July 21, 2008

Best Movie Ever?

The phrase, "Best Movie Ever", appears thousands of times in the IMDb reviews for the new Batman thriller, The Dark Knight. Fans and critics are gushing praise for this movie, citing mainly the late Heath Ledger's performance as the iconic Joker as justification for the best movie title. However, there are a few questions I have to ask if The Dark Knight is going to be treated as Hollywood perfection.

Be forewarned, SPOILERS ahead!

Question 1: What motivates the Joker? He shows up in the first scene, robbing a mobster-controlled bank. His actions against the mob are never justified in the movie, other than that he wants Gotham to have a better class of criminals. The writer of the movie cited The Killing Joke graphical novel as motivation for this iteration of the Joker, yet I don't see any of that back story coming through.

Question 2: Where is Rachel Dawes' body? It would only make sense that Harvey Dent would want some sort of evidence of her demise before going completely against everything he ever stood for. There was mounting reason for Dent to go Two-face, but his conversation with the Joker in no way sold the flip-flop of character.

Question 3: Is Harvey Dent, aka Two-face dead? He fell a relatively short distance, which didn't seem to kill anyone else during the course of the movie. Actually, Batman specifically planned that height not to kill anyone earlier in the movie! Plus, the conversation Batman and Gordon have leans towards him being shuffled off as a hero, not a dead hero.

Question 4: The police are proven throughout the movie to be completely corrupt. Yet, once the Joker is captured at the end of movie, Batman leaves him tied up to be arrested by the possibly corrupt police force. What makes this even more asinine, is that the Joker just orchestrated an escape from the most secure police stronghold in Gotham, so why the hell is Batman not escorting the Joker off to a privately, Wayne Enterprises funded, holding facility?

Question 5: The Joker easily sends the people of Gotham into a frenzy, who in turn start trying to kill the Wayne Enterprises snitch. Yet, when those same generic citizens are put on a ferry and faced with certain death, they calmly take a vote whether they should blow up or get blown up by some convicted felons? Oh, and since when do super hero movie felons act rationally?

Question 6: Why is a completely out of place piece of technology, the cell phone sonar, added onto the end of the movie? It really ruined the movie for me, and turned a very key situation for Batman from dynamic and unpredictable, to canned and planned.

Question 7: Where did the League of Shadows disappear to from the first movie? Funny how the bad guys always put their eggs into a single, poorly planned basket. Kind of like the Joker's ill-fated ferry demonstration.

Now, don't get me wrong, I loved the movie. I thought it was a great sequel and deserves consideration as one of the better super hero movies. The performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker was phenomenal. His iteration of the Joker will be the definition of movie villain for many years to come. However, I actually think his performance slightly detracted from the movie, because it was so far above other key players.

Two-face, aka Harvey Dent, was the true villain, ironically portrayed hero, of the movie, but was completely trampled by the exceptional Joker played by Ledger. The performance by Ledger led perfectly into the Two-face transformation, but the plot was just not there to capitalize upon it. The new Rachel Dawes basically phoned in her performance, only marginally better than the flat Katie Holmes of Batman Begins. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine were all solid, as they always are.

Overall, I think there are enough super hero movie traps that The Dark Knight falls into, that it can't be considered for the best movie of all time. The loose ends that scream sequel, the obvious writing off of characters that didn't sign on for the next movie, the use of super-advanced super-technology to save the day, and the complete lack of solid conclusions to any of the character's plot lines all spell good summer blockbuster that is worth the price of admission and a review on my blog.

The Dark Knight is not the best movie ever, not even close, but don't let that stop you from going to see it.


Hudson said...

No not best movie ever, nerds are so funny. In fact I found many ARTISTIC and script writing issues with it as well. Also batman's deeper voice almost made me laugh a few times.

I posted a mini review on my blog. I still think Iron Man was a better SUPER HERO movie.

Hudson said...

Also too much going on at the end and it was very preachy. I wanted it to end. I was bored when the Joker wasnt on screen

heartlessgamer said...

I agree on the bored when Joker wasn't on screen comment, and I am still a bit pissed that Ledger's performance was wasted on a very suspect plot line. The Joker is literally only there to eventually corrupt Dent, hence the amazing lack of back story for the Joker and allusions to different circumstances regarding his scars which only further muddled his potential motivations.

Askander said...

So I guess I'll be the first to ask: What do you consider the best movie ever. Not saying I disagree with your Batman assessment (I haven't had the fortune to see it yet) but inquiring minds want to know...

heartlessgamer said...

I must be insane, because I in no way so the Joker as some irrational madman or crazy man. He never fell into what I most people are calling him. The Joker, to me, was smart evil, but we NEVER found out why! And to me, that did an injustice to the performance given.

Super hero movies are defined by the source material they came from, and to me that is never going to translate perfectly onto film. Thus, they can never hope to be the best film ever.

What do I think the best film ever is? I don't know, because I sure the hell haven't seen one that I would consider for the title. Maybe the Godfather or Saving Private Ryan, but I saw both so long after they released that I don't know if I can get the same effect as those that saw it on day one.

I have some favorite movies: A Knights Tale, The Postman, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, The Empire Strikes Back. I don't see any of them as the best movie ever, none of them close.

I keep using that term "close" without an example, but I am perfectly content to admit that there is no best movie ever to be crowned at the moment.

But if you wanted an answer, the almost best movie ever to me would be Saving Private Ryan due to the lengths to which the men behind it went to get the details right. SPR was just a near-perfect blend of cinematography, story, and acting.

alextaldren said...

I thought the Joker's motivations were practically spoon-fed.

Alfred: Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Seem rather straight-forward to me.

heartlessgamer said...

Straight forward is a good term, but it all has to come from somewhere and "the best movie ever" would indulge us that interest.

syncaine said...

Yea I thought the motivation behind the Joker was rather clear. He was chaos, with the goal to disrupt society as much as he could, at times seeming to act at random.

That's why he is such a great villain for Batman, because Batman likes to leverage things against his enemies, but with the Joker, you can't do that, and as Batman won't actually kill him, it's a never-ending cycle of chaos/order.