Dark Knight Review: Give Jeph Loeb some credit

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.

6 Responses to Dark Knight Review: Give Jeph Loeb some credit

  1. kathy says:

    My verdict — your review is better than I thought it would be. : ). I pretty much agree with you except the part about the look of Gotham City. I wasn’t too bothered by it, and I kept thinking it was so familiar. It was so very much like all the cities I’ve been in. Only full of terror and fear. There were enough city shots to make me think that was point.

    Oh yeah, also I disagree about Christian Bale. He’s great. We had to laugh at the voice he uses when suited up. It must hurt his throat or it’s done through technology in the mask. Whichever, we viewers deserve some background if this franchise is going to continue.

    I’m super bummed to know that I was deprived a peak at the Watchmen trailer. We saw one for a new Terminator flick, but they didn’t show much.

  2. We missed much of it too as it was playing as we were taking out seats, but I did catch a glimpse of it and I am pretty sure you can find it online now.

  3. Spleengrrl says:

    The voice is part of the disguise. Superman does the same thing. At least he did in the radio shows. Christian Bale IS great as Batman and Heath Ledger DID NOT disappoint as The Joker.

  4. hostile17 says:

    That’s what I thought too. I think it was fine, he really channeled Kevin Conroy there and I swear some of the lines were so reminiscent of the animated Batman series which many believe is the best ever

  5. stephen says:

    didn’t care for the watchmen trailer. it doesn’t look like it has the emotional depth of watchmen and the fact that there’s slo-mo and what appears to be a bunch of action in a comic i don’t remember to be all that action packed. im with alan mooore on this. i don’t realy care for his unique material being changed to another medium it was intended for comics it should stay in comics. any adaptation can only be watered down. wow this is longer than i thought and kind of rambling. sorry

  6. hostile17 says:

    I kind of agree with you, but of course will reserve final judgement until I see the film. I think that if movies adapt the material and completely diluted or make major revisions like they did to Mark Millar’s “Wanted” then the film turns to crap for comic book aficionados like us.

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