Monday, July 21, 2008

No Country for Bat Men (interacting with The Dark Knight)

Instead of the normal review I am going to try something different as I talk about The Dark Knight today. I am going to interact with the film in a personal and typically fanboy opinionated manner. However, my analysis and criticism, praise of the film must include spoilers. Since that is the case, I will only post a preview here and you can click at the bottom to continue to read the entire post.

While I will be rewatching The Dark Knight in IMAX on Wednesday (it demands multiple viewings), I cannot get the film out of my head. Of course, that is the first mark of great film making. Does it get inside your head and refuse to leave? Not because of the inanity, but because the plot twisted and turned and you need to make sense of it and because the characters were 3D and complex, like friends you spent too little time with and care for. The Dark Knight is the kind of film.

TDK has been called No Country for Bat Men, with comparisons made to the latest offerings from the Coen Brothers, Scorcese and classics by Coppola and Mann. On initial screening, I would not disagree. In fact, I would say it is a superior crime drama to No Country for Old Men and The Departed (the last 2 Oscar winners). Make no mistake; this is not a kid friendly super hero film (it should be rated R). It is a immensely brutal, almost sadistic noir masterpiece that would not fly for the average American viewer, if not for the black tights and bat signal.

Basically, the filmmakers have chosen to bait and switch the viewer. “You want action, super heroes, cool gadgets and Jack Nicholson as Joker? I will give you a sense of dread that permeates everything driven by a super hero that wants to quit, a madman equal parts Osama Bin Laden and Anton Chigurh with a splash of Hannibal Lector for good measure, gadgets causing moral quandaries and brutal deaths of main characters.” But, somehow the center holds. Barely, but it holds; which, once again, is the mark of great, dangerous film direction.

Whereas some well meaning and fairly knowledgeable commentators, including Mark at Jesus Manifesto have mistakenly put the main influence for this film series in the hands of Frank Miller’s epic masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns, comic book fans will notice the influence of Miller’s seminal history of Batman: Year One to be the source material, along with Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, which (I assume) was the impetus for Ledger’s dangerous portrayal of Joker (along with Death in the Family).

Full post (with spoilers) continued here

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