Tuesday, 5 August 2008

The Dark Knight - a good genre film, let's leave it at that!

The new Batman film, ‘The Dark Knight’, has won critical plaudits to go with the hype incumbent on its status as the summer’s biggest blockbuster. I watched it on Thursday and whilst it is certainly overrated and blatantly over hyped, it does provide a high impact cinematic experience with enough heave and heft to engage an audience, rather than simply slapping its forehead with incessant action.

The portentous interpretations which some critics have invested in this film perhaps owe more to Heath Ledger’s death than anything remarkable about the movie itself. Ledger undoubtedly plays the Joker in memorable fashion, endowing the character with a range of creepy idiosyncrasies. His villain steals the show. However, like Brandon Lee’s performance in ‘The Crow’, the actor’s portrayal has acquired a dark lustre from his subsequent demise which inflames reviewers’ imaginations and makes subjective viewing less likely.

Christopher Nolan’s film is pleasingly dark and brooding, delivering its atmospherics in a fashion that other movies of this genre can only seek to replicate. The moral ambivalence of its hero alludes to tricky quandaries concerning curtailment of rights and freedoms in the cause of protecting citizens. In this respect the film aspires to tackle contemporary issues and raise itself above the standard blockbuster fare.

Whether it does so in a particularly subtle fashion is doubtful. On a few occasions I expected a buzzer to begin sounding and a mechanised voice to intone ‘allegory alert!’. The film is enjoyable, but it isn’t a classic. In a year’s time it will not still be rumbling about in its audience’s heads in the same way as ‘Let There Be Blood’ for example. It is a big, entertaining action film which touches on a few issues and majors on atmosphere. Go and enjoy it – but don’t expect a masterpiece.


Anonymous said...

"In a year’s time it will not still be rumbling about in its audience’s head in the same way as ‘Let There be Blood’ for example"

The pedant in me couldn't let that pass ;-) but, title confusion aside, I totally agree. It's a very good film but the hype surrounding it meant I walked out of the cinema feeling a wee bit let down. I prefer Batman Begins, Nolan's first take on this mega-franchise, although I was pleased to see that Katie Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal as the romantic interest/eye candy. Heath Ledger's performance, for me, is worthy of a posthumous Supporting Actor gong - the Joker's screen presence is awesome, steals the show without doubt. Thought Aaron Eckhart was excellent too.
Will be eager to see Nolan's next project, in his relatively short directorial career so far he has overseen some great films including Memento and The Prestige (you really have to see this!)


Hernandez said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Knight. Ledger's performance as the Joker was superb. Christian Bale as Batman was not as good as in Batman Begins, and I thought his voice as Batman was just too deep and gruff to the extent that it felt out of place. Apparently this was the result of post production sound editing. Star of the show however was Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon. As far as superhero movies go, this takes some beating.

I agree with anonymous - The Prestige and particularly Memento are both fantastic films and unmissible in my book. Always enjoy Nolan's work.

I haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet but am planning to purchase it this week. Haven't heard a bad word about it.

Anonymous said...

Its a good film however is it a classic?
I think the simple answer is no as Kenny rightly pointed out this is part of a mega-franchise therefore it will be slighty shallow in order to get the widest audience a bit like all the superhero films in the last few years feel the quality of the action but the achingly dull scripts.
Have we got to the stage were the majority of the public want this yes i think so. Is it to hard to get a good script good actors and a good director,i harp on about films like Blue collar,ladybird ladybird,paths of glorys films which pass comment on society at large but have a searing honesty at their root.


Chekov said...

Memento was an excellent film, but I haven't seen The Prestige.