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.