Posted by: steveonfilm | July 21, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Christian Bale as Batman.

Heath Ledger as Joker.

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel.

Arron Eckhart as Harvey Dent.

Morgan Freeman. Gary Oldman. Michael Caine. Anthony Michael Hall. Eric Roberts. Nestor Carbonelli.

This movie must be a win win for everyone, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong. The Dark Knight doesn’t disappoint. Christopher (with brother Jonathan) Nolan put together a great story yet again. The performances were top notch. Ledger brought a refreshing take on The Joker. Gyllenhaal saved a character that Katie Holmes almost destroyed. It was a good summer flick.

Notice I didn’t say great.

This is a movie that could have been better. And I don’t think I’m being overly critical either. With the top notch super hero flicks that came out this summer I think I have every right to be. The bar has been set pretty high. Long gone are the days of super hero campiness. That stuff is done. Thank goodness. Because for longevity’s sake they needed to be.

This is a new age of the serious superhero movie. Superhero movies that play out more like Bourne movie than a Spiderman movie. This year showed that you can put a guy in tights, and set it in a story complicated and adult oriented, and have it get over huge. But with great movies comes great responsibility, right?

First and foremost, The Dark Knight was about twenty minutes too long. I had problems staying focused toward the end. There were a lot of, in my view, unnecessary pinches in the second half of the film. Up until that point it was cruising along at a great pace. I felt like I was watching The Departed or The Bourne Supremacy, more than I did a super hero flick. Things had tension. Things had drama. Characters were dynamic. Then it just became too much. The pinches became more and more overwhelming and unrealistic. I was losing my ability to suspend disbelief.

Second, Harvey Dent’s character was really interesting, but ultimately wasted. I’ve read some reviews that said Eckhard’s performance was lackluster, and I couldn’t disagree more. But the shift to Two-Face didn’t need to happen when it did. In my view, it should have been the last shot in the movie, and set up the villain for the third film like they did with the Joker card at the end of Batman Begins. But alas, marketing won out and a second villain turned up at the end.

But see, I thought that was too much. We’d already invested so much time in The Joker that I didn’t want him to have to share any time with Two-Face. It was all going so well and then, well, we shifted from a good guy love triangle to a bad guy hate triangle. It was just too much for me. I thought they took what could have been great villain and wasted him in the third act.

There was a bit of cheese that didn’t need to be there too. The court scene should have been done different. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. It’ll stick out like a sore thumb. The ferry stuff was okay (if not over the top), but when they do the prisoner thing I laughed out loud. You’ll know that part too. It was just….cheesy, and didn’t need to be there. It seemed forced.

This was a fun movie. With all the talent and story elements they had at their disposal it should have been better than the first one. It was well on it’s way. Then things got sidetracked.

Don’t get me wrong. This movie is worth the price of admission. It is money well spent. For me it was more of a wasted opportunity. It just tried to do too much. I think a case of less is more would have benefited the film.

I haven’t seen Hellboy 2 yet…so take that into consideration here:

In the battle of superheroes this summer Ironman wins. Followed by Batman beating Hulk in second place by a nose.


P.S. Ledger was great as Joker, but I mean come on…Oscar nom? Please. He was good, but not that good. If anything it just made me sad we’ll never see him get to reprise his role.



  1. I enjoyed your review, though I respectfully disagree with some of what you said! I thought Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker was Academy Award worthy, though we have until the end of the year to see whether or not other performances trump his.

    I do believe TDK will go down as a classic, but there is some convuluted subplots that do keep it from being great. It needed to shave down some of the bloated excess baggage, but all in all, a great film, I thought! Much, MUCH MUCH better than Batman Begins. And Katie Holmes… well, she was the single weakest link in BB, so I’m glad she didn’t return here!

    – Gary

  2. That’s good enough for me Gary. It’ll be interesting to see how the Supporting Actor category shapes up. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  3. Anytime man! 🙂 Interesting blog you have here. I’ll peek in from time to time.

  4. i still wish Katie Holmes had stayed on board as Rachel Dawes for the Dark Knight; it was like the time spent getting familiar with her character in Batman Begins was wasted…

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