The Dark Knight
Batman goes up against the Joker... again! Yawn!
Written By: Andrew Lowe
Date: 8th January, 2015
Well what can you say about this version of Batman. It is widely regarded as one of the best versions as well as being regarded as one of the greatest films ever (according to IMDB). And I hate it! Oh and this review contains spoilers.
Yes, I can't stand this Batman, simply because it's boring, dull and tries to make a fantasy story in to something realistic.
The story is a typical Batman affair, the Joker is in town causing the usual havok and being the usual maniac that he is always portrayed as. With Batman being the only one that seems capable of stopping him. We also see the introduction of Harvey Dent and his inevitable downfall. Well inevitable for anyone that seen any other version of Batman.
Now as a Batman story, it is a pretty standard affair. Nothing out of the ordinary. But it just seems to make these huge leaps of trying to do something different for no reason. A good example was when the story moves to Hong Kong, to get the guy that fences all of the mob's money. Now did that really have to be Hong Kong? It could have easily been anywhere else. And did that really matter to much to the story, not really. It would have been easy to get to that point anyway, to show that Dent was targetting the organised crime section. It could have all done with just dialogue saying how the streets have been changed with Dent being at the forefront of it all. That would have takens out probably about thirty minutes of the film at least.
This is another problem with the film. It's just way too long. You have Batman facing off against regular criminals, getting a money fence from Hong Kong (that scene was really dull), then face off with the Joker (three times), then having to deal with Two-Face. Why on earth did we need all of this in one film? It's two and a half hours long (exhausting at best), with nothing interesting happening, except when the Joker is on screen.
Now I will be the first to admit that I do love Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. I would have to say I was a little surprised when I heard he had been cast on this version. But when I saw a clip of him in action I was totally gobsmacked. As good as he was, I do think that his Oscar win was more of a sympathy vote though, but that is another matter. This Joker is probably the most psychotic that we have ever seen in film. Jack Nicholson's performance, although still excellent and hard to beat, lacked some of this. But there is one thing that Heath Ledger's performance lacked that Jack Nicholson had an abundance of, and that's a sick sense of humour. This could be more down to the script than the performance more. Remember that the character's name is the Joker, so there needs to be jokes a plenty but this has to balanced correctly. The only time I have seen this done perfectly was the 90's Batman animated series. There the Joker has a perfect balance of being funny and psychotic. Here we have psychotic with some funny lines here and there.
Another good thing about this version of the Joker was that there was no origin story. This is something that I preferred. The Joker in the other versions of Batman, was always a bit of mystery. This was a downfall in Jack Nicholson's version, more due to the script than his performance. It took away all of the mystery. This version brought that all back. You never know why he is as crazy as he is simply because you don't need to know. That's the way it should be. Thats the way Batman should have been in Batman Begins as well (I'll cover that another day though).
I would also ask did we need Harvey Dent/Two-Face in this film at all? I don't think we did. The best bits of the film are the confrontations of Batman and the Joker. I never cared about anything that revolved around Harvey Dent, which is a shame as I like Aaron Eckhart in past films like Thank You For Smoking. In this I was just waiting for him to become Two Face, which doesn't happen till about two thirds in to the film. The Joker is a strong enough villain as the previous films (animated too), TV series and comics have always proved. He has always been Batman's greatest foe and the one that always pushs him to his limits and his breaking point. So why have another villain. It makes no sense.
There are some good elements the film has, Heath Ledger's performance, as stated earlier, is the shining star of the film. The action is generally very good. The fight sequences clever and also the initial bank job was very intriguing and very clever how the Joker manages to keep the whole share. I do like the Batpod, I thought that was a very nice touch if a little silly in places, especially the way he turns around. Gary Oldman is good as Jim Gordon, he is very believeable, but he is always good no matter what film he is in, but I would say that he does nothing special in this role. Christian Bale as Batman, well good luck with the voice. He much better at the Bruce Wayne aspects. And Michael Caine well he just plays the same character in most films he's been in for the last fifty years. In my opinion Michael Caine might as well just have a sign around his neck saying I will act for food.
All in all this was just made too soon after the Tim Burton 1989 film. It just isn't a memorable Batman film (I'm probably in the minority here though -- oh well). All of the interesting things of this film had been done before. It's too long and tries to bring emotional depth and a psychological edge to a superhero film while trying to ground it in the real world. This is a very bad combination and for me it just didn't work!