The Dark Knight

Just watched [The Dark Knight](http://thedarkknight.warnerbros.com/). By now this comes as no surprise, but Heath Ledger was diabolically good as the Joker. I think had he still been alive, people would have praised his performance, though being dead somehow gives an actor cult status. (Pardon me if I sound cynical as I don’t mean to, but if Brandon Lee were still alive, would we have remembered The Crow?)
Potential SPOILERS, do not read further if you haven’t watched the movie and are planning to…


As far as Hollywood blockbusters go, the violence level was tolerable by modern standards (sex was nonexistent). I’m the type who shudders when I know a violent act is about to be committed. So I shuddered a few times and the sides of my mouth almost felt an empathetic sort of pain for the victims.
The Joker’s background preparation for various crimes is not shown, which gives him a menacing allure as you always expect him to sidestep the good guys one more time. When they have a Plan B and finally think they’ve got him, he comes up with a Plan C. You’d think the movie ended half an hour before the actual ending. He just doesn’t go away, does he?
Of course he can’t. Without famous villains like him, Batman would just be beating up normal criminals and that wouldn’t make a blockbuster plot at all. It was so much easier flying to Hong Kong to catch that tycoon. Also, I wondered if they introduced a Chinese actor (Singaporean [Ng Chin Han](http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1977856/bio), actually) to appeal more to the Asian market!
At various points in the show, the logical side of me was saying, “Oh come on!” I know I’m supposed to suspend my disbelief, but mine tends to have rather long legs, so even when I do try, it still touches the floor.
For instance, how could the Joker have bribed so many cops? How could his disguised minions have so swiftly taken over the entire team of police riflemen standing watch in the buildings during the funeral procession, without any of the men putting up a fight and making a sound?
And how could one of the most outstanding good guys in the show suddenly turn against his allies, succumbing so easily to the Joker’s mind games? You need pretty good grades in law school to get to that level, and would’ve dealt with many brutal criminal cases by then. You can’t be that malleable, even in grief 😛
One of the redeeming qualities of human nature was definitely the two groups of passengers in the ferries who decided not to blow each other up. Knowing the Joker, he probably rigged it such that if either ferry decided to blow up the other one, both would probably have gone up in flames, confirming the Joker’s warped theories on mankind. That was a turning point in the Joker’s last fight with Batman.
I thought an alternative to the plot would have been just as credible, and less tragic: The Joker gives Batman the correct location of Rachel and he saves her just in time, while Harvey gets half his face blown up. Rachel decides to stay with Bruce Wayne instead, leaving Harvey jealous and he attempts to take his revenge on the cops who screwed up, as well as Bruce/Batman. That makes the characters more flawed – Rachel switching guys and Harvey showing his jealous tendencies, which would make them more believable.
At a point in time I almost wondered if Bruce would hand over the Batman role to Harvey, or if the two would become a tag-team not just in the plot but in the battle scenes. But there’s always two sides to a coin. I did like the metaphors in the ‘two-faced’ theme – being disliked at work, then using a fake coin which then became charred on one side, then literally losing face.
So in summary, is it a film I’m glad I watched? Yes, so I could learn what everyone else was raving about. Is it a film I’d watch again (and again)? Not really. It’s not really my type of movie, to be fair, and being an old DC Comics reader of Superman, Batman, the Avengers, Thor and others, I’m used to more lighthearted stuff with happier endings. But with Batman in the movies, there’s always something infinitely dark and empty. It gives the characters more depth, provided that the darkness isn’t the end unto itself.

Comments

  1. Yuhui

    Nice review, though I disagree with you about Harvey’s fall. I think it was better to kill off Rachel because it made him the ultimate tragic hero.
    The death of a loved one can leave a tremendous impact on one’s life, especially for someone who was as idealistic and noble as Harvey. Now, knocked off his high horse, he had only one choice ahead of him, which unfortunately also made him a criminal.
    BTW Avengers and Thor were published by Marvel, not DC.

  2. Hazel

    I would have remembered Brandon Lee even if… 🙁
    Heath Ledger was unbelievably good in this, I thought. And no wonder that Chinese guy looked familiar! I thought it weird he spoke Chinese in HK, and that we didn’t hear him scream when the Joker set fire to the huge pile of money he was sat on top of.
    I knew Harvey would join the other side, that’s just how comics work no? 😉

  3. vantan

    Actually, it was only when Harvey had half his face burnt off, did I realise he was actually going to become a villain. I vaguely remembered there was this bad guy who was double-sided … then it clicked.
    Obviously I am not a huge Batman comic fan… I don’t even own any comics of him, save for one tag-team episode with Superman involving normal criminals.

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