The Dark Knight: Still Nope
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight features and masterful performance by Heath Ledger and is a nihilistic movie I despise.* While every actor involved is excellent** I do not think that plot points hold up.*** Again, Gotham looks great**** though the cool monorail has disappeared and the Wayne building is entirely different than in the first movie.
The verdict: Skip
Read the Wikipedia summary and you can move right on to the next in the series.
Cost: free because Matt owns two DVD copies of this film.
Where watched: at home
Consider watching instead:
*Psychopaths with no plan who want to cause only chaos do not make for an interesting film. There’s a bleak worldview that runs through this that only gets bleaker as the film wears on. It’s like everyone involved making this movie was going through a divorce, declaring bankruptcy, and their dog, wife, or child died while filming. I gave it a second viewing because everyone loves this film, but I do not like it, not at all.
**Maggie Gyllenhaal was a particularly good addition to the cast.
***”Where is he getting all his weapons?” I asked as the Joker picked up a bazooka/big gun thing and started firing. The Joker says that explosives are cheap, but they aren’t that cheap. I don’t buy that someone who aspires to be an agent of chaos would have this much discipline to coordinate the details of his nefarious scheme.
****Though again, where are the women? That entire police funeral was 95% dudes.
- If you are a person who likes this film, what makes it great for you?
- What’s your favorite version of Batman?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
While filming a chase scene on Lake Street, the Chicago Police Department received several calls from concerned citizens stating that the police were involved in a vehicle pursuit with a dark vehicle of unknown make or model.
- Dana Stevens, Slate
- Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
I’m glad you asked what I like about the film. I will tell you.
There’s the usual things I like about Nolan films: you can see how many times you can say, “This person tricked that person!” Deception makes for an entertaining film. The dialogue is very tight and to the point. Repeated viewing makes for a different experience.
I also like this film specifically for a lot of reasons:
This film has Batman making decisions that turn out later to get people killed and then he has to face up to that. The Joker is terrifying and unpredictable. This came out when terrorism was a more pressing concern and the people in the film were actually struggling with their responses to terror. Batman is willing to sacrifice his reputation for the greater good, which is something that was new for the genre.
The Joker is an archetypal trickster, meaning someone who likes to “…violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.” He traps people by their specific desires and then connects that to their demise.
My favorite scene is the Prewitt building scene. The conflict between Gordon and Batman illustrates the nature of trauma in that a certain belief gets reinforced even to the point that it is not useful. Gordon’s lesson from Rachel’s murder is that he wasn’t able to save Rachel, so now he says, “We have to save Dent! I have to save Dent!” Batman’s lesson from Rachel’s murder was that he could save him, but he didn’t save who he thought he was so now he says: “It’s not that simple. With the Joker, it never is.” The two men had different beliefs about the same event and this causes them to view the new situation from that lens.
The next scene is another wonderful metaphor. The first time I watched it I liked how Batman just decided to solve an impossible situation without stressing. After further viewing, I like how well it fits as a metaphor for abuse. The Joker dresses up the hostages as hostage takers and the hostage takers as hostages, which fits with the reversal of responsibility that is present in abuse (“You made me hit you.”) The SWAT and Batman are perfect examples of uninformed and informed respondents, for example, the couples counselor that asks the abuse victim what they do to provoke the abuser. Batman spends time educating the SWAT team and the SWAT team eventually gets it (“Clowns are hostages. Doctors are targets.”) It gives me hope that educating other professionals will work as well in the real world. Here’s hoping.
I like this movie so much that I even like when people pick apart this movie. Here are some of my favorite takes:
Batman would go to jail for a really long time *just* for the events in this movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyHn8y6rchk
The Joker has amazing dialogue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94nMPZBCJM0
Joker is actually the hero of Gotham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ8YU5GcK-s
The pencil trick wouldn’t kill that guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hHSedJ9qqU
This is perhaps the most thorough comment ever on any of my websites. You make some very good points. Addressing each one:
Nolan is very big on the deception and it is everywhere in this film. Even the first bank robbery sequence has a lot of levels of deception and is brilliant. (But again, I don’t believe this particular agent of chaos would have the discipline to pull it off.)
Good point re: Joker and terrorism. You can also see reminders of pressing issues that have faded (though are still issues) like the eavesdropping powers of the Patriot Act.
Good illustration of the trauma and belief with your Preweitt building scene analysis.
I like your linking abuse to the clowns/doctors scene. But again, how did he do that? Wouldn’t the hostages (dressed up as clowns) just collapse to the floor, even with the guns taped to their hands? How did he compel them all to stand up?
I think ultimately for me, I can understand why the parts of the movie are great and combine into a perfect (or near-perfect) whole for the majority of people who watch it. But that doesn’t cancel that the feeling I have through every minute of this movie is, “I don’t like this and I don’t want to be watching it.”
Excellent links, some of which I’ve seen due to living in the same house as you.