So Wendy and I went to see The Dark Knight this weekend. The verdict is: This movie isn’t bad and a lot better than the last one. Even though I was surprised by a much better film than what the trailers hinted at, I still think that Gotham City doesn’t look gothic enough for my taste and Christian Bale makes a better James Bond than Batman, right down to the scene where his African American Q, (played by Morgan Freeman in a reprisal of the Luscious Fox role) instructs him on his latest gadgets and he predictably isn’t paying attention.
The Batman’s hideout still lacks the familiar elements of the Batcave with the many mementos Batman collects from his various cases and adventures, opting for a more sterile environment full of high tech gadgetry and no giant pennies or dinosaurs in sight.
Heath Ledger steals the film with his unique and mesmerizing take on the Joker, vastly different from Jack Nicholson’s manic performance almost 20 years ago, as does a smart and quick moving screenplay which cribs some of the best elements of the Batman the Long Halloween graphic novel by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, right down to the genesis of Harvey Dent’s “Two Face” persona and the corrupt nature of Gotham’s warring mob families.
The Long Halloween was heavily influenced by film noir and films such as The Godfather. It examines an entire year of Batman’s career as a crime fighter during his early years in Gotham and introduces Lieutenant Jim Gordon before his promotion to Police Commissioner (just like in the movie) and explains the events which led to the transformation of Harvey Dent into the psychotic Two-Face. It also boasts of a delicious mystery which unfolds over the course of the year (from one Halloween to the next.)
This would almost be another classic case of the book being better than the movie, except for what the movie lacks in familiarity and continuity it makes up in special effect wizardry and a stylish visual feel to it. The film does get a little preachy at the end, discussing as it does the moral codes which drive the heroes and the absolute abandon to chaos which fuels the Joker’s psychosis, but it comes after a climax which involves an original third act full of action and intrigue.
But the best part of The Dark Knight movie experience? It came even before the movie started as the trailer for next year’s Watchmen revealed a beautiful and extravagantly complex rendition of the 1986 masterpiece. Unless Hollywood makes a drastic departure from the source material or even wholesale revisions as it did in V for Vendetta and Wanted, this looks at first glance as the fanboy’s movie of choice in early 2009.