his mouth, but then ka-blooey!

I think ppl associate the dark vibe with being more violent though, like you point out, we're never shown the money shots.

Tony Tanti said...

Yeah, I've heard over and over that this movie should have been rated higher because it was "dark" like somehow the tone of the movie makes it hard for kids to watch. I love dark movies.

I liked this one a lot too.

I've said before that I think Begins was still the better movie, the origin story was more interesting to me. What do you think?

David Bishop said...

I still wish they could have found a way for somebody to get gassed with Scarecrow's toxin and then give us a first person POV of the Joker. That might have been R rated.

The Dark Knight didn't seem all that dark of a film for me. I felt quite optimistic leaving the theater. I wouldn't feel comfortable letting any of my hypothetical children seeing it, but that has more to do with the violence than the message.

David Bishop said...

"I wouldn't feel comfortable letting any of my hypothetical children seeing it"

...I really do need to go back to school.

Anonymous said...

I haven't liked either Begins or Knight as well as Burton's original, but like Tony, I guess I liked Begins better.

I can understand, Fletch, why you couldn't bring yourself to post the piece ... it's such a thoroughly discussed film it's hard to think of a fresh angle, although you did well enough.

Fletch said...

Wayne - like I said, I saw it twice, and I still thought Fichtner indeed did have a canister of gas in his mouth. No?

Tony - I've seen both a lot lately (what with Begins on TV all the time), and I...well, I'm not sure. The initial reaction was probably in line with a lot of other people's (that this was the best comic book action flick of all time). Whether or not perspective and time changes that, I still can't say. That's another reason why it took me so long to write anything - I didn't want to get caught up in the hype (even my own).

I guess I'll say that it's daaaamn close, but I'm still gonna give the edge to TDK.

David - seeing the Joker through the Scarecrow's toxin might have been the shot of the series. The shot of Batman in Begins all black and oozing is my current favorite.

I think I'd let my hypothetical 12 or 13 year old see it, but probably no younger.

Rick - I love Burton's original and hate that the films are even compared, but I suppose that's totally unavoidable. They are just sooooo different in so many ways (tone, style, acting, sets, you name it). If I had to pick one to live and one to die, I'd probably still go with Burton's, if for no other reason than that I was 13 when it came out and it meant a lot more to me then than Nolan's series could to me now.

WaywardJam said...

Having only seen it once so far, I think Fichtner was eating gas, I just expected Joker gas and that he'd start laughing to death.

I don't think you can compare Burton's to Nolan's. It was a different time and the emotions of the country were different. They will both stand the test of time, they both stay mostly true to the comic roots, but they are extremely difficult to compare.

I figure we get one more good dark film from Nolan & Bale. After that a new director and actor take it in a different, lighter direction; not Schumacher light but lighter.

Daniel G. said...

I thought this was the most appropriately rated movie of the year. You people who like Saw and Hostel can go and watch your torture porn and high five at the goriness. I'm a lot more freaked out when my imagination is doing the work, as it had to here when The Joker would slice people's faces apart.

Fletch said...

Daniel - Amen, brother. Though the finale was a letdown, something like Blair Witch is 50x scarier than most every other horror flick. That's also what made El Orfanato so good - all the horror was in your head.

Wayne - I know this is a pipe dream, but howzabout no one takes over after one more from Nolan? Is that too much to ask?

Yea...I know it is. :(

WaywardJam said...

Answered your own question. Either the fans or the studios will keep wringing this xter for everything its worth.

nick plowman said...

What a great review, of a great film.