Betsy Speicher

The Dark Knight (2008)

Rate this movie   23 votes

  1. 1. Artistic Merit

    • 10
      10
    • 9
      5
    • 8
      3
    • 7
      2
    • 6
      2
    • 5
      0
    • 4
      0
    • 3
      0
    • 2
      0
    • 1
      0
    • 0
      1
  2. 2. Sense of Life or Personal Value

    • 10
      6
    • 9
      1
    • 8
      9
    • 7
      3
    • 6
      1
    • 5
      0
    • 4
      0
    • 3
      1
    • 2
      1
    • 1
      0
    • 0
      1

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

13 posts in this topic

And may God bless Chris Nolan - and his brother and David Goyer - exquisitely. They have written a story so thoroughly integrated, by itself and with its predecessor, it boggles the mind.

I came out of my second viewing a few hours ago and seriously considered seeing it again right afterwards. Perhaps later on this weekend.

From its opening salvo to its parting shot, The Dark Knight, like Batman Begins, is that very rare, perfect film -- a film that you can watch over and over again because of the amount of thought, art, and passion that have been put into it. I didn't feel this way after I saw it yesterday - some things seemed rushed - but I am now convinced that its "flaws" are insignificant. So, if you didn't think it refined enough on your first go, I recommend watching it again and hereby give the movie a 10 on both counts. I also recommend sitting way back in the theatre, so that you are able to see all the elements on the screen without squinting.

I thought it would be impossible to match Begins, but I think this movie does. Before yesterday, I had been thinking: Where in Gotham City are they going to find the vistas for those beautiful wide shots in Begins? Where are the mountains and the glaciers? How will they imbue the Joker villain with as much meaning as they did the majestic Ra's al Ghul? How else can they use the Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard score? In spite of all the Batman stories that have been told off the big screen, I remained excited but skeptical. It was going to be your very good but standard fare, I thought. We would all like it very much and then go home. I was very, very wrong. The movie is breathtaking in scope and intensity. (It will, in fact, be a little too intense for some viewers.)

So, where did they find the mountains? Right there in the Gotham City metropolis. How did they imbue the Joker with meaning? The answer is right there in his name. Consider Ayn Rand's words on Humor:

"...[H]umor is a destructive element—which is quite all right, but its value and its morality depend on what it is that you are laughing at. If what you are laughing at is the evil in the world (provided that you take it seriously, but occasionally you permit yourself to laugh at it), that’s fine. [To] laugh at that which is good, at heroes, at values, and above all at yourself [is] monstrous . . . . The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face."

And how did they use the Zimmer/Howard score? I think that can only be experienced.

Great acting by Bale, Eckhart, Oldman, and the late Heath Ledger whose performance deserves much more than mere mention. Ledger's performance has been given much press, but Eckhart, Bale, and Oldman also do some very heavy lifting. Bale's growing hero in Begins is fully matured, and this is still his story.

The work is so undeniably excellent, I'm almost prepared to wager a Best Film and/or Best Director nomination [the Naturalism-loving Academy would be hard-pressed to ignore this one], and I believe screenplay, acting, and editing nominations are in order.

Now, if only I could get that score out of my head... B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, this is the first one I feel comfortable calling epic. It is possibly the most ambitious movie I’ve seen all year; and the most groundbreaking in terms of the genre. In fact, The Dark Knight doesn’t so much feel like a superhero movie as much as a crime drama in league with The Departed and Heat (and I’m far from the first person to mention that.)

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

This mix creates a superhero experience that is both unique and exiting; and cultivates a bizarre feeling of plausibility. This is by far the most adult superhero movie I have ever seen; and by that I don’t mean blood, gore, and sex. This movie has a complexity to it that is surprising. Each character is driven by a unique philosophy and set of morals. Especially Batman; who is a vigilantly, but realizes that he cannot be the one that ultimately distributes justice. He sees the new D.A. Harvey Dent (Gotham’s new ‘White Night’ played by Aaron Eckhart) as a person that can ultimately replace him. Ironically, Dent sees Batman as a person who can really get things done, as the frustrations of working within the law get to him.

But Batman runs head first into the Law of Unintended Consequences. Yes, he is inspiring good (as exemplified in Gordon and Harvey Dent) but criminals are becoming more dangerous; and small pockets of incompetent copycat vigilantes are fouling things up.

Things escalate, and a new villain comes on the scene; a near arch-type of Nihilism: The Joker.

And what’s to be said about Heath Ledger’s performance that has not already been said? His Joker is mesmerizing: he creates one of the most memorable movie villains I have ever seen, in league with Hannibal Lector.

The Dark Knights’ Joker is a villain of unrelenting evil. As Alfred (Michael Cain) says, “some people aren’t looking for anything logical”, the Joker breaks the old detective axiom “who benefits?” because nobody does, least of all him. The Joker doesn’t believe in values or morality, they are just foolish ‘jokes’ held by an ignorant public, and dropped at the first sign of trouble. The Joker delights in tearing people down; in creating situations where this happens. It is for this reason that the Joker fixates on a possibly incorruptible force: The Batman.

It is in this that we see the theme of the movie: which centers on moral compromise. The battle between the Joker, who believes that compromise is inevitable because values don’t exist; and Batman, Gordon, and Dent- who work within there own moral codes but find themselves limited by them. The theme of this movie is carried all the way through; it’s perfect that most of the major action sequences focus to some degree on choice. Can a person stand up for what they believe? The integration of this question into the plot is exiting and often surprising.

Are there any problems? I suppose I could nitpick if I wanted to. There are some pacing issues, and great dialoged is sometimes lost in a scene. Christopher Nolan has problems with directing multi-shot conversations and off-screen action (though he has improved greatly from Batman Begins.) As for Batman’s detective skills, they get a little more screen time then the last movie, in a CSI-esc sequence and a few others; still, I felt myself unsatisfied with this aspect of the movie.

Still, these are just small complaints that don’t tar what is a great film; not just a great superhero movie or action movie; but a great movie: period.

The cast and performances are all stunning, nuanced, and honest. Heath Ledger has been given a good deal of press for his memorable role; but I think Aaron Eckhart deserves some credit. His Harvey Dent is both sympathetic and plausible (without being Naturalistic.) There is a point about a third of the way through where Eckhart displays some of the best acting I have seen all year; Maggie Gyllenhall is also good in this scene. Harvey Dent’s story arc is very reflective of the story at large; it is perfectly integrated with the theme. In a way, the Harvey Dent character is at the heart of the movie.

It’s exiting how the movie plays with your expectations; and how much you find yourself caring about the characters, even those who receive little screen-time. Though the movie is never exploitive, the plot progressive logically; with each major event being caused by one of the characters. In the tradition of great Romantic storytelling, everything has a purpose, and ultimately everything serves and compliments the theme.

I have rarely gone to a movie this long that felt this short. It is a film with a great deal going on, but never feels crowded. The story, as I mentioned, is complex and interesting, many will be surprised where the movie ends up; as it drives home the theme, with one of the best monologues in the movie (the best monologue, of course, belongs to Ledger.)

Like the last movie, this one makes you hungry for more; not with cliffhangers, but with promises of what’s to come. The best testament I can give to this movie that I hope the franchise continues; I hope Christopher Nolan continues to improve in the quality of his directing and storytelling (as he has shown great and dramatic growth through his career.) And most of all; I hope the show isn’t sold out for my second viewing (but who am I kidding?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting post. However, there are quite a few details in it which I think constitute spoilers. I don't know if this instance can be fixed, but I just thought to let you know.

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, this is the first one I feel comfortable calling epic. It is possibly the most ambitious movie I’ve seen all year; and the most groundbreaking in terms of the genre. In fact, The Dark Knight doesn’t so much feel like a superhero movie as much as a crime drama in league with The Departed and Heat (and I’m far from the first person to mention that.)

[...]

Like the last movie, this one makes you hungry for more; not with cliffhangers, but with promises of what’s to come. The best testament I can give to this movie that I hope the franchise continues; I hope Christopher Nolan continues to improve in the quality of his directing and storytelling (as he has shown great and dramatic growth through his career.) And most of all; I hope the show isn’t sold out for my second viewing (but who am I kidding?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Very interesting post. However, there are quite a few details in it which I think constitute spoilers. I don't know if this instance can be fixed, but I just thought to let you know.

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, this is the first one I feel comfortable calling epic. It is possibly the most ambitious movie I’ve seen all year; and the most groundbreaking in terms of the genre. In fact, The Dark Knight doesn’t so much feel like a superhero movie as much as a crime drama in league with The Departed and Heat (and I’m far from the first person to mention that.)

[...]

Like the last movie, this one makes you hungry for more; not with cliffhangers, but with promises of what’s to come. The best testament I can give to this movie that I hope the franchise continues; I hope Christopher Nolan continues to improve in the quality of his directing and storytelling (as he has shown great and dramatic growth through his career.) And most of all; I hope the show isn’t sold out for my second viewing (but who am I kidding?)

Thanks for alerting me to that, Mercury, I’ll ask Betsy to put up a warning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I do not have the same regard as the other two commentators on this thread. I thought the movie was a good movie but not what I would consider great. Batman is supposed to be a Super/Hero crime fighter and not a vigilante, V is about a vigilante. If Batmam is just a vigilante, which is self-appointed does of justice, why would he still be on the streets? If Batman is just a vigilante, why does he need other people to keep him in check?

I also do not think the story line is very plausible. One example is that the people of the city are so weak that they cannot handle the truth. Another implausible aspect is that we are supposed to believe that if the Police really wanted to find Batman/Bruce Wayne that they would not have a good idea where to begin? Who in the city has the type of funds to create the things Batman uses and the body to be able to take the type of abuse Bruce Wayne takes? Lastly, Batman seems to have no regard for the destruction he brings while chasing criminals as he rolls over cars, blast through walls and so much more.

There are other problems I have with the movie, but my goal is not to destroy the movie as I do think it has good qualities. And I recommend that if anyone wants to see the movie to go and see it and judge for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I do not have the same regard as the other two commentators on this thread. I thought the movie was a good movie but not what I would consider great. Batman is supposed to be a Super/Hero crime fighter and not a vigilante, V is about a vigilante. If Batmam is just a vigilante, which is self-appointed does of justice, why would he still be on the streets? If Batman is just a vigilante, why does he need other people to keep him in check?

I'm not sure I understand your concerns, Ray. A vigilante is someone who takes the law into their own hands. Batman does many unlawful things - even though we may find them moral in the full context. In this movie, he actually kidnaps a Chinese citizen, instead of waiting for the legal system to have him extradited. In the last battle with the Joker, at the end of the film, he fights SWAT agents in order to ensure they do not kill the hostages who have been set up (with weapons taped to their hands) to look like armed men. This is major law-breaking here: assault of police-officers, etc. He beats the Joker physically over and over to get information from him - only to find out the Joker is a sadomasochist and such techniques are useless. He also destroys private and public property to get the bad guys -- remember how he blew up the cars the children were watching while riding on his bike? [Which you yourself also note below.]

The official policy was to arrest Batman on sight. But, if they couldn't even arrest all the dangerous criminals on the streets, how could they arrest Batman?

Furthermore, he was working undercover with Lt. Jim Gordon's (Gary Oldman) special unit. Gordon, however, could not officially admit that Batman was a part of his team, which is why the D.A. Harvey Dent kept trying to get Gordon to reveal their tactics and come out into the open.

How could Gordon be expected to say that I am working seriously on many important cases with a masked man who meets me on rooftops, whose name I don't know, and who disappears while I'm talking to him? He'd be fired!

I don't understand your point about Batman "need[ing] other people to keep him in check." Which part of the movie are you talking about?

I also do not think the story line is very plausible. One example is that the people of the city are so weak that they cannot handle the truth. Another implausible aspect is that we are supposed to believe that if the Police really wanted to find Batman/Bruce Wayne that they would not have a good idea where to begin? Who in the city has the type of funds to create the things Batman uses and the body to be able to take the type of abuse Bruce Wayne takes? Lastly, Batman seems to have no regard for the destruction he brings while chasing criminals as he rolls over cars, blast through walls and so much more.

I think you may need to watch Batman Begins again. The people of Gotham City are living in a very, very corrupt system. Things are really bad: this is not the world of Iron Man. Anyone who has ever lived in a morally corrupt society - like I have - can tell you how stifling it is, and how very dangerous it is to be honest. Honest men are punished; dishonest men thrive. If you call the populace's refusal to sacrifice themselves "weakness," then so be it. If Bruce Wayne told them he was Batman, the mystique would be over: the police would pick him up, and that would be the end of any chance to clean up the city. He had to become a wraith, a spectre, a fearful figure, in order to do what he did.

As his teacher, Ducard/R'as al Ghul tells him in Begins:

To conquer fear, you must become fear.

You must bask in the fear of other men.

And men fear most what they cannot see.

You have to become a terrible thought.

A wraith.

You have to become
an idea
!

[Emphasis mine.]

So, you can see, the point is not really the physical or technological power of Batman but his consequential moral power: he sent the message to the ordinary citizen that good people don't have to be afraid of evil. Which is why there were some shoddy attempts at being him. These copycats, as well as the Joker, were a sharp "sociological" reaction to both his presence and the criminality already present: if one man could operate so far beyond the law, then why not me? One of the sub-themes of The Dark Knight is "Does man require government? And if so, should government have a monopoly on force?"

Which is why Dent's presence is so important: he represents the early stages of honest men openly taking a stand against evil in the society. Dent was the open, legal face of the good, while Batman was the closed, illegal face of the good.

Finally, you mention the implausibility of Batman. Leaving aside the fact that Wayne is an incredibly rich man and the police bosses would have to cross a major donor/benefactor to investigate him, there was also the matter of his public lifestyle (playboy a la Francisco D'Anconia) and where he hid the weapons he devised: only two people knew where all those things were. And, as we saw, if the police ever got wise to him, all of it could be destroyed in minutes.

But there is a deeper problem with your objection: asking for a strictly Naturalistic standard in art. What if I came to you with the idea that 3 very beautiful and glamorous women detectives were to solve serious crimes and bring bad guys in [Charlie's Angels]? Or with the idea that a poor engineer would bring down American society by asking many of the richest and most brilliant industrialists, academics, and scientists to live in a hidden valley somewhere in Colorado? Would you find these plausible?

There are other problems I have with the movie, but my goal is not to destroy the movie as I do think it has good qualities. And I recommend that if anyone wants to see the movie to go and see it and judge for yourself.

Don't worry, Ray. The Dark Knight is indestructible. B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But there is a deeper problem with your objection: asking for a strictly Naturalistic standard in art. What if I came to you with the idea that 3 very beautiful and glamorous women detectives were to solve serious crimes and bring bad guys in [Charlie's Angels]? Or with the idea that a poor engineer would bring down American society by asking many of the richest and most brilliant industrialists, academics, and scientists to live in a hidden valley somewhere in Colorado? Would you find these plausible?

I do not know where you get the idea that I am asking for Naturalism. I have already mentioned what I find implausable and it has nothing to do with man's volition. But, to add to it, how in such a corrupt society/city do they also have some of the most advanced technologies but not the brillance nor the moral determination to overcome evil. Do you think a world/society can exist with that level of advancement with corrput leaders and people following them? When a society is as corrupt as the one that would finally need and accept this type of Batman as a hero, there will be no advancements left. When a police force becomes so corrupt that they cannot catch the average criminal (criminals destroy wealth) where to you think the luxuries would come from? If a society was so corrupt how would they have the time and freedom to enjoy luxury restaurants, plays and ballet? In other words, for this Batman to exist it would mean that the great city they are in would have already fallen, that is not naturalistic statment but a rational assesment of the facts of reality.

When a city/society falls, anarchy will prevail for a short amount of time where a character of this type of Batman could exist. But, either a new form of government that respects rights or a tyrant would replace the old government and this type of Batman would disappear or be caught. Which means that for a society to get back to the prosperity that we see in this movie that the corrupters have been taken care of and Batman would put away the suit until he is needed once again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought the movie was just great.

I also felt like some parts were rushed, but maybe that will pass if I have a second viewing, on Mercury's suggestion.

Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Leaving aside the minor praise, or minor complaints, the overarching aspects of the movie -- the theme, the complexity of the main characters -- were just breathtaking. The movie is not so much an episode, as almost a whole lifetime. Characters appear, grow, develop in very plausible ways, take over a whole city with power you never suspected in them at the beginning, etc. I half-expected Two-Face to be a 'hook' as the villain of the next Batman movie, as is commonly done in comic films, most notably Spiderman. Consequently I was surprised by his role, and by the sensitive attention that the film gave to his morality, his development, and his downfall. Dent wasn't a caricature of a villain, he wasn't a 'hook' into any future movie; he wasn't a villain period. He was a man, whose fall from virtue was sensitively and very sympathetically treated. And he died at the end, not as a caricuture or a means to something else, but only a means to demonstrating Dark Knight's theme, and of no other film; the theme of vulnerability of virtue, of its two powerful opposite exponents in Joker and Batman, with Dent perched in the middle. Batman appeared to me much more moral man than in Begins, a man very powerfully concerned with his own morality, in the midst of luxury and beautiful women hanging on his every word. Joker was spectacular, in his own different way -- he surprised by not possessing any gravitas, being almost contemptible, but also undeniably brilliant and powerful in his own way, thus presenting his own brand of a very menacing millain. I simply can't believe how we trace his rise to power, from a small-time crook to a giant villain who took over all of Gotham. It's all breathtaking and larger-than life.

Excellent film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But there is a deeper problem with your objection: asking for a strictly Naturalistic standard in art. What if I came to you with the idea that 3 very beautiful and glamorous women detectives were to solve serious crimes and bring bad guys in [Charlie's Angels]? Or with the idea that a poor engineer would bring down American society by asking many of the richest and most brilliant industrialists, academics, and scientists to live in a hidden valley somewhere in Colorado? Would you find these plausible?

I do not know where you get the idea that I am asking for Naturalism. I have already mentioned what I find implausable and it has nothing to do with man's volition.

Fair enough, my use of "a Naturalistic standard" may be too strong (and I apologize), but what I meant was the unnecessary attention to insignificant details, which is a feature of Naturalism. I mean, a reader of Atlas Shrugged could say, "Well, some of this plot doesn't make sense to me. Why didn't Taggart, Mouch, Meigs, and the others, simply order police surveillance on all the major creators in America? or at least on d'Anconia, Dagny, and about 30 likely others? That way, someone in the government could have discovered Galt's Gulch and thwarted the shrugging."

But, to add to it, how in such a corrupt society/city do they also have some of the most advanced technologies but not the brillance nor the moral determination to overcome evil. Do you think a world/society can exist with that level of advancement with corrput leaders and people following them? When a society is as corrupt as the one that would finally need and accept this type of Batman as a hero, there will be no advancements left. When a police force becomes so corrupt that they cannot catch the average criminal (criminals destroy wealth) where to you think the luxuries would come from? If a society was so corrupt how would they have the time and freedom to enjoy luxury restaurants, plays and ballet? In other words, for this Batman to exist it would mean that the great city they are in would have already fallen, that is not naturalistic statment but a rational assesment of the facts of reality.

When a city/society falls, anarchy will prevail for a short amount of time where a character of this type of Batman could exist. But, either a new form of government that respects rights or a tyrant would replace the old government and this type of Batman would disappear or be caught. Which means that for a society to get back to the prosperity that we see in this movie that the corrupters have been taken care of and Batman would put away the suit until he is needed once again.

While there is some truth to your objection -- the Gotham City used here is markedly more technologically-advanced than in other Batman stories -- I 'd like to point out that even in very corrupt societies, some people go to luxury restaurants, ballets, and plays. Those things (can) exist even in horrible places. And if you are talking about a once-civilized society in decline, people can continue to function on that automatized level, producing goods and services, but not living as free men. Consider all these Southern American countries where governors, mayors, journalists, etc, are killed by armed gangs; do you think there are no tall buildings there? or no wealthy people of (some) taste? Notice that Bruce Wayne's public persona is that of a wealthy playboy.

It is not true that the Gotham police force cannot catch the average criminal. Their main problem is organized crime, which has a grip on the society. Chicago under Capone was an example of this.

In any case, Gotham City is a literary, not literal, construct. Which is my larger point. There will be no Batman in reality and to focus on his believability is an error. The Batman story deals with crime, which exists on a more primitive level than dictatorship or totalitarianism. Nonetheless, the City can be used a canvas to illustrate some sophisticated moral-political concepts, which I think it does admirably.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In any case, Gotham City is a literary, not literal, construct. Which is my larger point. There will be no Batman in reality and to focus on his believability is an error. The Batman story deals with crime, which exists on a more primitive level than dictatorship or totalitarianism. Nonetheless, the City can be used a canvas to illustrate some sophisticated moral-political concepts, which I think it does admirably.

I agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Warning: Super Big Spoilers, Don’t Even Consider Reading under any Circumstances

I half-expected Two-Face to be a 'hook' as the villain of the next Batman movie, as is commonly done in comic films, most notably Spiderman. Consequently I was surprised by his role, and by the sensitive attention that the film gave to his morality, his development, and his downfall. Dent wasn't a caricature of a villain, he wasn't a 'hook' into any future movie; he wasn't a villain period. He was a man, whose fall from virtue was sensitively and very sympathetically treated. And he died at the end, not as a caricuture or a means to something else, but only a means to demonstrating Dark Knight's theme, and of no other film; the theme of vulnerability of virtue....

Most of what I will say is speculation on my part; but there are some possible spoilers concerning the third film (which now seems inevitable); so you’ve been warned. Here it goes:

I think Harvey Dent might not be dead; here’s why:

A few months ago Aaron Eckhart mentioned offhand in an interview that he was signed on for a third movie. Now, this could be a false info to hide the fate of the character (which directors and writers do all the time.) Also, sometimes actors will sign contracts before the story and script are complete, and his death wasn’t written yet. And I suppose there is always the possibly for flashback sequences (though I highly doubt this.)

But wait, there’s more; Harvey being alive even has a certain degree of plausibility within the story. To protect his public image, Gordon could have used his influence to transfer him to a safe place and faked his death; a bit convoluted, I suppose, but possible.

One last bit; Clint Eastwood was rumored to be in talks with Nolan for a role in the third movie; a character that would work closely with Harvey Dent. Again though, everything is open to change and Heath Ledger’s death could have disrupted the process.

Still, It’s food for thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I finally watched the movie today. I'll get right to the point, because I was enthralled by several aspects of the movie but especially by Heath Ledger. Frankly, before seeing the film I thought the praise he received must have been partly due to his tragic death, out of a desire to remember him positively. After all, he seemed a bit young to play Joker, and of course it was difficult to imagine this good-natured Aussie play an American psychopath. But I was absolutely mesmerized by his performance, from his mannerisms to this diction and line delivery, to his maniacal laugh. I've seen him in several other roles, and he was unrecognizable, and I think still would have been without the makeup. It is so rare to see an actor capable of that kind of immersion. All too often, characters become like the actor playing them, instead of the other way around. His work showed true mastery and dedication. I don't want to say that it must be easy to play a hero, but honestly a hero is understandable. People relate to heroes. It's the villain we don't understand, whose head we can't get into and more importantly, don't want to! But I think both Ledger and the writers showed a real insight into the nature of evil in this character, what R. M. Alger referred to as the archetype of nihilism. Joker laughs at the attempt to reason, and acts not in order to secure a future for himself but to prove to everyone that the effort is meaningless and values are a delusion. I was concerned that the choice to include Harvey Dent would be gratuitous. After all, previous films have tended to include multiple villains for no clear reason. However looking back, I think the role he played in the story just shows how well-written it was. In fact, it makes me wonder if they will be able to match this quality in the next installment! Just fantastic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites