The world of Batman is one that I love to revisit time and time again. To say that I am a fan is an understatement. Obsessive is more like it. I have a modest toy collection that is solely based on Batman figures. I have started collecting collectible statues of Batman and I have been reading Batman comics since I’ve learned to, well, read.
Like many Batman fans, I was eagerly anticipating the newest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Forget about Heath Ledger (and I respectfully say that), I was looking forward to another live action excursion to Batman’s world. Anyone who has read my reviews know that I can be extremely critical but the child in me was quite excited about the buzz the film was getting. I kept reading accounts of how great it was—that it is the best Batman movie ever made, the best crime drama ever. The superlatives were just so much that I was beginning to buy into the hype. So I fixed my schedule last week in order to catch the movie in a theater near my home. And I left… deflated.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked the movie, it was quite entertaining and I can safely say it was one of the better Batman movies I’ve seen. But the greatest? I’ll have to disagree.
First, the good things. Christopher Nolan has grown as a filmmaker. The maturity is evident in how he conveyed atmosphere and emotion in well placed shots and camera angles. The first few minutes of the movie can be considered as one of the best first 15 minutes that I can think of in recent years. There was a kinetic fluidity there that reminds me of Michael Mann in Heat. And it was really great start. The acting was superlative across the board. Yes, Heath Ledger managed to turn in a very disturbing, psychopathic performance of the Joker that really went near the edge but never fell into the world of parody. I think that was the ultimate power of Ledger’s performance, the level of abandon that he brought to the role but with still a conscious restraint that prevented his portrayal from getting too cheesy. I have to say though that Aaron Eckhart may have stolen the show from all of the other actors. His Harvey Dent was a driven character who sees everything in black and white, much like Batman. But his strength, and unfortunately also his weakness, is his love for Rachel and his determination to rid Gotham of crime no matter what.
Technically, I have to give props to the cinematography, the whole thing is amazing to look at. It was a great interpretation of how Gotham would’ve have looked like in an actual real-world city.
Christian Bale is a consistently good actor but in this movie, he has acquired for exaggerating his mouth movements that is, frankly, too distracting. Another complain is Nolan’s ability to direct an action sequence. For the life of him, he still cannot direct a proper fight scene. It’s too bad because the film would have been elevated to a higher plane with properly shot fight sequences. The script was also quite cliché-ridden. There were just too many lines that you’ve heard before and the psycho-babble is just not written with any kind of credibility.
So is The Dark Knight a good movie? Yes it is, unequivocally. Is it a great movie? Definitely not.