Here are some more random thoughts on “The Dark Knight.”
Be prepared for much more negativity than usual since I’ll be nitpicky in justifying taking a half of a letter grade off a very fine film.
BEWARE of storyline SPOILERS:
• Let’s start at the beginning. Like any good storyteller, director Christopher Nolan jumps straight into the action with the daytime bank heist. We quickly find out that even The Joker’s thugs have questions about the way he operates and he trusts no one, but having the first scene in a film titled “The Dark Knight” happen in broad daylight was jarring. Honestly, I was surprised at just how many daytime scenes TDK had overall.
• Also, the prologue missed That Certain Something. This is part of what led me to say in my review that the first 20 or so minutes after this sequence dragged. I was expecting more from seeing The Joker for the first time.
That’s probably the only time Heath Ledger’s Joker was disappointing. But I’m sure his close-up would be soooo much better in the IMAX version.
• Ever since its predecessor “Batman Begins” was released, I had been hoping for Batman to have a final confrontation with the Scarecrow.
And we got that in spades early in TDK – which I was glad to see from a continuity perspective – but we didn’t find out what Scarecrow had been doing in the interim. And didn’t it seem it was over too quickly? And is it me or was Cillian Murphy hard to ID as the Scarecrow?
• Speaking of that same scene, why exactly were there Batman look-a-likes? Bruce Wayne, later in the makeshift Batcave, mentions there was “another” Batman knock-off, but there was not much of an explanation for why they had cropped up. I think there was a lot more to explore there.
What would have been interesting is for the Scarecrow to use the Batman-phonies with his fear gas against the real thing in some fashion.
(Before I go to my next subject, do you remember when I took my Chicago Batman Vacation in late June 2007? Well, I got to see the segment where Batman hooked onto the side of the escaping white van being filmed as well as when the “foreign gang” threatened the Scarecrow’s gang by pulling out their semi-automatic weapons. I also now understand what caused the roofs and hoods of those cars to be smashed. Very cool to see the final product!)
• Back to the makeshift Batcave. I understand the Batcave proper wasn’t available since Wayne Manor is being rebuilt, but Batman’s headquarters was a bit sparse. Not to mention too bright for a creature of the night.
Seeing Bruce do his detective thing in a garage (presumably under Wayne Tower) under harsh fluorescent lights doesn’t mesh well with a hero nicknamed the Dark Knight.
Why couldn’t Nolan, the set designer and director of photography figure out a way to give us a dark Batcave that obviously is based in the Gotham City underground without trying to duplicate the original?
On the other hand, it was quite cool to see Bruce put the thinking man into the Darknight Detective by test-firing the weapons and analyzing each bullet to match the new one. “CSI: Gotham City,” anyone? I want see more – more, I say! – of Batman using his detective skills in a sequel.
• One more thing about the scenery: The TDK Gotham looked too much like Chicago compared to "Batman Begins." I truly missed The Narrows visual aspect to Gotham, with the crowded, dirty streets that twist and turn. Watch TDK again and you'll see what I mean by Gotham being a little too pristine this time around. Gotham is supposed to be a city where danger potentially lurks around every corner. (Partial credit goes to my buddy David Hudson for this idea.)
• Nolan introduced a cool concept of having Batman use sonar equipment to "see" the SWAT team, The Joker and his thugs in the final showdown.
And I have given a lot of thought to my best friend (and lifelong Batman fan) Mark Willis’ idea of giving Batman the “white eyes lens” look in live-action films, like has been done in the comics since 1939.
While it’s a nice “shout out” to comics continuity, overall it just doesn’t work onscreen. Bruce’s black eye make-up around the eyeholes of Batman's cowl looks a lot more menacing. The “white eyes lens” look honestly doesn’t mesh with Nolan’s realistic Batman universe. Regardless, I give Nolan and Co. a thumbs-up for giving it a try in an appropriate context.
• HERE’S, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE BIGGEST SPOILER OF ALL IN THIS BLOG.
Again, you’ve been warned not to read any further if you haven’t seen TDK.
I was bummed they killed off Two-Face.
I would have liked to see him coordinate many crimes related to the number “2” in a sequel. (You know there’ll be one; after all, Christian Bale has signed a three-picture deal and consistently says he wants to know what happens next.)
Now, the fun part: Tell me what you think. Let’s get some debates rolling. Am I way off here? What got you geeked or miffed about TDK?